Sunday, 29 November 2015

Creative Learning I

Guided tour in the classroom combined with Writing sentences in groups

I made this to make my students 1) move around in the class and not just passively sit and receive information 2) repeat French grammar and chapter they read previous years 3) boost my students and make no one able to complain about that they had forgotten something when writing a text, as it was ok to look on the walls in case of blackout.

I enlarged by 800% some pages from the books they had read during the past three years that I found most important - sports in colours, partitive articles, texts that contain passé composé, words connected to food, etc. I sellotaped these pages to different parts in the classroom.

...and action
1. I was the guide and walked around in the classroom with my class, poiting at the taped papers as were they paintings. "To your left, you see passé composé, used to descibe something that happened in the past... and as you may recognise, here is a page from chapter five from that book in year eight, when we read the text over and over and learned about the main character's, Céline's, life. Now, let us continue to the other corner. May I introduce some irregular verbs again, like aller and être..." And so forth.

2. Paired up, the students got to write sentences in French. (I gave them no theme, so some ended up writing about drugs and insults. Giving a theme makes you in charge of the discourse. A dialogue is easier to write than a text, in my experience; it makes the text flow more freely.)

Rules: you get one or two minutes to write a sentence together with a friend (depending on the group's sentence; I walked around and looked to make a fair judgement). Then, exchange papers with two other friends. They can a) correct it, if there are faults b) add words to it to change its meaning c) erase it completely and write a sentence of their own. Then - repeat, preferrably passing the paper on to a new group of friends. CREDIT TO MY COLLEAGUES regarding this exercise in particular. My modifications were that it was ok to use a dictionary if students really insisted - otherwise, they could look on the walls for inspiration or if they were not sure about some words or a gramatical rule.

I read the sentences out loud before class ended (and cried of laughter). A good idea is to ask the class, when encountering mistakes, is 1) is this sentence correct? (They have to answer yes/no.) 2) what is wrong? 3) How could it have been written differently? (Can give many different answers; a discussion/several suggestions is the best.)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

It technically ends today

My living-on-an-asylum-seeker's-budget project finishes today. I will still publish a few more posts about the experience for some time, though.

I survived. (BUT RIGHT NOW I AM SO HUNGRY AND TIRED.) I did cheat once - the first day, when I had to hire a van and bought Ilo a thank-you-for-helping-me sushi. I also chose not to include my traveling pass into this. If caught, it would be no fun explaining: "See, I don't have a ticket because I am trying out this social experiment." Or maybe it would. I shall ask the ticket guards: what do you say to a refugee if, when, this happens?

Tomorrow, I can shop again.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part VIII

Day sixteen: my classes are first going to swim and then to a museum, so I have to bring my own lunch. Oh no. But I have done some research: I could improve my dining habits a lot according to Livsmedelsverket. More fish, more vegetables.
A co-worker tells me that people eat five times a day in Spain, which explains the late lunch and dinner, so that is a key issue to have in mind: how often should I eat and how much? I bring beef in soya sauce, a dish inspired by the Asian kitchen. When I return to the office, a colleague then says that there is picnic food left over in the fridge.
"How convenient - have I told you about my refugee budget?" I ask.
"That is why I am telling you about the food", she says.
There also turns out to be cake. Late that evening I also get a chocolate ball at a café, probably my last self-bought pleasure this week: I have now 83 sek left for nine days.

Day seventeen: fruit offered at work, sandwiches offered at work. Breakfast at work. Very food-focused here, but I realise how little I cook at home even in this position. I get another bookshelf for free that I carry home without any adventures. I will try to repaint it, but will have to use giftwrapping paper as a substitute first.

The friend I played badminton with writes that she forgot to pay for her part when we played badminton - shall she refund me next time we play? I take my chance, suggesting she could invite me for dinner. I mean, I carried a few boxes and such today and now I am shaking of hunger. I text another friend at night and tell her that I have to cancel the planned-for zumba tomorrow; I am simply too afraid that I would faint afterwards. She - oh lucky lord - reminds me of having promised to invite me to a restaurant once and that time perhaps have come.

