When I was in the 5th grade, about 11 years old my family spent about 6 months in the U.S., October-March, in a little town north of San Francisco called Ukiah. My father was sent by his employer to California to take a course on website design (I believe).
It was very interesting to go to school in U.S.A. there are some differences in how things are run, though of course I am sure that everything varies school to school.
My first day of school
I was very, very nervous about going to school.
Luckily they were all very nice to me, the teacher sat me down beside a boy named Eric and told him to help me when I needed help.
The printed assignment papers were almost impossible to read, the other students were used to them though, so I had to keep asking Eric what it said.
All of a sudden he threw up, right in the middle of class, and was sent home.
For the rest of the day I had to handle it myself.
Every recess we would play sports. I was always confused when they said football since I at once thought about soccer, but as time went by I started getting used to it.
In Sweden I had only been decent in soccer while when we played in the U.S. I was all of a sudden a star, which was very fun.
Sadly we didn’t play much soccer; it was mostly football or basketball.
I remember the first time I played football.
We played to hand touch so we were careful with each other.
We had split into two teams, our quarterback had the ball and was looking for someone to pass, I was standing in the middle of the field completely open but I could see that he really, really didn’t want to pass the new Swedish boy.
He waited and waited for someone to pass, but at last he had no choice and threw me the ball.
I ran away from everyone and scored a touchdown.
After that all he did was pass me even though I was covered by 3 players of the opposing team.
When I got there everyone trading in basketball cards, since I didn’t have any the other kids in my class were nice enough to give me some of theirs, a lot of the guys tried to buy my friendship with it, which was fun.
The friend I made
What was interesting was that I and Eric, the kid that threw up, became very good friends. We spent a lot of time together since we lived pretty close to each other. We played baseball, football and basketball together after school.
It was great and we stayed in touch for years afterward.
Something I had never done in Sweden was having a computer writing class. It was very difficult for me to learn but it was a great lesson. We put a towel over our hands and were ordered to write lines on the computer.
Thanks to all the practice I learned to write faster and better than I ever had before.
The most interesting difference I think was the lack of teaching about the rest of the world. All our classes were about the U.S, history, geography, economics; we learned nothing about the rest of the world.
When I got to school the other kids had no idea where on a map Sweden was, they didn’t even know it was in Europe.
I think this is a big oversight in American tuition. In Sweden we learn our history, Europe’s history, the history of the U.S. the First World War, the second and so on, in grade school.
Because of this lack of knowledge Americans are often made fun of in the rest of the world, they always ask us if we live with polar bears, which we of course do not. Sweden has about 20-30 degrees Celsius in the summer and about -10 in the winter (at least in Stockholm).
We left right before baseball season
My only regret was that we left in April just when the tryouts to the baseball teams was starting. I would have loved to play in the U.S. I am sure I would have learned a lot.