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Adam: Homestay away from home

November 11, 2009

This past weekend, Becky and I headed to Stavanger (located in Southern Norway) for a homestay. This was a trip for class, but much like The Stock and The Cope, it was pretty relaxing.

After yet another lengthy train ride, we were greeted at the train station by our host parents (or host grandparents as I prefer to call them) John and Marta. I could tell I would like Marta right out of the gate, since she’s tiny and has a rockin’ pair of Dior glasses. John got an automatic pass as well since the first thing he suggested we do was eat. You got me. We stopped at a restaurant not too far from the station and ate the first of many typical Norwegian dishes. My huge plate consisted of lamb, potatoes, some veggies and fish balls. Yum-o.

After lunch we went to what would be home for the weekend. They’re house was very cozy and our rooms were great. Mine was the entire basement and Becky’s was a loft that was the entire upstairs. Very big.

It was a pretty quiet first night. We got a quick tour of Stavanger in the car, although I was absolutely exhausted and started to fall asleep a bit. But, I got the gist of it. After returning home, we had a light dinner and then pretty much just went to sleep.

The next day, we had a few scholarly activities planned. We first visited the refugee asylum and got a tour of the facilities. We did the same thing in Oslo, and both times I imagine the residents are thinking, “Who the hell are you?!” The Stavanger Cathedral was our next stop. It was quiet and empty, but oddly enough the newly named Bishop Erling Johan Pettersen was there doing a television interview. John wanted to bust in on it.

Bishop Pettersen was very nice and even told me he had studied in Little Falls, MN for a year. Small world. Later that day, John told us that friends and family had been contacting him after seeing us on the national news. I’m pretty sure it was just the back of my head that was on NOR1, which is a pity since I wasn’t having a great hair day.

We then met up with Erika and Lexi at the Norwegian Missionary School. They were staying in Sandnes with Dr. Owen Hunt’s doppelganger and his wife. The Missionary School wasn’t Creep City, Utah like I originally imagined. Our speaker talked a lot about just helping people out and not necessarily pushing religion down their throats. If a Mormon heard this, there would have been some major eye rolling.

And the fun didn’t stop there. Far from it. We still had the canning museum to visit. Before oil, canning was Stavanger’s main source of income. Oddly enough, it turned out to be our favorite part of the day. We were the only ones in there and got a private tour filled with fun facts about the process. Did you know if food is properly canned, it can last up to 100 years? I didn’t. Our field trips were done for the day after the thrill of the canning museum and we just took it easy until dinner. Dinner was two rounds of salmon and potatoes. Awesome!

Then came the most random night of my life. John and Marta had arranged for us to hang out with a young Stavangerian who offered to take us out on the town. Our host parents dropped us off at Margerete’s around 8 p.m.. It was very reminiscent of junior high. John even knocked on the door and made sure she was there.

Becky and I arrived in our regular clothes and Margrethe was… not. Looking like a million bucks, she was wearing a very short, sparkly black dress (presumably from H&M) along with matching 5 inch heels. So, it was going to be one of those nights.

Once inside, we were introduced to Margrethe’s friends. Margrethe is 19 and works at a salmon farm a little ways out of Stavagner. Some of her friends were from work and others were from around the area. I don’t really remember anyone’s name, but if you’re reading this and you’re the girl that looks like a young Tracey Ullman and kept wanting to wear my glasses, you were my fave!

After a while we went to Opera, a bar everyone was pronouncing “Oprah.” We all just cut a rug to the Black Eyed Peas and other rando pop songs. It was a good time. Seriously though, the most random night of my life.

Our final full day consisted of a long car ride through the mountains. We got to see a lot of beautiful scenery and take lots of pictures. John sure can talk and had many, many, many fun facts to share about Stavanger. And I mean many, many, many.

That evening the four of us devoured a huge bowl of fresh shrimp. John had picked it up that morning and it was only a pile of heads, tails and antennas when we were through. We ended the night by watching You’ve Got Mail (or Du har e-post). The Norwegian subtitles helped me study for my Norwegian final that is just around the corner. Much like the book shop Meg Ryan owns in the movie. Anyone catch that?

After our final breakfast, we boarded the train back to Oslo. John and Marta truly gave us the best Norwegian experience imaginable. I mean, the food alone. They’re very nice people and I was happy we had the opportunity to spend time with them.

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