On a hot July afternoon, I’m sitting in one of those swivelling chairs, staring in the mirror while a hairdresser plays with my blonde hair. She’s about to chop a little bit off before I leave. I’m told that it costs so much for just a haircut in Sweden, and I want to delay my need for one as much as possible.

The hairdresser is telling me “You know, girl, lotsa people pay a lotta money to get your hair color,” and I smile because I have been told this before. I know my hair is unusually light, but I have a good clue as to why it is.

All my life I knew I was different. My mother, an exchange student from Sweden, met my father in the USA; they fell in love, got married here in Sweden and had me. (This is usually a really romantic story, just not when I tell it.) Two months after they had me, we all moved to the US where I, in time, got two brothers. My mom keeps the Swedish in the family by speaking it to her kids, who answer her in English. So, while the majority of the kids at school called their grandparents Mémé and Pépé while listening to their French accents, I was calling my grandparents Mormor (moormoor) and Morfar (moorfar) and listening to the sounds of Sweden coming from their words. I still celebrated Thanksgiving, Halloween and all other holidays like other Americans, but my family had other traditions to enjoy like Midsummer (celebrating the longest day of the year) and Santa Lucia (celebrating the shortest and darkest day of the year). I was proud of being different ,and I wasn’t afraid to tell people.

As a kid, I talked so much about being from another country that other kids got sick of me, so I had few friends. I think I was known as the most annoying kid at Webster School.

Once I calmed down this excited attitude, I began to plan the rest of my life because I knew I would end up in Sweden. I really wanted to go to college here, but it’s not a good idea to go to school in another country without knowing what the education is like in general.

Trying out the education system -that’s what I’m doing here. I’m staying with my grandparents for a year, going to school and having a blast in the process. I’ve been here for only a little over a month, and I have already learned so much about the culture I thought I was so experienced in. I knew the language pretty well since it had been spoken to me my whole life, but I was not used to answering back in anything other than English.

I think it was after two weeks here that I was already really frustrated with the language. Who cares if the preposition is wrong… you understand what I’m saying, right? I thought that every time someone corrected me. On the other hand, however, I was so thankful for all the times people informed me of any mistakes I made. I couldn’t learn any other way.

The language is exactly why I was nervous about my first day of school. I knew I could speak it enough, but what if the teachers couldn’t understand me? What if I didn’t know what they were saying? None of my teachers noticed I had a little bit of an accent, and only three were told I was not from Sweden.

Actually, the way my English teacher put it, she was “warned” about me. (At Edward Little High School in Auburn, where I usually attend, it took about a year before teachers warned each other about me. They’d laugh and say something like: “Oh, YOU have Angelika this year… well then, you should know how frustrating she can be.”) Yet, all my teachers love me, so I musn’t be that bad!

That was pretty much the only thing that made me nervous my first day. The fact that I had no friends actually made it exciting. I’m such a loud person, and I’m definitely not shy; making friends was just a matter of interrupting someone’s lunch conversation with “Is this seat taken?” and shoving them out of their seat to take their place. Well, not exactly like that… I’m exaggerating.

So, I’m off to a really good start here in rebro, Sweden. Teachers warned, friends made, a Swedish-English dictionary permanently attached to my left hand (that way my right hand can be free for five-second browsing as needed), and I would be delighted if you hopped along for the ride!

Hlsningar, Angelika

Want to contact me?

E-mail: [email protected]

Address: Angelika Guy

Huginvgen 12

SE- 715 31 Odensbacken


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.