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Interview with a Swedish learner – Carolina

Carolina comes from Spain, from a small town close to Barcelona. She did her PhD in Barcelona and moved to Umeå after that to work as a postdoc. Her research is focused on environmental radioactivity and peatlands. But that is not her only interests! She likes doing a lot of other things too.

During her free time she usually makes handmade crafts and also enjoys painting. She says she is not an expert but feels it is a nice way to relax and not think about science. She also really likes nature and tries to go hiking as often as she can. She is someone who likes smiling every single day and appreciates the small things in this world.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I got a position at the University of Umeå and moved there. Although all the Swedish researchers and employees speak perfect English, they usually talk in Swedish over fika or lunch time. Moreover, all the official documents and information that you get is in Swedish, as well as signs, labels in the products that you find at the supermarket, etc. So, I started to learn Swedish to understand what happens around me! And I also think that learning the culture and the language of the country were you are is quite interesting!

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started to learn Swedish as soon as I arrived to Sweden. The university offer some courses for free. But I thought that only one hour per week was not enough and I decided to take a course downtown which took place twice per week and two hours per lesson, and also some one-to-one lessons with Anneli.

How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?

I use the Swedish language every day. I try to talk to my colleagues and my boss at work and to some friends who know that I want to learn. I also try to write emails in Swedish. I force myself doing that because I think that trying and practising is the best method to learn a language. Maybe you make mistakes but realising and correcting them is the best way for learning.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

It has been a bit difficult for me to learn it since Swedish is completely different that Spanish. And it’s still hard because you realise how many dialects are here. But understanding official documents or meetings have been quite hard. The challenge maybe is also finding motivation sometimes and be consistent in your studies!

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

My proudest moment as a Swedish speaker (and I will always remember this) is when I answered the phone in the office for the first time! When you talk to someone it is easier to understand because of the body language. But by phone… ufff! But I could understand and answer!! And I remember that, as soon as I hung up the phone, I ran to my colleagues and boss saying: I answered the phone in Swedish!!! I was soooo proud of myself!

Can you recommend any Swedish books that are good for learning Swedish? (Could be course books, grammar books, novels, or children’s books – anything!)

Rivstart is a really good book to learn Swedish.

Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?

Mmm I am quite bad with that… But the best option for me to learn Swedish is talking to Swedes!

Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?

My advice would say: Don’t be shy and talk! Talk even you know that your Swedish is not perfect. I always say: “Hi! I am Carolina and my Swedish is maybe not so good. But I would like to try!” And Swedes are happy when they see that you are trying to learn Swedish. So… try try and try!

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