Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4 things I learned in SFI

1.  Abby (or at least the sound, not the spelling) means blue in persian.

2.  Just because his name is Tali, does not mean he is a part of the Taliban. (I was introduced to everyone and this one guy said, 'My name is Tali, like the Taliban, but I'm not a part of the Taliban'...I found it very funny.)

3. Just because you can ask a simple straight forward question in Swedish does not mean you'll get a simple straight forward answer back. Thus resulting in  you not attending the second class of the day because you thought that's what the teacher told you in overwhelmingly fast Swedish...which makes you so frustrated you cry and forget to lock your bike when you're home. (Luckily Nelly was not stolen from me. Thank GOD)

4. In the course of my higher education, I have begun 3 different language courses, resulting in 4 semesters and 1 SFI. 4 out of the 5 'first days' I've cried.

What is it about language courses that always makes me cry a little bit? Here's for a better day tomorrow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An election of many colors

Yesterday was election day in Sweden (and I'm sure some of you who read this because you have a mild obsession with Swedish ex-pat blogs are very well aware of that, since this morning the blogging community is hardcore blogging about what happened).

Apparently this election was a big deal. Due to several factors, I am just now starting to understand what is going on with the Swedish election process and the different parties. For the most part I was overwhelmed by the different colors and little cottages where they do their politicking. (Seriously, Linköping's square was lined in little wooden cottages painted colors like light blue, green/pink, red, etc.)I found it very friendly and welcoming and also made me wonder what it would look like if the Dems/GOP had their little cottages to politic with. (Oh the possibilities...)

Centerpartiet i Linköping. It was my favorite.*
But the election was important because as far as I can understand from watching SVT1 (mostly just looking at the graphs because I cannot understand what they're saying), reading The Local, and the local newspaper. The Moderates retained control over parliament....barely. The Social Democrats (hold on  to your pants my conservative friends, these are the people you consider socialists...breath...just's ok...just stay calm) just barely lost. The 'conservative' (I use this term extremely loosely, every political party in Sweden is further left than Obama's pinky toe can even fathom) section of their groups has majority. As far as I can tell, this is good? I don't know.

However, what is really getting everyone into a major stink is that Sweden Democrats got 5.7% of the vote meaning, I think, 20 or so seats in Parliament. The issue with this party is their anti-immigration stance (read: Anti Islam) and older members possessing Nazi party ties. Every other political party can't stand them, don't want to be in the same room with them, and have stated they will refuse to work with them. (Apparently they're taking a page from the Mitch McConnell book, except they have chins, are nicer, and actually care about the people they represent and not about lining their they're not actually like Mitch McConnell at all, other than they refuse to work with thinly veiled racist party...oh crap...what am I talking about....they're nothing like McConnell.)

The Swedish Democrats being elected into parliament could have an effect on me. How much? I don't know, but they have a very clear anti-immigration, fear based, stance. When people were campaigning, I asked if Fredrik wanted to go to the Swedish Democrats cottage and ask what they thought about my immigration into Sweden. Would they want to deny me also? I was curious, plus what would they do if they were actually confronted by a Swede who wants his immigrant girlfriend with him?

Anyways, I feel bad for my Swedish friends who are embarrassed by this election..and well..welcome to the club of being embarrassed by your country's politics (Can we say, "Tea Party"?). Let's hope Sweden stays progressive and there are no steps backwards, and that if there are changes to the immigration laws that they are positive.

<3 <3

*Photo from Centerpartiet i Linköping.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2 years?!...and SFI.

Well today is a big day. Today is the 2 year anniversary for Fredrik and I. We started dating the next day after we met. It's hard to believe it's been 2 years since we met, and 1 year since I left Glasgow. A lot of changed, life is crazy, and we're still managing to not kill each other. I'm grateful. :) I feel lucky that our relationship has improved over time. Everything is so much better than comparing to when we first started dating, for us it seems like our relationship has improved much better over time, instead of peaking out early. I'm very thankful for that. I like him. I want to keep him. He folds my underwear.

