I won't bore you with explaining the intricacies of learning the Swedish language, but I would like to share what I consider to be some interesting insights I've stumbled upon along the way. Enjoy!
Bra is not an undergarment, instead it means good.
Bad isn't naughty, it's a bath.
Glass is appetizing because it's ice cream.
Tack isn't something you stick on a board, but how you thank people. Tack!
A gift isn't a present, it means poison... or marriage, haha. Coincidence, I think not.
Barn isn't connected to farming, it means children.
Kiss means to pee. Puss means kiss...yuck. Thankfully the pronunciation is different.
If you say you're full it means your drunk.
Fan is not something that provides a nice breeze, it's a curse word. Damn.
God means tasty. Gud means God.
A chef isn't a cook but a manager. A kock is a chef.
Hiss is an elevator.
And lastly, sex means the number six, but also sex - so be careful with that one.
It can be a little confusing at times. After being offered a morning snack, I once I told Andreas' parents ''no thank you, I ate wine for breakfast and was drunk.'' What I really meant to say was that I had just eaten some grapes and was full.
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As part of my course I completed a one month internship at Hotell Björken.
Hotell Björken is a patient hotel which means that roughly 90% of their guests are also patients at the hospital in Umeå. The health care system pays for the stays of those that qualify, which is cheaper for the system, and much nicer than staying at the hospital for the patients! Aside from the clientele, it functions just like a normal hotel, and I thought it was really rewarding getting to know and help the patients, as many of them stay for weeks or months at a time. Everyone I worked with was extremely nice and helpful! I was a little worried that language barriers might be a problem, with communication being such a big part of the job, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I understood almost everything and was glad they understood me too!
Best of all I will be working there over the summer within the reception and restaurant as needed. It feels wonderful not having to worry about finding a summer job, and hopefully my contacts and experience will help me find a full time job within the industry soon!
Everyone in my class did a presentation of their internship and I've attached the power point from mine for those of you interested. It's all in Swedish, but there several pictures too!
Korta Vägen is the name of the Swedish course I have been taking, which translates to "the short way". It's an intensive nine month program geared towards people who have moved to Sweden with college educations and have worked within their field of study for at least a couple of years.
To get into Korta Vägen most people complete SFI (swedish for immigrants) through another institution which can take roughly six months to a year. SFI is a wonderful program but it moves at a slower pace and isn't geared towards language fluency, but rather familiarity at a basic conversational level. I started SFI classes in August and shortly after I heard about Korta Vägen, which was beginning in October, and was eager to try and speed my learning process up. I actually didn't pass the test to get in, but luckily they take other factors into consideration aside from just your test results in order to accept candidates they feel suit the program best. Living with Andreas and having a network of Swedish people surrounding me, such as his parents and friends, was what I think made the difference for me. It is also a very time demanding course, held Monday - Friday from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, with no lack of homework, so it's important that their students are also able to make the time commitment.
I have been most impressed with the program to say the least. The government funds the course and provides personal laptops for use throughout the program, pays for all books, and we also get a monthly stipend for being in the class full time, how amazing is that?! The main focus of the course is Swedish but there are other strong components such as resume and cover letter coaching, individual studies pertaining to your profession, and a one month internship within your field of work.
I have 13 classmates all coming from different countries, those being; Columbia, Indonesia, Guatemala, Mexico, Morocco, Afghanistan, South Korea, Poland, Iran, Philippines, and Italy. We are also a diverse group of professionals with several engineers, a doctor and a nurse, marketing and finance professionals, a dance teacher, psychologist, a graphic designer, and a judge. It's been really fun getting to know everyone and also learning a little bit more about their countries and cultures. I have two wonderful teachers who are truly committed to helping us become fluent as fast as possible. By June, I hope Korta Vägen will have prepared me to start working within hospitality and continue on my career path!
Korta Vägen was also featured in Västerbottens Kuriren, which is one of the larger newspapers in Sweden. The article is in Swedish, but still neat to see, and is attached below. It talks about the program, with an interview of four of my classmates talking a little bit about their backgrounds and what they've gained from the course.
This is a post I’ll likely be writing for years to come and learning Swedish could very well end up being a lifelong process. I don’t want to understand Swedish, I want to master it, to speak correctly and eloquently, to read and
write on a level comparable to that of my English. A high goal, I realize, but an important one. If I end up staying in Sweden indefinitely I believe this will be one of the key factors to truly feeling at home and not as an outsider.
Although almost all Swedes speak English well, they prefer to speak Swedish and rightly so. Who doesn’t feel more comfortable expressing themselves in their native tongue? And Swedes are not shy about speaking Swedish in front of those who don’t, but will always politely switch to English when addressing you. As someone who is trying to learn Swedish, I love to hear it spoken at its normal pace and try to decipher what I can. I’ve found it slightly frustrating when someone at a store realizes you aren’t Swedish and immediately switches to English. Polite yes, but when you need to practice it’s hard at the beginner stage to ask someone who speaks English well to switch back to Swedish and stumble along with you.
There are many tools you can use for learning a new language. Thanks to my wonderful sister I have the full
Rosetta Stone program in Swedish. It is an amazing system and has been quite helpful. I haven’t completed the full program yet though, so stay tuned I’ll give a comprehensive review later. After arriving in Sweden I also got a library card and have checked out text books for learning Swedish and children’s books which Andreas and I read together. I also try to keep a Swedish journal, nothing too involved but rather a daily account of what I did for the day or have planned that week. I will also be enrolling in the government provided Swedish language courses which start in August of 2012. I am building up a great vocabulary and base of knowledge, but I think the language courses will be most helpful in being able to construct sentences, use tenses properly, and read and write.
This picture is from 09/19/2010,
the day my Swedish life began.