First Week of School is a Success!

I’d like to start off with an apology. It’s been too long and I’ve left Kylie to do the posting too much lately. I’ve simply been too busy with settling in here in my new life, making a home for myself and getting to know the people at my new school, trying to get into routines etc.

I’m sure at least a few of you are curious about how I’m doing here. The short answer, I’m doing great! The long answer follows below.

First off, this is my first time living on my own, and it’s quite an adjustment, having to do things on my own, but I think I’m faring pretty well so far, and apart from some smaller issues – like my computer being on the dining table since I have no desk yet and my only connection to the internet is through my phone – this is starting to feel like home to me.

I’m living in a small one room apartment with a kitchenette, so I’ve really only got the one room to fit all my stuff in, but I don’t have that much stuff yet anyway, so it’s fine. As usual, my “desk” (dining table as for now) is full of stuff, because everything I use seem to gravitate there but I’m trying to keep things cleared up. It’s a known character flaw of mine. At least I’m doing my washing up, so there’s that.

My new school is great too! It’s a pretty laid back place as it’s very art oriented, as they have (apart from the audio engineering courses I’m doing): music, art, performance and an assortment of other artistic things you can study there. At least the audio and music courses, which for obvious reasons have quite some overlap, have the mentality that everything should be a fun and enjoyble experience with a serious undertone. Essentially, learn while playing around and doing stuff that we all love, because everyone in my class has a passion for music, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a crowd of people with whom I can bond as much over my favourite subject as I have done here, and that’s just in the first week.

So I have high confidence I’m going to learn a lot here, and maybe make friends for life. Can’t wait to see what the rest of these two years will bring.

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Lära Svenska = Svårt

Aside from a little hiccup with apartments, Johan’s move to Haparanda went well, but I’ll let him fill you in on that when he has time.  He starts his first day at Svefi today to study audio engineering, and has already been making friends with the locals who also study there.  This will mean less Skype time between the two of us, but we’ve been privileged for so long and this isn’t the first time, so we’ll get through it.  It’s healthy too, to have some time apart and now we’ll have exciting new things to talk about in our conversations!

He’s starting a new adventure now, just as I did when I started work.  Admittedly it did make me feel a little lonely this morning, and it’ll take some time getting used to.  What did I do to combat this feeling?  I did something I haven’t done in a long time.  I listened to a podcast whilst on the bus.  Now usually, I am fast asleep on the bus, catching up on some lost sleep which is another result of long distance relationships (and I mean that literally. I look forward to my daily bus naps, and have only slept through my stop twice!). Not just any old podcast either, but a Swedish Language Learning one.

I’ve been trying to learn Swedish on and off for two years and while I feel I’m passed the basics, I feel I’m not much further.  My motivation comes in phases, and I told myself I wouldn’t go back to Sweden until I’ve learnt more.  Ha, like that was going to keep me away for too long.  Well, I have learnt a bit more, but not as much as I’d like to.  It’s no surprise I want to become fluent in it some day, and I realise that’s not likely to happen until I’m living over there, but taking my time learning the basics over here will surely help.

I’m pretty good in my colours and numbers, better than good in my animals, and okay in food and drinks.  I know my basic phrases and can greet people and ask how they are doing, where they are from and how old they are… Which is all well and good when getting to know strangers.  Not so good when you already know the people – aka Johan’s friends and family!  Of course, they all know and understand I don’t speak their language and do their best at communicating with me in English, which they do so well, as does most of Sweden.  But knowing the language certainly helps to fit in, so I don’t need to ask for a translation every two minutes. At the very least, I can now tell that lady in the shop, “Forlåt, jag talar inte Svenska. Kan du talar Engelska?” It also helps me to feel closer to Johan, for obvious reasons.

One of the most suggested ways of learning a new language is to watch tv and movies in that language and listen to the way it sounds.  I took it a step further.  The first movie I watched in Swedish was (the ever favourite) Frozen.  And one thing led to another and before I knew it I was listening to the Swedish soundtrack, over and over the way I do with any new song to learn the lyrics.  I was going to learn the lyrics, memorize them, then once I could sing them without reading them word for word, I would worry about the differences in the song translations.  Well, I got as far as the first step.  I can sing almost all of the songs (minus the troll song, don’t think I’ll ever master that one in Swedish!) but I still have the need to read the lyrics as I sing them (though I’m sure I must know at least half off by heart, I’m not comfortable singing it without the lyrics in front of me, and Johan reckons I’m still missing the mark on some of the pronunciations… give me a break 😛 ).

The same goes for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the national anthem, some Christmas carols and as of the other night, children’s nursery rhymes (which in hindsight should’ve been the first thing I tried).  I’m getting to the point where in most instances I’ll know how a word is going to be pronounced before it is sung (and I guess rhymes help with that) but translating and understanding the positioning and form of the words, nup.  So that’s also a new task for my bus rides.  I figure I can’t sing on the bus, so I’ll be forced to truly read and listen to the words, hear where my pronunciations are going wrong and memorize it, memorize them all and learn the translations and how they differ, in turn learning random new words that come with the song that might not appear in other language learning tools.  Which isn’t to say I can’t give up on those either… I have that many apps to help me… I really need to start making use of them on a daily basis.  I have just under four months before his Mum tests me on my language development!  Hejdå!

