Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The benefits of learning a Scandinavian language

The amazing thing I have discovered recently as a major benefit of having learned Swedish is that I can also understand Norwegian and Danish (at least in writing).

I could hardly believe Swedes at first when they told me they pretty much understand Norwegians since their languages are so similar. Few Swedes that I've met can understand spoken Danish (they joke about it sounding like they have oatmeal in their mouths), but they've claimed they can at least read it.

I've been on several Danish sites, and to my delight, have discovered that I can pretty much understand what they are saying. And just the other day, I decided to Youtube a Norwegian TV show just to see if I could understand it, and to my delight, I could (most of it, anyway!). I now understand the claims of Swedes mentioned above. Then it gets me thinking - if I can understand as much as I do, imagine just how much, for instance, my J understands. It's really a pretty cool phenomenon.

As a native English speaker, I've really never felt like I've "basically understood" any other language than my own. When learning Spanish and realizing that a lot of words are similar to English it was like a revelation. But I could never just read Spanish without having formally learned it in class and say "Oh, I understand!" the way I've been able to when coming in contact with Norwegian and Danish. It makes me feel pretty awesome to have gained a basic understanding of two other languages in the process of learning Swedish. 8)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I'm quickly becoming used to being busy full days again. When I think about it, it's been nearly a year since I have been busy full days. I nearly forgot how much energy it takes to be able to either work or study all day long. Last week I was extremely tired by the end of the week (and the weekend was almost no rest, either). This week, while I am tired, I am feeling much better. Besides, being the dork that I am, I enjoy school and exercising my brain. It feels good to be challenged.

I mentioned above that the weekend was almost no rest, either. On Saturday J and I woke up at 8:30 (fairly early for us on a Saturday) and drove to Gothenburg to celebrate J's sisters' birthday at her family's apartment. First when we got into town we went straight to Nordstan to purchase a birthday gift for J's sister from The Body Shop (there is also a Swedish website but I figured since I write in English I'd list the US version). I always look forward to going to Nordstan, only to be disappointed when arriving. The frustration that comes with so many people shopping and seeming inept at how to move and interact with the public outweighs the chance of having some fun while shopping. It always ends up as J and I trying to get out ASAP. We then proceeded to J's sisters' apartment in Eriksberg and enjoyed a nice afternoon and evening there.

After a bit it became just J's sisters' family and J and I and it was fun. Their two little daughters are so delightful to be around. The main reason for titling my post "Improvements" is a reference to my improvement in Swedish. The younger daughter is just now old enough to begin understanding language and is able to respond through nods and shakes of her head. I decided to try out my Swedish on her and to my surprise and delight she understood me and would respond in kind. For example, I would ask, "Ska du komma hit?" (Shall you come here?) while holding out my hands, and she would nod and walk to me. We became great play pals. One funny thing to mention, for some reason J scared her almost the whole day. Never before had it happened, but if she looked at him, she would become frightened and begin to cry if no one consoled her very quickly. I found it rather humorous.

Sunday I had the grand idea to sit at home all day and do almost nothing, besides laundry, but alas we were invited to J's parents' house for Sunday lunch. It was really good food as always, and luckily we didn't stay too long because I had booked a time to do my laundry and I wasn't going to give that time up! So I felt like I always had something going on this past week, even over the weekend. I'm lucky I don't feel more tired. But as stated, I'm quickly becoming used to a busy life again.

Korta Vägen is beginning to feel better to me. In a nutshell, this week we were told which group we were in and the days or times we've been split into our groups have been great. They feel much more productive and more conducive to learning. Today just another student and I received extra material in the form of a book loaned from the teacher because she noticed that we were done much more quickly with various tasks than the rest of the class. I was pleased to see that she noticed us both individually and decided to challenge/help us to learn the language more at our own level and pace. As I've said previously, at first the program seemed too slow and simple for me. It's beginning to pick up and I am glad.

Tomorrow is thankfully Friday. Again we have another family engagement for someone else's birthday (J's family is rather large on his dad's side). I look forward to this endeavor, though. Apparently there will be an outdoor archery competition - I have no idea if I will even do well but I look forward to the event! Being outside right now is enjoyable (when it's not raining) because the air is becoming more and more crisp. Besides, we have to enjoy the outdoors while it's still relatively warm outside! Soon enough we'll be taking 10 minutes each day just to suit up and go outside. ;-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Autumn and a New School Year

...sounds like I've traveled back in time to grade school!

You could say Riskutbildning 1 was a success. I got through it and understood most of it, although when I realized I was sitting in a room with about 11 other people, all of them Swedes, and most of them about 18 years of age, I started to get super nervous. What if the teacher decided to call on us randomly since she had us make name tags? Then what humiliation would I suffer because my Swedish was so clearly not authentic? It all turned out okay though, as our teacher posed questions to us then made us talk with our "neighbor." I happened to be sitting next to a really nice 18 year old girl from the next town over. I told her immediately I was from the U.S. and sorry if I sounded terribly! To my happiness she told me she understood me just fine. The hard thing throughout the day was that she spoke so quickly or would speak quietly that I couldn't catch some things she said. All said and done, I walked home last Wednesday extremely tired.

I began Korta Vägen this Monday. We have a whole week of introduction, basically, before they divide us into two smaller classes to put us with people who are more at our level. It's good to feel productive the whole day, but it's been a tiring week. Going to school (and not in your native tongue) from 9am to 4pm wears the brain out! I believe once the course gets going it will feel more useful than it is currently. There are several people in the group with little to no Swedish skills (which confuses me because the course supposedly requires at least SFI D to be completed to enter). So right now it feels a little bit like intro class to SFI, which for those of you who may not know how that is, it's very simple Swedish. I do suppose they need to get a feel for which class to place everyone in. Hopefully I'll be able to improve my Swedish even further and do well at whichever praktik (internship) I get and eventually be able to work alongside Swedes without a hiccup. After all, that's the entire goal of the program.

Just a side note, Bonde Söker Fru (Farmer Seeks Wife) had its season premier tonight and it's the first time I've ever actually watched it. I think it's such a cute show. Maybe it's how they go around to these different farmers' farms and you actually get to see how they live and that they're just normal every day Swedes. They seem to speak from the heart. I'll be interested to follow up on some episodes to see how things pan out.

The rain hasn't really let up much, and neither have the chilly temperatures. I suppose I'm slowly adjusting to the fact that it is indeed autumn time. Where did this year go? It's almost unbelievable I've been living here for 10 months already. Pretty soon I'll be saying a year!