And, I am willing to die for this axiome: there is such an amount of money that is the best sum to shop food on a long term for. Like, say, if you have 132 sek, you can in 35 different ways plan for meals with the most nutritional food products for three days ahead, always. I let the proof and the numbers be adjusted by all mathematicians and/or enomicists out there, but I take credit for being the founder of the idea of a formula. It surely already exists anyhow.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Hopefully, a hairy December

Lina, to my left, made this braid. She was in the djungle of Costa Rica, bored, and made braids on her classmates. And now on me! The trick, she says, is to always make the hair go from one side to another. It makes any hair idea look more interesting and professional.

My idea for December is to try having a new kind of braid, or at least hair style, every day. Something I have not made before. Pinterest and YouTube shall serve as my grand sources. So will the book "Den stora flätboken" by Björn Axén Academy (I will borrow it any day soon). Every hair idea shall take no more than roughly 15 minutes. (And the image above shall serve as my free card on a bad hair day :) )

Monday, 23 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part VII - Make a Wish

Day fifteen is a day off from work. I cleaned out my wardrobe quite a while ago, and now the time has come to actually donate some pretty good-looking stuff to Myrorna.

This is on the news: meals with 50% discount.

A magazine I contacted about my budget project is interested. I have to send previously published articles before job is confirmed.

At a book store where I look for inspiration, there is a Christmas tree for wishes to bE hung uparliament on a piece of paper. "Nothing is impossible! Wish for anything and compete about a book that had to do with your wish." Ok! I wish for the persons who sits outside the shop asking for money to get a longlasting book with many inspirational images.
My brother and I are going to share a meal tonight, so I am good. What bugs me is the loan I gave to a friend yesterday (it cold just as well have been a family member in a faraway country in need). If I am to include this in my refugee situation, making no exceptions, I have 232 crowns left to spend for the coming 11 days. I am deadly convinced it is manageable.

What I have to do is to plan this well. For real - have I ever liked breakfast? (Turns out - in fact, I do not.) Do I actually need to by soap - is there not some plant out there that does its job just as well? How many various dishes can be made with carrots and how much protein do I need? I need free wi-fi to do some research. Stay tuned.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Talking about (cool) toilets: a good way to make friends

Out of the blue, I get a feeling: I have to show this photo of a cool new futuristic toilet at the Museum of Science and Technologu that even SMELLS good to my colleagues. That is how S. and I start talking museums in general and I say that I have visited almost every museum in town. And she wants to do it too!!! So now I have a new friend to go to museums, even the obscure ones, with :)

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Great Chandelier chase

A chandelier - a shrug. How hard can it be to find one? (Turns out, hard.) Ok, how hard can it be to make one? (Even harder; you have to have diamond equipment to sand the glass, and education for that. And time.) Right, so maybe I can put a lamp together out of different crystal dated parts? At least I could start with doing research on the net. 

It actually was quite fun to look around for details. I tried to compare models and details among and within brands, and years. It is an investment to purchase an antique thing - if you sell it off, you should not have lost money. On Blocket (for you international readers - THE page where to be when selling and purchasing stuff), I found a super offer on not one but TWO lamps right away: the chandelier à 71 cm in height and a floor lamp à 12 kg. The lady who put up the ad sold both off within five hours and I was the second best candidate as I was interested in both, but not quick enough. "The demand was so high, I could have sold at least ten chandeliers more", she told me in an e-mail. Sigh. Search continues.

Friday, 20 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part VI. Chocolate, Champagne - and Paris

[One of the aforementioned days, my colleague wonders first if my teacher salary is not enough, then asks if I need to borrow money, then laughs and says I should go dancing on the street to gain some extra cash as he remembers I like dancing. He then suggests I should cook for the entire week and portion that out in tupperware. Detail: I have to get the tupperware somehow first - or make it work with plastic bags wrapped as saris around the foods.]