I mean, I love him so much I moved half way around the world just to be with him. So he must be worth it....

2 years...crazy.

Today, we're celebrating by going to the movies. Toy Story 3 has finally come out over here, and so Fredrik has willing agreed to go see it with me. In 3D. I'm just a *little* excited. I can't decide if it is because we're seeing a movie, or if it is because I get to eat popcorn and candy. Muah-ha ha ha ha. Today is a good day for the two of us. <3

In other news, I had an SFI It was not what I was expecting, much different in fact. From what my letter said from the school, was that I was to take an exam to see where my level for SFI is. Well, when I showed up it was a intro lecture to what will be 1-4 weeks of 'testing' (I use this term loosely) to see where I should start my SFI classes. The way it was explained was that there are 3 levels of SFI, and you are placed (usually) depending on your existing level of education. The top level is for a higher educated person, at minimum high school. I understood the purpose of the meeting, and how it is beneficial for them as a school and us as students, but if our previous education is so important in our placement for SFI, why didn't they ask specifically what level of education you had? They asked how long you had been in school. (almost 20 years, thanks). I found that a bit vague, but I guess it was to make the question more applicable to everyone, not just people who have degrees with names. So I know now, regardless of how much education I have, I should be in the highest level of SFI. Ok, good to know. This makes me happy.

Knowing this, for the next few weeks I shall be meeting 3 days a week for half a day to do testing, assessments, etc to see where I belong. Though I believe she said that it could be a short as one week for some people. I do think this is probably because there are just a lot of people needing to take SFI. It should be interesting to see what happens. There is a wide range of people in this group. From a Dane, Brazilians, Argentinians, Somalians, Iranians, Arabs (from a variety of countries I do not know) Asians (again, a variety I do not know), a Ukrainian (who I instantly liked just because she was blonde and named Melinda), and even an English guy. I like the diversity. It's interesting and fun. Plus, I'm really looking forward to getting a schedule and a routine. I feel like it is important for my sanity.

Here's to Monday, the start of 'school'. Weee!

And 2 years for Fredrik and I and Toy Story 3! Double Wee! 

Oh and the sun is shining today, the greatest 'WEE' of all. It's been hiding the past couple of weeks. It shouldn't do that.

<3 <3

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dumb Question of the Week

Fail. Isn't it funny how you always get stupid questions until you decide to write about them and then poof, no more very stupid questions? Lame. Anyways, I just figured I would take this moment to write some of the classic ones and just vent a little. So here's a 'classic', that I get, often. This question always comes after I tell people, "I live here."

"Oh, so when will you move home?"

...what part of, "I live here." is unclear? I don't know how to explain, no, I live here. Like you do. Living. Residing. You know, living.

Not that I didn't get the same thing at home. "I'm moving to Sweden."

"Oh cool! When will you come home?" No. See, I'm moving. That means packing up my life into categorical boxes and shipping it to go across the ocean to a new country. Not visiting, not touristing, not studying. Words like living and moving are permanent words. I'm not studying abroad, and there are no current plans to come home, or, move home. (see?)

It might sound bitchy, but I get that basically every single time I meet someone new. Every time. (Maybe that's why I haven't gotten any good 'Dumb' questions...) It gets old. That's something about this whole thing, is you get a lot of the same questions over and over again. And normally it's fine, and I don't care to talk about it. But when you try to use words that are very defined, and it is still not registered, how else can you explain it? Sometimes, I just want to bang my head against the wall...or give really bizarre answers like, "When will you come home?" August 24th, 2030 at 1:32:02 pm on the back of a red llama.

The other thing that I'm just absolutely exhausted with are a selection of questions. I am always very polite when I answer these questions, because I know that the questioner doesn't know that these have been asked 100x already. (You know, this makes me feel so bad for the foreign exchange students in highschool who had to deal with these questions and other doozies like, "Do you have running water?" I blame it on the excited, innocent, ignorance of the small town I grew up in.) I definitely asked some of these questions below to them and many others from foreign countries. You can't help it. It's always something people want to know. Luckily, I didn't ask/or have been asked about running water. ha...

