Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? You can add your link here.
What can I get you today? There is really strong black coffee (the Swedish way,) chamomile tea, and rooibos tea. Since it is getting closer to Christmas I also have some glögg, a warm Christmas drink. There’s and alcoholic version, and a non-alcoholic version, both are really good. What would you like?
If we were having fika, that is what you call coffee with friends in Sweden (usually it includes cinnamon rolls, a sandwich, or cookies as well,) I would have to admit that I have neglected my blog this week. I’ve only posted two posts so far, The Weekly Smile, and Wordless Wednesday (only a photo.) It has been a super busy, productive week. I am very happy with it, I just haven’t spent many minutes by the computer. I will make up for that this weekend and get back to everyone that left a comment, and I promise to visit all the coffee shares.
“FIKA is a time to enjoy an intentional cup of coffee with friends, acquaintances, family, or colleagues. An experience of drinking coffee, usually with something to eat. This is an important social part of everyday Swedish culture. Instead of meeting for a beer, or a drink after work, we often meet for a fika. It doesn’t have to include sweet pastries, but for many (especially the older generation) it does. You could also choose a whole grain sandwich to go with your coffee (in these modern days you can switch your coffee for another beverage, even though the original fika always included coffee.) Fika is a Swedish word that cannot be translated directly to English, it must be experienced. It is a cultural thing, you do not say no without a very strong reason when someone invites you for a fika. If you are invited to someones home the host provides everything, but it is not rude to bring something little. If someone asks you to meet them for a fika at a cafe, everyone pays for themselves. Do not offer to pay for everyone. Food is expensive in Sweden and you could put someone in a difficult situation if you pay for everyone, then that person would feel a need to pay next time. Having a fika together is a great way to catch up with old friends, or causally get to know someone without expectations or strings attached. It is also common to have a fika together when interviewing/being interviewed for a new job. It is socially excepted to have a fika with anyone you like.” – Maria Jansson, sagittariusviking.com
So what have I done this week, while neglecting the blogging world? On Monday the only day that wasn’t crazy busy we got ready for my daughters first real day in school. She started school on Tuesday. We got up super early and took the bus for almost two hours (and then almost two hours home by the end of the day. I’ve had a lot of time to read on our bus rides.) She is going to school in the next town over, where I am going to work (starting Monday!) I followed her to school, and since we already visited for an hour last week, I opted to leave her there by herself instead of staying. I know my daughter, and I have welcomed so many new kids to school myself as a teacher, that I knew that this would be the easiest for her. She had a great time! Like I knew she would. The teachers are highly educated and engaged in what they are doing, committed to the students success. They have given me updates about her every day. My daughter also vividly explained about all her new experiences on the way home every day this week. I am very proud of her. She was excited, but nervous before starting. After the first day she wasn’t nervous at all despite the new environment. It is a very warm and welcoming atmosphere at her school. My daughter’s class is an introduction to Swedish. All the students are from other countries. The lessons are in Swedish, but the teachers translates to English when needed. When the teachers decides that she is ready, she will be eased into a regular school very close to our new house. Yes, the apartment we looked at last Sunday was fabulous! It is the bottom floor of a private house. We will move in around New Year. I signed the lease while my daughter attended her first day of school.
I took these two photos of a beautiful boardwalk in the little town of Rättvik, while we were waiting on a train one day this week. Some days the bus doesn’t go all the way, and we have to take a train part of the way.
The rest of the week I have been busy getting the last documents (for moving back to Sweden after 8 years in the US) requested by the authorities together. Now I have filed everything I need to file. It has been a full time job to just get back, it’s been like creating a new identity all over again, and I am already a citizen and I speak the language. I can only imagine how confusing and difficult it would be for an immigrant, from another culture, that doesn’t speak the language. It have made me more humble to live in another country, being an outsider myself for several years. My daughter asked me why there is so many black girls/women with hijab here. I tried to explain that they’ve fled from a war, and that Sweden is a safe place that many people seek refuge in. There is a very large number of refuges here. So far I haven’t experienced or seen any conflicts, but I have heard racists comments both by children and adults. When I was a kid in the 80’s seeing a black person was highly unusual. I still remember the first time my little sister saw a black person, she must of been around five years old. We were on a bus with mom, and she was just amazed. She walked right up to them and started a conversation, as she got more comfortable she asked to touch a man’s hair! The same way people used to ask to touch her blond hair, when we were visiting our summer house in Spain.
Can I get you a refill on your beverage? How is your week so far?
On Thursday I visited my new work place, and signed paperwork. I’m starting on Monday, and I am very excited about that. I met my future colleges, and some of the children I will work with. It felt good. As the teacher I have the educational responsibility for a group of two small classes/groups of four and five year old children, that are working together as a unit. I work with two teacher’s aides, that I am certain are very competent at their work. There are guidelines of how everything work, and routines they are used to follow. I am going to learn them from the current teacher, that I will work alongside until the end of this month. This week I have been reading up on recent research for my age group of children, and some of the new nationwide guideline documents that’s been enforced while I was abroad. I would say that the educational system in Sweden is a lot different compared to the US. I am excited to once again have real use for my own education. I love being a teacher, and I am very much looking forward to work in Sweden again. I am also grateful for my daughter’s opportunities here. (Even though I very much enjoyed the last few months of homeschooling her, while getting ready for our big change of life.)
Since I am going to work full time, I’ve applied for an after school program for my daughter, her days are very short, shorter than the school days in the US. Yesterday we visited the after school program she is going to go attend for 1-2 hours/day. I am very impressed. Both the indoor and outdoor activities, the house, and the personnel were inviting. Indoors there is art and crafts of every imaginable kind, along with plenty of books and a quiet room, and a lego room. Outdoors there is a playground, plenty of free open space, a little hill for sledding, a football field, and when it’s a little colder (usually in January) they make an ice hockey rink. Hearing about the hockey rink made me especially happy since I used to love playing hockey. I will take my daughter there in the evenings and teach her everything I know (even though I am sure that my skills are very rusty at the moment. LOL. It’s going to be fun!) This program is at a walking distance from our new house, and right next to the school she is going to attend as soon as she gets more proficient in Swedish. Her first day here will be next Wednesday, and she already asked when she is going to go there several times! It was difficult to get her to leave when we were visiting yesterday. It makes me incredibly happy that she likes both her school and her after school program so much. That she feels comfortable and excited with all these new experiences. Speaking of new experiences, she went to a swimming hall for the first time in her life this week. We’ve had an outdoor pool at some of the houses we’ve lived at previously, but she’s never been to an indoor swimming hall. They are very popular in Sweden. She is going to take swim lessons once a week here.
This is becoming a really long post, my apologies. It’s been a pretty intense few weeks here; new country, new school, new job, new house, new after school program – check! In a few days we’ve been here a whole month. I couldn’t be happier with how everything is coming together. I am very grateful. It’s going to be about another month (or two at the most) before I’m completely caught up with everything, but the most important pieces of the puzzle are there now (coming together exactly the way I pictured the scenario of our move to Sweden in my head.) I am happy. My daughter is happy.
This weekend I need to do laundry, cleaning, and shop some things for my daughter. I am going to try to get some extra rest in as well. Ooo, I almost forgot, my brother gave me some exquisite wine glasses that belonged to my mom, and our dad the other day. I remember those glasses! That made me so happy, I don’t have anything after my mom. If we were having coffee I would ask you to please tell me all about what’s going on in your life right now. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?