Wishing you all a joyful and relaxing christmas! Friends and family, food and good times. Experiencing a new culture? This could range from a new continent to simply meeting the in-laws – open up to new experiences! Accept that we all might have different traditions and values, and embrace it!
Online Swedish language training
Language is part of a culture. When you learn a language you also learn the culture connected to it and vice versa. It’s fun and valuable to know different languages. Now Swedish isn’t exactly one of the most influential languages in the universe but it might still be important to you.
I have studied and learnt several languages in my life. The methods and situations have been different, depending on the teaching institute and the teachers, as well as me and my current situation. Looking back, the most valuable and rewarding classes have been the ones where I constantly practiced speaking. It goes without saying that this was easier when I had private tutoring, or was in a smaller group of students.
As an expat, language studies have often proved to be the first social networking for me, and a routine in making a new life for me and my family. Yes, it involved breaks for diaper-changes and preparing a bottle. Sometimes we took the tutoring outside, to enjoy the weather and to accommodate the needs of a toddler longing for the garden swing.
Talking, talking, talking!
To really learn how to speak a language I think it is important to have enough opportunities. And to seize them, of course. The more you speak the easier it gets.
In order to make it interesting and motivational the learning should also relate to topics of the students interests or learning needs. Perhaps reading poems is not on the immediate priority list.
Learning a new language should be fun and without stress! For many it is hard to fit in language training in a busy schedule. Online tutoring can often solve that problem. The Swedish classes I offer are usually half hour conversations and it works well. I am flexible when it comes to timing and recurrence, and my students can choose if and how much work they want to do in between our sessions.
Taking the first step can sometimes seem hard. But guess what, that first step is just an e-mail or a phone call!
Why not make this year the year of learning or improving your Swedish!? In the comfort of your own home.
Parenting styles can vary from family to family. But there are also differences between countries, or should I say cultures. We appreciate different values, which are likely to impact our upbringing of the children. Sometimes they are easily spotted, sometimes they are not. Concept of time for instance is a good example. Coming from a culture where being on time is considered important and a courtesy, I found it annoying at times as a foreign student working in groups with others that were happily an hour late for study meetings. No surprise that we soon found out that Germans and Swedes worked well together!
As always, awareness of the values and set of rules can lead to a better understanding, and less annoyance; tolerance. In the case of time, I simply learnt to agree on another time with the students I knew would be – in my world – an hour late.
Being a parent or not; moving into a new culture you will be exposed to the impact of cultural differences. As a parent a playground is a perfect location for observation and “study”. It´s fascinating that you often can tell from the parents’ responses to their children’s behavior from which country they are. I have encountered societies where one believes that adults should not interfere when children are “playing”. In the beginning I just assumed they did not care; now I hope they care but still want the kids to solve problems on their own. I have also experienced children being constantly corrected and taught. Swedes are normally somewhere in between these two parenting styles; of course, I would like to add with a touch of irony– after all we are the land of “lagom” (just enough) and “mellan” (in the middle).
There are also differences when it comes to physical punishment (illegal in Sweden) and scolding in public. Some people want other parents to know they are dealing with the matter, and some don´t.
Another, always hot, topic is whether it is considered acceptable for a parent to deal with someone else’s child.
I do believe that the culture you are currently living in influences your parenting. It is a way of fitting in, of accepting the hosting society but also grabbing the good stuff!
It is interesting once you start thinking in terms of cultural parenting. What are the cornerstones of your culture/-s when it comes to raising children? Which are the strengths? Have you added anything from your host culture?
Perhaps you are even a slightly different parent in another location! And by that I am not referring to the newly relocated, stressed and culture shocked parent …
Presenting some photos from the playgroup activity a few weeks back! The children made a gingerbread creation for the annual exhibition/competition at Kulturhuset Fyren in Kungsbacka. Concentration and creativity, colors and craft! Multiculture and everyone being different was decided on to be the theme – as you can surely see! Teaching children about different cultures is key to tolerance and understanding. We all need to be aware of that people are different, and that that is ok! We do not have to accept their point of views, but understand that there are different views. And look at the picture below – amazing result!
Say the word Fredagsmys and every Swede knows what you are talking about. An easy Friday evening get-together, to mark the end of the work/school week and the beginning of the weekend. Family or friends, easy cooking, snack and a TV-screen are ususally involved. Tacos is a classic, as well as chips/crisps and dip; at least that´s what the commercials want us to believe. Fredagsmys is part of our modern culture, probably substituting the Sunday dinner family gathering.
The reality TV-show “Allt för Sverige”, brings “Swedish” Americans to Sweden for a chance to discover their roots. One of the episodes exposed the group to Fredagsmys. http://bit.ly/YizCDAI
Moving is your big chance to declutter. Sure, you might be fortunate enough to enjoy a moving company packing service, but still there is often the need to go through things. Sometimes you already know where you will be living, and that space might be less. Climate can impact too; there was no reason to keep all our humidifiers when relocating to Sweden. However leaving our garden furniture behind was not a climate-related decision, even though one might think so – especially after this rainy summer.
I usually say that moving once in a while is good for closets and attics. And also for basements, not to mention garages! You can sell things, give them away to friends, or donate them to charities. Ask friends, at the club/work or the neighbors for ideas. In the village where I lived a few years ago, you simply put your no-longer-wanted items out in the street, at the garbage collection area. Whoever walked by finding an interest in the object could simply take it. If it was still there at garbage-day, it was removed. My pasta-maker, still in the box, found a new home that way.
Another system seemed to work well in the village nearby. A couple of days per year villagers could bring the bits and pieces they wanted to clear out to a selected open area. Items were then free to any other resident who wanted them. In the afternoon the remaining things were donated to charity or found their way to the dump. A friend of mine, a trailing spouse adapting well to the local life, left two chairs and came home with a table. I would like to see more of these environmentally friendly solutions!
In Sweden you can try www.bjussa.se . Here you can advertise items to give away.
One of the best things with living in different countries, and being exposed to various cultures, is that you get a bunch of new traditions to take on. You can choose freely – adopt the ones that appeal to you and fit your regular schedule of celebrations. It can be big; it can be small. As an expat; try to celebrate with locals if you can. If you moved already, keep the traditions – sometimes they prove to grow even stronger!
In my case there seems to be a strong connection between traditions and food. Anyone else? This year, with a bunch of friends from different parts of the world, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; because of the Mexican food. But we also looked up some information about the tradition, and background, so we all learnt something new. We had a wonderful evening and will most likely do it again.
Thanksgiving is coming up, closely followed by 1st of Advent. Again; food involved. But we must not forget the most important ingredients – people and the opportunities/excuses to get together!
What are your traditions? Have you started any new ones? What happens when you move – do the traditions grow in importance or do they tend to fade away? Would love to hear your comments!
As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!” #TCK
Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.
Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake
Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake
Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake
Marsch pannkaka! – Off you go, pancake!
Fall is here. The beautiful, rich colors and the crispy air. And, oh yes, the rain. But let´s just forget about the rain for now. It doesn´t go with the picture. The leaves are turning my garden into an explosion of nuances. It´s like a firework leaving confetti to nurture eye and soul, as well as the lawn. The last brave rosebuds stand strong in the wind, and the blueberries … well, why haven´t they been picked by now?!
Indoors the colors tend to follow the nature´s. Summery shades and patterns are replaced with warm orange and deep reds. Burgundy. Candles, textiles and decorative items add to the luxury of warming up in front of the fire place after a forest walk. A glass of red. Memories from expatriate postings come to life with tiny crafted hedgehogs, autumnal recipe books from overseas and … ahem; the inflatable pumpkin.