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,


  1. Awesome pictures Al - love the first day of school outfit :) Glad your lesson plan went well, and thanks for the birthday shout out! You're the best...miss you lots <3

  2. Hi Ally, I love your blog. I am so excited for you - all the cool things you have experienced just in the last week. I am also so happy that you took a first day of school picture. You have to have one every year and this is your last. So glad to hear that you have met a nice Swedish family. Miss you and love you, Mom