Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Spy...Reese Witherspoon!

Hello all! [sorry if the title is deceiving, no, I have yet to have a celebrity sighting in Sweden...sighhh]

My apologies for the lack of blog activity in the last week or so.  I have been quite the busy lady these past few days between traveling and lesson planning.  The former, I'm okay with, the latter takes entirely too much time! So, between my birthday and today, I have visited two big cites, another country, taught many many lessons, yelled at Tenhult's internet more times than I can count, and met the mayor of Jönköping.  Needless to say, I've been a busy lady.  I will try and hit all the high points (meaning, I will devote entirely too much time to the beautiful city of Oslo....I think obsessed is a good descriptive word to use to try and describe my feelings for this wonderful place!).  

So, I shall start with a few of my usual Sweden musings... 
1. I am constantly amazed by the very diverse nature of Sweden, specifically Jönköping.  Now, I know everybody assumes "blonde hair, blue eyes"...and there are a number who fit this description in Sweden, but by and large, this is not the case.  In my school especially, the immigrant population is very large and my classes are far more diverse than they ever were at good ol' WHS.  There are a number of students from places such as Somalia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, etc.  This was never my image of Sweden before, but apparently it is quite the destination for immigrants. 
2. I said it once, and I will say it again because it just baffles me so...the amount of white chucks here is insane.  People wear them with everything.  They will have this very sleek, "European" outfit and finish it off with white chucks.  Swedish style is very nice for the most part.  It's all about skinny jeans, scarves, and layers (yes, for the boys too).  But, the problem is, there is just very little variation in style.  Most everybody dresses the same! 
3. Reese Witherspoon ads are everywhere.  She models for a brand called Lindex and her ads are all over the place in Sweden and even Norway. It's awesome (after all, I am a big Reese fan).  You could quite easily play "I Spy Reese" games all over Scandinavia.  
4. Yes, McDonald's truly is everywhere.  Yes, it tastes better in Europe.  
5. When a hostel says "Just a 10 minutes walk from the city center", you better check how fast those people are walking! 
6. Sweden and Norway do not have KFC, but they do have NFC...though I'm not entirely sure what it stands for...guesses are appreciated... (Norway Fried Chicken? Northern Fried Chicken? Never Fried Chicken?) 

Now onto more important (but not the most important) things...my weekend trip to Göteborg or Gothenburg for us English folk :) This occurred the day after my birthday (so, September 17-18).  For those of you who are not familiar with Swedish cities outside of Stockholm (join the club!)...Göteborg is the 2nd largest city in Sweden.  I wanted so much to really love the city, and it was nice, but it did not impress me as much as I hoped it would.  I think my expectations were too high for my first weekend trip.  Nonetheless, Göteborg did have its good spots.  I swear, between reaching our hostel and going to a million museums and sights, we walked alllllll over the city! Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, my camera was MIA for my trip to Göteborg--luckily it turned up upon my return to Tenhult.  However, that meant I was camera-less for the weekend--had to rely on my trusty ipod touch (thank goodness it was fully charged)!  

We spent most of that Saturday exploring a variety of museums.  By "we" I mean myself, Gary (my PSU travel buddy), his roommate Lorenzo, and another guy, Kevin, from Germany.  We started by heading to the docks and checking out the giant ferris wheel the city has--very picturesque!  Probably my favorite part of the entire day was the maritime museum in Göteborg.  We were able to explore a number of warships, submarines, and other boats.  By explore, I mean literally crawling through the submarine, climbing all around the ships, and pretend steering the boat!  It was a big kid's dream :) But, one thing I discovered is that I NEVER want to be stuck in a submarine for 4 months...it's just not for me.  The remainder of our Saturday was not especially thrilling; we walked through a few more sights.  One was called the Viking Ship Museum, but was a bit misleading.  You would think that with all the Viking history Sweden possesses, there would be quite a display. WRONG.  This was not the case (Oslo's Viking museum was MUCH more impressive)!  

On Sunday, Göteborg began to redeem herself (except for the torrential downpour she sent our way before our bus trip home...that wasn't so nice).  After placing our backpacks in a luggage locker at the train station, Gary and I headed off to do museum tours round 2!  We began at the city's Rosarium.  For lack of a better word, this is Göteborg's botanical gardens.  They had some really beautiful flowers and plants; I was in picture heaven.  Knowing how much my Grandma loves flowers and gardening, I always try and take some really lovely pictures of all these things...now, I've become a bit obsessed!  All the colors are so very beautiful, I can't help myself.  My facebook albums (Oslo especially) are filled with flower picture after flower picture :) They make me happy!  Plus, the Rosarium had some real, giant lily pads--reminiscent of the Baltimore Zoo.  I definitely had the urge to hop across them!

