Vasterbotten County

I did not have a good future in Bergsjö, Nordanstigs kommun, because after the temporary work throughout the summer, I could not get another job there. I also tried in the next town, Hudiksvall, where I had been working as a cleaning lady before, but withouth success. Therefore and, because I was an active member in the Pentecost church, I tried to become a student at a college of the Pentecost church. It was an education for prospective evangelists. I thought, that was my call. I still was thinking about, that there is nothing wrong with the faith, but all people are just not living it to 100%. I also thought, I am not able to do that either, though why should I judge others.

First there was the problem, that I did not had any papers about my knowledge in Swedish. As you may remember, I learned it myself. For the other hand, there was not space in the college I was looking for. The college had been more to the South of the place I lived, in Mariannelund, Småland, but the class was already full. Fortunately I was told, that there was a similar college in Lycksele, Västerbottens län (county of Vasterbotten) and I was asked, if I was willing to start there, while the principal of the college in Lycksele was talking with me at the phone to find out, if my Swedish would be good enough for the class. I was accepted.

I was asking for an education benefit at our local job center (still in Bergsjö) and also was granted it. I also found an apartment in Lycksele, where I could move in before the start of the college, but I did not know how to pay for the relocation expenses. Therefore I was visiting our social security department. I actually did get a promis, that they will pay the expenses, but I had to try to get it as cheap as possible. We had not very much furniture in our apartment, though I did get my furniture and personal belongins moved as an additional cargo and on the top of it, we were allowed to go by the truck to our new destination. The distance is around 450 km (around 280 miles). By truck, it took a long time and it took even more, because we had to wait for some hours close to Härnösand – the driver needed his rest. It was a family owned company and we were lucky. that we were allowed to wait in the private apartment of the owner of the company as well as we were provited with a meal.

Finally, in August 1982, we arrived in Lycksele, but it was late and we were not allowed to drive through the town. Though we had to sleep in the truck – all of us. We started freezing in the early morning hours and was very happy, when we finally could continue to our new home. It was a 1-bedroom-apartment as well. There was a nice kitchen, a big living room, a little walk-in wardrobe and we also had a patio. It was, with other words, similar to the apartment we have had in Bergsjö. It was also quite new and in a house with only two floors. Every apartment had an own entre, what means, there was an outside stair to the apartment on the top of ours. The area of these houses were not very far away from the college.

I had some days to make the new apartment our home and my son Gunnar get to know his new daymother. Unfortunately, she was not living very close to us and in an other direction as the college. It was an around 15 minutes walk to her. When the weather is nice and warm, there was no problem, of course, even it took for my 30 minutes from her place to reach the college. By the way, the most students were living at the college, but because of my son, I could not live there. They did not accept to live there with children – so much for the Christian style at the college.

The social life was not so easy to get. After a while, some of the students of the college did visit me and my son after the college hours. We had a nice time together. There were three girls, including me and two boys. Later we also got connected with two couples. One of them did become a couple at the college, the other one, was the guy studying with us, but his girlfriend not. By the way, his girlfriend was from Vilhelmina, also in the county of Vasterbotten. We were told, that in that municipality, the sun does not raise over the mountains during the winter. Though it is 24/7 dark during winter time. I learned at the college, that all the students had one or another problem, before they started. The director and the teachers tried not to speak about it. It was past and not to name. Anyway from time to time there was one or another coming out with their problems. More than one of them has had problems with alcohol. The first term was great. In addition to all theory we learned, including the subject Swedish and English, we were going to other places at the weekends and participate in the services as well as we did practice.

That winter was very cold. It always is cold so far in the North, of course, but this winter it really was unusual cold. For two or three days we had -36°C (-33°F). I had to bring my son to his daymother anyway and did put as much as possible warm clothes on him and a warm blanket around him. I had to use a kind of sledge, because it was not possible to go further by the stroller. During these days I also left him alone for a couple of hours, when I was buying food. I had a bad conscience, but it would have been harder for him, if he had to follow me out of the house. I never found out during the winter, if he did not like his daymother or the walk to the daymother. He was not walking, of course. I did move him by the sledge and, if possible, by the stroller.

I did not get a good connection with the daymother. We only spoke about the necessary and she claimed often, that my son is not kind to the other children. She also added, that Gunnar is not trying to play with the other children and prefers to play by his own. After a while, she told me, that she had asked for more money for him, though she could give him more of her time. She told me, that he seems to be a child with special needs. First I was thinking, that she only was after the money. Later I learned, that she was right. We had to go to Umeå, which is the capital of the county of Vasterbotten. To go there by bus took two hours one way. I had to take time off from the college and we had to go there more than once. Anyway, they did not find out more than, that he was a little different to other children in his age, because he did built a village with the animals outside of it in a very proper manner. They did not confirm, that he has special needs.

I tried to get a daymother closer to our home. I asked the friend of my daymother – she also was one, but lived closer to us. Unfortunately the friend had full house already. I also asked the wife of the priest, if she was willing to become Gunnars daymother, but she was not, even she had good hand with him. She was my only hope during the service to hold Gunnar calm. It is, of course, not easy for a three year old to be quiet all the time during a service, but other children in his age were looking in books or playing quiet with small cars or dolls. He did not do that. When I was in front of the concregation, together with the others of our class, for singing, he was coming to me and staying on the side of me.

A female teacher did take care of me as often as she was able, that means, we were visiting her at her home. I could ask her every question, though I also asked her, if I was thinking too much of myself, because I could not spend much time with Gunnar. She told me, that she had been studying, when her daughters were very young and that they did play close to her, sometimes sitting on her, when she was sitting on the floor. They never did ask for more and they are very happy adults now.

One of the other students – one of the two men in our group, had very difficulties to be in time to the lessons and also was very different in his way to be. He was divorced and had six children – one of them, he thought, was not really his. Anyway, Gunnar did like him very much. We were taking walks together, e.g. in the natural reserve nearby. Just during that walk we did see an anthill and Gunnar was looking at it for a long while. During the spring term, this guy and I got very close. He did sleep over from time to time at my apartment and I got pregnant. It was already unusual to be allowed to study at this college with a child, but not being married, but when it came out, that I was pregnant, we were told to leave the school by the end of the term. I first had hoped, I could study there even a second year, but they did not accept that at all.

During the spring term I also was in contact with a family nearby. I was told of the priest, that this family excists and that they are very lonely. She was from the Same population of Norway, he was born in the North of Sweden, but of Swedish population. She had been married before and had one son from his first marriage. The son was in Gunnars age. They also had a baby of around 8 month. Mostly I met the woman and her children. We had some language and cultural barriers to overcome, but it was easily done. One of them was e.g., that she did tell me, that she has ice cream (Norwegian: is, Swedish: glass). I did not know, why she did tell me, but it turned out, that she offered me ice cream, what I accepted.

When we did get to know, that we could not continue at the college after the summer, we had to find a solution. My boyfriend still had an apartment in his hometown. It was under renovation, but he had a right, to get another one. Therefore we decided to move to Linköping in the county of Ostergotland (Östergötlands län). I could not terminate my apartment in Lycksele so soon, but found a way, to get money to pay the rent during the two month of waiting time. I rent it out by the tourist board. I have got a lot of nice messages from the people, who rented the apartment. Anyway I was lucky, that the apartment was in the same condition during this time as I had left it.

About my time in Linköping, you can read by following the link to the County of Ostergotland.