Friday, May 27, 2011

SFI, Allsång and Eurovision

Hej allihopa! Idag har jag avslutat C-provet för SFI. Or, today I finished the test for Course C in SFI. Back in February I was placed in the C/D course of SFI, which was the highest level. I decided this month to take the big test for course C, and I finally finished it this morning. Last week, those of us taking the test this month, we took the computer portion of the test which consisted of listening/understanding and reading/understanding. Yesterday I completed the writing portion, and this morning I finished the speaking portion. It's such a big weight off my shoulders! Never has it taken me over a week to complete a test. Only in Sweden, as some of us would say.

I have a pretty good feeling that I did well on all of the test, if not perfectly. I already know I did quite well on the computer portion, the teachers have already let us all know about that. We'll see how quickly they give the results for the rest of the test! I can't wait to hear how I did. It would be so nice to move on to D and then finish SFI!

As for a belated mention of Eurovision, I rather liked partaking in the tradition. America has nothing like it, except for maybe American Idol. But that isn't the same, it's just within the country. I had such a feeling of unity while watching it because you know the entire continent with like 40 other countries are all watching and participating in the same thing you are. I have no idea why Azerbaijan won. I didn't think it was that special and actually preferred Ireland's fun little song. I'll definitely be tuning in next year!

Tonight J and I plan to go to a local bar/pub/club with my friend M and her sambo to participate in the first allsång of the year. You can open the link in Google Chrome and it'll translate to English for you English speakers, or just copy/paste it into Google Translate. Oh the wonders of Google.

In a nutshell, allsång is where a live band will sing songs that practically everyone already knows so that everyone can participate. They do this at this local bar apparently twice a month, or maybe even every Friday, during the summer months. In the paper last week they listed all the songs that they will be singing and I was pleasantly surprised with just how many English songs there are. I am also surprised that the general Swedish population knows the words to this song and this song from King Louie in the Jungle Book. I'm beginning to suspect a giant love the Swedes have for Disney! In any case I'm excited to go relax and have some fun singing with some friends at a bar! What a great Friday night event.

There is a massive Allsång that happens in Stockholm each year in Skansen. I think maybe I would like to go to that sometime, it would definitely be something to remember. Apparently they have it several times in the summer, too.

On another note, it seems I must make my comments about the weather in each post. So without further ado, I must say I wonder where all the warmth went here in Västra Götaland! It's been around 10C or so most of the day and then maybe it gets up to 15C. The wind has been absolutely awful and it's been constantly alternating between sunny and cloudy several times in a day. It's as if it tries to tease us. I will say it's rather strange to have the sun rising at 4:30 each morning and not setting until 10 at night. I like having all the sun, but sometimes I wake up at 5am from the sun and birds and it already looks like it does at 9am in Ohio. I won't complain, though, because soon enough fall and winter will be coming back. I can't believe it's almost June, and with that comes Midsommar! I'm sure I'll have my fill of herring and the like. I'll take any excuse to get together with friends!

Hope all is well with those of you outside of Sweden! Let's hope this Iceland volcano doesn't cause nearly as much disruption as the one last year did. And well wishes to those of you who may know anyone in the U.S. who has been affected by all those crazy storms and tornadoes. Until next time!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Swedish Sweet Tooth

I never used to be a huge fan of candy. Sure, when I was a kid we used to love any time we were allowed to pick out a candy bar at the checkout line. But in America you just kind of grow out of the candy phase. "Candy is for children." I never looked twice at the candy aisle in stores in the States.

Not so in Sweden.

I sit here writing this post eating a few pieces of candy from our lösgodis bag we happened to snag last night when we made a quick run to the store. Translated, it means loose candy. I remember getting a bag or two like this when I was way younger with my grandma, and I really do mean it when I say a time or two. I can't even count, having lived in Sweden for 6 months now, the number of times J and I have bought a bag of lösgodis. It's as if every store has its selection and you just go at it. Kids, adults, anybody. Swedes even designate Saturday, or lördag, as candy day. All children get to have candy one day a week, on Saturday.

On another note, the weather has been absolutely beautiful lately here in Västra Götaland, or more specifically (and a now extinct name) Skaraborg. For those of you who don't know, Sweden is divided up into 21 (I think?) "counties" or "landscapes". It's difficult to translate. Think of them kind of as states, those of you from the U.S. Anyway, there have been unending amounts of sunshine and temperatures have been in the low 20s C (aka low 70s F). After such a long, harsh, cooold winter, it feels glorious! And dare I even say it, hot. I'm almost having a hard time adjusting to not wearing a sweater or anything. It makes me feel almost naked. I'm not complaining!

J and I have taken to walking around town more frequently (partly due to his job having a "step competition", or they wear pedometers every day and whoever gets the most steps within 5 weeks gets bragging rights.) Here are some shots I've taken of the lovely town of Skövde:

The main church right next to the main town square downtown.

Right behind the church is a several hundred years old cemetery - there are about 15 quite old headstones that you can just walk up to.

This was the oldest headstone - placed there in 1662!

Pretty flowers and fountain in the park behind the church and graveyard.

The main square downtown.

One night last week we decided to skirt the giant Volvo plant area in town, it was creepy at this time in the evening! It was like being on Mars, it was so deserted everywhere.

This is a picture I took of our apartment building. The sky was so blue that day!

Beautiful springtime in the big park across the street. I love walking there.

It's been nice to be able to go outside and not have to put on five layers. It's nice to see everyone else out and about, too. The winter by no means kept people from going about life as usual. But suddenly now I see things like old people riding bikes to and from the store, or kids in the music high school sitting outside under trees and just playing music together like new-age hippies. Not to mention all the Swedish girls laying out in the park in a bikini sun-tanning. Swedes will take advantage of whatever nice weather they can get, because let's be honest, it won't get much warmer than it already is all summer. We'll probably be lucky if it hits 30C (or mid 80s F).

Nothing else is new in the world of blue and yellow. Good weather, still attending SFI, still working my part time job, still volunteering to help kids learn English, and still meeting an older Swedish woman once a week to help her with her English. Nothing too crazy. As the Swedes say, "Lagom är bäst!"