Archive for the ‘Natalie in Norway’ Category

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Natalie: Christmastime & I’m almost done…

December 15, 2010

It’s December… already! I have no idea where the time went, but I’m leaving Norway at the end of this month. It’s a surreal feeling. Home is within sight now.

I had to move out of my apartment this week. That meant packing. To my surprise all of my things fit in the 2 bags I brought them over in! Yeah! Now I’m staying on the couch in the living room. Super snazy. There is absolutely no sound barrier between the room and the kitchen. So when somones cooking at 3 in the morning (?) I can hear it!

This week I also spent revisiting some of the tourist sights in Oslo. Frank and I went to Vigeland Park:



I also did some Christmas shopping for all my lovies at home. I hope you like chocolate.

Friday, Magda, Jamie and I made cookies ALL day. We listened to Christmas music and made sugar cookies, raspberry thumbprints, peppermint bark, and peanut butter chocolate cookies. It took us all day! We also watched “Elf” that evening. Magda had never seen it. She thought it was hillarious.


Saturday Magda and I went to the Christmas market at the folk museum. It was one of my favorite experiences here in Norway other than the fact it was freezing cold out! There were stands selling everything from hand knit mittens to candied apples.



After the christmas market I came back and did some studying for my last final, Norwegian Life and Society. I think I did really well. The only thing I had trouble with was naming the top 3 political parties in Norway. Labor, Conservative… no clue.

After the exam a couple of us took the new T-Bane up to Holmenkollen. It was freezing, but so beautiful. We even spotted some Norwegians in their natural habitat! The woods. There is an amzing sledding hill here in Oslo. You can slide for about 10 minutes! Afterwards you just hop on the T-Bane and ride to the top again. It’s amazing! You have to pay to rent one of their sleds though.



Afterwards we rode to the city center and went to another Christmas market. The lights were really beautiful.
Here are some photos:


Tuesday Cecil came over and we made a wonderful lunch. Basically we threw every vegetable and leftover into a wok and stirred it into a lovely sauce for some rice. Coming down to the last couple days in Oslo is tough food wise. I’m sick of Ramen noodles and I only have 8 packs left to eat! Afterwards we went out to Sognsvann and walked around on the ice and out to a small island.




The frosted over trees are absolutly breathtaking.

And now I have to say goodbye to everyone I know here as I am leaving for Rome and Paris. I have this panicked feeling. This is the end of the most amazing journey in my life. I DON’T want it to end.

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Natalie: Thanksgiving & Juletid

December 1, 2010

Now I’m really getting antsy to come home. As the holiday lights begin to illuminate Oslo I am easily transported home as I stroll the streets. It isn’t until the Christmas carols are in Norwegian that I am reminded of how far I am from home.

This is how my first holiday away from my home and family went:
Thursday, just another Thursday, but thousands of miles away it’s Thanksgiving, a cherished tradition. Instead of waking up and watching the parade I headed to school early and studied the day away. For dinner I came home and made a bowl of spaghetti. Luckily, Jane and Kierstin had sent me a pumpkin pie so Jamie and I had a small celebration eating that. Afterwards, I skyped my family. They set a place for me at the table and I was able to “share” dinner with them.

Friday was actually the most homesick day for me. I felt really far away. I wanted to go shopping with Aunt Cathy and Hillarie! I even downloaded the black Friday ads. Finally on Saturday we celebrated Thanksgiving here. Jamie and I had a stock pile of American food, so we invited our closest friends and set out to prepare a feast. We started cooking at 10 am! I hosted my first Thanksgiving at the age of 19. Pretty impressive eh? We made enough pumpkin bars to feed and army and boiled 3 large pots of potatoes.

Magda was also in the kitchen with us making Perogi, polish sweet ravioli. MMMMmm.
At around 2 others started cooking and Frank came up to help us prepare. The Singaporean girls made corn flake cookies and the boys started the chickens… not Turkeys. The darn things were $60 for a 6 lb turkey! We also prepared bisquits, stuffing and gravy. I also made Daryl take the cranberries out of the can without mashing them. I like it when they look like a can.

