Sweden (Part 9 – Gothenburg, Abytravet, horse racing and a random live interview)

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Now, back to the less serious parts of the trip…

One of the most memorable experiences of the trip took place at the ÅbyTravet racetrack in Gothenburg. It was located right next to our hotel, Best Western Plus, which is entirely horse racing themed – from the lobby to the hotel rooms. After our whole day of school visits and meetings in Gothenburg, my roommate and I decided to head to the racetrack for a quick peek before going back to our room. Entrance is completely free and nobody seemed to care that we walked straight up to the side of the track. There were even visitors walking through the track to the other side to take photos. The horse racing is quite different from I’ve seen in Hong Kong. They do trotting instead of galloping, where the horse pulls a two-wheeled cart (sulky), with the driver in a sitting position behind the horse. It was the first time I had seen this kind of horse racing before.

While we were watching the practice starts, we got stopped by an old Swedish man with the big camera around his neck. He just started talking to us and asking us what we were doing there. I guess they don’t see many Chinese or Asians around the area. He shared that he had been homeless for a period of time and will soon become a famous photographer so he asked if he could take our photos. We humoured him and let him take a few snaps. Then we saw one of the principals and pretended that we needed to go with him.

Just as we were about to leave, we got stopped by another man – a much younger one this time (and more handsome) – and he asked us similar questions. Then out of the blue, he asked if they could interview us on camera that would be broadcast live on their big screen! We hesitated but the principal said ‘Yes!’ and encouraged us to go.

As an overly anxious, shy, introverted, easily embarrassed human, it took so much for me to walk out there and go on that stage. It didn’t hurt that the guy who invited us (his name is Patrick, by the way) was super nice and sweet and kept smiling at us which relaxed me a bit. I don’t think anyone knew I was totally panicking at that moment. I just kept smiling and saying to myself that this is totally going to be fine and I’m sure that he won’t ask me difficult questions… How did I ever become a teacher – I have no idea.

Patrick introduced us to the presenter with the microphone, whose name I’ve forgotten, and the camera started rolling. He said a brief introduction in Swedish and turned over to ask us questions. The principal stood beside the camera man and took a video on his phone as well. I don’t really know what happened in those two and half minutes but I couldn’t stop laughing about it afterwards. I also think I smiled way too much during the interview and I was totally staring at the presenter the whole time. It was only afterwards that he told us the video would be uploaded onto YouTube! So, at the risk of totally embarrassing myself, and also my roommate, the YouTube video is here, or watch the phone camera video version below.

The first question was a bit awkward because I think my roommate misheard the question, which was “How did you end up here in Gothenburg in Sweden when you are English teaching in Hong Kong?” and gave a somewhat random response. I explained that we were actually there to visit schools and learn about the education system in Sweden and how they do STEAM education.

I kind of pretended to have experience in horse racing by saying that I live close to a racetrack but clearly, the proximity to the racetrack has no bearing whatsoever on my knowledge about horse racing and horses. I said that I could look out my window to watch the horse racing and that I enjoyed the view, which is completely not true since there is only one small window in my mum’s room that can see a tiny little part of the track and I have never once looked out that window to watch a race. But when put on the spot, I just forget what is real and not real sometimes…

The presenter ended the interview by suggesting “Then we could start something new in Hong Kong, you and me?” I might have answered “Yeah, sure!” a bit too quickly and eagerly. Don’t get too excited… context is important here – he was referring to the trotting style of horse racing (or was he?). Here’s the video…

End of Part 9

Back to Sweden (Part 8)

Continue to Sweden (Part 10)

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