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Miles:It’s all really the same, except, of course, when it’s not

April 5, 2011

Some things about classes stay the same, regardless of location. There will always be those over-achievers — the ones who’s hands are almost stuck in a raised position, the ones who get extra nervous before each test, the ones who need to be right. There will always be the slackers — the people who probably could have been more productive being at home, the ones there out of a sense of obligation, not because they care about the material. There will also always be the people in-between. Everyone will always want to assume they’re an in-between. Some teachers will be annoying, some will always make you smile. Some you’ll want to impress, some you’ll want to spite.

Then there are the differences. These are what I need to pay attention to. First, because the most important question here is “Hvor kommer du fra?” everyone has a country attached to them. I am carrying the United States with me everywhere. I have met not just people, but representatives from countries. The overachievers in my Norwegian class, for example, aren’t just two women, they’re two Germans. This is the place where, if I’m not careful, stereotypes are born.

There’s also the systematic difference of the education system in Norway. My Norwegian exam is in 10 days. It is my one and only grade for the course. I need an A. Most people in my class are learning Norwegian to pass the exam. They won’t really try too hard to speak it in class because that’s not on the test. They instead obsess about the proper declination of nouns. This is important, sure, but I’m also interested in using my Norwegian to communicate. I’m in Norway. To me, the only respectful thing to do is try to learn Norwegian, particularly because I’ve been presented with the tools needed to do so. That being said, I do also need a good grade on this test, so don’t expect me to be doing much outside of studying Norwegian for the next week.

(Especially since next weekend I’ll be frolicking through fields of tulips in Holland. Insert all sorts of excited faces.)

Things I have learned:

NORWAY FOG IS LIKE NO OTHER. Field of snow pressing against completely foggy sky is the most disorienting thing one can witness on a run. Trust me. It is the moment in my life where I’ve been the least sure of where the ground ends and where the sky begins.

I LIVE BY THE SEA. I knew this. To witness it with my hands, to feel it against my face, though, is to truly discover it. Never underestimate how much I love bodies of water, and how at peace I feel near the ocean/lake/whatever. This is the moment when I begin shopping for houseboats. (I’m only sort of kidding.)

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