Hi guys, after some days I have finally managed to continue my blog…
So, as described above, we spent our first month in Sweden in the tiny student’s “apartment”. Actually we didn’t have time to reflect thoroughly on our “first steps” in this country. On the 1st of September my language course started – exactly two days after we had come to Sweden. From then I had to learn Swedish. Six hours a day. Plus two hours of homework. The first week was still quite an easy one. From week two we were only allowed to speak Swedish at school.
The group was quite heterogeneous: two other German doctors, two German nurses, an Estonian guy who was of Azerbaijani origin, a Polish doc, a Serbian psychologist, a nurse from Iceland, a doc from Somalia who had studied in Italy and worked for many years in London and last but not least a physician from Belgium who looked like Mr. Bean. Many people with different backgrounds. That’s what I like.
I was sitting next to Ramid, the Estonian guy. The former Soviet Republic Estonia belongs to the Baltic states like Lithuania (hey Waldemaras!) or Latvia. Ramid’s father came as a soldier to this country and settled in Tallin, it’s capital. Because of the Soviet occupation many Estonians were forced to speak Russian and there is still a big Russian community in the country.
Ramid was a really funny, good humored guy and we made a lot of jokes, sometimes in English, sometimes in Russian. He was the person who reminded me most of the people in the Middle East. He was warm-hearted, outgoing and not so “cold” as the Swedes seemed to be at first. He gave me the feeling of being still in Bahrain…
The first weeks were really tough. Within two months we rushed restless through the whole Swedish grammar. There was almost no time to fix all the information in the brain. Still, every evening we had to fix the “läxa” (homework).
After two months we were “ready” for the “real life”: We had only three days at school, the rest two we had to go to our working places to get used to the future colleagues and the Swedish language.
Plugga! Plugga! Plugga! – Study! Study! Study!
That was the next exhausting experience because everyone was talking to us only in Swedish (not really surprising, isn’t it?). The Swedes were really helpful and tried their hardest to speak clearly and slowly. Only if we didn’t understand anything at all they would switch to English. That was a stressful but also a very beneficial experience. Our brain nearly exploded after each “reality-day” but we started learning very quickly.
I have to say, our two language teachers were really brilliant. The first one, Helene, was from Kiruna, a city in the north of Sweden and married to a Romanian man. She was very open-minded and supportive – something that we started to appreciate later on even more.
Our second teacher, Christine, was originally from Switzerland, having lived for more than 20 years in Sweden. She helped us as much as she could, too. Helene and Christine were really great! An amazing teaching strategy combined with wonderful personal qualities! They managed to motivate us and helped us to succeed in the language course.
After four and half months of intensive studying we had our final exam in Swedish and almost everyone passed. But even for those who didn’t pass the test Helene and Christine found a solution: a weekly personal language training alongside the job. In other countries the working contract would have been cancelled and the people would have to leave…