You pratar lite svenska, you wear skinny jeans and drink coffee from 7-Eleven. Why do you still feel like the protagonist in Where’s Wally? YLC’s Kirsten Smart has one answer on how to get into the beanie-covered heads of the Swedes.
So you’ve decided to learn Swedish. Hurra! The next step is deciding whether you’ll go for private, one-on-one lessons or a public, group setting like SFI, both of which have their costs and benefits. Private is more expensive and it may be difficult to find a good, reliable teacher who can cater to your specific needs. Government-funded programmes are generally free, but the classes are often large, meaning there isn’t the one-on-one attention and everyone needs to march at the same pace, regardless of whether they are faster or slower learners.
But if you’re fresh off the boat and still looking at the metro map upside down, SFI can be somewhat daunting.
“I felt as though I was chucked into the deep end at SFI. Everyone in my class was speaking pretty fluent Swedish when I arrived and I felt like I was bringing the class down. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I stayed as I caught up quickly, but still, it was a somewhat brutal experience at first!” Australian, Vicky, tells YLC.
Moving to a new place where you don’t know the language is hard. It’s like starting high school all over again; you so badly want to fit in, make friends, know how things work and be fluent in the local slang.
You ultimately want to feel comfortable in your new surroundings; which is why schools have orientations, fun days and mentor programmes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone did all this for you when relocating to Sweden? They would teach you the language, show you where to buy groceries and let you in on inexplicable inside mysteries, like why cheese seems only to be sold in bulk and how “oj” can be used as an apology. They would provide a helping hand and a sympathetic ear, making your transition to Sweden as seamless as it could possibly be.
Enter Nina Mumm.
Mumm’s the word.
Nina offers language lessons (one-on-one or group both in person and over Skype), cultural training (in which she provides insight into everyday life in Sweden and covers Swedish values, attitudes and business culture) as well organises free, Monday morning fika sessions for expats to meet, mingle and munch. Additionally, she organizes cooking events, day trips, museum visits and girls’ nights out. She has studied Psychology, Languages, Linguistics and Bilingualism and uses her entire skill-set in providing the ultimate package for expats.
Of course, you don’t have to do the whole shebang. You can pick and choose what you’d like to sign up for and if you want to join in on the fika sessions, there is absolutely no obligation to take Nina up on any of her services.
In my opinion, the amazing thing about Nina is that she cares about you. She may not know you from Henrik, but she actually wants you to be happy and settled.
When I tried out one of her private language lessons (she offers a free lesson to anyone interested in learning with her) I felt as though I was sitting down with a friend who was extremely well-versed in all things Swedish. Not only did she give me a relaxed and informative lesson that she had catered to my level (which is somewhere between confused hamster and Swedish toddler), but she also asked me about my family and interests and doled out sage advice.
In fact, she even provided insights into Swedish quirks that irk (why in the heck do so few Swedes own a microwave?).
Nina explains that Swedes…just do life a little differently. Many foreigners enter a Swedish work environment and become frustrated with meetings that seem to go nowhere, lunches that last hours and whole summer months where business is put on the back burner. However, Nina encourages expats to rather go with the flow than try and change the system. Because, let’s face it, the system works; things still get done.
According to Nina, the key to integration is “patience, curiosity and an open mind. Having a positive attitude and building a new social network also helps.” This is the kind of inside information that sets Nina apart from regular private language tutors and overwhelmed public ones. She prides herself on giving her students her undivided time, attention and expertise in a non-judgmental, helpful way.
Truthfully, there are plenty of viable, economically conservative options available to aid you in the quest of becoming a Swedish language master (some of which may even have you nattering like a native within a matter of months), but if you’re looking for a gentler, more rounded experience, Nina has got to be the best of the best.
Now aren’t you glad I didn’t stay Mumm?
Kirsten blindly followed her husband from South Africa to the land of snow and snus in 2011 and proceeded to procreate. When she isn’t discovering the 101st use of the humble wet wipe, she can be found writing adjective-laden articles for YLC.