From October 16th:
The English 7 class had an exam today so I did not go to that class. While I was waiting to go into the classroom for English 6, I had a very interesting conversation with a student. We were discussing our weekend plans and the topic of travel came up. Studying abroad in Europe, I have taken full advantage of the close proximity of various cities and extremely cheap flights. I assumed that Swedes with the socioeconomic means to travel would have been practically everywhere in Europe. I asked the student about his own travels and he told me that he had been to some close by countries, but for the most part, he had remained in Sweden. He told me that one of the main reasons for his minimal travel was the environmental impact that traveling and air travel have. I was pretty surprised by the answer. I had never really considered the impact that a large commercial plane has on the environment. My family is spread across the United States and plane travel has been a necessity for my whole life. It is not something you do every week, but I never considered not going on a trip because of the environmental impact. I do not think this line of thinking has reached the United States in full force yet, but I am extremely interested to see if/how this thinking will reach the United States and if it will cause any changes in people’s travel plans.
In English 6, the class mostly consisted of discussing the movie Crash that the students had watched the previous day. The teacher was somewhat shocked that I had not seen the movie myself. The students had a sheet of about 30 questions about the plot and themes of the movie that they were supposed to verbally discuss with the student next to them. The movie deals with issues of race, violence, crime, and more. The movie takes place in Los Angeles, which is quite interesting because that is what a lot of Swedes picture when they imagine the United States. I joined a discussion with two students and we went through the question sheet. As usual, I was extremely impressed with the students’ English abilities. We discussed topics of racism, gun violence and more.
One of the questions asked if the students themselves had ever been negatively stereotyped. One of the students who I was talking to has parents from Turkey and the other student’s parents were from Serbia. The Turkish student said that he had been stereotyped because of his glasses. He then went into the fact that he does not fit the stereotypical image of a Swedish person and is frequently lumped into the refugee population despite the fact that he has lived in Sweden his entire life. The student whose parents are from Serbia had a similar experience of people assuming her ethnicity and nationality, just to a slightly lesser degree. In a country as homogenous as Sweden, it was interesting to see how people who do not fit the stereotypical image of a Swede perceive stereotypes and biases.