We also went to the National Museum that housed some wonderful artists (the likes of Monet and Picasso). Mags, knowing your love for Monet, you would've enjoyed this place to the max! I was curious about one thing...here's my question to all you museum gurus out there: Is it frowned upon to take pictures of paintings and other artwork?  Does it take away the "integrity" of the piece?  I wasn't sure what the protocol was on that front...And, last but not least, we explored a cultural museum (sorry, I can't quite recall the name of it).  This actually turned out to be very interesting. It's different from the stereotypical museum scene; it was actually very interactive and modern.  There was a travel exhibit that discussed the different forms of travel that you don't always think about.  It went from leisure and business travel to immigration and forced removal.  It really made you think and had some very vivid pictures.  In the same museum, there was a "feelings" exhibit.  Now, for this exhibition, you had to take your shoes off and put on slippers that they had at the entrance.  It was part of the quiet, relaxing, emotional environment.  I just thought it was nice to give my feet a rest! In this portion, there were giant water couches that you could lay on, a type of planetarium, and spinning circles, among other things.  I am aware that these descriptions are a bit unclear, but just think of the interactive/slipper environment and you get the picture...another museum for the little kid in me :) 

Apparently, I had more to say about Göteborg than I anticipated.  So, I will save my gushing about the city of Oslo for my next post (and maybe the next one after that, and after that...).  Overall, Göteborg was worth the visit, but in retrospect, we probably could've done most of it in one day and been content.  Oh well, the more traveling, the better :)  Here's some pictures of my Göteborg adventure.. Enjoy! 


Ferris Wheel :) 
Into the Submarine! 

Too many chucks! 

One of the many beautiful flowers at the Rosarium 
Favorite picture of the whole trip!
 This little boy would not stop staring at the little boy figure!
He literally spent 5 minutes there! 


Exact advice Uncle John gave me before I left! 

Slippers at the exhibit! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Raise your glass

Hej hej :) 

I shall fill you all in on most of the details concerning the celebration of my 21st birthday...European style! To be honest, I had an absolutely wonderful birthday.  The only thing that could have made it better would've been the presence of all my family and friends from back home.  And, it almost felt like everybody was there with all the cards, emails, and nice words I received from all you back in the USA [thank you!] So, I'm going to give you a bit of a log of my whole birthday, so you can feel like you were living it up with me, I guess :) 

It began when the clock hit midnight on the 16th...I was doing laundry in the basement--yes, I know, a great birthday activity--when a number of the people from my house rushed in at exactly midnight and started singing happy birthday to me and giving me birthday hugs! It was a great start to my day and I hadn't even gone to bed yet! 

The next morning, I headed into school and after my first lesson, a group of the teachers that I work with had a mini birthday celebration for me.  It was complete with tea/coffee (of course), streamers (blue & yellow--yay Sweden), a birthday card, a sort of coffee crumble cake, & naturally, a birthday cake.  However, this wasn't just any kind of birthday cake.  It was called a Swedish Princess cake (English translation)--naturally, I was the princess.  It was green on top, and had a delicious mix of cake, raspberries, and icing in the middle.  I wish I had a picture of it...it was positively delicious! 

Upon my arrival back to Tenhult, I was greeted with a splendid cake cooked by my roomie, Zgintya, and a delectable sweet roll cooked by another girl in the house named Alex.  Once again, those housemates that were there sang happy birthday to me and there were even candles to blow out on the cake!  My housemates had signed a card for me and there was a giant bottle of champagne/cider (something of the sort) for all of us to share :) It was lovely!  And, some of the girls in my house even bought me a small pot of flowers...they're still sitting on my windowsill!   

And lucky for me, I didn't even have to cook dinner!  A couple of the people in the house were having some friends over for dinner and invited me to join.  I was treated to Mexican appetizers (salsa & gaucamole) and a great German meal.  Ham, sauerkraut, and potatoes.  Yummy [except for the sauerkraut, I'm just not a fan]!  I even got to sit in the birthday chair...complete with LOTS of balloons! 

