Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaching American Slang To Teenagers In Sweden (And How To Meet Strangers Online)

If you told me a few years back that my blog would eventually end up in a textbook to teach English and English slang to kids in Sweden, I would have used way more slang words!  I write like I talk (for the most part) and I don't agonize over words to use that would make me appear like I am some brilliant intellectual writer.  Well, I am but that's besides the point.

At the beginning of my journey wandering the states three years ago, I wrote about my feelings, fears and mostly about what I did (if it was interesting enough).  Little did I know that my blog about meeting strangers in real life would end up in print in a Sweedish textbook.

I agreed and licensed my blog for them to use but really didn't know in what context they would use it.  I didn't really care but it was refreshing that they would reach out to pay me for my words instead of just using them or my photographs without reaching out to me first.

They used my blog I wrote on March 19th, 2009 titled "Meeting Strangers Online."  When I write blogs, I don't think too much about it.  I just sit down, write, add some pictures and click on "publish." I don't think about who reads it or where it might potentially go.  I am sure some of you are thinking, "um, yeah...I can tell."

I would have never guessed that someone in Sweden would think it was compelling enough to publish as a teaching tool to young minds.  I suppose in their eyes I fit into their idea of some crazy American lady that would travel around and meet strangers and other crazy people.  If that's what they were looking for, they found it!

 I am glad I did what I wrote about in the blog.  I met people that will be lifelong friends.  Was it a bit scary and unnerving?  Yes, of course!  Most people would tell me that meeting a guy who lives full time in a van would not be the best idea in the world for a solo female traveler (it really isn't so do not think I am telling you do do this) but I did anyway and that wasn't the last time I met up with him.  We hit it off right away and became friends. The same goes for Cat who is a dear friend to me now.

After I wrote this blog, I went on to meet many more "strangers" who are now part of my extended family.  I will write a blog about each one someday.  For now, here are some iphone images of the book that kids are learning from in Sweeden.  At the bottom of each page there is a blue strip to help kids understand what my words and phrases mean like, "creature of habit", "what the heck" (I approved "heck" over the word I originally used), "keep in touch", "hit it off", "branch out", "pig out"  and words like "killer" "Trailie" and "creepy".

The best part is the Q and A at the end of the blog entry. I had to think about some of the questions to see if I could answer them on a blog I wrote years ago.  There is a section to "read and reflect" and then to "reflect and share."  It was a good chance for me to reflect and share as well.  Here are the questions if you care to reflect and share (you can read the original blog HERE):

1. Why was Dave a tad creepy, according to Alison? Would you have met him? Why?
2. Which meeting did Alison seem to enjoy the most? Why? (I don't think I said anything about enjoying one more over the others but I suppose that is up to the reader to interpret.)
3. Have you ever met a stranger in the same way that Alison did?
4. Why are we such creatures of habit?
5. What have you done outside of your routine that has changed your life?
6. Would you travel across America in just a trailer? Why? If you were going, what safety precautions would you take?

I would like to know your answers to the bottom half of the questions.  I guess I didn't think it was a big deal at the time and continued to meet more strangers long after this post was written.  I still haven't had a dangerous encounter but then again, I am pretty cautious on who I meet in person.

I think stepping out of our comfort zone is the only way we will grow as a person and learn more about ourselves and others.  Give it a try if you haven't.  I bet you will be glad you did.


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

You made some pretty impressive accomplishments in the past few years I've been following you, but I might say this one tops them all. And you weren't even trying. Congratulations.

Travel Bug said...

I often feel the desire to push against my comfort boundaries. Probably because every time that I have, I have come out the other end wiser and more in tune with the true me. As a traveler, you are often placed in situations where it is absolutely neccessary to step away from your comfort zone in order to move forward, especially when you are in a country that does not speak your language and you have to get creative in communicating with strangers in order to receive directions, help, advice, etc.

As for meeting strangers in real life, I am an Aussie who has often met up with strangers in the States... people whose blogs I have regularly read and found them to be inspiring people... and they all lived up to my hopes of being such lovely souls. Of course, as Alison says, I do go into these meetings with due caution, but I think as long as you have a good deal of common sense, meeting new people on this basis is no worse than striking up a conversation with a totally random stranger at the grocery store.

We all have so much to offer each other, no matter who we are, what we do, where we come from. To want to learn from each other as much as possible is not a bad thing, as long as one goes about it responsibly.

Nice post Alison :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulation's once again!This time for getting on the "map" so to speak in Sweden. Yes you are an inspiration in the way you approach life.
2011 isn't over yet...waiting to see whats next.
Don't think I would ever travel the country solo not as brave as you in that way.

Germany Wanderer said...

Meeting strangers is not something that anyone can avoid, whether they're traveling or not. And anyway, there are just as many chances that a stranger you meet at a cafe is a psycho as the guy living in a trailer...

Alison said...

Thank you all for the comments!

It's always best to be very aware of your surroundings when you travel and especially when you are a woman. For the most part I feel safe but you never know when that all might change when you least expect it.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I hope to see you on the road soon!! :)

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