Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life IS getting busier!

It's been a bit since I've posted, so I thought I'd update you all.

This week has been drastically busy for me, at least compared to "what I've gotten used to" in the three months since I arrived here. SFI started this week on Monday (Thursdays are no classes, yay!). It's such an experience simply in having class with all other immigrants. First of all, it's so nice to be in a room with others who are in my same position - from a different country and haven't yet learned the language. Also, it's such an experience because of all the nationalities represented in my classroom. Sixteen students represent four continents, the countries I recall represented are the United States (me, obviously), England, Poland, Latvia, Monte Negro, Switzerland, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Thailand, Philippines, and Spain. Just as many different languages are the mother tongues of everyone. I just think it's really cool to be learning a language together, even though very few of us can actually speak to each other outside of Swedish.

The teachers in SFI also do a great job of making sure everyone understands! I couldn't imagine being an SFI teacher - they teach the course 95% in Swedish only, meaning even though we don't know the language, they somehow convey it to make sure we understand practically everything. I think I have a head start on many people simply because English is from the same background/root language as Swedish. Even though I may have "complained" in the past about Swedish being difficult, I've found that I actually pick it up quite quickly and find it much easier than others in my class, like those from Thailand and Iran. For them to learn Swedish, maybe that would be like me trying to learn Chinese! I also have realized that in the three months I've been here, I have picked up so much Swedish that I can always understand what the teacher is saying. Even if I can't really produce much Swedish of my own yet, I can understand a lot!

In other news, today I had a meeting with J's boss. I mentioned the job possibility in my last post. Well, it looks like J's boss wants to move forward with his idea, so I will be working part time for him! To put it in a nutshell, basically I will be a recruiter for engineers to come to Sweden and work for his company, since Sweden seems to have a shortage of engineers. Maybe it'll work out well, maybe not, but I think it has great potential.

So this week I've had class each day except today, but I had to drive about 45 min away for the meeting and back. Talk about busy! Sure all of this only takes up part of my days, but I think it's been a great way to get back into the busy-ness (business?) of life. After being unemployed and adjusting to a new country for three months, being thrown back into the mix of things is like a shock to the system! A welcome one, don't get me wrong. I love the feeling of being a part of this place. It's coming to feel more and more like home, not my only home, but a second home at that.

Tonight we have a hockey game to go to! We haven't been to one since the beginning of December, so I'm excited to get out of the house yet again, see some friends, and enjoy some good sport watching. =)

And tomorrow J's parents are dropping off Elvis (that little Jack Russell) for the weekend, since they're taking a trip to Gothenburg. We'll see how keeping a dog here in our apartment goes, at least for the weekend. Whew, as I said, busy!

Perhaps I will post more later, but these are the thoughts that came to mind for now.

Since I haven't posted many pictures lately, here is a picture I took earlier this week of the sunrise. Nothing too special (the camera simply cannot capture the beauty!) In the distance is what J calls a "heat plant." It's where the city's garbage goes to be incinerated, and in turn to create heat for the inhabitants. A much more useful way to dispose of garbage than the landfills we have in Ohio, eh?

Monday, January 10, 2011

I think life will be getting busier!

As the title of this post suggests, I believe life will be getting busy fairly shortly!

Two weeks from today begin my SFI classes. That is for sure. Tomorrow I'm going to pick up my class schedule to see exactly how my first three weeks will be going. After the first three week intro course, they have students take a placement test to see whether they place more in the beginner, intermediate, or high level classes for Swedish.

On another note, J's parents are "trying out" a Jack Russell terrier! A friend of J and I notified us that his boss sadly needed to be rid of his 2.5 year old Jack Russell named Elvis. The boss apparently decided to get two amstaffs, which then didn't mix too well with the Jack Russell. Long story short, J's parents had been thinking about getting a dog for a while, so we posed them with the story. The owners brought the dog up on Saturday and J and I went to visit. From the few hours we spent there, Elvis is a great little dog! Great temperament and very sweet/cuddly. I look forward to being his babysitter whenever J's parents are busy or out of town. :-) Speaking of which, tomorrow I'll be going over to take care of him for a bit while J's parents are at work. I look forward to having a pseudo pet!

Not the best picture of me or Elvis, but at least you can get an idea. :-)

On yet another note, I may have a job prospect in the near future. I won't go into too much detail as things are not at all close to being concrete, but J mentioned to his boss that I am in the market for work. His boss has some ideas for me to help him out with, so I may have a job in the future there. I also contacted the director of a local, I suppose company, called English House. They basically have Swedes in (mainly teen/pre-teens it sounds like) who would like extra practice at English. The point is to make Swedes comfortable with English. The director got back to me saying that they don't have any open vacancies for employment, however, he would be interested in offering me something like an internship (unpaid). It would be like being a lesson/teacher assistant. If anything, it could be a great chance to network and get used to really interacting with Swedes. Also, maybe in time it could turn into a real job.