Now, onto the evening... a few of my housemates and I went into town (Jönköping) to celebrate because there is literally nothing to do in Tenhult, especially past 10 o'clock (when the grocery store closes).  We also met up with a couple of my friends that live in town.  I was determined to have a typical, American 21st...despite the fact that I was in Sweden and had been legal from the time my plane hit the ground!  

So checklist for the night (with some additions)= 
-Picture with first "legal" drink (check)
-Get the guy at the door to check my id & get a picture (check)--[and yes, my id= my passport!] 
-Find somebody else with the same birthday & get a picture (check)
-Get free drinks (check) 
-Get a picture with my friend, the bartender (check) 
-Get free drinks from my friend, the bartender (check) 
-Tell as many people as possible that it was my birthday (check)
-Finally wear my new heels in Sweden (check) 
-Get turned away from a club because you have to be 25 to enter...weird (check) 
-Drink a Budweiser, like I've always wanted to on my 21st...toasting to Fafa :) (check) 
-Have a great time with my new foreign friends (check)...[corny, I know] 

So, I began my night at a small, local pub called Sam's. The owner is actually Canadian, but has been in Sweden for a while.  It's one of the only places in town without a cover charge and with somewhat reasonable prices.  We weren't at Sam's very long when we headed to an Irish pub called Murphy's (again, no cover charge--bonus!).  We stayed at Murphy's for a good while...it was easy for a lot of people to sit, and the bartender (my bartender) was great! After Murphy's, we tried to go to another "hip" place in the city, but were turned away because we were under 25 (weird).  So, we headed to a place called Harry's/Sliver's...it's kind of a 3 in 1 place--it had a sports bar, a dance club, and a kind of chic, modern lounge.  There was even an American football game on TV (though it was last weekend's--Cowboys vs. Jets).  So, it was really a great time, all around! Everybody here was so good to me...they let me play up my 21st birthday the American way & I loved every minute of it! I fell asleep happy...even if I didn't wake up as excited about my 8:30am train to Gothenburg :) 

Sorry if that was too much of a play-by-play, but I hope you get a feel for how my 21st went...even if I couldn't celebrate it with all you lovely people back home! I will include a few pictures of the people/places I was talking about :) Love to all... I will write about my Gothenburg adventures from this past weekend in my next post! 

Couldn't get enough of how blue the sky was on my birthday :) thank you Sweden for the present! 

Some of my housemates on my birthday afternoon [in the kitchen] :) 

In the birthday chair with the cake in front of me & a little present from my roommate! 

Yup, made the bouncer take a picture with me & my passport at Murphy's! 

Some of the Tenhult crowd at Murphy's! 

Already in my coat, but had to grab a picture with the nice bartender! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words

Rainbow over the university and the lake

In Granna with Dobby the house elf's relative :) 

Candy-making man!! 

The true love of my life <3 

Being a really safe bike rider :) 

Top of the church tower...great view! 

A little blurry, but inside one of the beautiful little churches on the island! 

Outside a former POW area

Looking into the prison/manner

Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures! Figured I'd put myself in some of these! More to come from this weekend! By the way mom--gray jacket= best present ever purchased :) Thanks! 

Sweet Tooth!

Hello to my lovely family and friends, 

Blame the Internet in Tenhult, Sweden for my lack of blogging this past week. It is the devil.  Now, on a happier note...I spent this past Saturday in the town of Gränna and on the island of Visingsö.  These areas are about a 45 minute drive from my town of Jönköping.  I did a trip through the University.  Though the town and island itself were quite enjoyable, I was a little perturbed by the amount of wasted time we had on the trip.  The leaders were not very organized and we spent a lot of time waiting around when we should have been exploring!  I'm all about seeing as many places as possible in the time you are given.  

Nonetheless, we had a splendid time!  How could we not?  The town of Gränna is famous for its candy :)  It is impossible to have a bad time in a town that is famous for its CANDY.  And not only candy, but PEPPERMINT candy.  Now, as everybody knows, I have a bit of an obsession with peppermint candy. Needless to say, this was my kind of town.  I went a bit crazy with the pictures (mainly of things peppermint) and found it difficult not to buy the entire candy store.  Unfortunately, my wallet would not allow the purchase of the whole store, so I settled for about 100 SEK worth of candy.  It's enough to tide me over until the next trip there (because there will be another one)!!  We also had the opportunity to watch how they make the candy.  They make it in a very similar way to how it was done at the start--back in the mid 1800's.  The guy that was making the candy had to be terribly annoyed at the amount of pictures we took of the process.  I would imagine he felt a bit like an animal in a cage at the zoo...probably not the best feeling; didn't stop me from snapping away with my camera though.  

