Swedish For Immigrants – Week 7 Part 3

Wednesday: Still able to remove the key, but live in fear the lockup will happen again. Headache is gone. Still have some trouble breathing. We’re doing verbs in Swedish class. They bounce around my brain like bats in an echo chamber, but I’m happy to be done with the oldest, youngest thing. I feel like a minority. I am one―the only American on campus far as I know, amidst 3,000 students more or less. Outside of class, on breaks, the other students gather, speaking Arabic, I think, or other tongues beyond my kin. I should attempt to instigate communication in Swedish.

“You always reading,” one guy says in English. This is true. I always have a book, and am still reading, Angle of Repose. One of those long books you wish were longer. I don’t read it at home, an attempt not to devour it in just a few days. On class breaks I make a dash for a couch seat in the hall. All classes break at the same time so it’s kind of like musical chairs. If I’m ever rid of this cold I vow to start speaking Swedish at some of my classmates. I suspect we are all a bit reluctant to make the attempt. What can we say? How are you? What time is it? Are you married? Where do you live? Not easy to make an interesting conversation.

This morning I attempted to make one of my ‘in-class’ answers more interesting. When asked what I was going to do on the weekend, I responded (in Swedish), “I am going to Russia.” Easy to remember, Russia―sounds like, ‘Rice land’.
Teacher was taken aback for a moment, then asked, “How long will you be there?”
“Three years,” I told her. Class was staring at me . . . disbelief apparent. “I am lying,” I confessed.
“Oh.” She smiles. Class laughs. Ha ha. If asked again I’ll say I’m going to the moon.

*           *          *

We’re given a preview copy of the next test today ―a dictation. Teacher will read the text in Swedish. We will attempt to write her words in Swedish. The dialog has contributed to my new plan. Part of it translated, below.

Isa lar sig svenska
(Isa is learning herself Swedish)

“Isa comes from Burundi in Africa. She did not go to school in her home land. Now Isa goes to school. She is learning Swedish. She began class A last year. Now she goes to class B. Rita is her teacher. There are 17 students in Isa’s class. They come from different countries and they speak different languages. However there are some coming from the same country. They speak the same languages. They often forget to speak Swedish. Then Isa becomes angry. She does not understand their language. She wants to speak Swedish.”
Lots more to this one, which means lots of homework, and I’m feeling lousy. Headaches have come back.
Thursday: Wife cannot remove the key from car. Aha! It wasn’t me. I knew it . . . sort of. We call a tow truck. Driver comes, decides to take a look before he hauls it off and pulls the key out easily. “This happens sometimes,” he says. Wife drives car to Volvo place and leaves it. They will look at it tomorrow.
Friday: Son-in-law drives me to school. I take the dictation test, then bus back home. Volvo calls to tell us we need a new ignition switch, and there’s a wire that needs replacing. $1,700 and some change. Thank God this week is finally over!


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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6 Responses to Swedish For Immigrants – Week 7 Part 3

  1. Verbs bouncing around in your brain like bats in an echo chamber – now that i like.
    Big bucks to pay for that ignition – ouch! But your Swedish is getting better. Enjoyed this, Bruce, very much

  2. Oh Bruce, some weeks are like that aren’t they? … mine was not all that hot either… spent nearly three hours in Friday night traffic moving at between ten and twenty miles an hour – (a camper van broken down in fast lane ) Realised I’d collected a parking ticket earlier when it blew away off the left wind screen wiper… and found the garage had taken my money twice for the same petrol fill-up… nil desperandum…

  3. I love those verbs bouncing around like bats in your head. Sorry the garage is so pricey. Glad you found out you’re not crazy yet.

    • bldodson says:

      Re: Bats bouncing. I must confess I saw that ‘Bats in echo chamber’ bit is not my own. Saw it somewhere, years ago – no idea where or who came up with it.

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