Wednesday, January 29, 2014

current state of the swedish learning endeavor

In the last month it seems like something is finally starting to click for me with learning Swedish.

I spent a frustrating year listening to Swedish conversations at lunchtime without ever understanding. I don't think I would have been frustrated if it hadn't been for people saying things like "oh if you just listen to conversations you start to pick things up," which never actually happened for me. Unless you count hearing and understanding words like "maybe" or "usually" or "three hundred"… in that case, then yes, I could pick things up, just nothing useful.

Dance classes were usually better because I had a base knowledge of the dances already, and then most verbal instructions are accompanied by a demonstration. This was the only time I could start to understand the big picture, even without being able to understand the majority of the individual words.

But now things are starting to change. Now I'm starting to really notice that I am understanding more and more. Most conversations are still too fast, but I am at a point where it feels like I'll be able to understand in the not-too-distant future. I no longer feel completely overwhelmed by how far I have to go, but more excited to see that actual progress has been made.

I also think I have reached the base level where now I actually will be able to learn things just from listening to conversation. I've also been reading about the course levels and trying to figure out what that will mean. I have high hopes that by the end of summer I'll be able to understand conversations at normal speed, and also be able to speak about most things in simple language.

For now I just need to focus on taking the small steps to make this happen. Study vocabulary. Go to swedish class. Listen and try to understand conversations. Try to talk to people in Swedish.

I also need to keep celebrating small achievements. I really dislike studying vocabulary, but today this amazing thing happened to remind me that spending time studying is worthwhile. Someone said something funny in Swedish and I laughed! I didn't have to wait until someone translated and then laugh the delayed laugh. Such an accomplishment!

Friday, January 24, 2014

7QT: Are these starting to sound the same each week?

1. The Sushi Bazooka, alternately titled The Sushezi.

I don't have this or want this; I just think it is amazing.

2. I love the public library so much. Normally I like to plan out what books I'll look for before I actually go to the library. This way I can check off a book that I've actually been meaning to read. Greg often likes to just browse to see if he finds anything that looks interesting. Every time this happens, I end up finding books too (or sometimes I find books and he doesn't). For example, did you know that Lauren Graham (of Gilmore Girls fame) wrote a book?

The other great thing about library books is that I'm more motivated to actually read them. I don't like to leave a book unfinished, and I am not a huge fan of renewing the books (because obviously I pick the best books and other people are surely waiting for them). Also, I like to have the book I'm reading, plus one on hand for when I finish. Sometimes, I'll get a surprise email saying a book I was on the reserve list for is available for me, and those you have to pick up within a limited time and you do not have the option to renew. All this adds up to reading rates that I am quite satisfied with:) Thank you, Library.

3. I feel like I write about Anki, the electronic flash-card program, quite often. A thing I really like about it is that you can look at a nice display of graphs and stats. Normally I just look at the stats of individual 'decks' but the other day I checked out the stats for all the 'decks' and there were some interesting things there. I found out that on average, I am studying Swedish vocabulary for about an hour each week, and normally this is done with 20 minute sessions on three days of the week.

In my mind I have this goal of studying vocabulary for twice this amount of time. I really wish I would only skip one day of studying per week, but that never seems to work out for me. It is sort of a mixed bag of feeling glad that I am studying vocabulary for so much time (compared to the nothingness of the majority of my time living here) and feeling disappointed for not doing more. I can really tell that it makes a big difference in my Swedish skills, but somehow that doesn't give me the motivation to do more.

4. In Swedish you can sing an alphabet song to the same tune as the english alphabet song. There are three extra vowels at the end of the Swedish alphabet, so once you get the 'lmnop' section, there are really no pauses and you also never say 'and' before the last letter. Also, people of my generation do not include w in the Swedish alphabet, but when a 3 year old sings it, he includes it. Just some Swedish alphabet facts for your friday.

5. Here is a fun fact about the northern lights: If you are seeing a really faint glow in the sky, near the northern horizon, and you are wondering if you are seeing aurora or clouds, check to see if you can see a star through it. You can see stars through aurora, but clouds block out the stars.

6. The northern lights are called norrsken in Swedish, which sounds like norr-when but you have to imagine the person pronouncing the when like a person who has a strong h sound when they pronounce the word white. Norr means north, and the only other place I've seen 'sken' is in the word solsken, which means sunshine (sol = sun).

7. Folk dance tomorrow, and folk dance next saturday too! It feels lucky to be me!


The End and The Link-up!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

7QT - fingerless gloves, heroic minute, and of course some sweden things

1. My mom sent me home-crafted fingerless gloves for Christmas! They are so nice for keeping at the office, because it is always so cold in here, and I can easily wear these while working on my computer. Nevermind those people who keep asking, "Are you cold, Meghan?" Not anymore!