Day fourteen: today I can shop whatever I want for 17.49 crowns, party! A friend comes to Stockholm and we are meeting up. I generously offer to use all of my budget, but there arises a miscommunication: first, the underlying understanding from her part is that I will have my regular budget back in a month's time, so the attempt to only spend exactly that money fails miserably; I end up taking a loan from her - which is not a problem, but not what I wanted. Usually, we always split the number on the receipt in two even parts, but we ended up having a bill that was not adapted to my situation at all and even though I underlined that the items I was holding was all I could pay for, she still did assume that it did not affect the content of our common dinner plans - very likely because I was happy to see everything tasty in my way and commented happily on it. Wisdom gained: I have to be even clearer. (We talked about it afterwards.) Upon this, I was offered champagne in the evening and chocolate ice cream in the morning by her parents. Life - complex as always.

Day fifteen, I get sandwiches for free at work and a friend puts this on up Facebook:
So it is indeed possible to make certain kinds of phonecalls and web page visits for free when needed by companies - thank you, Tele 2 and Comviq. This one of my insights as a fake refugee - calling all agency's should be for free, and that is just a start. Calling people in need for free is even better. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The secret gift

For almost a year now, this magazine has been sent to me monthly. I am very happy - it was on my shortlist for Christmas. Nobody has stepped forward to say that he or she is the one who gave me this subscription, though. Only solution to this mystery is the union I was a member of. They had a special offer once. But I am not a member anymore. And the magazine keeps coming. Honesty is a virtue, so I call the office up. And indeed - an entire year of subscription through my union! Perfect timing and mystery solved.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part V

Day (probably) eleven, I got wraps, canapés and candy at an evening lecture. Only after I left did I come up with the idea that that the leftover food could have been given away to the homeless people I would meet on my way. Suddenly, I felt this urge to consume, and I did; I kind of broke my rule to only borrow one book per library visit. I consumed (borrowed) a book! Choice was betwixt a history on drugs or mental illnes. The latter was more easygoing in its tone.

Analysing this further, I guess it is a correct conclusion that consumption is an activity I have gotten used to and it is strange to suddenly not do it anymore. It also changes my habits and forces me to rethink. Like, it costs me to live - whay can I even do for free? Except for enjoying the freezing nature. And even when I get something second hand, I still consume, right? At this point I have to start inventing things out of what I have (and I do have things to make things of). And how do we make a balance between a stable consumption to avoid economic crises, but without overdoing it and being environmentally friendly at the same time? And what if everybody just started consuming (buying) less, everybody at once? On a second thought, never mind that. We consume unevenly from the start, so while me consuming even less is doable, making somebody else to consume less could mean pure starvation. Instead, we should be discussing changes in habits.

Day twelve, I have a sleepover at a friend's place and we make dinner (my friends keep saving me - a local and global social network is, as we see, invaluable. I do try to carefully explain each time that I am happy to bring the food I have at home to contribute to the dish).

Another thought: when does one draw the line between me just consuming and being a person of culture, in so doing by expressing taste and personality by buying something borderline useless but at the same time adding maximised cozyness to a home? And friend's input: there is a pyramide that shows what people are thinking depending on where they are. Anybody with time and strength enough for philosophy is doing well; the others are focused on searching for food. After that stops being a priority, philosophy bubbles up. This is why it is hard to rationally (off topic, a definiton that in itself has gotten criticism) discuss something with a hungry person.

Still same day: the friend who invited me for dinner earlier but lost her voice got her voice back and we are supposed to have dinner day thirteen. She suggests that she could cook something on a very tight budget to give me inspiration. Turns out that her general rule of thumb is to not make each meal cost more than ten crowns. With peas and lentils as a base, it is perfectly possible.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My perhaps hidden talent(s)

Folding and designing letters seems to be one of them. All of the above are hand made. By me. In no time.
And it looks damn professional. I have not even used a ruler or any template.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Patricia Highsmith, Patricia Highsmith

Someone has to say it. Have you noticed that one by one, all of Patricia Highsmith's novels are being filmed? And that the films are worth watching? That if anything is proof of the greatness of her authorship, even decades later. So, shall we speculate about which book is next in the line to become a script? I have not read all of her works, so my guess is either one of the stories that depicts something current in our time, or something that a film has not been made about for a while. What do you think?

Update: I vote for "Carol", first published as "A pinch of salt"!