Hug Me?

Everything is falling into place, with the last of our accommodation sorted out, which means more time for fun and less time for stress!  But I guess… there’s still tours to book, deciding what attractions we’re going to see on what days… it still requires a lot of careful planning when you’ve got a DIY personalised itinerary.  And a perfectionist on top of that.  Just about every night for the last month has been plan-book-plan-book-plan-plan-plan.  It hasn’t made me the nicest girlfriend to be around (sorry Johan! 😛 Johan:  I forgive you!) but it’ll all be worth it.  We’re going to have  a blast and we will bore you with all the cheesy romantic moments.

I miss those moments.  We’ve both been so busy with our own lives lately that there hasn’t been much cheesy-ness (nor time to film vlogs together when it’s convenient for us both)!  We’ve been so distracted by other, more important things that need to get done to make this holiday work, including a move further north.  And now Johan is making rawr-ing noises at the camera, perfect.  He always knows how to make me smile.  I had a bad day the other day, and what makes a bad day worse is knowing I cannot just come home and be greeted with my boyfriend giving me feel-better hugs.  It’s those days that the distance feels painful and he’ll give phone hugs that will never be the same as the real thing.

But I will get the real thing soon.  That bone-crushing, Hagrid-like airport hug.  The never-leave-me-again-or-I-swear-I-won’t-let-go-of-you type hugs.  There’s another pro of long distance relationships to add to the list.  We may not get as many hugs as a close distance couple, but that very first one after time apart – after months and years of longing?  That’s something special, and I can’t wait.

I’m Officially Moving!

The town where I live, Skänninge, is the host of Sweden’s largest annual street market. The first Wednesday and Thursday of August every year, the town square and every major street is covered on both sides with market stands. The spectacle draws a huge crowd as people from all over the country come to our little town. I’m not sure how many people live here, maybe 3,000 or so, but on these two days the amount of visitors is many times that number.

I won’t get to experience this next year though. And it makes me a little sad, even though the market has mostly become routine and I see the same things being sold year after year. But I will be going off on a much greater adventure!

I have finally secured an apartment in Haparanda, where I will be moving to study audio engineering, which is a passion of mine. I hope to one day own, or at least work, in a proper recording studio, and this two-year course will undoubtedly teach me a lot and give me great experiences. I’m really excited about this opportunity!

Haparanda is way up in the north of Sweden, right on the border to Finland (and I mean that literally. The Finnish side of the town is called Tornio) so I’ll have to move far away. But I’m fine with that. The one I care most about is far away to begin with, so it won’t make any difference where I live.

No, scratch that last part. Kylie does care that I’ll be moving up north. In fact, she’s loving it! If you haven’t been following our blog you may not know this, but she’s a huge fan of snow, and she’ll be coming to visit over Christmas and New Years, when there’ll be lots and lots of snow. You see, last time she was a little unfortunate and didn’t get to see much snow, because it melted away fairly quickly in the south.

I’ll start first term of school on the 24th of August, so it’s getting really close now! I just found a place to live (and what a place it is!) and today I booked my one way ticket to Haparanda! I’ll be leaving on Monday the 18th, so I’ve got little more than a week to get ready! Good thing I’ve been preparing for weeks and have most things packed already. Only the computer to pack into the boxes and then I’m ready to go!

I’ll be living in a small house. It’s basically a two story house with one small room per floor. I was originally looking at one-room apartments, but I was offered this when one of the apartments I was looking at was given to someone else, and I got it for the same price as the apartment I was originally enquiring about!

So I only have a week left in the town where I’ve spent a significant time growing up (in a house my Dad still hasn’t finished renovating) and then I’m off to the next great adventure!

And honestly, I’m extremely excited about it!

[Pictured above:  House in Haparanda Johan will be moving to.]

We Booked More Flights!

Yep, that’s right!  Does that mean we heard back from Johan’s school?  Er, not quite.  But we’ve compromised as best we could, so it’s time they did their part and hopefully things will be okay with that and if not, we’ll deal with them (we’ll try to avoid the use of force).

We made the decision last night to just get it over and done with – not just for the sake of our stress levels, but also the increasing flight prices on days 1-week before Christmas between Luleå > London > Arlanda.  Our cheapest option would still have been for Johan to take the full last week of school off, but the school didn’t seem happy with that, and this was our second cheapest option… that is, he’ll take half the week off.  He’ll leave Wednesday lunchtime, and arrive late Wednesday night, a week after Mum and I first arrive in London.  We get two full days with him in London, before flying out to Stockholm on the Saturday – so yay!!!  Things are finally fitting into place. We just need to book our London accommodation (we have a shortlist… that’s too long!) and then everything else is settled in that department because all of our accommodation in Sweden is settled.  So things are getting much more happy and less stressful now with that weight off our shoulders!

Of course, this means we have an official countdown until our next meeting on December 16, 2015… 136 days! 😀