Integrating with Swedish Language & Culture.

After a few hiccups recently, I felt it was time to write a post about how we are integrating into our new lifestyle, and a different culture with another language.  I wouldn’t say we are having a bumpy ride, but there have been a few little hiccups the last few weeks that need handling sensitively to make sure no one resents the move.  Our little lady is finding the communication barriers very hard to handle on occasion.  She is a cheerful sunny little lady, who where language is concerned, needs a lot of confidence before going for it (this happened with her English as a toddler….didn’t speak for ages and then was virtually long sentences and huge words overnight).  She is also someone who talks A LOT….and very fast….so to suddenly not be able to blurt out the first random thought that pops into your head, is quite restricting.  The school have been working very hard with her, and we have been trying to follow this up at home as well.  I think it is a matter of time and waiting….she’s absorbing the new language well (there’s a lot of evidence in the way she corrects us!), but I’m not sure she’ll go for it until she can say a whole phrase.  In the mean time, when this gets her down we just have to support her and listen to her.  The mini men have each other to babble away to at förskola so are not as isolated, however, I have noticed little things about them.  When they play, they will often shout “nej” rather than “no” as an impulsive action, and they have said a phrase or two.  So, I think something might just be sinking in, I hope! On the friendship front our little lady has no concerns as both boys and girls want to spend time with her. They wave and call to her when we are out and about on the island, and one little friend wanted to come back to our home last week after school.  Today, there was a little breakthrough with the mini men as mini man no.1 stated very matter-of-factly that mini man no.2 had made a friend….no name was known, but very importantly he owned a cuddly elephant!  All three are happily doing free time activities, although this week there has been a few surprise blips there.  Our little lady, who has danced since four years old, has decided to take a break from ballet.  Unfortunately, tap dancing was her favourite type in the UK but there are no tap classes here in Sweden.  The good news is a modern theatre dance place has come up at the arts college for her to start this week.  She really misses her UK teacher, and I am hoping these lessons will help lift her out of her dancing doldrums a little. As her Mamma, I am feeling really guilty about this part of the whole move.  It was our decision to move, and our choice to live so far from the capital (where these choices would possibly be more abundant).  However, this was about a lifestyle change too.  A lifestyle where interests can be followed, but children have time to be children as well…and not over scheduled.  It still doesn’t help with my feelings of guilt having taken her away from something she loved though!  This then sparked mini man no.1 wanting to take a break from his ballet too!  I am teaching both of them tap, so we shall see what happens now.  He can’t do the modern theatre dance until he is 7.  Otherwise she lives for her sea scouts, they now all swim (boys have lessons, and she trains with the club), and the boys do gymnastics and football on the island.

Meanwhile Dadda and I are trying to integrate as well.  This is easier said than done.  Dadda’s job is English speaking.  Good in that he can understand what people are going on about, but bad in that he has no chance to learn quickly to speak the lingo.  I thought I’d meet school mums and gradually learn that way, but mums don’t really go up to school here en masse like they do in the UK, so I rarely see another mummy.  Dadda last week started the free Swedish language evening courses that are provided by the state, which is a good opportunity to learn, but due to childcare, I am trying to learn at home.  I am far from a natural linguist, but I’m doing my best!  My understanding is a lot better than my speaking!

Settling into Swedish life and culture in general has not really been an issue.  We wanted to move here because many of their values about raising a family and having an outdoors lifestyle were important to us as well.  So in that respect we have felt much more at home than in the UK.  In the UK we were unhappy with the education system and how children were treated within it, and over here it is totally different and we are more than happy with it 🙂  A lot of traditions and lifestyle routines are very similar to Norwegian ones, and having been brought up on a mix of those and English ones, it is not such a shock to the system to be immersed in them, but finally have the chance to enjoy them on a daily basis.  The weekly food shop still has a lot of room for improvement though… I have always hated this job, and it takes a lot longer when you are trying to translate stuff as you go along!!  I am now getting there with that (weighing all your vegetables and bagging them yourself has made me rapidly learn that subject of vocab!), but it can still be a very frustrating job!  Otherwise, I don’t think it’s been going too badly……and then of course there is the amazing scenery, sunsets, and sunrises….I’ll never get bored of those 🙂


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