Three Weeks In

Time has flown by here in Norway. I cannot believe January is almost over. I cannot believe I’ve been here for almost a month! Things have been going smoothly so far, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

I joined the Activities Committee at ACN (I can’t not join things) and we are planning a Superbowl Party for the Norwegians. I’m pretty sad Green Bay won’t be playing, but at least I’ll get to eat good food. The game is going to be live streamed, so we be starting the party in the middle of the night! I’ll need some coffee to keep me awake.

For one of my theatre classes, we are going to London for about five days later this semester! We are seeing plays there and a group of us are planning on going to Harry Potter World. I am very, very excited for the latter. I’ll probably buy a wand and make my sister Ciara jealous (ha).

This last week at school, our teachers treated us to Waffle Wednesday for lunch, and I must say, I LOVE NORWEGIAN WAFFLES. They are so good. The Norwegians eat theirs a little differently than Americans though. They like to put brown cheese and this sour cream on theirs and fold them in half. I’m not really a fan of the brown cheese, so I decided to go with the ‘classic’ toppings.

Tess, my roommate, and I have been living without a lightbulb in our bathroom for about twelve days now…which is an adventure in itself. At first we just used our phone flashlights when we needed to shower (which threw some weird shadows around the bathroom), then Spencer loaned us his running headlamp (which allowed us to actually see our faces in the mirror), and then our RA gave us a small lamp until it’s been fixed. Before we got the lamp I would stop by the bathroom at school each morning just to double check that there wasn’t something weird on my face. It’s going to be quite a blessing when we have a working light again.

Last weekend, we took our first trip! We wanted to keep it simple, so we decided to explore the capital of Norway: Oslo. All of the Americans went along with two of our Norwegian friends. I must say, Oslo is something else. I get kind of nervous in big cities, but I felt very comfortable walking the streets of Oslo. The views were beautiful and the architecture was a cool mix between new and old. We took the train there and that was my first experience being on one! It felt kind of odd to sit backwards in the seats, but it moved very quickly and quietly so I felt like we were there in ten minutes. The pictures below are from the train station, which is gorgeous, especially because they have Ben & Jerry’s.

We saw quite a few sights. First up was the Opera House, which you can actually climb on. It’s a neat piece of modern architecture. We walked up the icy sides to the top so we could see the view of the harbor. The inside of the Opera House was just as cool and they had free bathrooms. Europe likes to make you pay to use the restroom, which is a totally new idea for me, so I’m always trying to find all the free ones.

Our next stop was the Palace, which Tess and Amalie (our wonderful Norwegian guides) call a ‘castle.’ It is not a castle Tess!! There is a huge main street in Oslo that leads directly up to the palace, so as you’re walking up the hill, you can always see it in the distance. There are a ton of shops (three Lush stores) and restaurants and bars along with a garden and other government buildings. When we made it up to the palace, Tess informed me that the king was in. When the flag hangs above the palace it means he’s there. Sadly he didn’t want to step out to say hello to a few American tourists. It was a beautiful day to be in Oslo and get pictures. I had fun with my big camera and I tried getting some ‘fancy’ photos.

We also went to the Fortress, which has a lot of history. It was used during WWII when Germany occupied Norway.  I got a picture of a bird there. There you go Dad! (Yes I know it’s only a sea gull, I’ll try to get some of actually unique birds from Norway.)

Oslo was a blast. When the school week started, I had to travel to Sarpsborg for my visa meeting. There’s a police station there and if you don’t want to get your visa in the US, you can opt to make an appointment in Norway and take care of it when you’re here.The day before my meeting Tess was nice enough to go on a walk with me to the bus stop so I knew how to get there (thanks Tess lol). I was very nervous to travel by myself. I didn’t want to get on the wrong bus, and then I realized people pressed the buttons above their seats when their stop was coming up and I didn’t know when my stop would come up, and then after my meeting I had to rush back to the bus stop to catch the earlier one. I was sitting straight up in my seat ready to press the button for my stop on the way back in case the driver wasn’t going to stop, but thankfully someone else pressed it. It was very nerve-racking. My hope is that I’ll get better with all the forms of public transportation. Not having a car is quite new to me.

In the same day, I went to Sarpsborg and SWEDEN! After classes were out, Spencer came up to Katie and I and asked, “want to go to Sweden?” “Right now?” “Yeah right now.” I didn’t realize going to another country was so nonchalant. We obviously agreed and meet up with him and Simon. The four of us squeezed into Simon’s minicooper and we were off. We took the exact same route that I took to Sarpsborg earlier that day, so the scenery was familiar. The day had been foggy and as we drove we saw valleys full of fog while the sun set. It was beautiful. Getting into Sweden is just like driving into another state in the US. There is absolutely no border security. We just saw a sign welcoming us to Sweden as we zipped past. It was crazy and quite unreal. Spencer is not very good at giving directions so we had to turn around a few time, but eventually we made it to our first stop: the liquor/candy store. Norwegians like to go shopping in Sweden because it is less expensive, so obviously we had to stop for these two necessities. After stocking up on vodka and chocolate, we headed to the mall, which had a huge grocery store. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. Apparently it’s more for the Norwegians to buy booze and bulk than for the Swedes to do their daily shopping. Sweden has larger options for food and necessities than Norway. You can’t really buy bulk in Norway, so when I found a box of 150 tea packets, I got it. I even calculated that it will last me the rest of the time I am here. It was fun going through the aisles and seeing what they had. There was even a section with American products, but Katie and I tried to avoid going there since it’s expensive. I do miss Milk Duds though…

This weekend, I went to a bar for the first time! It’s still kind of odd to me that I’m able to legally drink here. Every time I have a drink I think the police are going to come break the door down and tell me that I’m in trouble, but so far so good. The drink I got was really good and I loved how fancy the glass was.

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Norway has been good to me so far, and I am looking forward to all the adventures I’ll have in the future. I’ll end this post with a picture of the bay in Oslo. I keep forgetting that I’m by the ocean. Every time I go for a run I go down to the beach and sit for a bit, just looking out at the water. I used to strongly dislike the coast, but I’m warming up to it now.

x Phoebe

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