The sense of getting a start/having things move truly improves my mood. It's not as if I go around in a bad mood, but after a while of doing "nothing" I often get a feeling of uselessness; though I do nearly everything around the house in order to make up for my current unemployment. I simply hope things work out and I can get a sense of "normalcy" to my life here in Sweden.

As an update, the Harry Potter adventure is going well! I'm well into the fourth book currently. I simply eat up books. I'm quite enjoying it, but I'm glad it's going quickly because I paused on another series to bust out HP. I figured I might as well be in on the craze like everyone else. ;-)

The weather here has been warmer lately. The temperature has been hovering around freezing or slightly above...causing things to melt and refreeze. The roads have been quite dangerous due to ice. For once I wish it would stay cold! Who would have thought I would ask for that? Besides, I like my winter wonderland of all white. It becomes ugly and marred with the rain and melting.

It now seems as if I'm rambling, but the purpose of a blog is for its writer to air feelings and happenings, yes?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holidays and a New Year

It's been quite a little while since the last post, at least in comparison to normally one or two posts a week. I'll use the holiday season as an excuse. =)

Where did I leave off? Experiencing Christmas in Sweden, I will say, was quite a treat. I always thought America went pretty crazy about Christmas, but Sweden has its own way, too. Whereas in America you get tons of neighborhoods being lit up at night from lights decorating the outsides of houses, in Sweden you get an all over decoration. People only generally put candles in their windows, but they decorate their public spaces a ton. They also (from an American's eyes) get a little over anxious by celebrating Christmas not on Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve.

J and I went to his parents' house on December 23rd to decorate their tree. I will admit, Sweden has very different pine trees than America's. This one (sadly or not?) reminded me a lot of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Not in that it was sad, their trees here are simply much more bare. I've shown J some American pine trees, and he calls them "bushes," since they're so solid (and not see through, ahem). J's parents' tree still turned out to be charming the way all Christmas trees are; here's the only shot I got of it.

On Christmas Eve we arrived at J's parents' house around 9am, and ended up staying all day until around 10pm. It's quite a family affair. In the morning we had a (what I consider) heavy breakfast. One special thing about Christmas in Sweden is the julbord. There are several traditional dishes that always make an appearance: pickled herring, ham, Janssons frestelse, prinskorv, and rice porridge, all for example.

So the day was full of food and family. Santa (or Tomte, in Swedish) made an appearance in between breakfast and lunch. I really enjoy J's family, and find myself often thankful for it. I couldn't imagine moving to a new country and starting a new life and finding out that my only support system would be the one person I moved across the world to be with. It's comforting to know I feel quite welcomed and part of my Swedish family. J's parents' live farther out into the country, and the snow is even more impressive and beautiful out there.

Christmas Day J and I hosted a party for many of our friends. We had our own julbord and spent the rest of the evening in good company. Christmas Day, apparently, here in Sweden is a huge day for people to "go out," ie. to the bars and clubs to celebrate. I've been told often to be able to get into a place on Christmas Day you have to book tickets in advance. Talk about serious party-ers!

The following week for New Years Eve J and I played hosts again for a New Years Eve party. This time we had help from another couple, who were our co-hosts here at our apartment. We decided to prepare a nice pork, potatoes and salad dinner. It was a hit also! I really have enjoyed being a hostess for parties. Back in the states I never much enjoyed entertaining guests in my own home. I don't know what about Sweden might have made me change those feelings, other than maybe our apartment here is much better at hosting than my tiny apartment I had at home! J and I have both agreed, though, that we're done hosting parties for quite some time. It can be pretty taxing.

On a different note, yesterday I had a meeting with my caseworker at Arbetsförmedlingen. I just had some questions about different programs I had come across for newly arrived immigrants looking for work, etc. He basically told me what I already decided I should be doing, but it was nice to get some confirmation from (or what should be) a more knowledgeable and authoritative source. He said his plan was to take SFI (I begin January 24th), and look for jobs on my own time. I seriously will start thinking/poking about getting a part time job (as I will be taking Swedish lessons, I don't think I want to work full time, not at least right away). A start is a start.

J has been sick the past couple days. He hasn't been in to work, his throat is bothering him quite a lot and he's been feeling pretty weak. Let's hope he can get to feeling better soon, no one likes to feel poorly! It seems as if we're taking turns on the sickness wagon. Since arriving, every few weeks it's been one of us who's had something. Any well wishings are appreciated!