I set the table. It was really difficult arranging a table in a very small kitchen for 25 people.

Around 5 everyone arrived. We had lasagna, Kung pow chicken, apple crisp, banana bread, brownies, cous cous, French fries, pepper kaker, perogi, and pancakes. Delicious feast if I do say so myself. Even being a little cramped, the night was simply magical. I have never seen a kitchen that looked so glamorous.

After everyone filled up Jamie and I made everyone play Turkey trivia with us. Everyone complained because they didn’t know anything about American history, but neither do we so hey. The most anyone got right was 6. Way to go Jon, from the Czech Republic. Later a couple of us retreated into the back room where we played some games and enjoyed each other’s company.


During that time someone came up with the brilliant idea that we should go out on the town. So after a busy day of baking we headed out into the -9 degree weather with less than adequate clothing on. We went to Bla, the jazz club we went to at the beginning of the year with the amazing chandelier. On the way home, 3 am, Karl Johan’s gate looked like it was about 3 in the afternoon. Hundreds of people were out walking the streets. I guess people don’t know when it’s day or night because… it is Always dark.

So, I’d like to thank all of the people who made my thanksgiving so magical. I am terrified that I only have one week left with you guys. You have made the biggest difference in my life. I will never forget any of you.

Sunday was pretty lazy, but in the evening we went down to the Christmas tree lighting at Universetetsplassen. The tree wasn’t exactly majestic, kind of straggly in fact. The mayor made a speech, they lit the tree and the children’s choir sang. Then to my surprise everyone present held hands and we danced around the Christmas tree to Norwegian carols, just like the Woos do in the Grinch. Wow! A beautiful moment if I do say so myself. I was all smiles. It was also snowing buckets. More snow than we’ve received all month.

This holiday season (Juletid) is getting off to a pretty amazing start!

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Natalie: D-Day!

November 25, 2010

Today I had my first exam. last night I was so exhausted I couldn’t study a minute more. Exhausted from studying! I’ve never studied so much… EVER!

We had 4 hours to answer one of 2 questions, I chose this one:
Describe shortly what Schanbacher means by the concepts food security and food sovereignty. Then discuss different strategies of reducing hunger in the world. Finally, state shortly your view on the most effective strategy in this respect.

Oh boy. My heart was definatly beating a bit faster, but I knew this stuff and thought I knew exactly how to attack it. Unfortunatley after what I thought was 1 hour, 3 hours had passed. Oops! Now 1 hour left to write 3/4 of the argument I still had to make. Lets just say the conclusion didn’t go so swell. It was odd also because all of the directions for the exam were given in Norwegian. Nice. So it was left on the little old lady who was assigned to watch us to translate for us. It was also weird because we were allowed to leave the room, even go outside with that woman following us… not that I had time for that, but just saying. We were also allowed to have food, maybe another one of the reasons for overestimating 4 hours. The clementines are sooo good here! I needed about 4 more to make the points I wanted to. Oops.
1 down, 2 to go!

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Natalie: Home!

November 23, 2010

Norway, Norway, Norway. I am back in Norway. Things are the exact same as when I left except for that we have snow and the pressure of finals this week are crushing me.

I’ve started walking again. I really like going after its dark out. There are lights that illuminate a path around the lake. Even at 10 pm there are a lot of people out running or walking. The stars are so clear here. I find it hilarious that the path into the woods goes between an iced over hockey rink and a grassy green soccer field. People playing on both. Only in Norway do they have a machine that dethaws the ground so you can play soccer in the middle of winter.
Here are some pictures from around where I live:



Also the lake:

Some crazies decided to go swimming!


The sun rises at about 7 now… if you can call it that. There is a persistent gray haze that dominates Oslo’s weather. Snow maybe? The sun sets at around 3:30. Way, way too early.

The christmas food has come out at the grocery store! They have lutesfisk in the freezer section! and Marspian chocolates and pepperkaker and julebrus and glogg and CHristmas beer!

