This was our second week of classes and the first week in which we settled into our normal daily schedule. We have rotating subjects in the mornings depending on the day and then devote our afternoons to studying a particular "theme" for several weeks. Our current theme is feminism, so in the afternoons we've been researching different topics relating to feminism in small groups. Strangely enough, that seems to be an area where I am flourishing. It's actually easier in some ways for me to pull out the academic Swedish than to speak conversationally. That's probably thanks to my Swedish literature class at BYU and a whooole lot of cognates. (I had to convince one of the teachers here, a hippie-type named Tomas who wears capris and running shoes to class every day, that "essentialistisk" could work. Here's to you, my fellow comp lit compatriots!) That's not to say I didn't break a sweat when I had to explain postcolonial feminism to my class in Swedish. But what's life without a little challenge?
I think I'm going to regret having said that.
|Our class timeline of important dates in women's history|
Anyway, our daily routine this week has put me in some interesting situations. For starters, our class has three periods per week devoted to learning English. At first I was going to use that time to just peace out and go work on Swedish grammar or reading comprehension in the library, but I've found it's actually refreshing to have some English thrown into my day and to (for once) not be exerting all the energy of my being into expressing my most basic thoughts. Not to mention, one of my most ridiculous/memorable classmates, Chris, was putting up a big fuss the other day because he didn't feel he could be challenged by the class since his English is so good (and it is, it is, I'll give him that). He doesn't want to take any more tests or learn any more grammar, he just wants to "talk Coleridge." Our teacher, Maria, later asked me to sit in on his advanced class and "give him a run for his money." Challenge accepted.
The other subject that our instructors offered me a free pass on skipping was math. At first, I'm pretty sure they thought I was avoiding the math class because it's not my strong suit. I was probably thinking the same thing; I mean, I haven't taken a math class in over seven years now. (Insert "Why was high school almost a decade ago?!?!?!" crisis here.) But I decided to sit in on the first matematik lesson for fun and I realized that I'd have no problem keeping up. I decided to rent out one of the math books and start reading through as a way of practicing Swedish as well as stretching my left brain a wee bit. I still think I will probably only go to math once a week. I'm not sure how well it will ultimately serve me to know how to say "square root" or "prime number" in Swedish (as opposed to more useful phrases like, say, "Pumpkin cheesecake is my life" or "Will you marry me?").
The rest of what we do is relatively normal, I suppose. We also have Swedish class, history, and current events in the mornings. The one other subject worth mentioning is hälsa (health) on Wednesdays. I happened to be running late that morning and when I arrived at our classroom, no one was there. I searched the building and the surrounding area to no avail. With nothing else to do, I grabbed a book from the library and camped out on a couch near my classroom to wait for everyone to come back. I have been checking out lättlästning books, which are basically abridged texts in simple Swedish for people who are struggling with reading (that's me right now). So far, I've tried to pick out novels that were originally written in Swedish so that I can get some additional cultural exposure in the process. But on Wednesday, I was drawn to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I know most of you are probably morally opposed to doing anything too Halloweeny before October or whatever, but I am suspending any such rules and doing everything in my power to celebrate fall while I can. The first snow is supposedly on its way in the next couple weeks.
When the gang finally returned, they told me that for health class, they'd gone up to the yoga studio on the third floor and meditated.
What the namaste? Not only "Why is that part of our curriculum?" but why did I have to miss out on probably the coolest thing we did all week? Note to self: Make health class a priority. I'd hate to miss the day we all get free Swedish massages.
More than a few of my friends here (yes! I have friends now!) have begged me to join them in the Expo program, where I can have better camaraderie and be exposed to more stimulating material. It's not a bad idea, but I have to admit that there are days when I really dig the weirdness of allmän. It's like being back in grade school again. Walking to the cafeteria for lunch every day, I can hear a recess bell ringing at a nearby elementary school, and for a moment I feel like a kid again.