Monday, May 12, 2008

Svenska för Invandrare

JoeOne of these days I'll learn that I just can't do things at my own pace in Sweden. I keep falling for the same trap: I wait until I'm ready to start something, at which point I try to sign up for it only to find out that I should have started weeks before. You would think that our experience getting personal numbers, finding an apartment, seeing a doctor, etc., would have been enough to teach me this simple lesson, but alas it is not so.

Case in point: Swedish lessons. Jennifer just started her second 6-week course this past Monday. It's a nice setup, but a little on the pricey side if your employer isn't picking up the tab (which hers is). There is another alternative, though. Svenska för Invandrare, or SFI, offers a course which is free to anyone who has a personal number and a need to learn Swedish. The only drawback is that the class is full time, so you can't take it while working. Perfect! I didn't sign up right away because I didn't want to get tied down for a couple of weeks while we were apartment hunting, and then there were the weeks spent setting up the apartment, yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, by the time April approached, I figured it was time to get me signed up for some lessons, so I looked up the Uppsala SFI office online and headed down there to register. Unfortunately it was a Thursday afternoon, and the office naturally closes for the weekend at 1 on Thursdays. Undaunted, I returned the next week during the posted business hours, only to find out that they were closed for the week. No problem, plenty of time.

The next week they were open, and I sat down with an administrator-type and filled out an application to the program. When it was done, she handed me an appointment card for the next week with a time and an instructor's name. The card only had a start time, though, so I foolishly enquired how long the class would be, how often it would meet, etc. The nice lady then explained that the time wasn't for a class meeting at all, but rather an appointment to talk to an instructor about signing up for a class. OK, so things weren't moving along at quite the clip I had expected. I showed up for my appointment the next week (this was April 15th, in case you're keeping track), and chatted with a gentleman named Staffan for a while, after which he handed me a study plan, which he said I would need to bring with me to my first day of class. We had a couple of sort of awkward minutes where he seemed to think that we were done, while I was still waiting to learn things like, "When does the class meet?" and, "Where do I go?" When it became clear that I didn't understand what was going on, he explained that he had put my name in a queue, and I would get a letter from the school that actually taught the courses once there was an opening. He mentioned that there was a class starting soon, but that I almost certainly wouldn't be in that. He did think that there was an off chance that I would get a letter before May 15th.

Well, I just got the letter. First of all, let me just say that when sending letters to students who are trying to sign up for Swedish for Absolute Beginners, writing the whole thing in Swedish is, at best, frustrating. Nevertheless, after a little time with a dictionary I have learned this: the queue I've been in so far was to attend a mandatory informational meeting, during which different class options will be discussed (apparently, Edda, the school which has been teaching Uppsala's SFI classes, just split into three different schools, each with a different goal, and I have to choose with which school I would like to register).

I can only assume that the outcome of this meeting will be that I have my name placed on one of three new queues, after which I can wait for the actual class to start sometime before the ice caps melt.

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