Five hundred and seventeenth asic- Four years…

Time is in many ways a very interesting phenomenon. No matter how hard we try to define it, we find ourselves lost in the relativity of time. What one person finds boring and time consuming may be interesting to someone else to the point where she loses the sense of time.

I started this blog four years ago. I started it because Sweden had a major election for the Parliament in 2014 and I thought it would be a great idea if I shared a few thoughts on teaching for the upcoming election. From my point of view, many journalists lacked the inside perspective from teaching and my contribution would thus be important.

An interesting and intriguing hobby started off… And not only did I write about teaching, but also various other topics.

Now, four years later, round 54,000 people have read my posts. I was more energetic in my writing in the beginning, but this year, 2018, we have another general election, so who knows? I may start writing more eagerly again… 😉


Fivehundred and sixteenth Asic- The Need for The Good Example in Times of Trouble

Migration is not a new phenomenon. People migrated thousands of years ago both abroad and within national borders. Despite the many negatively written articles lately, there are good examples that need to be acknowledged!

I once read in SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) about a small community in the middle of Sweden, where the new migrants were as many as the original inhabitants, but the people in Åre manned up and contributed volunteerly for the group of immigrants. Åre is very far away from the bigger cities. In a small community like Åre, connections between representatives of different authorities may be closer and I guess people in a small village also know each other quite well. When a busload of immigrants arrive, it may cause somewhat chaos for a short while, but true friendship in the local community is crucial. According to the article, people all contributed in their own different fields of society to help the immigrants as smoothly as possible. Today, not even two years later, the Åre society is profoundly changed in many positive ways.

I think, on a national level, when Sweden welcomed many of the refugees who had fled thru Europe in the fall of 2015, that was the only decent thing to do under those extreme circumstances. In my profession I meet many of them now, two years later and guess what? Many of the refugees who have been here less than three years, in fact cope quite well in their new lives in the wintery and snowy northern country of Sweden. My teaching subject is Swedish as a Foreign Language and I meet my students after they have passed the compulsory level and head on to higher levels of Swedish.

I cannot stress enough how rewarding it is to teach adult immigrants and share their stories about life. They learn Swedish, search for jobs and they dream of a home of their own and later a reunion with their family. Thoughts of the past, traumatic memories and losses may slow down the pace in which they learn to cope in their new environment, but despite very emotional events prior to their current situation, most of them are working hard to achieve their goals. In the long run, I think we all try to make the best of every situation despite hardships and trouble we pass along the way, at least that is what my students prove to me over and over again, every day in school.

Fivehundred and fourteenth åsic- The missing cars at IKEA in Philly

I noticed in almost every contact with my new American friends that their only connection to Sweden was that they liked the type of candy Americans call ”Swedish fish”. My first encounter with the so called ”Swedish fish” was about ten years ago when I bought some at Shoprite in the USA. When I now again got a lot of questions about ”Swedish fish” I was more and more curious about the fact that we really don’t see them much in Sweden. We rather eat a lot of other candy, for instance ”Ahlgrens bilar”, but many of us would probably spend time picking our true favorite candy at a store where we find ”pick and mix”. The answer to why there are very few ”Swedish fish” in Sweden, is to be found in the link below. Obviously this type of candy was created for the American continent and not for Sweden.

If I would like to by my favourite Swedish candy, Ahlgrens bilar, where would I go? To IKEA, of course… So I did… But obviously they sell large quantities of ”Swedish fish” and the SWEDISH candy ”Ahlgrens bilar” were nowhere to be found in the store. Peculiar, since the candy cars are VERY popular in Sweden and would be, too, in America, if only the Americans had a chance to find them…

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Let’s hope @IKEA starts selling @Ahlgrens bilar at the Philly IKEA from now on! I am sure that 400 kids from a school in NJ will be very happy to buy them! I would too, when I return one day!




Fivehundred and fifth åsic- Saint Lucia brings the Light in the Dark!

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Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy of Syracuse, from round 300 AC, is today’s protagonist in many different settings… The legend says that Saint Lucia was born in Italy in Syracuse. She was of noble family, but since her father had died Saint Lucia and her mother didn’t have any other solution to support themselves but for the young Lucia to marry a rich man. Lucia, however, had already dedicated her heart to God and did everything in her power to prevent a marriage. According to the legend, Lucia’s eyes were very beautiful. She even tore her eyes out and gave them to one of the men who came to propose, because she wanted to discourage the man. When Lucia was buried her eyes had been restored through miracle and that was also why she was honored as a Saint during the Middle Ages (1).