Our next stop on our day trip was the island of Visingsö.  We took the ferry from Gränna to this small island in the middle of Lake Vättern.  It was not the sunniest of days, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.  Since I spend most of the week stuck indoors at the school, it's always nice to be outside in the fresh air.  So, we spent the afternoon biking around the island and exploring small churches and the other beautiful places on the island.  Biking was a great way to explore the island.  It felt so freeing!!  I'm thinking about renting a bike for the rest of my time in Sweden...though the distance from my house in Tenhult into the city is a bit lengthy for a casual bike ride.  In one of the churches that we explored, you had the opportunity to go to the top of its clock tower.  Now, I feel like most places I go, the stairways to the top would be fairly stable and well lit.  You generally expect that when you are touring.  Not this little church!  Climbing up was the scary part...think dark spaces and cramped ladders.  Luckily, the view was well worth the climb (if not, I would have been a bit angry).  Overall, it was a very pleasant day trip (except for the incompetency of our leaders who were the only ones in the entire group that missed the 4 o'clock ferry back to the mainland). 

On the school front things are going pretty well.  I've actually been teaching a number of lessons that have pertained to America and its history.  Just in the past week, I have taught about the American Revolution, the Tea Party Movement, the American government system, the political parties, and September 11th.  It's been a bit weird to try and explain all these American moments and aspects of American history to foreign students.  You really have to break it down.  Back home, there are some things that you just assume all students know.  That is not the case here.  You cannot make such assumptions because the students just don't have the same background.  They ask really good questions though :)  And, the students are attempting to teach me some Swedish--I'm working on my hellos, goodbyes, colors, and numbers!  I'm like a little kid learning how to talk, but hey, it's a start :) 

Saturday and Sunday I am headed to the second largest city in Sweden--Gothenburg (or Göteborg if you're feeling Swedish).  So, hopefully there will be lots to explore and many pictures to take!  For tomorrow, I'm interested to see how celebrating my 21st birthday Swedish style works...wonder if I can get the bouncer to check my license?! ;) The Internet here in Tenhult is not cooperating (surprise, surprise), so I am going to post this and if it lets me I will post an entry right after this with pictures! 

Miss and love everybody,

Friday, September 9, 2011

"You can't sit with us"

Hej hej to all :) 

Before I begin my rambling on about various things Swedish, I must wish a very very very very happy birthday to my lovely big sister Maggie! She is turning 24 (ah!) today, as I'm sure most of you know, and I am just too terribly far away from her to send my birthday wishes in person, so I figure through cyberspace has got to be the next best thing, right? So, right now, my wishes of a fabulously wonderfully awesome birthday are traveling from Sweden all the way to Kansas City!! Hope you receive them Mags :) 

Now, enough about the birthday girl, onto more important things! This past week, my main focus has been my lesson planning and getting used to the school environment.  We are ending the second week of our placement (third week in Jönköping) and my life is becoming a little more routine.  For the next 10 weeks, the cycle of my life will largely be teaching during the week and traveling on the weekends.  And trust me, I'm okay with all of that!  Yesterday, I got the chance to teach my first full lesson.  The topic: the American political system and political parties.  Normally, back in the states, this topic would be more of a unit than a single lesson plan.  However, I had just 50 minutes to try and explain the whole US government to a classroom of Swedish students.  Somehow, I pulled it off.  I take it as a good sign when students are asking lots of questions (it means they're paying attention)!    My mentor teachers seem to think I am doing a great job so far; they think very highly of the PSU students that come to Jönköping, so hopefully Gary and I will uphold that reputation!  Only downside?  My mentor teachers and students alike assume that I am an expert on all things American.  You're probably thinking: duhhh you should be, after all you are an American!  But let's just say I've had to do some quick internet research on a number of my lesson plans to get all the facts straight.  Don't want one of my students to have to correct me on American history! 

As for my title phrase "you can't sit with us" (yes, that's a nod to Mean Girls)--it's a reference to one of the Swedish "unspoken" cultural rules.  Because I travel by bus or train at least twice a day, I've had to learn this silent rule quite quickly.  I may have mentioned this before, but I've noticed that Swedes do not sit next to each other (anywhere) if it can at all be avoided.  Unless you know the person, ya don't sit down.  I've seen buses in the morning filled to the brim, but there will still be an empty seat or two because people just seem to refuse to sit down.  Back home, for the most part, you'll sit next to a stranger, give them a smile or a hello, and go about your business.  Not so here.  It's not that the Swedes are not friendly, it's just one of those things!  So, being the American that I am, I often break this rule just to snag the empty seat on the morning commute :) sorry Swedes! 

