High School - Sweden, High School Abroad

Improving My Swedish with Spanish Films and Harry Potter

by Jillian Stallman, CCI High School Abroad Participant in Sweden

Jillian works on her Swedish and Spanish during her high school abroad program.

Typically, Mondays are the longest, horriblest, worstest days ever. Hands down. They come right after Sunday, when people are up until three a.m. finishing the things they were too lazy to finish on Friday, Saturday, or any part of Sunday before about 6 p.m. In Sweden, though, I really like Mondays. They’re relaxing, and I have English class. I love English class. You might think that it’s mainly because I get a chance to actually be right for once, and guess what? Bingo! You’re right! It IS because I get to be right!

I’m not sure Josephine, that’s the teacher, is so tickled as I am, because sometimes I might occasionally go a little overboard. Which translates to ”I tend to go overboard about all the time.” Sorry. However, it’s not just the being right-ness. It’s also that I’m pretty impressed with the kids in my class, and English is the only time I can see how flipping brilliant they are. Because it’s the only time I can fully understand them.

Anyway, back to Monday. Monday morning was the last day of Spanish, which sounds a little weird, but it’s just that it was a year’s worth of class crammed into about three quarters of a year. On Monday, el last-o day-o of Spanish-o (I kid, I kid! El último día de la clase de español) we watched some movie in the Art Museum in the city in this rather quaint theater. The movie, unsurprisingly, was in Spanish. The subtitles were in Swedish. No English involved whatsoever. The experience was incredible, because I probably didn’t know about 30-40 words from the whole movie from the text, mainly because I fortunately knew all the words for die, murder, cemetery, death, train, Mexico, border, Texas, water, run, etc. etc, which was the essence of the movie. The whole experience was even better or more pathetic, depending on how you look at it, since I understood significantly more Swedish than I did Spanish. Yeah. I think my Swedish after being here 7 weeks is better than my Spanish after two and a half years. Uhmm.. ouch. My Spanish isn’t horrible, either, although it’s gone into hiding with how much time I’m throwing into learning Swedish.

I’ve started speaking almost all Swedish with my host family, and that varies from awesome to depressing. Sometimes I’ll get about everything and understand words that are rather random, like ‘hippopotamus.’ Which in Swedish is flodhäst (FLUHD hest), which actually, if you take the words separately can translate directly to river horse, which is a wonderful example of when directly translating doesn’t work at all. Other times, I’ll get an awkward look because I should understand a word, but I have no idea whatsoever what it means.

At that point, it’s rather depressing. Hey, it’s what happens when one’s most significant source of vocabulary is the first Harry Potter book. Wanna talk about spells? Dragons? Witches? Broomsticks? Three-headed dogs? I am SO your girl! Anything else? Not so much. I need to start listening to conversations when they actually start, so I can steer them toward a topic I understand. Like Quidditch.

Read more about Jillian’s high school abroad experience 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.


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