The three hundred and eightyseventh åsic- A light in the dark

#asaole, asa-och-zombie-i-smithsville

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

Today I have had a wonderful day with my friends in Smithville. I had lots of time to marvel over the celebration of Halloween, that in a way already started with a planned ”Zombie Parade” that would take place this evening. People were dressed out as zombies and it was very interesting to note that there was no difference in age. Old or young didn’t seem to matter…

I am brought up with the thought of All Saints Day as a serious day when one go to the graveyard and put candles there to show respect for the dead. I have also many years sang in church in different choirs. The music was always very religious and filled with sorrow. Last year my daughters and I took a late walk to the graveyard when it was pitch dark outside. The darkness and the many nice lanterns made our walk exciting and solemn at the same time as it was creating a bonding that served as a platform for deep thoughts about life. We shared our viewpoints of what will happen after death and also what people we missed most of all when they had passed away. The moment in the graveyard was very far from my experience today.

I can’t wait to see what Friday will bring. Then I’m told that many kids in the neighbourhood will come to ask ”Trick or Treat”. I’m excited about it, but at the same time surprised at the fact that the Americans seem to go ”all in” for their celebration of Halloween. I met some of the ”walking dead” today and this couple made an impact on me, since they were no ten-year-olds. Scary!



The three hundred and eighty-sixth åsic- Höstlöv, höstlov, hostlov, Fall Break!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

#höstlöv, #asaole

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Four different spellings means four different things, of course they do, but let’s take a closer look at it!

  1. höstlöv= autumn leaves→ when days get colder and leaves change colours from green into more colourful yellow, orange or red
  2. höstlov=fall break→ when Swedish school kids have a week off while teachers either go to conventions or work with their local projects, or get a chance to get some busy time back.
  3. hostlov= a coughing  ”break” meaning that the planned ”höstlov” would be a week when you had to stay in bed because of coughing… 😦
  4. Fall break=höstlov
  5. Ö→In Swedish we have three different letters that you can’t find in English. They are å, ä and ö.

If I would use a computer keyboard here, in the US, I would need to find some solution to writing the Swedish letters, which would cause problems since I’m not that much of a computer person. Instead I tend to write ”Swedish” with the computers I find here, but replacing the å, ä and ö with a, a and o. There! See??? Already we have a chance to mix them up, since å and ä are not the same as a and a… So how would one tell whether the intention is to write å or ä? Knowing what reading is about, one might pretend to be Sherlock Holmes and try to find out by checking the meaning of the words around…or perhaps being Swedish might be of help…? Check these two chunks of Swedish, but spelled without the å or ä:

  1. Ett far kan braka.
  2. Titta en bat!

Let’s say you don’t know Swedish at all… Then you would think it’s something wrong with the grammar in the first sentence, I guess… or you would just assume that this person has missed out a word of maybe is dyslectic.

The first sentence may mean several things in Swedish, but knowing Swedish properly means knowing whether you would use ”en” or ”ett” (comparable to the use of ”a” or ”an” in English). A Swedish person would know that if ”far” in the first sentence actually is correct (meaning ”father”) then there has to be ”en” rather than ”ett” if written with correct use of grammar. Suppose this person assume it is a father then… On to the problem with ”braka”… That word is a verb and you would mainly use it to describe what happens if a construction of some sort break apart, such as if a tree falls over a shed in your garden, you would say that the tree fell over the shed: ”skjulet brakade sönder”. The use of ”braka” might also suggest the sound of something, not necessarily something nice… Suppose you lunch was beans… After a while you really have to fart… If that happens and you can hear a sound, you would in colloquial or dialectal Swedish say ”han brakade” meaning ”he farted”. Then, what happens with the first sentence is that you have different options now, right? Either the meaning is ”en far kan braka” meaning ”a father can fart” or we need to doublecheck the meaning of the word braka… Is there any chance for that word being spelled with either å or ä??? Oh… as a matter of fact, both would be possible to use… ”En far kan bråka” means ”a father can be messing/fighting”… ”En far kan bräka” means that the father makes the sound of a sheep. Would a father to that? Yes, maybe if he plays with his kids or something, but it is more likely that we didn’t guess right when we picked either å or ä here… So then… What next??? I suggest for us to go back to the noun… ett far… We already know that ett far is not how we would say in Swedish. We would say ”en far” if it HAD meant father…but suppose it doesn’t? ”Ett får”= a sheep, YES!!! A sheep can bleat= ”ett får kan bräka”. Guess what??? This is what you and I do in a matter of SECONDS when we read a text!!! I think that’s amazing! Don’t you?

