SFI

I have to learn Swedish. The Swedish government provides free language tuition for immigrants, in a department called SFI – Svenska för Invandrare, or Swedish for Immigrants (handy that the initials are the same!). Yesterday I had an appointment with someone at the SFI office in town and we talked about where and when I would start. It seems that first I need a test to assess my current ability, and that should happen within two weeks she said, and after that I would be put in the queue, but may have to wait up to 2 months before I can start. That puts me in December sometime before I can start classes. Gives me time to finish my Biostatistics course, which is a good thing.

We got to talking about getting registered as a doctor in Sweden. I explained that I had not yet applied because I knew that one requirement was that I demonstrate some fluency in Swedish and pass a language test. She said I better apply anyway, because it could take 6 months for them to assess my application to decide what I needed to do to qualify to practice as a doctor here in Sweden. I explained that it would surely not take so long to look through my papers – I estimated about 10 minutes. Ah, she said, You do not understand the Swedish bureaucracy!

The thing that struck me most as I left the SFI office and walked past all the classrooms with their glass windows, was the fact that almost everyone learning Swedish was either from Africa or the Middle East. As a European I suspect that I will be a significant minority group!

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