Update on update: I was right!!!
Noreover, how convenient: the name could allude to "A Christmas Carol".

Sunday, 15 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part IV

Day nine. This is no fun. But Silvia sent me fruits. A homeless Swedish person asks me kindly if it is ok to sneak behind me on the subway when I swipe my travel card. I say yes, I am glad you asked.
Night nine: do I wake up at 4.21 a.m. because I am mostly hungry or because this is my actual (new) day rythm?

Day ten: a friend and I take a walk in the city. She tells me great sex stories; I go, uhm, aha and then confess that my mind is occupied with food. And mind you: all this time I get lunches at work for free. They are called pedagogical lunches as I have responsibility for the kids in the cantine (but some schools make the teachers pay despite this). This does not indicate how much I actually eat, and it is not a lot; despite my situation, I have yet not gone as far as liking every single dish.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

New Topic: Creative Learning

I often stay at work late (the evening alarm has gone off twice) to plan for creative lectures and like to share experiences and results.
"Do you blog about it?" one of my colleagues asked.
"Why not?"
I think for a moment.
"The idea never crossed my mind."

But from now on, I will. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Cultural allotment

At last do I recognise a painting from one of all the museums I have visited, on a book cover! By Karin Broos. 

Living on an asylum seeker's budget, part III

Day seven, I bought stuff to make mozzarella, including a termometer that by chance was the offer of the week. Friends bought stuff too, so I in return have flour, Gouda cheese, pasta sauce, pizza and lots of left over milk but I can not shop till Thursday (I pretend that I have zero savings, but I "cheat" as I have other products in the refrigerator and freezeer from before).

Halleluja number one - a friend suddenly calls and invites me for dinner in two days. Halleluja number two - a friend I visit in the evening bakes bread and I can take as much as I want with me. (None of the halleluja friends is aware of my monetary restrictions.)

Day eight, I go to play badminton. I own a racket and my friend E. several shuttlecocks, but the latter I did not know and bought one, all with student discount - I happen to have such a card. Now I can not shop food until Saturday (so in seven days). The friend who invited me for dinner is forced to postpone the invitation till her voice is back.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

If meeting people is like travelling,

then I have been too the Netherlands recently, and South Africa, New Zealand of course and then Italy. I also get to experience France from time to time, and Germany. Not the least, I get to visit many different Swedish cities! 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

And this. Hey, leave my privacy private. Mine and many else's.

Poitras is a name to keep in mind:

My friend's friend went travelling around the world. The US customs looked at her and asked, why have you traveled so much? She replied: "I am from Sweden. I can do whatever I want."

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Mozzarella in the making

To make the tastiest mozzarella possible (and to have shoulders to cry against if something goes wrong): invite some friends.
You will need a lot of milk. We used one gallon (about 3.7 liters) and played milk chess with the rest.

Technically, it does not take more than half an hour or so to make. We of course learned a few things in the process (read: we spent HOURS in the kitchen) and simultaneously baked a pizza.

Except for that there is a handle-hot-cheese part, it is fairly non-dangerous and soothing to make mozzarella.

While waiting for the milk to go stiff, you can dance.

And before you know it: the mozzarella is ready!
Citric acid, rennet, salt, milk, heat and voilà. I would say it tasted like halloumi and fresh milk tightly squeezed together. 
The aforementioned milk chess game.

Stylish image.
The ancestor products of a pizza.

Monday, 9 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part II: Meet Luke (warning to sensitive readers)

Day five, I was very sad and tired because I left work late day four and consequently started cooking dinner so late that I had to go to bed instead of eating it. At the library at Sergels torg, I find a barrel where one can exchange books for free (and does not need a library card, which in turn requires a social security number). Good to know, but the information sign is written only in Swedish.

Suddenly, a friend invites me for a risotto dinner her father had cooked (contents: an entire bottle of Riesling, trumpet chanterelles, parmesan cheese!), and to smell perfumes. Lovely, except I indeed was not my best self, hunger does that to you. Nor is it very likely that I as a refugee will get invited to dinners a lot.

