Last week I made a huge step forward in Swedish – I spent time with a friend, just in Swedish.I was not sure if this day would ever come. When I lived in Austria, I studied German, but I was always too shy to chat in German to anyone but people working in shops or cafes. Even my best friend, an Austria, has still never had a conversation with me in German.
So when I met my friend this week, and she asked ‘English or Swedish?’, I replied ‘Swedish’, mostly because we both studied Swedish together a couple of months ago at the Folkuniversitetet and it seemed only fair as it was a second language we both shared. I expected it to switch to an English/Swedish hybrid conversation at some point, as I have not studied Swedish for about 7 weeks now, but somehow we had a lovely lunch talking about the differences in schooling in France, Sweden and Australia, our Christmas plans and how life is going in Sweden – all in Swedish. Of course it is much easier to chat when you are both learning the language, we are not fluent yet, so we are able to improvise and understand each other – sometimes through mime, but mostly by explaining things in different ways until the other completely understands. It was a really great feeling, and it has definitely encouraged me to start studying Swedish again and I’ll be starting a course 5 days a week for a month shortly.
Talking with a native Swede is still a bit of a challenge, often because they swap to English as soon as they hear your accent, mostly out of kindness (or convenience?), which can make it a challenge to practice. Luckily, the people in my local cafe recognise me now and know I want to speak in Swedish so they don’t swap, this led to an interesting experience this week when I thought I was ordering some sort of red meat for lunch, and ended up with a delicious meal of fish (a type of fish I didn’t know the name of). At least things that would be simple and mundane in your home country and mother tongue make you feel like you are living life on the edge overseas… like the excitement of a small child when it learns something that by adulthood seems routine.
Now my next Swedish goal is to be able to hang out with a native Swedish friend, in Swedish, and have them not loose the will to live! I hope I can achieve this next year some time, but there is still a long way to go.