Chapter 16: Canada

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Why was Sinead excited to visit the town where Jenny lived?
  2. Which two types of soup did Anna make for Jenny after she had a baby?
  3. Which problem in Sweden did Anna not want to think about?
  4. Which Swedish sentence did Anna teach her daughters when they were teenagers?
  5. Which item of Justin Bieber’s did Sinead get to hold?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. How is this chapter different from the other chapters in the book so far? How is Anna’s behavior and mentality different?
  2. Which details in this chapter tell us that Anna is more comfortable with the Korean and American aspects of her identity than the Swedish one?
  3. Have you ever experienced this type of “mental break” while in the middle of an uncomfortable struggle or adjustment? What happened?
  4. At the end of the chapter, Anna is returning to Sweden with a new mindset. Describe the mindset and how it might influence her behavior after she returns.
  5. How important is one’s mindset to one’s identity? Is it possible to influence one’s identity through conscious decisions?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • This chapter describes a Korean approach to childbirth and recovery. What is your reaction to that? What are your experiences and/or thoughts about the childbirth process?
  • Anna finds it hard to leave her child and grandchild. How much do feelings about family influence the decisions we make, especially about where to live? Is it a luxury to have that choice?
  • At the end, Anna decides to live as herself, “with all my intercultural complexity.” Is being intercultural a modern phenomenon? How can we see this complexity in the world around us (or in ourselves)?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“…as the airport shuttle pulled into Stratford.” = as the van from the airport arrived (p. 161)

NOTE: “to pull over” is an expression used for driving. It means to move to the side of the road. Example, “When I heard the siren and saw the fire engine, I pulled over to let it pass.”

“the occasional playground or church” = Here and there, I saw a playground or a church. (p 162)

“an unspoken feud” = a struggle or quarrel that no one talks about (page 163)

“I didn’t want to exert the brainpower” = I didn’t want to make the mental effort (p. 166)

“I felt entitled to my Swedish citizenship.” = I felt it was my right, and natural, to be Swedish (p. 167)

Grammar Focus:

The tricky word: “to”

The word “to” is used in so many expressions and in so many ways that it is no wonder that students of English get totally confused. Let’s try to review some of the usages and meanings of “to.”

  1. It’s a preposition: It tells us the place which is the destination or goal.

“When are we going to Scoops?”

  • It can mean “in order to,” which gives the reason for an action.

“Jenny waddled out (in order) to meet us…”

This gives the reason why Jenny waddled out. What was her reason for coming out?

  • It can mean “in that direction.”

“That evening, Sinead turned to me as we sat…”

  • It can be part of expressions that express location.

“… the residential street adjacent to Jenny’s apartment”

  • It starts an infinitive verb.

“My job during the labor and recovery was to manage the kitchen.”

“I knew how comforting it was to know that two bowls…”

  • It can be part of other expressions.

“My food had to be hot and warming…”

“She kindly urged me to lie down…”

“I listened to her.”

“…she was content to use English with everyone else.”

Analyzing all the usages of “to” can be overwhelming! It is truly a confusing word if we look at it in isolation.

TIP: Rather than try to figure out the meaning of “to” in isolation (which is probably impossible and won’t help), it is best to learn the usages of “to” in phrases. For example, one should remember that “listen to” is a set of words that usually belong together.


“I listen to music.” (Not, “I listen music.”)

And remember, if “to” makes you uncomfortable while learning English, you’re not alone!

Answers to Part 1

  1. Because it was Justin Bieber’s hometown. (He’s a famous pop star.)
  2. Seaweed with beef and jujube dates with dried squid
  3. The housing problem. She, Sinead and Fionn had to move in August.
  4. “Borsta tänderna,” which means, “Brush your teeth.”
  5. His guitar.

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