Well i have been here in sweden for over a month now, and this past month or so has flown by. Some general info. I am doing well. No health problems or any other sorts of problems, which is always good. I am finally begining to learn and understand Swedish! I am taking classes two times a week in the big city of Goteborg, and i am also learning from a book and CD set at home. I can tell that every day I am able to understand more and more Swedish! Two major things that have happened in the past month, i went sailing with the Rotary kids in our district, and i have been attending school for three weeks now.
Sailing with the Rotary Students.
About two weeks ago, there was a two day sailing trip for all of the 22 rotary exchange students in our district, down in the town of Udevalla. So saturday morning i got up and took the train into goteborg to meet the other exchange students. Then after a very confusing hour and a half of train rides and walking, we ended up where we were supposed to be in the town of Udevalla. There we met the rest of the exchange students, and then went over to tour the nearby museum located in Udevalla. This wasnt very exciting, but it was fun talking with the other exchange students. Then after the museum we headed to the boat. The boat was a fairly large sail boat, with just enough room to fit us 22 kids and some crew. So we got on, had a speech on ship saftey and rules, and the headed down below deck to pick our beds. The sleeping quarters for us were basically one large room below deck, with a couple of benches in the middle. The walls were linned with bunk beds stacked three high and were only covered from the rest of the room by a curtain. So needless to say, there wasnt a lot of privacy, but it was fun being in one big room with everyone. So after picking beds and getting set, we all went back up. The rest of the night consisted of us just sitting on deck, eating, and talking, which was very fun. Then we all headed to bed around 11 and were asleep by 11 30. The next morning, we got up at 8, had some breakfast, and continued to sail. First we sailed to this small inhabited island and got off to look around. The island had a small, very stereotypical swedish sea-side town with small winding roads with yellow and red housed built into the rocks, which was quite beautiful. Then after some walking, we made it to the coast of this island, which was very rocky, much like the north shore of lake superior, without the forrests. So we got to explore around the area for a while, and i went to go climb on the rocks and take pictures. After some free time we headed back to the ship. We then set sail for home. On our way home, we were told we could go swimming in the sea. So some of us got changed and came back on deck. When we looked into the water that we were going to swim in, we found there to be a good number of jellyfish. So, we ended up jumping into the freezing cold water anyway. While in the water, the people on the boat yelled and pointed to where upcoming jellyfish were, so we could swim around them. Despite being a little scary and cold, it was very exciting and fun and no one got stung. Also while we were sailing, the captain let us put on these harnesses, and crawl out over the front of the ship, onto a net dangling over the water, and play out there, which was also scary, but very fun. So after another half hour, we returned to harbour and headed home. all in all, a very fun trip!
School here is quite different from the US. The school that i am attending is Lerums Gymnasium, which is the swedish equivalent of high school. Gymnasium has three years, and is divided up into different programs. The first year, you can decide from programs like economics, music, natural sciences, international, and other programs. Then for the next three years you will take some general courses like math and gym, but then the rest of your schedule will be devoted to your course of study. I joined the Music program in the third and final year. Classes are also different here. In each program, everyone has the same basic schedule (except for maybe like one or two electives), so you are with the same people all day, every day, which is good because now i have gotten to know everyone in my class quite well. Also, the lengths and starting times of these classes are different every day. For instance, on mondays, i have only one class from 10 to 11 40, but on thursday, i have 4 classes starting at 8 20 and going to 2 15 with random breaks inbetween classes. The classes that i have are Swedish, (which is like an english class in the US, they have some project that they work on and i just read stuff in swedish) English, (right now they are reading english classics and doing papers on them. This is also my only class taught in English) Relgion (from what has been translated to me, so far its more morals and ethics then learning about religions, but that might change), Civics (right now they are talking about the swedish elections and politics), Modern Art, Ensemble learning (learning how to lead a band or music group), and Ensemble. In Ensemble, the teachers have split all the musics kids into three different rock bands. Then bands are to pick and perform 5 songs and a promotional gig in november at other schools in the area. This is by far my favorite class. We basically sit around and figure out songs and then jam out. So far my group is doing Highway Star, by deep purple, during which i sing, and One by U2, during which i play guitar. A couple other differences between US and Swedish schools. The lunch is free, so you can take all the food and milk that you want, which is a great thing. There are a couple of cafe's around the school, where you can buy a cup of good coffee for 5 kronor, or like 7 cents. Also, none of the bathrooms are labled as bathrooms, so it is very hard to find one. also, the bathrooms are not divided up by gender. So in the bathrooms that are just a big room with different toilet rooms/stalls, i find it odd that there are also can be girls in there at the same time. I guess it isnt actually that odd, but it feels a bit weird.
So yes, Sweden is amazing thus far. School and my friends are great and i am keeping busy, which is good. hopefully i will write again soon.