Since all stories have usually a start, I am going to begin from there.
I have tried learning Swedish unsuccessfully with some of those apps and online courses that teach you mainly close to meaningless sentences as ‘the dog loves cornflakes’ or ‘grandma is running’.
It was useful for perhaps learning some words and detach a little from the ground level, but as we all know, the real deal is to be in loco and get accustomed to a language while living and interact with real people.
So I decided to look around on the internet for possible solutions to be squeezed into my holidays.
9 weeks was exactly what I was pointing to, in order to maximize the results.
ACCOMMODATION SOLUTIONS IN SWEDEN
Sweden is an expensive country and on one hand rather bureaucratically hostile when it comes to accommodations for people without a person-number (their sort of ID and tax all-in-one number) and also very expensive, especially when it comes to temporary private accommodation solutions.
As a matter of fact, the formula ‘all inclusive’ was indeed what took my attention first, and I believe everyone should be after that.
Doing the math, considering hours of teaching, previous reviews, accommodation etcetera, it looked like a very honest price for Sweden and the only course with this length and options which could make it worth to take such a step. But looking around, there are actually very few alternatives.
I sent my application and decided to invest in that course during my summer vacations.
The whole organization is super efficient, flexible and impossible for anyone to get into trouble. Before and after the start of the course all inquiries are processed and problems solved. The director of the course is a catalyst for problems and her experience makes them dissolve even before bothering to find a solution.
PRIOR TO ARRIVAL
Before arrival, the entire main logistical info is sent in due time by e-mail. Given the fact that I had a particularly difficult situation with payments to foreign banks, I had plenty of email exchanges with the staff before admission and I did receive answers promptly, once even 3 minutes after my inquiry. And I am being serious.
The accommodation was the first thing I came in touch with. It is located in a perfect central area with a building fully equipped with everything. It was so well equipped I didn’t even use all the stuff I could have used.
My room was just what I wanted and needed, equipped with also a tv I never used + a dvd player, an in-room kitchen used 5 – 6 times which was just spot on in case for a day or two one doesn’t feel like cooking in the common kitchen.
All students are provided with prefixed student cards that will allow them to enter the local student unions.
Uppsala is a mid-size city (in Sweden it could be considered a big one) that hosts one of the oldest and most famous universities in Europe. In summer it has a calm and very cute atmosphere, ideal for the students and it is surrounded by a classic Swedish environment: a lot of nature, flowers, forests and lakes. A cute little river passes through the city, giving a peaceful sensation that delights the day and the evening’s walk.
But the real surprise was the staff. The director, Nelleke, is a person that has this job in the DNA, and therefore for her, it does not even feel like an occupation. She knew more student names of my mates than I did even at the end of the period and was indeed the most cordial, motivated, easy going, hard working and reliable person I ever met on a duty. Not rare spotting her in the morning at the office at seven and finding her around with the staff in the evenings.
I thought, like many others, she was Swedish; it turned out she is Dutch.
Perhaps it could be a detail that matters, cause who could handle the matter of teaching a foreign language to someone if not a person who has learned it herself first?
It all made sense.
The assistants are of a superb professionalism and at the same time, it feels from the first day you have known them since high school time. All the teaching can be described in the same way, everyone has a different and unique background oriented to fit the level of the language one is going through.
CLASSES AND TEACHING STAFF
The classes are super organized prior any arrival and the division in groups and levels is foolproof and easily assimilated on the first day. The teaching staff is super very professional and experienced, all of them are professional teachers all year round, and all –obviously- have Swedish as their mother tongue.
There is no lack of activities in the afternoons and even weekends are covered, so hyperactive people don’t have to be afraid to be bored.
To study together with a very diverse group with different ages and cultural backgrounds revealed being another strength of the program, as it helps to support each other, grow personally, open your mind and change how you think. This is fertile ground for learning.
Last thing to add to the afternoon classes and extra activities: They are CRUCIAL for a 360% integration and understanding of the Swedish way of life.
This is a Session and not just a course. Part of the Swedish language classes is getting knowledge about Swedish way of life. Learning Swedish while at the same time being able to put it into the context of Swedish society, is a more physiological and spontaneous process, it works very well; this is not a detail, as I found out later myself.
The school is a very much a mirror of the Swedish society. The things students see and learn are taught in the entertaining and constructional way and this is preparing the students for encounters with the real Swedish everyday life. This applies to everything planned, songs, dinners, cultural classes and even the grammar courses.
I believe I have said it all. If not, I just want to point it out that with this kind of staff the only problem is that the session does not last longer.
Last but not least, I was able to sit for 3 job interviews in Swedish before the end of the course, and so did other students of the course.
My experience could not be more positive!