Now these questions can be interchanged to any country for Sweden/America. So these are the "Don't Ask the Foreigner (Specifically Americans)" questions. With included bitchy internal thoughts.

"Do you like Sweden?" Do you really have to ask? Why would I move here if I hated it? I hate your weather, but that's about it.

"What do you think about the war?" I hate it. I want everyone to come home. I'm mad at my government for sending my friends overseas for a selfish reason, because I don't buy the 'terroist' fear-mongering crap anymore. I just don't. It's like the boogey-man. Please stop asking me about it. You're not going to find anyone to debate with here. I just want my friends home, safe, and happy. And I want my government to take care of it's citizens at home. There's far too much suffering.

"Which do you like better? America or Sweden?" Please. Please. Stop asking people this question. It is so difficult to answer. America and Sweden are just not that comparable as countries. Do you realize that Sweden is the size of a small to medium state (population wise)? You cannot compare. Yes there are differences, duh. Yes there are similarities, duh. But they are not comparable. My home country is a massive beast of a place with different sub-cultures within a larger culture, all varying by region. We are not comparable. Every country has its perks and its downfalls. I can't say I like Sweden better than America because America is the home to my family and my friends. That is my America. Sweden is the home to my partner and politics that I am more agreed with. But I miss home. I love home. Just like when I'm in America I miss Sweden, Fredrik, and Godis. Make sense? Stop asking this question.

"Are all Americans fat?" Am I fat? No? You sure? Well, ok, there you go. But if you must know, where I'm from there are a lot of overweight to obese people. I'm from the Mid-Western medium sized city (Hi Louisville!) Where we have really really crappy public transport (almost non-existent unless you live in the middle of the city), and plenty of inexpensive restaurants. It's a bad mix, and so yes, a lot of people are overweight, where I am from. I never really noticed until I came home from Glasgow/Sweden last year. Then I realized that there is a problem. It's national and regional. I doubt that people in New York City are as overweight as people in Louisville. Why? Well didn't you know that it's a fact that Public Transport helps keep you skinny? Duh. And I just want to add, Thank you Sweden for making me cycle everywhere, my legs are looking fabulous.

"Are there really people that crazy like the ones you see on TV?" This is usually referencing Republicans. (Which I find fairly hilarious). Yes. There are. Just like there are crazy Swedes. Our politics are different. There are reasons why there are Republicans, and you being from a welfare state, have a difficult time understanding why anyone would be republican in your eyes, but please remember, one of our greatest presidents was a Republican. Abraham Lincoln. Yeah..kind of hard to see the connection between Republicans then and now? Yep.

"Does everyone really drive cars?" Where I am from. Yes. Remember big country. This is a different answer depending on region (NYC for example). I live at minimum a 10 minute drive from anything of importance (food, gas, clothing, etc). You cannot walk this. You cannot bike this. No. There are no buses. I live in the country. No buses. We drive. Yes. I started driving when I was 15. Yes I drive mostly an automatic. But don't you dare think that you're a better driver than me cause you have always driven a manual. I can drive a manual too, I just don't, and I'll out drive your ass any day of the week. I have years of experience on you. And Yes, I have my own car, and YES my family owns more than 1 vehicle. No, we are not the normal for families, we have horses, and they require certain trucks that normal families don't. However, once children are of driving age, more than likely there will be a car per person in that family, especially if everyone is working/at school. Different culture, yes it's hard on our environment. Please tell our government and population that. I'm sure they'll love to listen.

These are the major ones I usually answer. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy discussing America and our culture, etc with friends, where the environment is safe and open. Where I am comfortable. When I am at a party though, where I don't really know anyone, I would really prefer not to talk about these subjects, though they are 'easy' questions. They're uncomfortable to answer 95% of the time, and somehow I always get stuck in a position of defending myself/my country once these questions are asked. So, just...let's just leave them alone for now on ok? Ok. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is this going to make you uncomfortable?

