Miles: A 15-person quartet

January 10, 2011

Walking across Sognsvann (not the greatest pic)Apparently in Norway they still believe in Sundays, so very little was open yesterday. I slept in (jet-leg was still kicking my butt) and hung around the flat for awhile.

When I finally decided to move around, my flatmate JB took another international student and me to Sognsvann, a giant lake near my student village. As we approached the lake, we were almost ran over by a stampede of cross-country skiers. I guess Sunday is Ski Day in Oslo. (Really though, every day is Ski day in Oslo.)

Currently the lake is entirely frozen so we walked onto it. I found myself surrounded by trees and white and beauty. I have much more patience for snow here than I did in Minneapolis.

In the evening I met Melvin, another flatmate. He grew up in Singapore and is getting his master’s in Ibsen Studies. He is more than I know how to describe. He’s definitely forcing me to question the way in which language is passed from place to place and how certain slang phrases can lose any sort of “coolness” quickly in the US, but retain validity in other places. (If you’ve read Everything is Illuminated—think Alex Perchov.) One of the first things he asked me was what I thought of the Norwegian girls. I guess its a good thing I’m only staying for 6 months—according to Melvin, after a while “they get stale. All the same face, you know?”

Because I have decided that I must have as many adventures as possible while I’m here, even though I was tired and feeling a little turtle-ish, I agreed to go out with Melvin, Elaine (another flatmate from France) and 5 of Elaine’s friends. We went to a club called Blå (pronounced Bluh—blue in Norwegian). The entrance to the club is in an alley illuminated by a gaudy, sparkly, amazing chandelier. The neighborhood we were in was described to me by Simon, a French student who’s studying Statistics in Norway, as “Alternative” and “full of street art” (Fear not, I made a mental note to return in the daylight with my camera!).

Blå was packed when we arrived. Sunday nights the entrance is free, and it is always the same band — The Frank Znort Quartet. FZQ is a 15 person bluegrass/jazz/weirdness band that sings songs written in slightly off English. Ex: “I love you Banana Split!” The music was dance-y yet something I’m sure I could take my mother to watch. They are constantly switching singers and audience members, some of whom clearly come every Sunday, all have favorites. At least two band members were dressed in drag. One sang a crowd favorite: “Sweet Penetration.” (It was indescribable.) Sadly, I did not win a free CD in their raffle.

Things I have learned:

THE WORD GOOFY IS BOTH DIFFICULT TO TRANSLATE AND A GIANT PART OF MY VOCABULARY. While walking back to the T-bane from Blå, I was talking to Charlotte, one of Elaine’s friends, and I described something as goofy. She asked what that meant. To describe goofy is one thing, to describe goofy with the endearing connotation I mean for it to have is an entirely different task.

I HAVE SOMETHING TO LEARN FROM EVERYONE. Maybe this was obvious to others. I think it becomes clearer when I have to slow down and listen—particularly when I’m speaking with someone who doesn’t speak English as fluently as I do. Simon and I had a great conversation on the difference between French and English. In his words “French has fewer words, so we use more imagery to create words.” (My damn English vocab. I blame you for my lazy writing!). JB and I had a great talk over breakfast on the similarities between our studies—He studies Architecture and oftentimes has to sketch ideas for buildings and designs. We talked about creativity and what sort of music we listen to while working.

(Un)fortunately today is Monday and I need to get out of my pajamas and go see my Campus. I have to pick up an info packet at a student desk. Then I plan to walk around, camera in hand. Also, I should probably go grocery shopping. I can’t be like Melvin and survive on Pizza. Unlike him, I enjoy a nice vegetable.


One comment

  1. Thanks a lot for this blog. I’m about to sign the final papers to go to Bergen next semester and I loved reading about your experiences!!

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