Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 30 August 2010

How I came to visit Sweden

In 1977, I was in my second year at university, training to become an interpreter. In those days the full program took four years: two to obtain a Batchelor’s degree and two more to get the Master’s certificate. Today the program takes five years, with an extra year during which you specialize in a specific field: economics, law, sciences, etc.

My original goal was to become an interpreter, not a translator. During the first two years of the program, all students – future translators and interpreters – take the same classes, though. At the end of the second year, and providing you score at least 70% at the interpreter exam, both options are open to you: translator as well as interpreter. If you score less than the required 70%, translator is the only option. The second year is therefore a very demanding and crucial one. The program comprises 38 hours per week. In my schedule, with the language combination English/Italian, Tuesday was the worst day, with an early start at 8 a.m. It went on almost non-stop (except for a short lunch break of 45 minutes) till 7 p.m. Since then, and even today, I hate Tuesdays!

In 1973, while I was still in college and during my second language holiday in England, I had met a Swedish boy called Mats, who was also staying with my guest family in Kingsdown. We had a great time together and even were summer sweethearts for two consecutive years. But we were probably too young and living too far apart (Brussels – Stockholm: 1500 km) for the love to last. However, we continued writing to each other and became very good friends. In his letters he used to urge me to come and visit him in Sweden, as he wanted to show me around Stockholm.

I had always liked the idea, but my parents thought that I was too young. Until 1977 when, to my surprise, my father agreed on one condition: I could go and visit my friend if I successfully passed all my exams in June. He knew that I was finding the second year at university extremely difficult and rightly guessed that a trip to Sweden would be an excellent incentive.

In order to make it even more tempting, he made me fix the dates: from July 11th till July 25th. I wrote a long letter to Mats, asking him if this suited him and his parents. He said it was perfect, as his brother Per would be in England in July and I could have his room. My father, who at the time was a flight engineer with Sabena, was entitled to free tickets for himself and his family. So he booked a return flight for me from Brussels to Stockholm via Copenhagen for the above dates.

 Nov. 7th, 2001:
Mismangement by the joint venture partner Swissair,
led to the bankruptcy of Sabena.
This Airbus 340 from Cotonou and Abidjan,
flight  SN 690, was the last plane of the fleet to return to its homebase in Brussels.
Here it is given an honorary salute by the airport's firebrigade.
One of the pilots on this flight later committed suicide ...
The bankruptcy of Sabena is one of the biggest social dramas in Belgian history, with more than 17.000 people directly or indirectly losing their job.
(Photo: google images)

Needless to say that I studied more and harder than I had ever done before. And I made it! On Friday, July 1st I got my Batchelor’s certificate and was even offered the option to take the interpreter classes. I had just ten more days to go with only one thought in my mind: “Sweden, here I come!”

(more to come)



chm said...

As usual, I can't wait for the next installment!

Word verification was dersta. Does that mean anything in Swedish?

ladybird said...

Chm, Hmm ... 'dersta' could be Swedish indeed. But the only Swedish word I know is 'flicka', which means 'girl'. :)