Photo on 1-7-14 at 12.54 PM

2. I sort of laughed a lot about this xkcd comic from earlier this week. (Note that if you go to the actual link you can see the mouseover text.)

But at the same time I sort of felt like I could identify with both of those little dudes. Sometimes I like taking photos, but sometimes I think it is necessary to just hold off on the photo thing and take it in with your eyes. This is especially the case when I recognise that any photos I am taking just aren't capturing the truth of what I am seeing.

3. I think the birds get confused by the lack of daylight hours here. Sometimes we sleep with the window open, and they will just be outside chirping at 2am or some such crazy hour.

4. Last week Sarah's QT #5 was something I wanted in on. I know I've tried the no-snooze-button thing before, and it never ends up sticking. But somehow I think that being inspired by science AND a saint might be enough to make this last a little longer. So far I've managed for a week (technically it was only a four day work week since Monday was a holiday because non-religious Swedes love celebrating Epiphany). Plus why should I just keep letting myself be "beaten in the first skirmish"? I mean really..

5. So, I actually find it really interesting which days Swedes celebrate as holidays. A lot of their national holidays are actually Christian holidays, but they are starting to change out the days they have as national holidays to make them not religious-centered. For example, the Swedish National Day first became an official holiday in 2005, replacing Pentecost Monday.

6. We got a cat calendar for our office. It hangs next to the cross stitched dog. Pretty remarkable stuff going on in this office.

7. On every day of the calendar is the name that is celebrated that day. It seems that some people will celebrate their name day like a birthday. At the very least probably most people can tell you which day is their name day. It is sort of like celebrating feast days of saints, only different.

The End & The Linkup

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Malory visits Sweden

This year we had a visitor over the holidays, so we spent our vacation doing all sorts of adventurous and touristy Swedish things.

We prepared a (mostly) traditional Swedish Julbord for Christmas Eve (which we ate again on Christmas day) consisting of the following things: a Christmas ham, Christmas porridge, cheese, herring, crackers and bread, brussels sprouts, mashed sweet potatoes, beet salad, and a tomato salad.


On Christmas day we also baked gingerbread cookies, shaped as ninjas, satellites, Christmas-themed things, and animals.

We visited Stockholm a few times, which consisted of twelve hours of walking every time we went there. Here are some of the things we saw.







Those last two are of the Stockholm Opera House.
That's right.
If we leaned waaaaaaay forward we could see almost 58% of the stage! The right half of The Nutcracker Ballet was phenomenal. The mice were particular favorites, and also there was a sleepwalking dance which I found delightful. That was also the first ballet I've seen with men on pointe.

And train snacks, as seen below, became our tradition.


Another day we had a really lovely afternoon tea in Uppsala.


And yet another day we took the obligatory trip to gamla Uppsala. I really enjoyed how these photos taken during the early afternoon sunset turned out.







Thank you for coming to visit Malory! We had such a wonderful time exploring more of Sweden with you!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Needle felting!

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a needle felting kit, which I was really excited about. I had never tried this craft before December, which is really a shame, because it is a good bit of fun. Plus you can make super cute things:)



Meet my elephant! He occupied a good portion of my yesterday and got his ears attached this morning. I'm still considering adding a little tail to him, but I don't yet have the skills necessary to make something so tiny. He also might get some little eyes or some tusks. We shall see!

If anyone has any great ideas for things that could be felted, do let me know!

EDIT: I hope this isn't poor form, but I'm updating this post from last week to include in Cari's Theme Thursday linkup! I mean.. it is a photo link-up, and the theme this week is 'craft' so I hardly feel like I have any other option when I have this nice elephant that I crafted and then did a photo shoot with. Right?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

13 Photos to remember 2013 by

This is a blog post trend that I am excited to get on board with. So here we go then (with links to the original posts)!

Making cheese is fun!

Ducks and snow.

Woman on bicycle. This was maybe my most favorite photo of the year.

The dinner I ate while waiting for the announcement of the new pope.

A trip to Stockholm during Julie's visit to Sweden.

The pigeons of Vienna.

Contra dancing in Denver (dancing a hambo at mile high elevation is not easy).

My borrowed and beloved tent.

My favorite summertime activity. I especially loved that there was still enough light to not need my bicycle light on my ride home at 10pm. Also, those evenings got even better once I started getting a waffle (with cream and jam) during the break.

Greg and I go to France.

Really delicious meal cooked by my husband.

Beer production!

Waiting for aurora that never came.

Going through old posts and photos made me realize that I took and posted a lot more photos in the first half of 2013 than the second half. I suppose this is just a result of living in a different country than my husband versus the same. I also learned that most of my posts are not titled in any sort of enlightening way, especially the seven quick takes post. Maybe I'll do better this year.

This was fun! Thanks for hosting the linkup!