Why would a country like Sweden celebrate a saint from Italy, you may think? In the winter Sweden and the other Nordic countries long for the summer not only because of the cold and snowy winter, but also because of the darkness. Saint Lucia is celebrated every year the 13th of December and in Sweden the tradition is still very important for Christmas celebration. Many of the traditional songs are sung not only the 13th, but also during Christmas.

Lucia processions are organized all over Sweden and throughout all different sectors in the society. Kids celebrate in pre-schools or schools and adults celebrate if they are choir members for instance. Many towns or cities i Sweden have their own Lucia processions and on TV they show the official Lucia show of the year.

As a young girl I was in my first Lucia procession when I was a few years old. As a teenager I started to sing in a girls choir called Bjursåsflickorna. We gave many Lucia concerts every year. One of the years we were asked to perform at a dinner in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. It was very exciting and a memorable moment. Princess Madeleine who is now a Mom herself, was climbing on the chairs and crawling under the table and was quite an active little girl at the time. The very same choir also performed a traditional Lucia concert at Lugnet’s sports stadium in April… We were pretending it was winter, because of some honorable guests from the International Olympic Comittée. One of them was the chairman at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The idea was for us to sing to bring the Olympic Winter Games to Falun… Obviously that was a  mission impossible. Falun lost.

Singing for Lucia in strange places seemed to be one of the habits of this choir. I remember we even sang in the Falu Copper Mine, in almost complete darkness and with the damp vitriolic scent in our noses, helmets on our heads and just a candle to light our way down there. Very exciting and completely unique at that time. I know that later on, many other choirs have sung in the copper mine, too. Nowadays I come across Lucia processions ”by accident”, like for instance today when I visited the shopping mall Kupolen in Borlänge, or when students at school perform. I have also accompanied my own children on different occasions, but for myself, I would say my celebration of the Saint Lucia is found in memory lane…

Before I let you go, let’s just glance at a picture of a typical saffron bun, called ”lussekatt” in Swedish.

#lussekatter, #asaole

But hey… Why invent the wheel??? Please check this link from youtube in order to finally understand this topic!

Femhundraförsta åseriet- Med värmeljus vid arbetsdagens slut tänds kreativiteten

Jag läste ett av mina gamla åserier och noterade att den här tiden på året är ganska typisk. Även i år känner jag mig utarbetad och trött och varje stund jag är i klassrummet med eleverna så glömmer jag bort det. Men när jag kommer in i arbetsrummet återkommer känslan av att det är mörkt i november…

Det behövs egentligen inte så mycket för att tända en ny gnista av arbetslust. I fredags hade vi ett konstruktivt möte inför vårterminen. Nu är jag på det klara med vad som gäller och vem som ska göra vad. Trots att jag nu är mitt i slutfasen av den här terminen, så börjar jag ändå fundera på hur man kan jobba i början av januari… Är det inte märkligt att det är så?

Här är vad jag skrev detta datum för tre år sedan:

Mina elever slutade vid lunch och medan min underbara undervisande vän jobbade klart med sina elever, så hade jag hunnit läsa några kåserier  inför nästa vecka och fundera på några uppgifter, men sedan blev jag verkligen JÄTTETRÖTT.

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Att klockan då var 16 märkte jag eftersom fläktens surr äntligen upphörde och tystnaden bredde ut sig. Jag la upp fötterna i en fåtölj i arbetsrummet, hämtade en kvarbliven kudde som vi har i materialrummet och så blundade jag. Somnade gjorde jag inte, men jag nickade till och det var verkligen jätteskönt. Så kom hon, min finaste arbetskamrat K och hon ville att vi skulle diskutera upplägget för nästa termin. Min trötthet försvann i ett nafs och vi gjorde lite te, satte oss i ett nedsläckt arbetsrum med en grupp värmeljus på bordet emellan oss. Man smider planer bättre i mörkret…och dessutom flyger tankarna lättare. När klockan var 18.30 så insåg vi båda att inte endast tankarna flyger, utan också tiden! Att trivas på jobbet är så oerhört viktigt och att uppleva att man glömmer bort att gå hem är en ynnest. Vi hann inte klart idag, men det kommer nya dagar när det känns fint att stanna en stund. Med en arbetskamrat som K är lärarjobbet lätt som en plätt.

