I find myself writing on the afternoon of my first Monday in Sweden. A ‘full’ day of Swedish lessons and a short trip into Linköping town center.
My Swedish lessons are from 0900 to 1500 every day for the next two weeks.
I have to say that I was initially concerned about learning Swedish. The English education system does very well at putting people off language; yet, in spite of this, I find Swedish both interesting and exciting. I must stress that I have had some excellent language teachers during my time at school. I think it is the system and curriculum that is to blame.
Perhaps my attitude here is different because I hear the language all around me. I have a bit more motivation to learn in class, because the native language is right there, outside the classroom.
I am also the only Englishman in my class; and therefore the only person that when asked: “Vilka språk talar du?” [Which languages do you speak?], replies with a single language: “Engelska”! Perhaps this is the main source of my motivation to do well?
After my lessons (and a painful wait at the bookshop to buy the textbooks for the Swedish language course), I jumped on a bus to wander around town, armed with my Lonely Planet Guide to Sweden. I decided to go it alone, keen for some coffee and kanelbulle (Swedish cinnamon bun), and Lonely Planet pointed me towards Café Berget just off Stora Torget which is one of the larger squares in the center of town. After butchering the phrase “Talar du engelska?” [Do you speak English?] not once, but twice (I hope my Swedish teacher isn’t reading this), I managed to get myself what I wanted.
Lonely Planet is right that Café Berget is a good place to go. I think that it is probably better with friends, since the terrace is quite hidden from the street, and limits the opportunities for people watching.
People watching is probably one of the most interesting things you can do while on your own at a café. Therefore, with such a limited view, I had to resort to reading the literature that the University had provided about examination rules. Needless to say, the calibre of the literature was not such that I could extend my stay, so I ended my stay at Café Berget after only the first free refill of coffee!
There is still a lot of Linköping for me to explore. However, I think I will buy myself a bike first, since that seems to be the best way of getting about.
Impressions of Sweden
I’m not sure what I was expecting Sweden to be like. All of the people who gave me advice seemed to have the same sort of opinions: beautiful country, lovely people, expensive to live and extremely cold in the wintertime.
The first three are most definitely true (so far). Everyone I’ve interacted with has been kind, helpful and friendly. I sincerely hope that this continues to be the case, because I can see myself having a much more long-term relationship with Sweden. I like the way that the place feels. It may be different elsewhere in the country, but here in Linköping there is a certain inexplicable charm.
Maybe it’s the way that it looks at the moment. We are still very much in summer here, with temperatures in the mid-20s. The trees and the grass are alive with vibrant colour, while the buildings catch the sun quite beautifully. You can hear people milling about enjoying the weather while it lasts.
No doubt I will be having second thoughts when we are in the depths of winter, and snow covers all.