I was walking out of the gym today (I've become a bit of a gym rat, more about that later), and the cover of the latest issue of Nöjesguiden, a sort of New York Magazine for Sweden, caught my eye. First reaction: Sweden loves Kanye? That will be an interesting article. Second reaction: That will make one banging poster for my apartment.
I must say, it looks pretty slammin' on the bright blue wall, and I'm going to love having breakfast with Kanye every morning. Actually, now that I think about it, if I could have breakfast/dinner/drinks with one living person, it would be Kanye. How fun would that be? He would be such hoot and TALK IN ALL CAPS and I bet he'd let me drink all the mimosas and eat all the pancakes I want and still pick up the tab. YO YO GIRL, THIS BRUNCH IS ON ME I GIVE YOU THE CHIVALRY THAT MAKE YOU ALL SHIVERY. I EFFIN LOVE BRUNCH. I AM THE BRUNCH MASTER!!!!! That was a poor Kanye impression (the Fug Girls do it better) but you get the idea, he'd be a blast to hang out with. All of this has very little to do with Sweden, so I'll make my point. Learning Swedish the traditional way, in classes, hasn't worked out as expected; after passing A1, I was told that I couldn't take A2 because, um, I don't know? I didn't feel like arguing with Swedish academic bureaucracy way more than I wanted to enroll in the class. I tried to sign up for the Swedish For Immigrants course offered by the city of Gothenburg, but political refugees are given priority, moving me down so far on the list that I would be back in DC before being enrolled, #whitegirlproblems.
So, I've tried to find alternative methods to learning at least a decent amount of Swedish. Like the Kanye article, I've made more of an effort to at least attempt to read local newspapers, like Metro, which is given out for free on the trams each morning. Similarly, in what could be the Greatest Thrift Store Find ever, I spotted (puns abound!) a copy of Gossip Girl IN SWEDISH, which I'm totally excited to read. Ni vet att ni älskar mig. XOXO.
I'm not entirely sure how this is possible, but I have even more free time this semester than the previous. I have only five hours of class a week, and honestly could not find work to do if my life depended upon it. This probably sounds like a dream, and it kind of is, but it can also get excruciatingly boring, especially when other people have class and you are left to your own devices. This usually involves a lot of blog-browsing and afternoon napping. I've picked up a few extracurricular activities to keep myself from turning into a puddle of worthlessness and lack of purpose, both of which have been surprisingly helpful for Swedish. I've begun work as a sort of T.A. at an adult English class, and it's been great so far. We're often paired up with students, and I've become chummy with Viktor, a really nice Russian man who moved here 10 years ago to become a neurologist. I kind of feel like a total asshat, teaching someone who is both older and more intelligent than me how to add s's on the ends of words to make them plural, but the learning experience has gone both ways. His English is limited, so he'll often try to express a thought or word in Swedish, which gives me a chance to practice a new language as well. It's always a sort of Who's on First? experience when we're both trying to fish for words in our non-native tongues.
I've also started hitting the gym almost every day now. It's a great way to kill the time, plus I've found it to be an amazing stress killer. I mostly attend classes- yoga, Pilates, Zumba- and it totally didn't occur to me that the fitness instructor would speak in Swedish. Listening to them repeat the same key phrases throughout a class has definitely helped me to remember words and improve my pronunciation. Ninety-nine percent of the adult Swedish population (statistic completely fabricated) is fluent in English, though, so every once in a while the instructor will throw in a phrase that sounds like it came from a package of Yogi Tea. My favorite so far? "It's not about weathering the storm, it's about learning to dance in the rain." I figure even if I end this semester not knowing much more Swedish than I do now, at least my butt is going to be TONED.