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Five hundredth åsic- To choose or not to choose is the question, #Femhundrade åseriet

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When I was in NJ a couple of years ago I noticed that I am not very good at choosing and find myself ambivalent and indecisive, If there are a lot of options. At least when it comes to choosing food from a menu… 😀

I wonder if I possibly have inherited this from my daughter? We are just the same when we are in a situation of choice. If we get stuck, we do however have different solutions to our problem. My daughter would most likely go for a choice similar to some of her friends, and thus avoid the risk of feeling her own choice was in any way bad. I, myself, on the other hand, sometimes want to follow the stream, not be the one to be a nuisance to others. SO although we both may do as others do, we seem to do so for completely different reasons. We also both tend to pick ”both” when it may be difficult to pick ”either…or”…

One of my friends have decided for herself to give herself a kind of punishment if she cannot make a decision when she is picking something for her (fika)coffee. If she cannot make up her mind about what nice pastry to choose, she simply says: ”En kanelbulle, tack!” (A cinnamon bun, please!). I remember many different situations when this friend and I have lined up to buy a cup of coffee and she and I both try hard to make a decision, but when it’s our turn at the check-out, we realize that it’s impossible… Luckily a cinnamon bun is a great treat along with a cup of coffee!

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But…what if my reluctance to make a choice is the very reason why I find it so difficult to be decisive in my classroom, too? The Swedish School System allows a lot of democratic processes for students to be involved in. We are supposed to engage our students in decision-making and students have a right to make an impact and be active in evaluating their school situation from many different perspectives. I don’t mind that situation at all… In fact I enjoy being interactive with my students in order to develop the learning process from year to year. Having said that, I also notice that Swedish students tend to be used to this collaboration with their teachers and they are also interested in sharing their opinion, suggest possible improvements to instruction or lessons, but my current students from different parts of the world seem more or less new to the idea of sharing their ideas and views.

I remember a lesson I had planned for a group of SVA3, where the students were all supposed to act and also to reveal a certain personality in a dialogue with friends. I had hoped for the group to pick a card with a personality and then ”go for it”, but obviously they were all worried about the situation and thought it was a better idea if I handed out the cards and thus made the choice more of a ”random” situation. After the activity I asked the students why they didn’t want to take part in the process of choice and they all said that they thought it was scary and unusual to decide for themselves in a school situation. It didn’t matter that they were all adults. They were all facing their old school situations where teachers make decisions and students do as they are told.

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Is there a difference between situations where one wants to choose or not? I don’t know if that would be universal, but I think from my point of view that when the decision is important to me FOR REAL, then I don’t give away my chance to choose voluntarily, but if there is no real and deep meaning to me personally, then I don’t mind letting someone else pick a choice of their taste. That is also why I completely trusted my friends when we decided what food to buy when I was in the US a couple of years ago. I trusted their taste and I didn’t want to be a pain…so instead of making a decision they wouldn’t appreciate, I’d rather let them choose. I guess we are all different. I notice that I am a person with a ”decision disorder” 😀

So… To choose or not to choose, will also in the future be the most important question, in every situation there is.

This is my 500th blogpost! Thanks for reading! ❤


Four hundred and ninetyeighth Asic- Sunshine in November Makes Me Jump!

November has been going on for weeks, almost YEARS now… or at least ten days…but today it happened and I noticed! The sun managed its way through to us! I could almost pretend that it wasn’t November…! What a joyful moment! I’m happy! I think sunshine is nice whenever… but in November it’s like an award of some sort! I wake up when it’s dark, go to work when it’s dark…spend my day indoors and when it’s about time to leave for home again, it’s dark…! I know this is not the case all over the globe in November… 🙂 But here in Sweden where I live…!

I remember another year when the sun came out in November. I was not in my classroom, although none of my students would have frowned for a sunshine jump, but in the staff room. My reward  for my ”sunshine jump” was a lovely laughter from the two of my teaching friends who were in the staff room at the time. They were happy, too! We had all forgotten what the sun looked like and were SO happy for the unexpectedly bright sunshine for being this time of the year. I often notice in my classroom, with students from all over the world, that November is a challenge, especially to those who are used to bright sunshine all year through. I try to remind them of the importance of a walk or at least some well spent time outdoors, to get some daylight. I also tell them they may need Vitamin D…

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It is however not just sunshine that makes ME happy. I also look at the stars in the sky for relaxing purposes and this time of the year I search the sky for Orion and think of a friend I know who will search the sky for Orion, too. Sharing a quiet moment wide apart is a way of connecting despite long distance.

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