So today is Friday, fredag in Swedish. One of the first things we have committed to memory in Swedish were the days of the week. When we first arrived to our Stockholm apartment our landlord (who is renting to us while he is snorkeling in Hawaii) kindly gave us a small tour of our island. He showed us where to find his preferred grocery store, System Bolaget*, recycling and also where we can park our car. Our little island, Stora Essinger, is luckily out of the central city core which means we can park relatively easily. Although every street has weekday restrictions for street cleaning. Our favorite parking street doesn’t allow parking from 9am-2pm on onsdag (that would be Wednesday for you anglophones). Saturday and Sunday aren’t important because they don’t clean the streets during the weekend so we don’t really know those words.
We are settling in fine to our new life in Sweden. Juan has been working for just over a week and he LOVES his job! How could he not, he works 29 hours a week for the government!!! Last fredag I accompanied him into downtown (he works in the very center) and his work helped get us set up with a Swedish bank account, which was nice! We then headed to Migration, armed with every paper possible, to be granted permission to stay in this lovely country. The nice lady then suggested we visit the tax authority in the next window to apply for a personnummer, which you need to do ANYTHING in this country (get a cell phone, insurance, get free Swedish lessons, ect). Some colleagues told Juan not to even bother as they were rejected as they are only staying one year. I will actually need this number as I am planning to work and I will need to pay taxes (a whopping 55% here) so we applied. Juan headed back to the office and I did some retail therapy. I got to meet his colleagues for lunch and then that night we were invited to a birthday party. They are all really nice and it will be fun to get to know them better as they are from all across Spain.
On Saturday we went with some friends to go see the movie Australia (theater tickets, approx.11€). The movie was in version original (v.o.) with Swedish subtitles (as are most tv shows). No wonder Swedes speak such perfect English. Then we went to a Spanish bar and shared a bottle of wine (400 SEK = approx. 40€) which we could have bought in a Spanish supermarket for less than 4€. Alcohol is expensive here and when you add in restaurant charges, well, its practically unaffordable for us on Juan’s meager salary. I am looking for a job!
On Tuesday I started Spanish classes with the Instituto Cervantes, which is like France’s Alliance Francaise (Government run French cultural centers located throughout the world). They have put me in their highest level course (C1/2). Its a challenge because most of my classmates are non-native Spanish teachers who have probably been studying for years, while I on the other hand have not! We’ll see how it goes. Some might think its funny that I am learning Spanish in Sweden, having lived in Spain AND working at a Spanish school, but this is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Here I have the time and its a nice way to get out of the house and meet people, all while improving my Spanish skills which will be important for me later.
Good news, I think! We got our first mail yesterday: letters from Migration and the Tax Authority. I believe they say that we can stay in Sweden until 2014 and that we have person numbers (ok, we have to get them translaed to be sure)! But, yeah!!! Cheers for us (with something non alcoholic).
* State controlled alcohol store. Similar to the LCBO for you Ontarians. Nothing a Spaniard has ever seen before!