Day six, me and a friend literally got out through the front door carrying a book shelf I had gotten for free when a guy passed buy and asked if we needed any help. He - we can call him Luke - was a refugee. He had to leave his own house very sudden; the police had come and held a gun to his head at night, giving him little time to pack his things. He made it to Sweden and almost got a job, but is missing a Swedish id and the police still has his passport, because he got to stay at the house of a kind person, except that the house was co-owned by another person who did not want him there and had called the cops. When released, he took the train to nowhere. "Can't you go to your embassy?" my friend asks. Luke shakes his head. "I don't want my country to know I am here". Nor does he want to contact his relatives in order to protect them. It is especially not easy to find a place to stay for a young guy, as families with children are prioritised in the refugee program. And everybody communicates with a phone - Luke just happens to have an unusual charger that got stolen when he lended it out, so that shuts him out from the Swedish society even more.

While telling his story, he carried the shelf all the way to the subway and asked what I was about to do next. "I was about to say - get some sleep, as I have a long day tomorrow, but it is nothing compared to you. I have never had a gun pointend to my head", I replied. He almost smiled back. "Oh but it is ok." And waved with his hands and feet. "I still have all my fingers and all my toes [intact]."

(Still day six: at the subway entrance, a hipster guy in a rush stopped out of fascination for the beauty of the wood of the shelf, visible to the naked eye as the first layer of paint was so thin (come on!). He asked how much I wanted for it! I chose not to negotiate.)

Sunday, 8 November 2015

What the writer behind this blog looks like, or, A Bunch of Selfies

At the Opera last year. This was while watching Raymonda or, more likely, a romantic play called Farliga Förbindelser. I remember liking that the male actor showed he was bleeding by paiting long strokes of red paint on his torso.
Sunny and windy at the same time in Brussels.
A delfie! (Double amount of people in the selfie.) While waiting for our turn to try out rowing this autumn.
Before going under ground in Sickla.
Holy chic, lipgloss and all, before going to a four hours long lecture for teachers at Götgatan Lejon. In my younger youth, I used to think that this stage was, as the name clearly indicates, in Gothenburg.
Most recent image of me, November 2015. Not visible is that my braid makes an arc from one side of my head to the other, which is super stylish. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Happy weekend everyone!

For the curious: this is an apple beer that is the third alcoholic beverage I have tasted in my life that is drinkable!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Living on an asylum seeker's budget in Sweden

61 sek/day. Sometimes 122 sek/two days. That is my budget for this month.

It started bad; I had to hire a van for 720 sek the first day. Day four, I had a surprise party for C. and payed partly for her and my dinner (215 sek). I also wanted to go shopping with A.H. and L.W. and could only go for a specific item on sale. Luckily, it is a common offer at this time of the year to get 50% off on garments that already are on sale. Even more luckily, I have not yet found that garment I am looking for ( = cheap).

To be continued. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Male fashion, this very moment

I have once before seen a man wearing a skirt beautifully. I am watching a man right now that, which took me a few seconds to realize, carries a grey sweathirt with huge red and pink coloured roses embroidered on his arms. I will not ask if I can take a photo, just enjoy that it looks normal. He looks normal. An earth keeps spinning. Hear that, fashion shows and norm critics?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Fat lady on chocolate and other Finland stuff (shopping and museum version)

It is almost November. Perfect opportunity to remind you of my Finland trip!
We did not cover it all, you see.
City seems to be liking activities connected to heights. Bungyjumping and Dinner in the Sky (they have lousy service, mind you).
Ilo and I found a great little shop next to our residence. We commented on pretty much everything and made the salesman very happy.
This chips bag, for example. A dinosaur with necklace that goes "Definitely World peace BABE", or it is called Babe and wants world peace. Hilarious either way.
This I found inside a museum shop. NEVER EVER has marketing been so good as this. YES, one can get fat by eating chocolate! Goes even for ballerinas! Very important.
The museum shop is the shop of Ateneum, the National Gallery of Finland.
This is where I discovered that my favourite painter so far is Theodor Kittelsen.
I really liked the place.
Who does not?
Before getting inside, one could have a camera obscura-type of preview. 
Oh, and pine apples in plastic jars is a genious idea.
That is it of Finland for a few months ahead at least!