Finals! I have 3 finals in the next 2 weeks and it’s only November. Then I am free as a bird for a month and a half. Yipee!

The last 3 days I have spent in the library. I get there before the sun rises and don’t emerge until way after the sun sets. I’ve been meeting Lauren and Britt there. I really adore these girls. Time actually flies by while we’re “studying”. We all have the same course, the North and South divide and we’re all a little nervous for the final. Most of the time we sit in the study rooms conversing transnational corporations (geese Monsanto is the devil), free trade v. fair trade, and the reasons for poverty in the global south. I have never learned more than from talking with these girls. They bring the best out in me. For that very reason I’ve started to feel very, very sad about leaving . . . or maybe I’m homesick. I can’t make up my mind. Why can’t you all just move here!?

This evening I watched ‘Leap Year”… filmed in Ireland. I seriously NEED to go back. I just can’t get Ireland out of my head.

I’ve discovered Google chat. Completely free for calls to the US. I’ve just loved calling people to see how they’ll react. I’ve had a few scream, a few tell me I have the wrong number, a few start crying, and a few just utterly confused and speechless. Haha. My mom was so excited she even held the phone out the door so I could hear my dad snow blowing the driveway. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Natalie: A perfect day

October 24, 2010

This morning a bunch of us went to a flea market here in town. The usually slow moving Norwegians were not slow today! They were pushing and shoving all to get to huge heaps of clothes, books, and electronics. It was crazy. I managed to find some good deals though. I bought a scarf and a Paris travel guide.

After I walked down town and booked my ticket to Kristiansand for Christmas. I bought a bus ticket because it’s much cheaper than taking a train. There were mid-season sales every where today. So many people were out and about. Great, great, great! There also seemed to be a lot of tourists in town. It’s odd to be a tourist, but not a tourist.

At 2 I met up with Mirjam, and Jamie, and some others and we had a guided tour of the Norwegian Parliament. We were given a brief overview of Norwegian history, art history, and of the Norwegian government system. The insides of the building are gorgeous! The insides are inspired by stave churches from around Norway.


This building is directly behind the Parliament. The top is gorgeous. I had walked by it a million times, but it always helps to look up:

After that Mirjam and I walked around town. The Christmas decorations have come out so we enjoyed browsing through the ornaments, wrapping papers, and bake ware. We stopped for a quick snack at United Bakeries. This is my absolute favorite place to eat and study in Oslo. They have homemade Strawberry jam that is so red it stains your lips. Their chocolate bolle are also not that bad. It’s the type of place that draws hearts in your latte. Afterwards we strolled along Aker Brygge which is a board walk along the fjord.

The day ended with some reading before heading out for a moon-lit walk around the lake.

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Natalie: Let it snow

October 22, 2010

My senses were right when they told me it was going to snow soon. I was quietly ironing my clothes when Jamie burst into the room exclaiming that it was snowing. We rushed to the balcony along with practically everyone else in the entire building.

Oh yes! It was snowing! I ran into Kennedy, one of the Singaporians, in the hall and told him about it. He stuck his head out and informed that it was just rain. I suppose that’s what you’d think if you’d never seen it before. Soon huge flakes of snow were falling from the sky and the ground was blanketed with snow. Everyone, I mean everyone was outside with their parkas, mittens, and cameras. I’ve never seen so many happy people at once in my life.


This morning when I woke up the snow is still on the ground. Even at lunch time it’s still here. Hopefully it’s here to stay! Someone didn’t get the hint that it’s time to hang laundry inside now. There is a full line of freshly hung clothes hanging outside. Someone will be in for a nasty surprise this evening when their sheets are frozen solid.

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Natalie: Time is flying

October 18, 2010

I can not believe how fast time is going. I looked at my calendar today and realized, holy smokes, only 2 months left! Yesterday I even talked with Malin about Christmas plans. Bizarre. One night this week, Mirjam, my room mate was trying to make popcorn. Ha. She tried doing it with butter…thus burning the seeds. I really am surprised the fire alarm didn’t go off. She rushed into our room, pleading for my help. So… I ended up teaching her and the Singaporians how to make stove top popcorn.

