I know you have all been eagerly awaiting my blog for my first day of school, and it is finally here!!! Monday was a day spent soaking in the last day of summer. We did as little as possible, staying occupied with lots of card games and loads of hot tea, something I have actually come to enjoy during my stay here because at home I hated it!
Since Tuesday was Ebba’s first day back to school and Mamma and Pappa’s first day back to work and I didn’t start school until Wednesday and didn’t want to stay home alone all day, I went with Ebba to her school. I got to see what a first day of Swedish school was like, meet her friends, and get a tour of her school. Her first day was a little different than at my school. We woke at an 8:30 to take the train at 9:30 since school started at 10. We sat in the auditorium for 30 minutes and listened to her talk about the upcoming year, introducing new teachers, and setting her expectations.
After that, all the classes split up into separate classrooms to meet with their mentors who passed out cinnamon rolls. Can we get cinnamon rolls on the first day of school in the US? I think that would motivate a lot more students to pull themselves out of bed at 6 AM that morning.
The mentor talked about the schedule and some requirements for graduating since Ebba is a “senior” here, and we were free to go. The first day was one long HOUR. When we got home we had a quick lunch and then headed downtown so I could pick out a first day of school outfit. The rest of the night I spent getting ready for school.
Onsdag (Wednesday) morning I woke with butterflies in my stomach. I was finally getting to live my dream and be a student in a Swedish gymnasium (the Swedish version of high school.) I ate a quick breakfast, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and grabbed my bag. Mamma took a picture of me before I left to capture me on my first day and her and Ebba watched me walk down the street and out of site.
On my 10 minute walk the nerves only grew. I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, worried that I wouldn’t make friends, and scared I would be totally lost. I just had to push all these bad thoughts out of my mind and remember that I was getting an amazing opportunity to study in an amazing country and that being nervous would only make it worse.
As I walked out of the tunnel, I saw my school and many students standing outside. Some familiar faces stood out to me from the little welcoming party. I walked up and said hello to some of my classmates and they introduced me to others I had not yet met. They were all very welcoming and I felt much better already.
First, the mentors for the two classes in my year stood up and gave an opening speech. They then took role and introduced the new and exchange students. I have always wondered what it would be like to be introduced to a class by a principle as a new student because I had seen it in movies so many times but it had never actually happened in big, American public schools. Since my school here is so small, It is actually possible! We began the day outside in the lawn in front of my school, playing different games in four separate teams. It was a fun way for me to get to make a few new friends and begin to feel comfortable in my new school.
After each team had completed all the games we had a 15 minute break as they tallied up the points. Apparently, these breaks happen a lot in Swedish schools. Since classes here can be 2-3 hours long, teachers will let you have a 5 or 10 minute break just to go out of the class, talk with friends, go to the bathroom, or play pingpong! I’m curious to see how often these breaks occur on real school days.
When we all gathered back around, we did an activity where we had to talk to others and find three things in common. Luckily for me, Swedes are very good at speaking English so I could participate too. I liked learning new names and finding out things I had in common with others from our favorite color to the amount of siblings we have.
After another short break, the two classes split and met with their mentors in separate classrooms. As they talked about the school year and the schedule I just sat trying to pick out as many words as I could. A lot of people translated what they were saying for me or the teacher just came over later and told me anything important, which I really appreciated!
When they let us go for an hour and a half lunch, we still had quite a while before we could get into the cafeteria so one of my new friends asked if I would walk with her to her house to get her computer.When i asked if we had to tell anyone where we were going, she gave me a strange look. She then explained that you are allowed to leave school when ever you want, no parent call needed. They believe it is your responsibility to attend your lessons and to be on time. It seems more like college to me than high school.
When we got back, we headed over to get some lunch, which is way better than the lunch at my high school. They had a some salad options with corn, carrots, cauliflower, pasta salad, peas, and some other fresh vegetables. For the main course the had fried fish and rice with sauce if you wanted. You serve yourself so you can get as much as you want and go back for more if you are still hungry. Also, because of their taxes, everyone gets lunch for free so there is no waiting in a line to pay. With your meal you can have water or milk to drink, because Swedes will drink milk at any meal with any food, something I am still getting used to.
Back in the classroom, we played yet another game to bond more with the class. The principal came in shortly after and greeted us, welcoming everyone back, and discussing the school rules and policies and important things about the upcoming school year. After she had finished, our mentors had nothing more for us so they let us go and hour and a half early!!! It was such a strange feeling to be able to leave school just by the word of our teacher.
All in all, I think my first day went pretty well. I have already met so many nice people and the fact that they know english so well is very comforting. Now with the nerves out of the way, I think it can only get better as I become more comfortable with the people, the teachers, the school, and the differences. Tomorrow we start at 9:10 with math, so hopefully I can ease my way into learning in Swedish with the universal language. Wish me luck!!