High School - Sweden, High School Abroad

The Journey of Learning a Language in Sweden

by Jillian Stallman, CCI High School Abroad Participant in Sweden

High school has been going quite well in Sweden. It’s refreshing to be able to be in classes and not worry about grades, although I AM working hard, I assure you. Just usually not on the subjects we’re discussing. If we have a lecture, I often write down the written notes and translate what I can on the spot, but in a lecture situation, the words are usually more difficult than I can understand at this point. But I’m getting better (and quickly).

However, I think my pronunciation is a little horrible. Isabelle and Michelle occasionally make fun of me when I utterly butcher words, but I’m making less and less mistakes, and that’s reassuring (but the mistakes are still pretty significant. It happens).

Just so you know, I’m in Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, and English. And it’s AWESOME. Chinese doesn’t really interfere with any other languages, because it’s so different from any of the other three (which is very nice). But I had Spanish class on Monday and Tuesday (the 31st of January and the 1st of February) with about four people at Spanish level 5. Oh, and there was also a natural Argentinian Spanish speaker, Laura, in the class. And Sofia’s been to Spain for half a year. I’ve had two and a half years of Spanish at this point, so I’m a little.. Behind them. But the teacher is very nice about it, and the class sits so patiently when I am searching for a word when we’re talking. They’re all so polite.

The really cool thing about learning Swedish and also working on Spanish is that my vocabulary in both of them increases, but sometimes I get them mixed up when I’m trying to speak. So if I try to say “where” in Spanish, I might blurt out “var,” which is “where” in Swedish, instead of saying “dónde.” But if I’m just trying to find the word in Spanish and I know the word in Swedish, it usually comes to mind before the English translation. I don’t know if that makes sense at all, but it’s really very interesting. However, it does sometimes lead to me Google Translate very very simple Spanish words, such as “where” and “who” and “because,” since I can only think of the Swedish translation at times. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’m really enjoying the process.

I’ve decided that the journey of learning a language fascinates me. This might be why I’m taking three languages, that I have less than three years’ experience in, at the same time. And naturally, these classes are the ones I’m expected to do the most in (yes, I actually do homework for language classes. I know. Be surprised).

I’m not taking any math classes, and the Natural Science class is going over anatomy and organ systems right now, so I’m not focusing on the hard maths and sciences right now. It’s intriguing to be taking language and social science classes, but I kind of miss calculus. Maybe I’ll get out my calculator and do some trigonometric substitution integration asap. And yes, I know that I am an ultra nerd for saying that, but I do actually like math. Choosing a major in college is going to be so difficult.

What else.. Words that I have learned that are cool. Well, Swedes have a word that means “to go for coffee, and perhaps a little snack like cake as well.” I know, right? I love this place! To go for coffee is “att fika,” and if I want to say that I go for coffee, I can say “Jag fikar.” (Fikar is pronounced FEEH-karr). I am so impressed with the Swedish people for having a word like this. Swedish also has the word “lagom” (LAH-gohm), which fits them so well. It is a bit like calling something just right, like Baby Bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. Lagom. It fits them because Sweden is not too hot, not usually too cold, not too nice, not too mean, not too big, and not too small. It’s a little bit lagom. Just right the way it is.

Can you tell I like it here?

Also, most of the time when I text, I text in Swedish. Yeah. I know. I feel pretty awesome. It’s only when I’m really worried about being misunderstood or don’t want to cause offense or am in dire need of an answer asap in easy language that I resort to English. It makes me feel like I’m making progress.

Anyway, I will finish with that tidbit of information. Perhaps I won’t wait six more days to write again, but perhaps I will. I don’t really ever know what’s going on here. It’s a bit of a refreshing change, having no idea. By the way, to say “I have no idea”, one would say “Jag har ingen aning” (YAH har EENG-hen AHN-eeng).

This phrase has been incredibly helpful to me.

Read more of Jillian’s time in Sweden…

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

Discussion

One thought on “The Journey of Learning a Language in Sweden

  1. How early did you start learning Swedish before you went on foreign exchange there? Do most people know english?

    Posted by Hillary S. | October 3, 2011, 8:53 pm

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