Another funny thing that would likely never happen back home...On Wednesday evening, after work/school/teaching (whatever you want to call it), our mentor teachers (there are 4 of them between Gary and I) took us out for drinks! Back home, such a thing would never happen! But, our mentor teachers were happy to do it (and even treated us to dinner)!  It's such a different dynamic that I'm trying to get used to; I'm enjoying it nonetheless.  I have been very lucky so far.  All the people I have met in Sweden (my supervisor, my teachers, my contact family, my contact person) have been absolutely lovely and so genuinely kind.  It's a nice feeling.  More to write soon... 

Here is some pictures to round out the post, hope you enjoy...

Exploring Nässjö- Community Lake 

In Nässjö, there was a beautiful public garden! 

The small lake in Tenhult, where I live :) I love the blue sky! 

Yes, I made my roommate take a first day of school picture of me :) All for you mom!

Tomorrow, I will be taking a day trip to the small town of Gränna.  From what I hear, it has some of the best candy around.  I will be sure to take lots of pictures and purchase many souvenirs! We will also get the opportunity to bike around the island that is situated near the town of Gränna; on the island, there are old churches and other beautiful sights!  Should be a good time :) All my love to you guys back home (especially you-birthday girl Maggie)!

Also an article Mary-Katherine (my cousin) sent to me about Stockholm (we're headed there in October)...everything about the article is dead on about Sweden :) What's wrong with Stockholm?  Enjoy!

Goodbye from sunny (at least it is at this very minute, don't be too jealous, it won't last very long-by the time I publish this post it will probably be raining) Sweden,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Answer is Yes.

The answer is yes.  It's true.  I did in fact get the chance to try (and enjoy) authentic Swedish meatballs.  That was a big concern when I left home for Sweden...would I get the opportunity to try real Swedish meatballs? Mission accomplished.  Going along with the Swedish theme--after all, that is where I am--I was also invited to try the Swedish treat known as a kanelbulle or a cinnamon bun.  However, these vary slightly from the cinnamon buns we are familiar with in America.  The main difference is the lack of extreme amounts of icing...or really any icing at all for that matter.  These treats are often eaten during the Swedish fika (if you recall from my last post, fika=a delightfully wonderful break in the day).  May I add that there was even fika served at the basketball practice I attended with my Swedish contact family yesterday afternoon.  There was a small cart set up in the corner of the gym with tea, coffee, water, juice, and kanelbulle.  It was great!  There is always ALWAYS a time and place for fika :) 

I could go on and on about my love of fika, but for the sake of finishing this blog and starting on my lesson plans, I will try and continue with another topic (*sigh*).  This weekend in Jönköping was exciting, educational, exhausting, but most of all AWESOME (side note: had to use that word...awesome is a very 'American' word according to my mentor teacher, Sören).  Beginning on Saturday afternoon, I spent the day with my "Swedish family", the Carlquist's.  They are a family of five--Karin, Göran, Maja (15), Lisa (11), & Alfred (11)--that the University matched me up with.  It acts as a way for me to get a peek into Swedish life and also get some home cooked meals and some family love, since my own family is so very far away :/  Both of the parents have spent a good deal of time in the United States, but the kids are still working on their English.  But, I could not have asked for a better contact family.  Granted, I have only spent one day with them, but they were more welcoming than I could have ever wished for!  They fed me not one, but TWO meals (As both a college student and an international traveller with a limited $$$ supply, you accept all the free food you can get).  And yes, this is where I got my first taste of real Swedish meatballs (delicious!), among other tasty treats! 

The Swedish meal took place at lunch, but the dinner was very similar to a typical American cookout--hot dogs and chips, ketchup and mustard.  Only difference from a cookout at home?  The ketchup wasn't Heinz--I know Sam would be disappointed had he been there!  And, you've heard the phrase, "as American as apple pie"...well, I am considering personally altering that catchphrase because Karin (the mom) made some homemade apple pie (they have an apple tree in their backyard) that was to die for! If I was a baking pro, I would surely steal the recipe :) In addition, the family showed me around their beautiful house (with a great view of the lake and valley).  I also got to shoot around at the kid's basketball practice (I still have some of my old bball skills) and meet a few other Swedish families.  The family also has a ping-pong table.  We played a game that consists of running around the table and trading paddles...very active and very fun! 

