Since I came to the U.S my writing has improved tremendously. Before I came here I did not know much about the grammar or how to use the english language. This class (RWR) has really helped me. I had a hard time in the beginning to understand how to write a good paragraph with correct english, trust me it is still hard for me, but I am working on it and I feel more confident with writing in english. I also have a better understanding as to how the language works and when to use periods, commas, and semicolons. I have learned how to build up a sentence and how to use my words the best way.

The things I have learned this year I will take home with me. I am really happy I choose to take this class because it has taught me so much. I do still have a long way to go with my language, but I am really glad how far I have come in only a couple of months.

Image Credit: Pixabay Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Paying taxes (betala skatt)

The Swedish tax system is the basis for the Swedish welfare. Through taxes, the state can give everyone the same chance to education and a good life in Sweden. A large part of the Swedish welfare system is paid by taxes. There are taxes that pay for care, child care (school, medicine etc), social services and elderly care. But also roads, public transport, refugees and the joint environmental activities are paid for by taxes.

When you work, you pay taxes on your salary. This tax is called inkomstskatt. The salary you receive before you paid the tax called bruttolön. The salary after you have paid tax called nettolön. Nettolön is the money you have left to live on. The Swedish tax system is designed so that those who earn more money pay more in taxes. Those who do not have enough money to get by can get help from the community.
The tax is different in every municipality. It tends to be 29-35 per cent of bruttolön. If you earn a lot, you pay even more taxes to the state.

If you have a sickness or retirement pay income tax. You also pay taxes for benefits on your work. A benefit may be for example, you can use the job's private car or get food stamps to buy lunch or dinner at the restaurant.

Tax (skatt)

Each year, everyone who have an income and pay taxes submit a tax return to the Tax Agency. The declaration contains information on how much you earned and how much you paid in taxes through the year. The Tax Agency will send your tax return to your home. The declaration must be submitted to the Tax Board by the beginning of May each year.
The Tax Agency receives information from your employer, insurance companies and banks on how much money you received during the year. This information is usually on the declaration as you get home. You must make sure that all information is correct.

VAT (moms)
Value added tax is often called VAT. VAT is a tax on things and services, and everyone pay sales tax on most things and services they buy. The tax is part of the price we pay. There are different rates of VAT depending on what you are buying, from 6 to 25 percent. There are also items and services that are exempt from VAT, for example, health and education. The state uses the VAT as a policy instrument, and has low tax on things that you think is good that people are buying.

Excise Duties (punktskatt)
Excise duty is an additional tax on certain things, such as alcohol, gasoline, electricity and tobacco. Politicians decide what goods will have the special tax. There are usually things that are dangerous to the environment or health.

Social fees (sociala avgifter)
Employers pay social security contributions for their employees. The social security contributions are employer contributions, private contributions and general pension. In addition to salaries, therefore the employer pay income taxes and employer contributions to the state for all employees. It is done once a month to the Tax Agency. Anyone who runs their own business do not pay any payroll for itself, but rather a personal contribution.

Working black (jobba svart)
Working black means that workers and employers do not pay any tax or social security contributions (which is illegal). If an employee or an employer does not pay taxes and declare their income, they break the law. The society is based on those who work pay taxes. The tax is then used for health care, roads, elderly care and other welfare that is for all citizens. So if you do not pay taxes, you get punished.

When working “black” you will not be payed if you get sick. You are not able to get any compensation if you are injured at work. You get less parental benefits, lower pension and no work certificate. If you work “black” can it be difficult to get a first-hand contract for an apartment or buy on credit. Landlords and businesses often want you to show an employment contract.


Stockholm (Capital in Sweden)

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Before I came here I decided I wanted to do at least one “typical” American sport, so I chose basketball. My sister home in Sweden plays basketball so I knew some rules but not many, but I still chose basketball and I am so glad for that. I started to go to the pre season practice in the weight room and it was fun, and I started to get to know the other players. I did the three days of tryouts and it was really hard, I was dead after it but it was also a lot of fun. Then the big day came when they where gonna tell you if you made the team or not. I was really nervous… I had never played basketball before and there I stood with so many other girls that had played for at least 5 years. I was so nervous when it was my turn to walk into the room where the coaches were. They started talking with me and they said things like “we are very happy that you did the tryouts” and “you should be really proud because you are really good for never playing before,” just me or do those words does not make you feel good? Then they said they would love to have me play on the JV team. I can not describe how happy I was. I got to play the sport I really wanted to.

The season is almost over and I have had so much fun and I fell in love with the sport. I am going to miss the sport but I am going to try to play it home in Sweden when I get back, at least for fun.


