2. Going to school! (and more) (English translation)

26 augustus 2019 - Boden, Zweden

Dear readers,

This week school started, but luckily on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I didn’t have any classes yet. On Tuesday I went to the school to talk about which subjects I want to choose. I choose ‘estetiska  programmet musik’, that means that I will get a lot of music related subjects in school. I will be in the second year of ‘gymnasiet’. 

In Sweden gymnasiet is like high school in America. You aren’t really obligated to go to gymnasiet, but it’s very hard to get a job without a gymnasiet diploma. Gymnasiet takes 3 years and you attend it if you’re 16 to 19 years old. There are a lot of different programs you can choose, there are programs that are practice-oriented and programs that prepare you for university. There aren’t these very clear different levels like mavo, havo and vwo that we have in The Netherlands. 

And for the people who are wondering: No, I’m not going to an international school, but to a regular Swedish school where all the people talk Swedish and classes are in Swedish. 

The school is very big, but I will probably only attend classes in the same wing, the ‘estet wing’ (estet is short voor estetiska, everybody calls it estet), so during the school tour I only got to see a small part of the school. At school we always have a warm and free lunch for everybody and have 45 minutes or 1 hour lunch break, that’s way better than just a 20 minute lunch break in which you have to do way more things than just eating. In The Netherlands sometimes I wouldn’t even have the time to eat all of my lunch…..

Every day I have to use the bus to go to school, not a school bus, but public transportation. Here in the north of Sweden everything is very far away from each other and the public transportation isn’t very good. Most of the time my bus only goes 1 time per hour and not at all in the evenings and on the weekends. So if you want to meet friends in the evening or go back home in the evening, you probably have to be picked up by your parents of be brought back home. There is one good thing about the public transportation: it’s very cheap! The bus card I bought for the whole year only costs 350 SEK (€32,60). 

On Tuesday evening we always have orientering training with the whole family. Everybody practices a different course on their own level, I did the easiest course, even easier than Hannes’ course (my youngest host brother who is 8 years old), the course for the absolute beginners. I learned a lot about using the compass and reading the map during the competition on Sunday, so this course was really easy for me and that’s why I tried to run it as fast as I could and train my physical fitness. 

On Wednesday I picked blueberries in the forest near our house with my oldest host brother Hugo (11 years old). In the evening I baked a pie with all these berries together with my host father Rein and we ate it during fika that night. 


On Thursday I had to be at school at 10:00, I was picked up by a teacher who guided me to my class. Most of the teachers knew that I would join estet, but they didn’t really know whether they should talk Swedish or English to me, because I want to learn Swedish of course, but I don’t understand everything yet. Some students even proposed to do the classes in English, but that’s not an option of course….. My class thinks it’s fun to talk in English to each other without a real reason, they already did that before I joined them, but if I want to learn Swedish fast they shouldn’t keep talking in English. 

My class consists of about 15 girls and just 4 boys. My class was curious about who I was and included me in everything. They asked if they wanted to sit on the sofas with them and asked questions like why I wanted to come to Sweden “out of all places” and if Dutch isn’t the same as the language they speak in Germany….. During the first music lesson we started right away with practicing a polyphonic song, I’ve never sang polyphonically before so at first I was very confused ant the rest of the class knew what they had to do, so that was quite frustrating for me. But after a few times it actually went quite well and it seemed to be easier than I thought it was, you just have to focus on your own part very well and then mostly it works. 

Mijn klas, ES18

We finished school already at 14:00 and a lot of my classmates went to Subway to eat a sandwich and they asked me if I wanted to come as well. I promised Maja to go home with her and Christelle (two classmates) so I asked if Maja and Christelle wanted to come to Subway as well so I wouldn’t have to say ‘no’ to people on my very first day, that wouldn’t really leave a nice impression. At Maja’s place we had dinner and after that she (and her mother) drove me home. 

In Sweden you can take driving lessons with your parents, you have to put a sticker on your car which says ‘övningskör’, it works the same way as having a big ‘L’ on the roof of your car as we have in The Netherlands when we have driving lessons. Having lessons with your parents saves money and I think it’s more comfortable.

On Friday we only had music lesson at school. When we warmed up our voice for the choir lesson we had to say a few funny long Swedish sentences very fast and I didn’t understand these sentences at all and also couldn’t pronounce them at all. Later I heard that these sentence didn’t really make sense and that my classmates thought it was a funny exercise. School ended very early again, so after school I went to a fair near the school together with my host mother Therese. They sold a lot of honey, jam, vegetables, fruits and local products. At that fair I tasted and bought the most delicious jam I’ve ever tasted! 


On Saturday we had an orientering competition in Piteå, it’s a one hour drive from our home, so we left early from home. I ran the same course as Hannes did, but this time I did it all by myself, without Therese. I was 10 seconds slower than Hannes and I was quite proud that I didn’t make any mistakes or got lost. 

On Sunday we had another orientering competition in Piteå, this time we had to be there even earlier, because the courses would be extra long. I had a more difficult course than on Saturday, the same course as Hugo did. This time I did make a stupid mistake. The checkpoints in orientering are always orange with white, so most of the time when you something orange in the forest it’s a checkpoint. This time I thought I saw the checkpoint and it was on a steep hill just like where the checkpoint was supposed to be. So I saw something orange and ran to it, when I came closer I saw that it wasn’t the checkpoint, but that there were 2 women picking berries and one of them wore an orange hat…. The checkpoint was even further away, so this cost me a lot of time, because I couldn’t really run in this area. Despite this mistake, I ended first in my category and I was exhausted at the end of the course. 

Orientering wedstrijd zaterdagUltra lange orientering wedstrijd zondag

Today I went to school and I had my first math class. Math is really easy here, we had to do exercises I had to do when I was 12 years old… In Sweden most people put their bag in their locker the whole day and they go to their locker after/before every lesson to get the right books. It feels so weird for me to walk around the school without a bag. I also found out today that you borrow your school books from the school library and you don’t order them online and get them delivered at home like in The Netherlands. 

Again, school ended really early, so I got a milkshake with a few classmates and after that we went to the ‘ungdomsgård’ (it’s a place for teenagers to go to where you can use computers, paint, game, etc.). It’s really nice that we end so early, because you can really do something in the afternoon. In The Netherlands I never really had the time to meet my friends after school, because I finished school really late or had a lot of homework, we don’t have that for now. 

In the evening we ate crayfish. Rein, my host father, caught a lot of crayfish last night, August is the month where a lot of people eat crayfish in Sweden. They even have a traditional party called ‘kräftskiva’ (crayfish party), originally it’s on the first day it’s legally allowed to catch crayfish. The crayfish are prepared in a special way and are eaten in a special way in a special order. In south Sweden, especially Stockholm, they even like to wear funny hats with crayfish on them, sing songs and decorate the garden. Here in the north they just like to eat the crayfish and it’s really delicious! 


On Wednesday evening I will have a concert at school with the estet program, hopefully it will go well and hopefully I can show you some pictures of my classmates. 

Lots of love, Roos

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