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Miles: Lin Week

May 15, 2011

Since I got back from travelling (which will be the subject of this post) I have been entertaining/hanging out with/talking to a friend from the U who was visiting me and writing a take-home exam for my Gender Equality in Nordic Countries course. This has left me with bare litt tid for blogging.

Forgive me,

it’s been so sweet,

and so warm out.

(Okay, okay, so I love William Carlos Williams. I’ll get back on track now.)

From May 1st through May 7th, I was traveling. The itinerary? Dublin and Berlin. So what did I call it? Lin Week, selvfølgelig!

I spent a week traveling alone. Before leaving, I was a little nervous about spending so much time by myself. I was afraid I wouldn’t meet cool people at my hostels, I was afraid I’d go days without having a conversation. It turned out to be a great experience — not only did I meet great people, but when I was by myself, I was calm in the solitude and just enjoying my surroundings.

First stop was Dublin. I got in on Sunday, and spent the day walking around the city. Sunday night I checked into my hostel and met Aggie, a french woman who was on a trip from her study abroad term in Wales. She’s fluent in English and French (And mostly fluent in Spanish) and keeps a running list of all the French words commonly used in English. (I taught her about RSVP.) We went out for a beer and ended up spending Monday together as well.

Monday, because it was a bank holiday and most of the city was closed, Aggie, Two Brazilian men (Leandro and Fabricio), two Portugese women (Sandra and Ariana), and I went to Howth, a suburb of Dublin along the sea. We hiked around the cliffs, ate a picnic on a beach, and tried to fight against the horrendous wind. Fabricio barely spoke English, but had a portable speaker set with him and kept playing goofy American pop music. (Somewhere in Portugal, there is a video of me singing Justin Bieber…oops.)

Tuesday and Wednesday were for wandering. I saw Phoenix park, Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, the Modern Art Museum, the Yeats exhibit at the public library, and a bunch of other fun sites. It was nice to be in a city that spoke English, and to be able to converse without feeling like I was missing out on something important.

Early Thursday morning was my flight to Berlin. When I landed, I navigated the S-Bahn to my hostel, where I checked in and dropped off my stuff. I wandered around for a while, sleepier than I’d wanted to be, and decided I couldn’t handle any museums — I didn’t have the attention span to make it worth spending the money. I ended up on a street called Kurfürstendamm, or Ku’damm. Apparently it was celebrating it’s 125th birthday. There were a bunch of stations set up along the road with champagne and small pastries, and anyone with a gold wristband (I don’t even want to know how many euros they paid for those) could drink and eat as much as they wanted. While standing awkwardly amongst a giant crowd of people all slowly walking up the street, I overheard someone point to an important-looking man and say “Yeah, that’s the acting Mayor of Berlin.” I quickly snapped into tourist mode and took a picture of the Mayor, just as he was stopping to ceremoniously drink and toast to the street.

Friday was all about Alternative Berlin. I took the Alternative Walking Tour, which covered a lot of the street art and Artist Collective houses in West Berlin. We also stopped at a place called YAAM that has a bar, skate park, patio, and puts on live shows. The tour was phenomenal, and I definitely fell in love with Berlin and the arts community there. On the tour I met a bunch of art students from Sweden, and when we learned we had Scandinavia in common, we started talking and they ended up inviting me to hang out with them for the rest of the day. I ate an amazing vegan bacon cheeseburger at a goofy little restaurant, and then we spent the evening hanging out near the river and drinking the cheapest beers I’ve purchased in Europe. (Side note: totally legal to drink in public in Germany. Awesome.)

And on Saturday I returned to Oslo. It’s incredible — each time I travel, coming back to Oslo feels more like coming back home. I’m not ready to think about what it will feel like to leave.

Things I have learned:

IT’S OKAY TO PUSH MYSELF. I find that social situations often make me really anxious. Couldn’t tell you when it started, but it’s something I need to keep working on. Traveling alone forced me out of my comfort zone and into a world of meeting people and talking to strangers. I felt really proud of myself for saying “Yes” and pushing myself to hang out with all the great people I met that week. It wouldn’t have been the same place otherwise.

WHEN I TALK ABOUT WE, SOMETIMES I MEAN NORWAY: During my travels, I’d often find myself comparing certain things (public transportation, eating habits, alcohol laws, etc.) with the people I met. When I gave my contribution, I was almost always talking about Norway. Over the past few months, I really have found a nice ownership/sense of belonging in this place. It’s a beautiful feeling, and one that I don’t want to give up quite yet.

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