Thursday, January 20, 2011

Short circuit!

by Carl Mattias

Being an Exchange student can be tough at some times. You leave your country, your language, your culture and your friends behind to go in order to travel to a new country, learn a new foreign language, meet a different culture and make new friends. It also fun, for me it's mostly fun!

One of the funny things are all the presumptions people tend to have towards your country (and of course all those presumptions you have about theirs as well).
The most frequent question I have gotten this week is as question about how could it is in Sweden now, the question is generally asked with the assumption that it is colder in Sweden than in Minnesota, and rightly so! Sweden is north of Minnesota after all, and is together with Norway, Finland and Denmark called "The Cold North" in Europe. E.g right now it is 5 Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius) in Saint Paul and 28 Fahrenheit (around -2 Celsius) in Uppsala (my hometown in Sweden).

This week I have also finished my final paper in my J-term course (Genesis to Revelation) at Luther Seminary. The remaining time time of the J-term I will take the opportunity to work with a course for one of my professors at Johannelund (my theological seminary in Sweden). Fortunately all of my books are in English (not unusual when you take a course in Sweden) and my professor has agreed to let me write in English!

The reason I want to write in English instead of practicing my Swedish (which will hopefully not have been forgotten when I return to Sweden) is because I am sometimes struck with what I would describe as a linguistic short circuit. It didn't take my mind a very long time to adjust to the English language, nowadays I both speak, think (and occasionally write) in English. The short circuit happens when I learn something particularly interesting I want to be able to share when I become a pastor in Sweden. I begin to take mental notes (in English) on how I should say it, only to suddenly realize that English is not the native language in Sweden! The problem that then arises is when I try to change languages in my head only to realize that I, in my mind, can't tell the difference. Leaving me unable to speak or write English and Swedish properly for a while.
That's one of the problems with being multilingual I guess!


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