Friday, 23 March 2007

The Adventure Begins

I’ve now arrived in Sweden, and have been here a little less then 40 hours. Its 3 degrees, with fierce cold winds from the arctic. But its also sunny, so for most Swedes, its summer.

In the 30 hours it took me to get her, Ankie’s sister Maria gave birth to a baby boy. In the last phone conversation I had with Ankie before leaving, she told me that Maria had called her mother, worried she was about to give birth. Ankie’s mother dismissed this as Maria just being overly anxious, as she wasn’t due for another three weeks. At Tullamarine airport I got a text message saying Maria was giving birth, and when I finally arrived, young Adam had been born. Although at that stage he wasn’t called Adam yet, as it was only yesterday that Maria and Chris agreed on a name.

In the short time I’ve been here, I already feel overwhelmed by the Swedish language. I can understand some signs, and certain words, but when people speak, it just sounds incomprehensible. Yesterday, when I sat down on a tram, some guy started yelling at me. I thought I had done something wrong, and was trying to explain to him I didn’t speak much Swedish. Then I noticed he was slurring and struggling to stand up. Turns out he was just a drunk who was yelling at anyone who would listen to him.
Maria’s fiancée Chris says in the two months he’s been here he’s learnt enough Swedish to have simple conversations. If I can get to that stage in two months, I’ll be rapt, but right now I feel there is so much to learn that I’ll forever be a mute. Everyone speaks excellent English, but not speaking Swedish is still a hindrance. For one I can’t read the paper, or watch the news. I’m starting to appreciate just how hard life must be for people who are illiterate, or migrants who don’t speak any English at all.

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