When I moved to Sweden, I was intrigued and, well, relieved by the fact that I will have my medical insurance covered. I am definitely not one of those American's that really gives a damn about 'picking my doctor' or any other nonsense caused by fear mongering in the media about health reform. Actually, I had to go without health insurance while I was home for 6 months. I felt very fortunate that nothing disastrous happened. (and if anyone was interested I should of had health insurance, but my biological father dropped me and the magic age of 23 got me kicked off of Tricare). My option was paying several thousand dollars in "necessary" testing (to make sure I don't have any pre-existing conditions, etc) and premiums, to just pay an insane amount monthly just to pay 25 dollars at the doctors instead of 50. Also to protect me if I go to the hospital, etc. Or just going without and hoping for the best. The point with moving home was to save money, not give it all to Humana, who also has very poor practices when it comes to employee treatment and loyalty and they don't deserve anyone's money.

Anyways- back to the point.

This Monday I had to go to the women's clinic to take care of a prescription. In Linköping, the way the clinic works is that you call an automated number, leave your number, and they call you back. Well let's just say this was hysterical because I didn't understand anything on the phone message. (Oh the joys of a language barrier. I'm getting better though, I swear!). So I had to text Fredrik to call them and leave my number. Not a huge deal. No joke, within 10 minutes of me texting Fredrik, I received the call from the clinic! She spoke a little english and I told her what I needed, she said she would look up an appointment for me. After a not-sooo-awkward silence, she said, "Well, can you come in at 4pm today?" Me, "Yeah, sure!" Her, "Well, you can come in earlier if you want, 1 or 2 pm good?" Me, "Can I come at 2?" Her, "Yes of course. You'll be meeting with B.F. and she speaks English really well."

I came in early to fill out paper work (10 points to me for being able to fill out basically everything on the paper...all regarding health questions, etc). And around 1:45 B.F. came up to me and asked if I was her 2 o'clock, and then proceeded to let me know she was running a little late, but that she will be with me as soon as she can. I'm used to waiting in Doctor's offices, that's just sort of protocol. I also worked at an Audiologist, and I've seen people wait for a loooong time (though it was their own fault because they failed to bring in their referrals). So I was just prepared for it to take a while, and it didn't. Quater past 2 she came and got me.

B.F. is not a 'doctor'. She's a mid-wife. I thought this was extremely cool. This appointment was very casual, and she was extremely nice. She looked at my information and filled everything out. It was very personal and very comfortable. I didn't have to do any tests or anything, and she filled out the prescription on her computer. She said that the prescription was at Apoteket and that since they had just moved into their facility today she suggested I wait until this evening or tomorrow to pick up my prescription. I did not pay a dime. That visit qualified for a free visit. Wee!

Easy. It was the easiest thing, ever. The facilities were brand new, so everything was clean and bright. All the women were mid-wives (and I guess some nurses?) working there. This just really appeals to me. It was a facility for women, by women, and was next to the main health center. It was well run, even for the "just moved in today" learning curve.

I got my prescription yesterday, and it was also ridiculously easy. The pharmacists sit in little, like, bank like, cubicle thingys, with little seats for you. And they chat with you while they get your things. Super easy. All I had to do was how her my ID card and she got my prescription. How easy is that? She also signed me up for this program that is associated with only paying 900:- for my prescriptions and anything after that is either discounted or free. I'm not to sure, but whatevs.

I paid (really inexpensive as well) and left.

As I was leaving, I was wondering to myself why people at home are so scared of this? There was nothing scary about this, nor did I ever feel I was out of my control. And I do think that if I wanted to meet with B.F. again, I could, and I will request her next time I have to go in. She was super nice. All in all, it was a great experience. YAY!
<3 <3