Today, we sent in my application for a course that teaches immigrants Swedish to help them integrate with their new culture. I am told that students even receive a small stipend for attending in addition to the course being free. As a corollary, a person at the folkuniversitetet, which is the adult education program as far as I understand, is interested in me becoming an English teacher. Even though my command of Swedish extends no farther than “Pardon me, but I understand very little Swedish. Can you speak English?” (to which everyone replies, “Ja, sure.”), they want native English speakers only to teach English to Swedes interested in improving their command of the language. So, we will see if and how that pans out. Mariette told me that the woman was quite interested.
One of the curious aspects of Sweden to an American is the phenomenon called Ållsong. Any time a group of Swedes gathers of any size at all, there is a good chance that singing will break out. Nightly during the summer, thousands of Swedes gather at an outdoor amphitheater in this wonderful recreation of 18th Century Swedish life called Skansen for a couple hours of singalong entertainment. An hour of this is broadcast nationally from Stockholm and Lord knows how many people watch it. People of all ages, but particularly young people, fill the amphitheater and sing along with an assortment of Swedish pop singers, folk singers and entertainers. It is hard to fathom your standard disaffected American youth getting behind something so wonderfully corny as a several thousand strong sing along, but there they are every night rocking out with their parents and grandparents. I am beginning to think that this–there’s no other word for it–cornball institution is perhaps the best reflection of the workability of the Swedish system. Literally everyone there is happy and they are singing. It has to be seen to be believed.
Another Swedish institution is the tiny cottage on the seashore for the family summer holiday. Here are some from a walk I took last evening.
The sun came out today and the water was like glass.