A Catch-Up Post

MAN ALIVE am I tired this week.  I think Rome, Dr. Fawson’s visit and Jill’s trip are finally catching up with me.  I’ve been in bed around 8:30 and up around 6:30 every day this week and I just can’t seem to get with it!  I hope that this weekend will help — I have no plans.  It’s the first weekend since before Copenhagen in late February during which I will do absolutely nothing.  It will be glorious.

Well, not absolutely nothing.  I will clean.  I figure this is a sign that I’m turning into a grown up — I can’t wait for the weekend because then I will have time to clean my room and catch up on laundry!  I’m really excited about this … I guess it’s the little things, eh?

I have nothing planned for this weekend for a few reasons.  Number one: I’m exhausted.  Number two: I am poor.  I’m poor for a very exciting reason though!  I’m going to Amsterdam!  I bought my plane and bus tickets to and from Amsterdam and it worked out REALLY well.  I will be in Finland before that; I fly to Helsinki on April 7th, and fly out on April 10th.  I will land back in Stockholm around 8:40am, and I got a plane going from Stockholm to Amsterdam for later that day (4:30, I think.)  So I will just hang out in Arlanda’s “Sky City” for a while before I fly back out.  I will have two full days in Amsterdam.  I land around 7 on the 10th, have all day on the 11th and 12th and I fly out at 7:20 and land at Arlanda around 9:30.  I have big plans for my time in Amsterdam.  The 11th is reserved for Keukenhof and the 12th is reserved for a 3-hour walking tour and the Anne Frank Museum (open until 10).  I did one of these walking tours in Berlin when I went in 2009 and it was FANTASTIC.  One of the coolest ways I’ve ever seen a city.  Plus, while 2 full days will be a luxury after some 36-hour weekend trips, it really is no time at all to spend in a city like Amsterdam.  I figure a walking tour will be a great way to see what I want to see / should see.

I mentioned in my last post how I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make this trip happen because of the cost.  Well, my parents are “paying waaaaay up front” for landscaping work over the summer so … I get to go to Amsterdam and to see the tulips.  When I was talking about it with them, my mom said, “We can spot you the money, you should go while you’re over there.”  Just another affirmation that my parents are pretty neat.  Or, as us kids say, they’re ballin.  (Pssst … Mom and Dad: will you let me eat brownies for dinner when I get back for this shout-out?  I miss brownies.  They’re different here.)

Speaking of when-I-get-back, today marks exactly 9 weeks here. CRAZY.  That is crazy business.  It is FLYING, especially now that I’m teaching every day.  Only 5 weeks left, and only 3 (and a half) of those are at school!

Ok, lots of awkward segues here.  Speaking of school, I LOVE IT.  I love love love my students.  I see Lotta’s English A class and Birgitta’s English B class most often, so I think they’re the ones I have the best rapport with.  I see them 3 times a week and haven’t missed any classes due to teacher work days, and the other classes have each been cancelled at least twice AND I only have them twice a week.  Anywho, I love my students.  We just started using a NING so that my students could communicate with my fellow student teacher Kari’s students.  Every student (American and Swedish) is given the same prompt and required to write a brief blog response.  Then, they all read each others’ work and comment on it.  The entire site is monitored by Kari and me, and only those we invite are permitted to enter.  It’s a pretty neat thing and the students are doing really well on it so far.  Bonus, it meets like 4 Kentucky Teacher Standards in one fell swoop!

And this brings me to my next uncomfortable segue: I am serving as more of a social studies teacher here than I thought I would be.  I’m not just teaching literature, I have to teach quite a bit more of the social and historical background of what we’re reading than I would have anticipated.  It’s nice though; the students have a clearer image of the time period and can understand why a book or poem is written.  I know that this is hugely necessary in American classrooms as well, but I doubt I would have learned to integrate history — particularly social history — into my lessons as quickly back home.  There, the students understand what the 1960s were for the US and know who MLK, Jr. is.   Here, they don’t.

It also means that there are some things these students don’t know are offensive when they do them.  For instance, two of my students posted pictures of themselves in blackface on the NING.  In the US, I wouldn’t have to explain why it was inappropriate or offensive, but here — because they don’t have the same socio-historical background — I had to explain it and ask them to take down their pictures.  In this way, there are clear advantages and challenges to not teaching in an American classroom but I truly think it’s making me more aware of problems that might arise in an American classroom and making me more adept at responding to them quickly and effectively.

Jill noticed the same thing when she came to school with me: “You have to explain a lot of things I wouldn’t have expected.”  Totally true.  Jill came to school with me last Thursday and my students loved her.  She chatted with each class a little and they all enjoyed talking to her.  That’s another weird thing about being here: because the culture is so Americanized, everyone wants to meet me just because I’m an American.  Once they hear me talk, they want to chat about what they know about the US and ask me a zillion questions.  It’s odd.  I’m not sure I’d like being a celebrity … it’s a lot of attention.  So my kids had a ton of questions for her and she answered them really well and you could tell they really liked her.  She only came to school with me on the one day though, the rest of the time she was here we walked around Linköping and went to Norrköping.  I couldn’t do much with her, though, because I was swamped with work and classes to teach.  She got on just fine without me, and even went to Stockholm for a day by herself!  Here we are in Norrköping:


We walked around a lot in Norrköping and I was thrilled my knee didn’t act up!  I’ve been having problems with my left knee, which I have diagnosed as Illiotibial Band Syndrome (yes, I’ve gotten my medical degree since I arrived in Sweden.)  Basically, I did too many things that required, you know, my legs.  ITBS can be caused by long distance running (check!) and cycling (check!).  It can also be caused by running on hills (check!), “toeing-in” while cycling (check!), and weak hip muscles (check! check!).  So … based on this and the description of my discomfort, I have decided I have ITBS.  I tried to run on Sunday and I did fine until about 2 miles in (around the first big hill) and my knee was like “aw HECK no!” so I called it quits and limped back to my bike before leisurely riding home.  Since then, I haven’t biked or run.  I’m taking a week off of everything (which is LAME) and I’m going to run on flatter surfaces when I begin to ease my way back into running.  I hope this works out!  I’m not keen on dropping out of the marathon, but I’m even less keen on persistent knee problems.

And finally, this brings us to the second installment of Emily’s Embarrassing Moments.  I have two today.

  1. Jill and I decided to walk to school last Thursday.  I decided to wear a dress and a backpack.  On the way to school, my backpack made my dress ride aaaaaaall the way up, so I was walking around with my skirt around my waist for who knows how long.  It seems I just cannot pull off dresses and skirts over here.
  2. I have two students with the same first name in one of my classes.  When I asked them their last names so I could differentiate between them, I misunderstood one of the students.  I referred to him as “[First name] Ass” all class.  He approached me after class and said, “uh, Emily? My last name isn’t ‘ass’. It’s ‘az-uh’.”  Whoopsie.

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