Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Smultronstallet (Ice cream restaurant)

Gota kanal

Hiking in Soderkoping

 Top of the hill =)
Last day with my wonderful teacher Ms. Eva Blume

"Be brave enough to live creatively. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go in to the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful, what you'll discover will be yourself."

I have tried to think of things to say in this last Sweden blog. When I found this quote, I knew it would say everything I cannot exactly put in words. This experience has truly been life changing. I have heard the saying "wherever you go, there you are". I would rephrase that now to, "wherever you go, you continue to find and create yourself". The many goodbyes of firsts and lasts are nothing short of bittersweet. I am so glad to go home- graduate college (finally!), visit with family and friends, finally watch one of my nephews ball games this season, etc. However, there are so many things here I am going to miss. I honestly believe I am a stronger and bolder person because of this experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world! 

In school this week, the students are still preparing for the national test that will take place in a couple of weeks. My teacher gave the students all of their old exams back and also had them take a sample test. As with any high school student, most are not very interested in math. It took much prompting and checking on students to keep them on task. This week, they are also taking English tests so the schedule was a bit different than usual. Like back at home, I have probably interacted just as much (if not more) with teachers than I have students. We have spent lots of time discussing similarities and differences between American and Swedish secondary education. 

I will give a short recap of my last few days here in Linkoping:
Monday I went to a chocolate store in Gamla Linkoping to bring some goodies home for my family and students back at the high school I was student teaching at before I left. I also went with Ericka and her boyfriend Jonas to Soderkoping. We ate at a famous ice cream restaurant, took a hike up the hill/mountain, and walked around downtown. Before going back to the bus stop, we went to Norrkoping's downtown as well. 
Tuesday For dinner, we met with five Swedish student teachers who will be coming to Bowling Green for four weeks in September. We tried to help prepare them for schools in America. I think they were a bit overwhelmed but we reassured them that with them being able to talk English they wouldn't have a problem. 
Wednesday Today I have been packing and cleaning my corridor. It looks a little bare in here now. I made chocolate chip cookies for my corridor mates to try as well. Tonight we will go eat downtown and have say our goodbyes to some people we have met during our time here. We will head to the airport around 10 tomorrow morning. It will take 18 hours of travel time to arrive in Nashville just before 11 tomorrow night (my body will think it is 6:00AM). 

My plan is to blog one more time when I get back to the United States! Graduation is Saturday-so there will be much to errands and things to get done on Friday. To those of you who have followed me through this journey, I thank you and hope you have enjoyed getting to hear about Sweden and back through the eyes of a teacher. See you soon USA!!

Monday, May 12, 2014


The Nordic Museum (Sweden's history)

Kaknastornet (30 stories up!)

Touching the Baltic Sea!

Gamla Stan (behind the Royal Palace)

Vasa Museum

Hello again all! This post will be about my time spent this weekend in Stockholm (Sweden's capital). So things don't get confusing I'm going to do my best to tell things in chronological order...
Friday We ate at McDonald's before taking the bus to the train station.  Our first train took almost three hours to get to Stockholm. It was a wonderful scene...there was tons of water throughout the trip. Once we arrived, we got bus passes and found our hostel. We got settled in and quickly fell asleep.
Saturday After getting ready for the day, we found a place for breakfast. I had a coffee and chocolate muffin at the Expresso House. We (sort of) discovered how the buses ran and found out how to get to a stop close to the Vasa Museum. We spent a couple hours taking the guided tour, watching the film, and exploring. The Vasa is often referred to as "Sweden's Titanic". We then stumbled upon the Nordic Museum, which was all about Sweden's history (clothing, art, fashion, etc.). Afterwards, we found a restaurant for lunch close to a theme park. To get back to the central train station, we hopped on a very old tram that actually stopped much sooner than we had anticipated.  Stockholm's train station is much different than Linkoping's. It was full of shopping stores and restaurants (all inside which was a nice escape from the cold rain). We found it odd when stores started closing at 5:00PM. From there we headed to the Kaknastornet. The bus dropped us off a little ways from the tower and we chose to take the quicker route (through a less traveled muddy path in the woods). Once inside we pushed number 30 on the elevator and soon found ourselves in the clouds (as it was foggy and cloudy the entire weekend). On our way back to the hostel we stopped at Pizza Hut (which is much more fancy than the US). 
Sunday We decided to venture out to the Old Town to do a bit more shopping and find the Royal Palace. (This was of course after we stopped by Starbucks!!!) We found the island to be very confusing, but after some time wandering we found guards and knew we had arrived. Once we purchased our tickets we toured the Royal Apartments, the Treasury, and the Tre Kronor Museum. Luckily we were able to watch the changing of the guards which was very extensive including a band, speaker, and lots of saluting. Then we decided to wander some more, found a place for lunch and made our way back to the hostel to pick up out things. On the way to catch our train, we stopped to eat at MAX (Sweden's McDonald's). 