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One of the biggest holidays in Sweden is midsummer, or as we call it, Midsommar.

Midsommar is a holiday when you are together with family and friends to celebrate that summer is here. People often begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, as well as to put on your head, which is a key component in the celebrations. The maypole is raised in an open spot and traditional ring-dances ensue to the delight of the children and adults. We dance for example “små grodorna” which is a dance around the pole when you do moves like a frog and sing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKzp-JSSnb0)

A typical Midsummer menu features different kinds of pickled herring, boiled potatoes with fresh dill, as well as sour cream and chives. This is often followed by a grilled dish of some kind, such as spare rib or salmon, and for dessert strawberries with cream.


The traditional drink is a beer and schnapps, preferably spiced (for adults) and kids drinks juice. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out anew. Swedes like drinking songs

Then you talk and have fun all night long, my childhood friends and I always camp in our garden.


​Photo credit: WikimediaCommons

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1. So what is the thing with cars? EVERYONE drives, and the fact that you can start driving by yourself when you are 16. I would never trust my little sister alone in a car. In Sweden you need to be 18 to take your driver license.

2. You do not have like any passenger trains. In the beginning I talked to some people that had never been on a train. I think I think that I normally ride a train at least once a month, same with the bus. Before I came here people warned me about no one goes on a walk and if I do people may think I am crazy. Which is true! When it was not this cold I tried to walk everyday and people almost got an heart attack when I told them about it.

3. What are with the toilets in the US??? I do not want to hear or see anyone pee. But you can do that at any public toilet here in the U.S and I do not understand why this can occur in public restrooms? How hard is it to make the walls little taller and closer so no one needs to see someone else on the toilet?

4. Clothes - You can go in leggins with a short shirt without people looking strange at you, or you can wear whatever without people looking strange at you. People go in pajamas to school? In my school home in Sweden you almost need to dress up to fit in.

5. Sizes!! Size large in Sweden is medium here. Everything is so much bigger. For example a large drink at McDonald’s is like a medium in Sweden. Why is the size large so big in the U.S? How can anyone ever drink the whole thing?

6. Why is tax not included on the price tag? What’s the point with that? Not including the tax in the price just makes extra work. In Sweden the tax is included in the price.’

7. In America, everyone seems to eat fast food. Fast food is the most people's “ordinary food”. And if it isn’t, most people cook their food in the microwave. Fast food is unhealthy and is bad for your body.

8. American food has so many different flavors compared to Swedish food. Why does everything have so much sugar in it? For example, you have cherry flavor on everything and I think it is the most disgusting thing in the world. I don’t understand how anyone can like it...











Image credit: Pixabay











Image credit: Pixabay

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Think about leaving your country, your home, your comfort zone and go somewhere you never been. You do not know the language and know anyone there. You are going to live with a family that you have never met before and do not know their way of life. This is what I experienced when I came here.

Last summer I went to Paris and lived with other students that were my age. I got to know many people from all over the world and learned that the world is much bigger than my small town in Sweden. This experience in Paris made me want to travel and see more of the world. So I decided to be an exchange student.

I found out in May that I was going to live with a family in Michigan. The next thing that I knew was that August 14th was here. This was the day that I had to say goodbye to my family and arrived in Michigan. I knew that saying goodbye to them was going to be hard, but not as hard as what I expected. As I was going through security, I had many feeling and thoughts. I said to myself “Why am I doing this?” and that “I could still turn around and go back.” Even though those thoughts ran through my head, I kept walking and shed many tears. I flew from Stockholm Arlanda, Sweden to Detroit, Michigan stopping in Paris. Altogether it took 16 hours to go from Sweden to Michigan.

Not very many people experience this in their lifetime. My biggest fear before I came here was getting a bad family, because I have heard bad stories from other foreign exchange students. At orientation they told me that half of the students would probably change families, and about 10% of them would be sent home. I finally got to meet my family which I was scared and excited to do. Seeing my host family for the first time was the moment that I realized that I would be gone for a long time. When I walked into the room I finally realized who each of the people were on that sheet of paper. It is the weirdest thing that you will ever experience in your life. I actually had to catch my breath a little because I was so shocked. At first I will admit it was very awkward to be living with them, but after a week we were having great conversations together. I feel that I am now a part of their family. We have a wonderful relationship and my host siblings and I treat each other like real siblings. Some examples are that we borrow clothes from each other, I can eat whatever I want in the kitchen and we do things as a family. I could not imagine living with a different host family.


My family home in Sweden.

My host family + friends.

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