Let’s repeat the concept…by checking the second sentence!

”Titta” means ”look”… ”en” means ”a”… bat is a word in English, but not in Swedish. A Swedish speaking person has two options here. One is to assume that the word ”bat” means the currency they use in Thailand and then also assume that the person who wrote it has missed an ”h”  in ”baht”, but more likely is for the person to read between the lines and understand that nobody would comment on Thai currency in that way and rather suggest that the ”bat” has to be spelled with either ”å” or ”ä”. When picking one of these this time it’s easy! Why is that? Well, there IS no such word as ”bät” in Swedish, so problem is solved with ”båt” meaning ”boat” and the sentence will be ”Look, a boat!”

By reading between the lines, one can get a lot of language learning, don’t you think?

The three hundred and eighty-fifth åsic- ”HALF&HALF” or Completely Wrong!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

I don’t drink regular milk since I have a lactose intolerance. For my visit here in the US I had to make sure there would be something to replace my usual products with and today it was time to fill the fridge again. After we got back home I wanted to comment on ”milk” in general and since ”my” family here drink something that they call ”HALF&HALF” (a mixture of milk and cream as I understand it). I wanted to know what that was. So I asked…and they both laughed. I didn’t quite get what’s wrong, but i found out soon enough. They repeated what I said and I still couldn’t get it. I said it again, ”HALF&HALF”. Then they said: ”We don’t say that!” I couldn’t understand, because on the box it clearly says ”HALF&HALF” and that was what I said, over and over again. Finally I ASKED them what THEY said then… They said, too: ”HALF&HALF”, but their sound of the ”A” was as far from mine as the distance from here to Buckingham Palace! We all laughed and made fun of the different pronunciations and what would happen if you loudly would shout out in the store HERE, but with my pronunciation: ”Dear, please go and get some ”HALF&HALF”!!

My reflection is that if my friends hadn’t pointed out that we in fact used different pronunciations for the expression, I wouldn’t have noticed. I know that may seem weird to some of you, but different accents don’t ”bother” me anymore and I know my own accent is a strange mixture of different accents. A few people in school last week suggested I’ve got an Irish accent, which I enjoyed, since I have never been there… 😀

The three hundred and eighty-fourth åsic- Fika as an ice-breaker is never wrong!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014! 

There are many times I have marvelled over the word fika and how it doesn’t seem to have any translation in many other languages. Today was another of those times! 

This morning at the ”Sweden Day” at the school I visit I shared the concept of FIKA and explained what it is to the members of the staff. I was surprised that so many seemed to like the idea of FIKA and that made me think of a completely different situation some years ago. I talked to an American woman, who was married to a Swedish man.

This woman had learned by being in Sweden what fika was, and her idea of it was pretty much like the one I wrote on the whiteboard today (which I share above). As we talked we realized that the two of us had talked to Americans about the concept of fika, but in different parts of the country. I have only met people on the East Coast and she had just talked to people in California about it. Both her friends and mine had to some extent started to USE the word fika in the American English. What I now hope for, is for both the actual WORD and also the CONCEPT to spread across the continent. That would be amazing!

One of the teachers who had fika with me this morning, came back to the classroom after a while and asked me how to use the word in a sentence if he wanted to invite someone for a fika. So now, let’s spread it! There are different ways to invite, depending of the situation, but in English you can say like this if you like:

  • Do you want some fika?
  • How about some fika?
  • Are you up to some fika?

Fika can mean just a cup of coffee or tea, or it can mean coffee+ a sandwich, or it can mean coffee+a bun, or it can mean, coffee+ bun+ cake+cookies+ tårta, which is a Swedish kind of cake with no frosting/icing, but more likely whipped cream. The funny part is that fika also can mean ALL of the mentioned categories… There are really SO many different connections to the word in Swedish that it is very difficult to explain. Instead it is necessary to see the phenomenon as something ELSE, but ”having coffee”. It is a chance to SHARE with friends. What do we share then? It is not just the COFFEE, but thoughts, ideas, gossip, memories, jokes… Having a fika with someone is paying attention to that person, having a good time together with someone for a while. That is why I want the word to spread… So please, help me ”spread the word”… 😀

TILL MINA ELEVER är här en liten ”språkruta”:

Ska vi ta en fika? Hänger du med och fikar? Kom så fikar vi! Nu skulle det sitta fint med en fika! En slät kopp (= kaffe utan något fikabröd till) fika räcker! Vi ses på fiket! Vi hinner kanske med en språngfika om vi skyndar oss? Jag har fikarast mellan nio och tio varje morgon. Men jag brukar kvällsfika vid TV:n också. Stina kör långtradare och hinner inte med så långa raster, men ibland stannar hon på ett långtradarfik. 