Now, onto Sunday.  I know, busy weekend with lots to tell! Gary (my PSU travel buddy) and I were invited to go on a history tour of the areas surrounding Jönköping with my mentor teachers--Sören and Stefan.  Apparently they do this with all the PSU students who make their way to Sweden.  We got the opportunity to tour old churches/cathedrals, burial grounds, a monastery, "judgement rings", as well as the beautiful Swedish countryside.  Plus, we really lucked out...the weather was mid-70's (or mid 20's if you're feeling brave and want to use the celsius scale), and wonderfully sunny!  Just a measure of how many great sights we saw--I took over 200 pictures.  I do admit, this may have been a tad excessive, but hey, that's what digital cameras are for, right?!  Well, over the course of the day, Gary and I learned SO much about the history of the area, as well as the importance of fika (of course).  We stopped twice for fika and once for a fantastic lunch, with an even better view.  It was a tiring, but great day!  I will include some pictures below because words don't do some of these sights justice.  

My name tag at school :) 

Playing round-the-table-ping pong
(with some of my "swedish family" and some neighbors)

Near one of the ancient burial sights 

Varnhem Abbey

Skara Cathedral

Machine in cathedral...to make donations even easier HA HA :)
Now, this was a quite lengthy post...I assume that both my lesson planning and my sleep will suffer because of this, so I hope you all enjoy the pictures and the details :) Yay to PSU for the Saturday win...good omen for the game against Alabama?!!! Hope so! 

Love to all, 

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's cool to be casual!

Hej familj och vänner! 
To begin, here are a few pictures of my roughly 2 weeks in Jönköping.  Once I get my camera charged up, there will be better pictures and soon, I will start my traveling, and I promise, the pictures will get more interesting :) And, because of the pictures, the post will likely appear quite lengthy...I will try not to bore you! 

Lake Vättern 
Government Building in the City Centre 
The lake on a beautiful day! 
First things first, I would like to wish my lovely roommate, ANGELA, a very happy 21st birthday! That's one of the downsides of being so far away, it makes it difficult to return for birthday celebrations, that would be quite a long and expensive weekend trip!...But, as of now I am officially the only under 21 year old in the Penn State apartment crew (2 more weeks!...not that it really matters in Europe...).  

Now to move on to more things Swedish! As many of you know, this past week marked the start of my student teaching experience in Jönköping.  I am teaching at a school called Erik Dahlbergsgymnasiet.  It is basically the equivalent of an American high school and has an enrollment of about 1500 students.  One of the major differences is that the grades or "years" here are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  It's weird to say "1st grade" or the "1st year students" without my mind wandering back to elementary school or thinking of the Harry Potter sorting hat for 1st year students at Hogwarts :) 

My mentor teachers, Sören and Stefan, have been absolutely wonderful to me! They have had Penn State students before and are very pleased with the exchange program in place between the two schools.  They are even taking Gary (the other Penn State student traveling with me) and I on a history tour this weekend.  They are taking us to the places that the train and the bus will not; should be very exciting!  That brings me to my next point...you may be thinking that this is a bit of an informal relationship between mentor teacher and student teacher.  And, it is!  The connections here are much more casual (as is the dress code).  We met the principal of the school on Wednesday and did not have to dress up and simply chatted about the city, the states, Penn State, sports, etc.  It was quite pleasant! 

Okay, since I feel as if I am boring everybody with the details, I will leave you with a few short bits of observation/information: 
1. All the kids here (and even lots of the adults) are obsessed with chucks (the shoes)...high tops, converses, whatever you want to call them, they're everywhere.  White chucks. I feel like I should acquire a pair, just so I'm not left out! 
2. (This if for Sam and all other people who have suffered the annoyance of crutches)...be glad that you don't have to use the crutches they have here.  I promise, they look twice as hard to use as regular crutches and seem more like arm supports with long poles than anything. (I'll try to get a picture, I am aware that that is a very confusing description). 
3. The Swedish idea of "fika" is an AWESOME invention.  Everybody does fika....it is a nice leisurely break in the day (and occurs more than once).  It is somewhat equivalent to a coffee break, but better...and, it often includes pastries, or biscuits or something of the sort.  Watch out ma, I may come back a coffee drinker! 

My apologies for the rambling!  I try and take advantage of the times when my internet is working...they are few and far between!  Love to all (especially Angela, the birthday girl)!