Thursday, March 17, 2011

Swedish Radio

This won't be a long post, or an update on life happenings like I've become accustomed to when writing here. I've come this time to have a mini rant, or even a lament!

One thing I truly miss about the States: radio.

I was raised listening to the radio. In the city where I come from, there were a multitude of stations to listen to (although I ignored many stations, like smooth jazz or country). There were at least six stations I would cruise through in my car before settling on one. Rarely did I listen to a CD or my Ipod in the car - that was radio time! Maybe it's only because I was raised on radio that I love it so much. I've talked to others in my generation and they don't seem to have such a love for radio, they usually listen to their Ipods or something.

Anyway, here in Sweden they have like four national, yes national, radio stations. And maybe you might have one local station that comes in terribly. Out of those four stations, one is talk radio, so no good there. Another has quite strange music on it. Yet another is classical (which can be enjoyable every once in a blue moon). So I'm basically left with two stations. One is a mix station, so they are better about it that the other, which is just new pop. And mostly everyone knows that Sweden loves to pump out it's crappy pop music that is forgotten within half a year's time. So what happens when you listen to the radio here? You hear the same five songs on repeat!! For months at a time! I kid you not.

Each morning, as I've mentioned previously, it's my job to make sure J gets up. Well one of our tactics that works quite well is we have his clock radio go off and he'll listen to the radio (songs, and morning talk show of course). When they get to the songs, I just want to cringe! It's always the saaaaame songs. I actually enjoy the morning radio show usually because I try to listen to the show hosts to figure out what they're talking about, but when the music comes on I get so annoyed.

So much for diversity!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I meant to mention, the director of that English program I volunteer at has asked me if I might be interested in leading a course myself for 5 - 8 year old Swedish children beginning sometime this coming autumn. It would be something like "English for Fun" and we would do arts and crafts, and stuff like that. I think I might be seriously interested! I asked him to give me more details. Life is certainly picking up, and I feel like I've been networking here in Sweden way more than I ever have done in my life back in the States!

I love feeling useful

The days when I am most happy here in Sweden are the days I am busy and feeling productive. This morning (just as every morning) I got up at 6:30, showered and got myself ready for school. I am also J's fail-safe alarm clock. Whenever his alarms don't seem to wake him at all (which is nearly every morning), my job is to get him up. The mornings I have to be at school at 8:20am, I feel like a drill sergeant. I have to make sure he's up and going so I can be on time to school! (I have to drop him off at work before I go to school, or if we're running really late he drops me off at school and takes the car to work).

Anyway! When I have SFI in the morning it runs from 8:20 to 11:40. J and I actually had lunch together today, and then we proceeded to the hair dresser in the downtown mall (he was getting to look shaggy!). After that we came home, I did some work, and then at 3pm I had my weekly meeting with a woman whom I shall call B. I'm not sure if I mentioned her before, but this is the second week I have met with her. She is a Swedish woman who is around 60 years old. I was given her email address by the director of the English program I volunteer at every other week to help Swedish children improve/practice their English. The woman, B, simply wants conversational practice with English so she won't forget the language. She told me last week at our first meeting that English is becoming more and more used here in Sweden (as I myself have noticed) and she doesn't want to be left behind. Thus, every Thursday at 3pm we meet in a local café and chat about anything and everything for about an hour. She buys me fika, and even gives me a little cash on the side for my time! She is interesting to speak with. It's a wonderful arrangement. I just arrived home from this about a half hour ago.

Then once I got home today I did the dishes, and here I am writing a blog post. I've been busy just about all day doing things "that matter," so to speak. I have a craving to do things that matter and that feel productive. I think it's greatly heightened here in Sweden, though, because it makes me feel like a part of society - getting out there and interacting with people. Sitting at home all day would absolutely drive me insane. It also makes coming home that much nicer at the end of the day.

As for the walk home from meeting with B today...well the temperature is hovering right around the freezing mark, and when this temperature combines with precipitation, it's not really all that pleasant to walk in. It is kind of snowing outside, yet when it hits your face and the ground, it definitely feels like really heavy rain. Thankfully, even though I didn't have an umbrella, at least my coat had a hood. Oh Sweden.

