Friday, August 27, 2010

School! Skolan!!

First week of school! First week of school! If those two lines were not said with the enthusiasm of five year old starting school for the very first time, go back and say it again. XD

On Monday morning, bright and early, I rolled out of bed, landed on the ground, turned my alarm clock off, found clothes and food, packed my bag (again), and ran out of door. I arrived about twenty minutes earlier than what I needed to be. Monday, for some students, was when class started. However, for the music students in second and first year, this meant that for two days, we would be in a small camp about a half hour out of town. There were about eighty people at this camp, but that part of the story comes a bit later.

I arrived at Hvitfeldska too early to see the music students gathering. Instead of wandering around the place looking like a chicken with its head cut off, I found a bench in front of the building and watched the movement of the student crowd as it swirled and twisted in front of me. Every once and a while, a student, wearing a T-shirt with the word, "Hvitfeldska," would walk over with a bowl of candy and would commence speaking in Swedish. Once the person figured out that I couldn't understand what they saying, they would tell me, in English, that there was some student activity that was being held at such-and-such a place in such-and-such time. Politely, I turned down each offer, taking a piece of candy as I did so. There was one student, however, who stopped to talk. Simon was his name. He is a science student in the third year. He too wanted to know if I would consider joining the other science students in the lab to play some games. He was the first person who saw that I was really lost and confused by what was going on. Eventually he went on, but until he did, he was kind enough to explain some of the inside jokes about Hvitfeldska. For example: The basement of the school is called, 'The Ghetto.' This is where all of the music classes are held. Oh, bother.

Moving on, I eventually saw that a group of students with suitcases and pillows had gathered up against the eastern wall of the building. I made a beeline straight there and inquired as to wither or not this was the music class. I was told, "Ja" with some funny looks. Really funny. As in, "Who the heck is this person, and why is she asking me the obvious?"

As Peter Larrson, the principal, was taking attendance before we left. All was fine and dandy until he got to my name. To this day, I am still not entirely sure of what he said. I'm pretty sure that he said, "This is Maggie, our new exchange student from Canada!" I got a round of applause and more looks from the people. These looks were more akin to, "Oh!! A new person! Let's stare at her until she feels uncomfortable!" So much for trying to blend in. This was how I started the band camp. With funny looks and a non-salvageable introduction. Great, is all I thought.

There was, however, this one girl who took me under wing, so to speak. I sat with her and her two friends on the double decker bus that took us to camp. Over the next two days, I hung out with her and her friends. They were all highly welcoming and more open than I had expected. As a group, it felt like that they took turns to keep me company and explain what was happening. It felt wonderful to know that these people took me under their wing and accepted me into their group. I was afraid of spending the school year alone. Over the two days, the second years and first years put on a concert. Other than that, generally, we just hung around. And had a party on the second night. Someone brought an amp over to my cabin, plugged in an iPod, and turned up the volume. We didn't stop dancing until a teacher came in a told us to turn off the music. Then one of the male students said into the sudden silence, "Bada?" 'Bada' is Swedish for swimming for pleasure. It was fun to watch. Then the next day we went home.

Now, the next topic is the school system. First off, there is no set time where all the students have to be in class. The closest equivalent that I can think of is a university schedule. But the schedule is NOT individual. Some classes may variate from person to person, but for the most part, everyone's schedule is the same. One is with the same people for most classes. Class sizes are small. Maybe 20-25 people in each class. Physical education is mandatory for all three years. English is also a mandatory class. Teachers are not called, "Mr., Mrs. Miss. or Ms." One calls a teacher by their first name. Lunch is free and offered to all students and teachers. Music students get private lessons. School, in theory, starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends by around 5:00 p.m. But start and ending time varies from day to day and class to class. Yes, I still am really confused on what is happening.

Because I am an exchange student, some rules don't technically apply. I can't take Gym because that class is at the same time as Swedish as Second Language (Svenska A). I don't need to take the English class because it's redundant for me. But being an exchange student is also causing problems for me. I still lack a schedule. I don't have student I.D. because it seems I still lack a student number. I don't have a bus card because, well, that's usually sent out in the first year, and because I'm starting in the second year, I need to get it mailed to me. So, cue the headaches, and the constant irritation at the seeming lack of organization thereof. I am so grateful that Mom packed headache medicine for me. I love you, Mom! <3

The particular line of study that I am in is science and music. Yeah. Science. For me, that means Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Math, Swedish Literature (Svenska B), Swedish as a Second Language, Orchestra, Choir, and anything else that may come up in the year. The Chemistry and Math, I have already done before. The challenge now lies in the language and what any teacher will try to say to me. My math teacher asked me constantly what something was called in English much to my embarrassment and the classes amusement. IN Svenska B, the teacher told me right off the bat that I should drop her class. I told her that, no, I was not going to drop her class and I didn't care if what was being read was at too advanced a level for me. I am determined to learn.

Throughout all of this, that one girl who is my new found friend, was a willing listener, translator, and wellspring of patience and smiles. It's easy to like her. Her and most of her friends. This is going to be one hell of a year.

It rained today. But now, it is night time. Spooky.

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