Back to School at 34!

Yes! You read the heading right!

One month ago I joined SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) and have been learning Swedish since. This is my journey!

I have always loved languages.

At six I was so proud of myself being able to say 1 to 10 in German!

At school, I was horrified of Tamil and my Tamil teacher. The poetry and grammar! Gosh!

In middle school, being in a CBSE school, I had to opt for Hindi as my third language! Boy! How complex Hindi alphabets are – ka, kha, ga, gha, na, nna, naa, nya… 😨 Fortunately I was my Hindi sir’s favourite. He hardly read my answer paper and passed me!

In high school when French was first introduced in our school, I was one of the first ones to register myself (Obviously to escape Tamil!)!

I also remember pretending to speak hindi and almost everyone in my Tamil section believed I was a quite fluent Hindi speaker until a new girl joined us from Delhi 😉

While working in Chennai, a friend’s granddad who was a German professor offered to teach us. I finally got to learn beyond 1 to 10. Sadly that lasted just for a few weeks as our teacher moved out of town!

When I moved to Hyderabad soon after wedding, I picked up basic Telugu as I didn’t know Hindi!

During my newly married days, I discovered a language website and I started learning Spanish! Soon I got a job and it was forgotten!

NOW DON’T ASK ME ANYTHING IN ANY OF THE ABOVE LANGUAGES! I STILL KNOW ONLY 1 to 10 😉

However, here I am, years later, taking on a new language! This time it is SVENSKA (Swedish!)

Honestly, it is no big deal at all! Almost every other person who moves to Sweden, enrolls themselves in this course, since Swedish is predominantly used everywhere!

Neither is it rocket science or PhD or MS for me to boast about!

The reason I am writing this is to document what this learning experience is doing to me as a person!

Ever since I became a mom, there are so many little pleasures I have given up and many that I long forgot. A small example being – Prior to becoming a mom, I used to live and breath music. Later when I became a mom, there have been long periods of time, even months, when I didn’t listen to music. Not that I couldn’t. Just that I was so lost in the everyday routine, that it didn’t even occur to me!

The only reason I joined Swedish classes is because it will come handy as long as we are going to be here. Also since both our girls go to Swedish schools, I will be able to understand what they are saying and will be able to teach them a little!

Nonetheless, over the last month, I notice that these classes are impacting me in ways I never expected!

The first day I walked into this classroom with a backpack, I forgot that I was 34, a wife and a mom of two kids. All of a sudden, I felt so young. The youth and confidence I used to feel back in high school and college sprung back again!

Fortunately, I have the best lot of classmates – a bunch of wonderful women from different nations, walks of life and professions, some moms like me, others just married and other happy singles!

At the Nordiska Museet

I for one have always been surrounded with amazing friends all through my life. But when parenthood catches you, all of a sudden you get wrapped in your own little world, especially stay-at-home-moms like me. I makes it all the more difficult where friends are scattered in different cities and continents. You cannot meet up the way you did, neither is there time for long phone calls and laughter. Despite all this, I am thankful for the closest who have managed to stick around still!
Today, being in a classroom, surrounded by ambitious friends feels totally worth 1.5 hrs of class and 1 hour of walking!

It doesn’t stop there!
Those of you who have known me as a student would very well know, I am not the ambitious kind. I used to be the one who would never take anything too seriously, especially academics. Enjoying the moment was all that mattered (may be it still does!!!). In my four years of engineering, I don’t think I would have walked into the library more than a couple of times. Even those couple of times would have been to meet friends! I cannot even recall doing group study or late night study! I can go on and on on what a character I was! It’s a miracle I actually passed out with 7/10 grade point!

Surprisingly, today I find myself more driven and aspiring. Probably years and life do it to you. I have the urge to learn – for now its Swedish and Photography. My TV time has become zilch! I seem to have more files, print outs and books from library than I did in my engineering days. I am actually doing late night studies once the kids go to sleep. I spend hours on youtube and Lynda.com learning new concepts and techniques in photography! Although I regret not being so in my school and college days, I am glad I am better late than never!

I am still not the brightest in class. All lectures are in Swedish and honestly, I don’t understand 95% of it. I am way behind most of my classmates. Since I have kids to pick up from school, I am attending only half a session everyday. In just a month, I have been on the verge of quitting so many times. Thanks to friends who patiently help me out and my teacher, Armi, who applauds my smallest accomplishments!

When I look far into the future, I am not going to get a Bachelor Degree in Swedish. I may not even be in Sweden (Although I would love to!). But for today, these Swedish classes has opened a new little world to me. I find each day more meaningful, purposeful and satisfying. I am able to see myself more than a wife and mother! In short I am rediscovering myself and reliving life!

Yesterday I watched ‘Amma Kanakkku’, a Tamil Movie – Amala Paul acts as poor, hard working single mom who joins school along with her daughter to inspire her to dream big! Such a moving story!

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I hope I can do the same to my girls in my small way – inspire them to never stop learning and never stop dreaming!

For the many mothers out there, I just want to say – don’t loose yourself as you shoulder the great responsibility of parenting! Go out and do something new today! Do something for yourself! Begin to dream! Live life! It’s never too late! Today is the day!

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