My friend M and I are going shopping together this weekend! I don't know what it is, she and I were talking about it in class yesterday, but we feel like we have to have someone shopping with us here in Sweden. When we are both back home in the States we're perfectly comfortable to go out shopping on our own. But for some reason here in Sweden it's like we feel exposed, or something. So we've made a shopping date over the weekend (I need a pair or two of jean-leggings, and she's spotted some things she wants to try on at H&M). Her sambo is also gone for a couple of weeks due to his job, and so she won't have much to do all weekend anyway. I also figure that J would probably love some alone time (as whenever he is home, I am home). I'm excited to go shopping with her, to say the least!

It's crazy how yesterday I was in a rather apathetic mood and couldn't be bothered to even do the dishes. Today, I feel like I want to do everything! I have three quite ripe bananas in the kitchen, and I want to look up a banana bread recipe. I feel like baking. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Mondays!

Firstly I must say how happy I am that I do NOT have to go to school for the next six Mondays like I originally thought I would have to. My SFI schedule only has classes Tuesday through Friday each week, but this past Thursday our SFI teacher told us newcomers that we would be taking a computer course the next six Mondays. Yes, my friends, a computer learn how to use computers. Now, I understand that some people in SFI need this course (e.g. if you are from a 3rd world country, I would most definitely recommend a computer course). However, after being in the class for six months, and then having the teacher tell you that you're signed up the following Monday to take a computer course is nearly laughable. I don't think they should just assume that everyone needs to take the course. At least have a questionnaire or mini test to see who would need to take it or not. It's a waste of the computer teacher's time and our (the students') time if we already know how to use a computer!

So, today in class the computer teacher spoke very slowly and very clearly, and it felt like intro all over again. As we were only ten minutes in, my friends and I realized we definitely, definitely do not need to take such a course to learn what keys are what, how to open Word, and how to surf the internet. Pretty quickly the teacher realized (after we told her, also) that we didn't need the course. She even asked us why we were there, so we told her that our actual SFI teacher made us take it. Long story short, she said she would talk to the boss of SFI, and that we could go home, after being in the class for nearly an hour. The five of us then proceeded to get some fika at a local cafe and chit chat. I truly do enjoy my new little SFI niche of friends. Rant over. Hooray for securing free Mondays!

There isn't much new here with life in Sweden. Recently it's gotten a bit warmer so all the snow and ice on the sidewalks/roads have melted, that in itself has been lovely. I've nearly forgotten what it's like to walk on a sidewalk without being continually conscious of where I place my feet to ensure that I don't fall to my demise. I'm sure this weather won't last too long, though. Many Swedes have informed me of snow in April and even May, in some extreme cases. I try not to get my hopes up too much for lovely weather. The fact that it's a couple of degrees above freezing, and I consider that "warm," is somewhat troubling, though. I've only been here four months, and already I'm thinking that way? Hmm...

Last weekend J and I went to Göteborg (Gothenburg, in English) for his niece's third birthday party. It's always wonderful to get out of the little pocket of Skövde now and then (although I'm beginning to feel like this really is home - I think that's due to finally getting some ties here, like friends). J's parents picked us up, and it was actually enjoyable to be a passenger for once because I got to get a good look at the landscape. Those of you who know me quite well will know that I almost always prefer to drive. I took several shots while flying along on the highway, most of which are awesomely (sarcasm) blurry. J and I went to Nordstan (big mall downtown) to shop a bit before the party got started since we arrived around 10:30 in the morning and the party wasn't until 2pm. Here are a couple of shots, although nothing too interesting.

Typical Swedish houses/architecture, but what I wanted to capture here was the giant rock formation in the background. Out on the western coast there are many giant rocks that protrude like this one.

A view from J's sister's apartment. You can see the harbor/frozen water in the distance. People were running around and sliding on the ice playing!

A house I thought was neat looking on the drive there. Lop sided, but that's all you can do when you've got to snap a quick shot.

One of the homemade cakes for J's niece. Quite tasty!

This following picture is one I took back in January, actually. It's the little creek down by J's parents' house. I was walking Elvis (the Jack Russel J's parents recently acquired) and thought the little stream was quite pretty.

Very wintry. Sweden is beautiful in winter.

Last picture for today:

When leaving the cafe we went to for fika today, I saw this building downtown here in Skövde. I've always liked its architecture, so I got a picture of it to share with you all.

I hope that suffices for some updated pictures. Alas, I forgot to bring the camera with me when we went to the hockey game I mentioned in my last post. We did win, though! I was happy to finally go to a game where our team won.

Well, it's time for me to go pick J up from work soon, and I've been busy practically all day. I suppose I will call this post to a close. Spring will (hopefully) be on its way soon. I look forward to even longer days (yay clock change within the coming weeks!) Happy March, everyone!