Today was a very interesting day, and put a bit of a dampener on our plans for the first time. Not a long term dampener, just a bit of a frustrating hold up. We had been invited to attend something called Välkomsten. This seems to be a new initiative from the government, where any immigrants are asked to attend a 2 hour meeting based around the need to use the Swedish schooling system. We duly attended, naively thinking we could then register our little lady and she’d be off into the school over the road from our house. Wrong!! We were given a schedule that required us to attend three times a week, for 3.5 hrs each time, for three weeks. The idea of the project is a good one, but it is one size fits all.
We have turned up from the UK, registered to live here, and have a daughter who is up to date with medical requirements (vaccines), is healthy, and can read and write. Some are a lot less fortunate, and come from all over the world, some from war torn countries, with no Swedish or English (at least we can be understood in our native tongue) and need a lot of help initially. However, we are all lumped together on this welcoming course, that if an email we write tonight doesn’t help us accelerate the family through it, might become quite a frustration over the next three weeks. I’ll explain first the idea behind the programme, and what is involved in doing it, and then why we are less keen to participate!!
They are very keen to welcome everyone into Swedish society with open arms, and this can not be faulted one bit. They are very friendly and eager to help. A big part of this course is about successful integration into society as a family, to have happy and secure children, and for the children to meet other children from other countries. On the 9 visits that we are required to do, we get the chance to learn about the police, libraries, social system, health care, dental care, libraries, schools, and emergency services amongst other things. While all this is going on, my mini men would be playing in a provided creche-type facility, and the little lady would be doing some rudimentary Swedish. Definitely not a bad thing. As well as these planned sessions, our little lady needs to meet with the school nurse in charge of the area, to transfer her “red book” information to the right Swedish paperwork, and then she gets subtly assessed three times; once with me to learn about her educational background etc, and then her reading, writing, maths, and English levels. She is a lucky one as whilst we don’t necessarily believe such a structured system back home in the UK is so beneficial, over here she will be way ahead in reading, writing, and maths (as she has done it for three years longer), leaving her free to concentrate on the language. However, again some people new to Sweden may not be in this position and the idea is to find out where everyone is.
The main issue we have with this is it takes a lot of our time to achieve very little. The course is about 24km from our house, when she could be in school, over the road, immersed in Swedish and making new friends. The sessions are held a 30 minute drive from our new home, and she needs to be there at 0830-1200 (her new school day will be much less intense than this course!). Once she is there, I attend the information giving sessions. However, these run at times such as 0900-1000 on some days (same building, and twins will play), or 1030-1200 others etc. Meaning there is an awful lot of hanging around and time wasting going on, not to mention she’s more than capable of managing in school! Next week we’d have the school nurse appointment (half an hours drive away), on the Monday, then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday would be the information/Swedish sessions, and then her first assessment session would be Friday. They haven’t managed to coordinate the nurse or assessment on the days we are there already. There is no doubt, that to a lot of people this programme would be hugely beneficial, but to a family who has a child who can read and write, a father that has a job already, the whole family has registered already to live here, we have bought a house, and there is only one school she can be placed in (unlike if you are living in the main town), it’s holding us back a little, and investing a lot of time (and driving) which could be spent settling all three into their new förskola or grundskola environments. Especially since they are all already doing social activities such as ballet, scouts, and gymnastics and getting involved in the community and becoming integrated. We now just need to work out if there is a way we can blag ourselves out of it all 😉 !!!!
On a brighter note, I have just dropped the little lady off at her weekly Sjöscout session, and her little friends came to the car to get her! She’s thrilled with this activity and was raring to go. She’s even begging to go on their day trip to the Scouts island that they have in a few weeks. Tomorrow we head out to our new home to move in for good, and cross our fingers our lorry turns up, as we’ve had no update on its progression today, so we have no idea when, or if, it will pitch up!!! Hopefully, it is at least on the European mainland side of the Channel Tunnel!!