The three hundred and eighty-third åsic- Uppe med tuppen!- Being an early bird!

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!1946345_1200_675.jpg (612×344)

I have noticed that one good thing with travelling across time zones is that there is a good chance to change bad habits! 😀

I agree completely with the Swedish saying ”Morgonstund har guld i mund”

Generally I do get up in the morning and start my day, but I’m not really awake…Here, six hours after my regular time zone, I have decided to get up whenever I feel alert, although it’s not ”six o’clock” as usual… Today the hour I woke up was 5.30 and I didn’t mind!


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Yesterday night when I accidently woke up in the middle of the night, I got a snapchat from one of my daughters. I replied…although I was tired, saying ”it’s in the middle of the night!” HER snapchat was a very alert and neat pic of herself and her friend singing and playing the guitar at school and I thought: ”Oh, NO! Not NOW! I’m TIRED!” …but it also made me aware of the wonder of TIME.

I’d say TIME is a phenomenon human beings invented. My host HERE would say ”We (the AMERICANS) invented time!” … And honestly, since time flies, I don’t have time to do my homework and find out for real who ”invented” what we all refer to as time.

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I do however enjoy the many aspects of time that make a life worth living. What if we never had any sunsets? What if you couldn’t wake up an early morning in late May in Sweden go and get your Dalademokraten, and have a cup of coffee outdoors while letting the sun warm your face. What if you couldn’t catch a flight to the USA and try to leave the sunrise behind you? There is however one thing I don’t appreciate about the way WE adjust to time. I understand why we all need to do the daylights saving change of time but having said that, I must admit I’m probably the most tired person on earth when we change all our clocks in the spring. I am probably also the luckiest person next weekend when I get my reward for struggling every morning for several months. Kronblom might be TOO lazy, but he is for sure the caracter I think of, connected to the words ”lazy” or ”relax”.

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Here, during my visit in NJ, I have noticed that I do have a serious chance to give myself the treat of feeling alert at five in the morning! That’s amazing and I love the calm and relaxed morning I get in return for getting up early. The lunch break in Sweden is up, but here we haven’t yet started our day. When I get back from school this evening, my Swedish friends will be on their way to bed… I can now see why there is a slight problem finding decent hours to chat online with a person from another part of the world. Being here is being ”right in the middle of things” when it’s a decent hour on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean… I’d better keep that in mind when I get back home to Sweden again! It has been said many times in Latin (Carpe Diem), not quite as many in Swedish, but it is an important thing to remember:

Fånga dagen! 

The three hundred and eighty-second åsic- Second Day in an American Teacher’s Hectic World

Everybody likes Pitman, #asaole

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

At home I don’t teach English, but Swedish as a Second Language. This evening I had the great opportunity to visit an adult learner’s group in Spanish at a College not far from where I am. The students were all taking lessons in Spanish, but volunteered to talk to me about what the conditions are for adult learners at this level in the school system. I found our conversation most interesting and will share their viewpoint with both my students and my teaching friend at basic level of English.

Earlier today I first met with a few children with special needs. I shared with them a few thoughts on what it is like to live in a country where we have monopoly money and a” fairy-tale-like” reality with a king…

I also had a chance to contribute with Swedish words in grade six while they were taking a Spanish lesson about furniture in different rooms of a house. Then I discussed with a group of eightgraders why so many Swedes left Sweden a hundred years ago.

I then had a nice and long chat with one of the teachers who has been a resident of Pitman almost all her life, apart from a short period down south. She told me all there is to know about the little town and I was happy to learn all that first hand, rather than read about it.

On Friday a few of the teachers have planned for a Sweden day, where the students will be getting a whole lot of information about Sweden, but also try some typical Swedish activities. I will contribute with a slideshow about Sweden and explain why the Dala horse is a symbol for  Sweden. The collaboration with an art teacher at this school also led to an idea where we let the kids know a little about how one can paint a typical ”kurbits”.

Tomorrow we’re off to Atlantic City, my teaching friend and I. We will study ESL as the NJ authorities wants it to be. I look forward to that very much. I don’t need anyone to rock my cradle! I am exhausted, but I’m having so much fun! Teaching is my life! ❤