This weekend was much more relaxed and "go with the flow" than London. It was a wonderful time and I know I will cherish the memories forever.  Only 3 (almost 2 for me) days until I touch American soil again. Graduation is also quickly approaching! Best wishes to you all!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring time = Testing Time

 Gamla Linkoping
 Gamla Linkoping (We think this was someone's back yard)
Kebab meal
 Longhorn (Can you tell I've been hungry lately?!)
Ericka and I at the goodbye get together

Hello again!! This post will be a bit of a mixture between what has been going on at school and a little about other things I have been doing while in Linkoping.
At school this week, my teacher has been testing students on Oral Comprehension in Mathematics. Therefore, we have not been in the classroom actually "teaching". Instead of an hour of math class, the time period is split into two sections of students. During this time 3 or 4 students meet Ms. Blume in a separate room. They are given calculators, rulers, pencils, and a large sheet of paper containing four graphs. Ms. Blume asks students questions pertaining to different graphs and/or different questions about individual graphs. Although I do not speak Swedish, through observation I believe that once one student answers other students are able to give their input as well.  The idea of this is to test their ability to comprehend, reason and understand graphs. The students are grouped (somewhat) based on varying abilities. As with any test, you can tell that some students are worried and anxious.  After the test is given we go back to Ms. Blume's office where she grades the students based on how well they answered the questions. The students who are not testing during their period for Math are in the original classroom preparing. Once again, I found myself observing the wonderful student-teacher relationship she has developed.  Speaking with them before and after the test, easing some of their anxieties (even if they did not perform well). Tomorrow, we will finish her portion of giving oral tests.  Next week, she will continue teaching again so I am looking forward to getting to interact more with the students and helping them with their individual work.

After school, I have been doing some odd and end things to take advantage of my time here.  On Monday, we had a Cinco de Mayo party with some people in Emily and Olivia's corridor along with two other student teachers from the University of Kentucky. We made tacos and provided nachos.  No one outside of the United States knew what the holiday was until we explained it to them. It was nice to sit and chat with people from so many different places. I left a little early, but one of the corridor mates even got his guitar out to sing a bit!  On Tuesday, Ericka met with us when she got out of school and took us to "Gamla Linkoping" or the Old Linkoping.  A small, antique-like part of the town. We went in a few shops but they were closing while we were there. I will go back next week to buy some chocolates to take home.  Before going home, Ericka and I went to eat at a little restaurant near the bus stop.  I had kebab for the first time! On Wednesday, I met Ericka downtown to do some shopping.  I didn't buy much but it was nice to look around at all of the stores.  For dinner, we had Longhorn Steakhouse.  I could tell I wasn't in America, but it was still very good!  Afterwards, we met up with everyone to say goodbye to the student teachers from the University of Kentucky. They are graduating this Saturday. Today after school I went to the grocery store and I also did some laundry. I have started to pack for Stockholm but I am not quite finished yet. We will leave tomorrow evening and return Sunday evening. We have already made some plans for next week and I look forward to sharing them with you all!! One week until I am back on American soil where refills are free and doors with handles show that you should pull the door not push =).  God bless!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Please, mind the gap.

 As soon as we stepped out of the underground tube, we saw "Big Ben" (the tower, clock, and bell that stands at the end of the House of Parliament).
 While walking through the Royal Park, there were so many birds!
Our Yeoman Warder tour guide at the Tower of London. Here we also saw the crown jewels and walked around one of the buildings full of armory.

Westminster Abbey: STUNNING!! We toured here during the day on Friday and then at night attended an evensong service where we got to hear the men/boys choir sing.

This was taken in the Royal Park on a bridge, facing the Eye (a giant ferris wheel of "capsules").

After touring St. Paul's Cathedral, we climbed up to the Whispering Gallery, Stone Gallery, and Golden Gallery... a total of 528 steps and 280 feet high. 

 Typical tourist shot in a red photo booth =)
Buckingham Palace! (The flag was up which meant that Queen Elizabeth II was home)

In the tube, you are asked to "mind the gap" or as we would say "watch your step".
On Hogwart's Bridge at the Making of Harry Potter Tour at Warner Brother's Studios

Bridge of London

Hello all!! London was so much fun and an experience I will never forget! Although I would like to tell you every single detail about all the fabulous things I did, I truly believe I could not do any of it justice! To me, to truly appreciate the architecture, history, culture, and mindset of London you must go yourself. Instead, I will list them in the hopes that one day perhaps you will take an adventure yourself: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery, Saint Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Making of Harry Potter Tour, Tower of London, Bridge of London, Platform 9 3/4, Big Ben, the Eye, House of Parliament.
As you can see, we crammed as much as humanly possible in the 3 days we were in London. I have never in my life been on so much public transportation at one time. While in London, we had to use the underground tube to get to cities in central London, overground bus when the tube wasn't working, train to get to and from the airport, bus to get from Stockholm airport to our city's central station, bus to get from central station to and from our dorms, and double decker bus to get to Harry Potter tour in multiple ways with multiple wait times with multiple complications (tube strike and construction)! I wouldn't trade it for the world =)

This week, we are doing National testing at my school. The system is much different from ours so I am enjoying learning new ways to test. I will post much more about it later! Cheers friends!!