Thursday, April 24, 2014

X marks the spot

Hello there!! It has been a few days since I have been able to blog, so I will back up a bit. I left the Nashville Airport at 4:15PM on Monday. With time change and lay over, I arrived in Linkoping, Sweden on Tuesday around 4:30PM.  On Tuesday, Erika picked us up at the airport and we went to get some routine things done and met Lena for bus passes, student ID cards, finding our rooms, eating dinner, finding our dorms, etc.  On Wednesday, I went to school for the first time.  Afterwards, Erika took us to get routers for wifi access, IKEA for shopping and dinner, and the grocery store.  Today, I went back to the school. Afterwards, I met with Olivia and Emily to help them with their internet connection.  Then, we made nachos for dinner.

There are many things that are different in this country that I found interesting and some of you may also... I'll only mention the main ones for now:
1) School: I am at the high school.  It is for grades 10-12. The school is very large.  They label their building by letter for different hallways.  There is A-Z!  Everything about this high school is unlike America.  To me, it is more like a university. For starters, the school has three places to eat: a Cafe for coffee and pastries, a large cafeteria, and a restaurant that is ran by students.  It also has a salon where students are studying to be beauticians, and I have seen some students in what looks like to be outfits for painters.  My teacher, Ms. Eva Blume is wonderful.  She is very kind and has helped me so much.  She does not have a "room" like teachers do in the US.  Rather, she shares an office space with other math teachers and pushes her materials in a cart to a classroom where she teaches.  Her schedule is much like a university professor; not as many classes as high school but lots of planning and discussing with other teachers.  They do not have subjects for math here (Geometry, Algebra II, etc.). They teach all of it.  From my understanding, everyone is required to take Math 1, but only students wanting to be in certain professions have to take Math 2. She has four different classes that she sees at different times during the week.  I have not seen them all quite yet. Additionally, once a week Ms. Blume meets with about 20 students she mentors. Today she gave them their new schedules and talked to them a bit, much like homeroom would be back home. She is also the union person for the school so many times during the day people will come talk to her about their concerns.
2) Transportation: I bus to and from school every day.  It costs $12 krona which is not quite $2 US dollars each time. I get on the bus close to my dorm and get off at the main train station.  There I wait for a different bus to take me to the high school.  I think it takes about 35-40 minutes.  Most everyone will bus, bike, or walk.  They do drive cars, but it is for long distances.  Most people have Volvo, Volkswagen, Fiat, and Toyota. Outside every building of the dorm there are about 20 bikes.  It is very common.  Big intersections for driving do not have stop lights, but huge circles (I can't think of the American word right now) so there is only a yield sign.
3) Food/Drink: Yes, I have had meatballs-twice!  They are very good.  After some observation, it is obvious that people eat much healthier here.  There foods include lots of fruit and vegetables, grease/fat is limited, and portion sizes are much smaller.  People eat with a fork and a knife.  They do not put their knife down the entire time they are eating.  Drinks are different too, they have some similar products like Coke but lots of other sodas (Orange, Apple, Lime) and sparkling water.  For those of you who know me well... this is interesting... creamer is almost impossible to find and they definitely do not have CoffeeMate!!! In school, they drink coffee almost all day.  On Wednesday, I tried some and it was the strongest coffee I had ever tasted!! Today, it took some form of a creamer and five cubes of sugar for me to be able to drink it. 
4) Clothing: Converse is huge here.  Almost everyone wears jeans... sweatpants are hardly ever seen =(.  Some where leggings.  Almost everyone wears tennis shoes or boots (what I would call combat boots).  There are not a lot of backpacks... most students have a purse or form of a duffle bag. Most brands I am not familiar with, however I have seen quite a bit of Nike tennis shoes. It seems that everyone wears whatever they want to wear here.  It has been hard to find a "style".  I have seen some groups of girls in short leather jackets and I have also seen crop t-shirts.  Also, the boys at the school roll their pants/shorts up (about one time) and typically wear zip up jackets and shirts with buttons.
5) Living Arrangement: I live very close to campus, I am with the college students.  In my corridor, there are eight people.  We share a kitchen and living/dining room area. My room has a bed, end table, two chairs, bookshelf, desk, computer chair, stand up shower, toilet, sink, and walk way for hanging and staking clothes. I have never lived in a dorm before, but the people I met are friendly and it is nice to see their lifestyle.
6) Language: Last but not least, I cannot ignore the difference in Swedish and English.  The barrier has been a bit more complicated than expected. I have learned to rely on body language, facial expressions, and tones. I think it has gotten me quite far.  Everyone in Sweden is required to speak English so it is very helpful when I need assistance.  They can switch over very quickly. They are shy, especially the high school students.  I think it will take a little longer for them to feel comfortable around me.

LOTS to say!!! There is much more but I think that sums things up well.  My laptop says it is 3:01PM but my iPhone says it is 22:01 (10:01PM) so I will get ready for tomorrow and get some sleep! This weekend we are planning to see Erika again, I think we will take the train to Norrkoping and visit around there.

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