Since my last blog post, I have not gone on any extravagant trips or had any very Swedish experiences, to be honest, I've been a bit bored and very lazy. Now, I know, I have no room to complain, at all. After all, I'm in another country, studying abroad, soaking in everything this new culture has to offer...everything is new to me here....or at least it was. Now, after almost two months, life in Jönköping (or more accurately, Tenhult) has become very routine. I think that is often the case when you live somewhere for a period of time, you just begin to settle into regular life and adapt to how things are in this new place. Sure, I still have those moments when I think, WOW, I'm living in another country...how cool is this! But, more often than not, living here has started to exude a very normal, everyday quality to it. I guess that means I've settled in nicely :)
Normally, my weekdays consist of grabbing the bus to school, teaching a few lessons, lesson planning, sending things back to my PSU supervisor, jumping on the 30 (or 130, or 119) bus back to Tenhult, cooking dinner, getting things sorted out for the next school day or the next trip we're planning, hanging in the kitchen (that's where everybody sort of congregates in the house...it's the same everywhere, people always gather where the food is!), checking things online (when the internet is working), and heading to bed. Repeat. However, this week, I switched classes at the school I am teaching in. I'm sort of starting from the beginning again, with new students (more Swedish names to learn, ah!)...because of that, I haven't had to plan any lessons, I have mostly been introducing myself to the students and meeting with them. This happened to coincide with the week that everybody in my house had exams. So, while everybody was hunkering down to study, I finally had some free time! [Bad timing]. There are only so many places to explore around Jönköping and Tenhult...so short version of the story: I've been a bit bored these past few days and itching to get out of this house. Hopefully this coming week things will pick up a bit! That's enough complaining for me, onto the next topic.....
So if you had talked to me at the very beginning of my study abroad experience about where I was living, you would know that I was not a happy lady. I complained about how far outside of town I was, that I hadn't really gotten to know any of the people that I was living with, that the bus/train schedules were too sporadic, that there was nothing to do in Tenhult (it's a bit of a blink and you miss it kind of place), etc. etc. etc. Now, a few of those things haven't changed. Almost two months later, there is still pretty much nothing to do in Tenhult, it's still the same 14km outside of Jönköping that it was then, and it still takes about 15 minutes on the train and a half hour on the bus to get to the city center. And, as I'm sure I've not so subtly hinted at, the internet here is kind of a bust too. But, I think my placement here was actually a blessing in disguise. I'm still not a fan of the location or the lack of internet, but it's really the people here that have made the difference. It took me a little while to get to know everybody, but now that I have, there's no way I'd trade 'em :)
There is around 22 of us that live in the house. There is a boys floor and a girls floor (with a bathroom on each floor), we all share a kitchen, laundry room, and common room. A lot of people in the house of their own rooms, while a few of us share rooms. Each room came equipped with IKEA furniture (of course) and a sink. We have quite an eclectic group living in the house, but everybody gets along, for the most part. Sure, there is the usual annoyance about who left the dirty dishes in the sink or who didn't take out the trash, but that's no different from apartment life back in State College :) A majority of the people living in the house are from Europe, with a few from Asia. I think the biggest "populations" represented in the house are the Lithuanians (5 of them) and the Germans (4 of them). I am the only person in the house from the Americas--North or South-- (though there is a student here who is from Thailand, but he goes to school at Utah State...he and I get to talk football and other things America, which is nice sometimes) And, I believe I'm the only one who speaks English as a first language. Everyday, I am impressed by how well my housemates speak English. I could only hope to learn a second language so well!
We also have a bit of an age range here in Tenhult. My youngest housemate (the only one younger than me, I believe) just turned 20, while the oldest housemate is actually 37 (I just found this out yesterday, I had no idea!...I do wonder a bit now what she's doing here...but, to each her own :) A majority though, are under 25 years old. Most, but not all, are working on their master's. As I'm writing this, I feel as if I am giving you all a statistics run down or a house profile, but I figured that's the only way to give you some insight into my living situation :)
Since there is nothing to do here in Tenhult, we spend a lot of time just sitting around talking, watching tv or movies, and eating. I swear, everybody here is a fabulous cook or at least it seems that way. Everybody is always making such extravagant meals, I can't keep up. They often tease me about my "American" ways of eating microwaved meals and pre-packaged food (don't worry mom, I do cook "real food" too)...some even take pity on my apparent lack of cooking skills and give me some of their food! I let them continue to assume this, of course, because I get to taste all kinds of delicious food without having to cook it myself :)
As the only American in the house, I get teased quite often...in a good-natured way, but my housemates keep it comin' nonetheless. Everything from the food Americans eat, the way I talk, politics, wars, TV shows...you name it, they're making fun of me for it. If I do something remotely "American" they call me out on it. It's sort of a running joke (at my expense, of course), but that's okay :) If there is one thing I've always been able to do, it's taking a joke and dishing it back out! Ya just have to roll with it! One particular "argument" I have with a few of my housemates is what constitutes "southern" in America...I try to explain that everything south of the mason-dixon line does not mean we are wearing cowboy hats, have a thick southern draw, and drive pick up trucks aka MARYLAND IS NOT THE SOUTH.
I will cut my rambling off here...moral of the story..I like my housemates and Tenhult isn't so bad after all. I miss my roomies back home in State College, but I guess these guys will do for now :)
|Some of my housemates... |
minus the guy in the bottom left...don't know where he came from.