Wednesday evening it was my friend Laurens 21st birthday. We went over to her place for dinner and made pasta with veggies, our go to for cheap delicious food. I was in charge of dessert so I made cupcakes with the mix auntie sent me. They loved me for that.

After dinner we went to a concert downtown, “Of Montreal”. It was fabulous! They are one of my favorite bands back in the states. It was particularly fitting to see them in Oslo becasue many of their songs are about Norway/Europe in general. Unfortunately, my camera was confiscated for being “too professional” so there are no pictures from the concert. But it was a GREAT night! I also managed to get a Norwegian to sing happy birthday in Norwegian to Lauren…complete with the dance.

Thursday Jamie and I had dinner with Frank and another Singaporian. They made us soup with pork, garlic, and spices, fried chicken, and of course rice. We treated them with a scandinavian almond cake, Frank also presented us with presents he bought us in Amsterdam: Jamie a bar of chocolate and for me, oven mits with the windmills and wooden clogs on them. Cool eh?

After Wednesday night I caught something. Thursday I felt sick…really sick, but it wasn’t until Friday it really hit me. Friday I slept ALL day. I woke up and walked around the lake once, but fell asleep right after. Being sick abroad is no fun. I wouldn’t even know what medicine to go buy if I really had to. Luckily, after all that sleep, I’m feeling better. Frank made me fish porridge as soon as he found out I was sick. Thanks…

Saturday feeling better I toured the National Theatre:

It was beautiful. We saw where the king sits for showings and heard a lot about it’s history.

Oh! and this week I went to pour my milk, I rarely buy milk because it’s expensive, it was curdled. Not expired yet! A week from the date. So I took it back to the grocery store and they gave me a new one! I was so happy. Tusen Takk Kiwi manager.
And another story regarding food: I’ve been searching all over for baking soda and couldn’t find it. Then brilliant me thought that maybe it would be called something else…yup! “natron.”

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Natalie: Living like a Norwegian

October 7, 2010

An any given day when I walk over to the near by lake there are hoards of people. Groups of kids playing games, families walking, moms pushing strollers, and sports groups jogging. It seems that all of Norway is at the lake all the time. Norwegians really value fresh air and the out doors. In the U.S. I have never seen as many people as I’ve seen near Sognsvann in Hartley field. Here, being outside, is just a way of life. I read that it’s actually mandatory for schools to spend one day a week outside participating in “practical” learning. No wonder there were so many school aged kids out building bon-fires and hiking Tuesday. I’ve taken up a bit of this way myself. I’ve started walking every evening after dinner. It gives me a little break from my studies and freshens my mind especially now in the crisp autumn air. The leaves haven’t started changing yet. I can not wait until they do!

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Natalie: Update

September 4, 2010

Sunday:
SUN!!!
All I can say is that it is very obvious that Norwegians enjoy being out in Nature. Today the lake was swarming with people. Trying to run was very difficult as I had to zig zag through families with strollers and leashed dogs. So today I only did one lap around the lake. The rest of the day I spent reading. Currently I’m reading ‘The Great Gatsby” and some other short pieces by Emerson. That evening I decided to be adventurous and actually cook. I made stuffed eggplant, which sounds like it could be stomach churning, but was actually quite delicious. Even the Singaporeans were impressed.
Here is how I prepared it:

Monday:
Today I had a full day of classes, 9 ‘til 6. American Literature went by without a hitch, except for that again not a single person said anything to me. The seminar for that class was different though. Almost immediately a girl approached me and started chattering in Norwegian. Every time this happens I’m almost embarrassed to reply, “sorry I can only speak English.” As soon as she learned I was an international student she asked if I had met many people yet. Sheepishly, I looked down and shook my head. I’ve seemed to have hit a wall in this. It’s not easy making friends for me. Every time I’m surrounded by new people it’s almost painful to force myself to be in good spirits and willing to open up. I can’t understand why I can’t get over it. It’s been getting me down a lot lately and as a result I’ve spent a little bit too much time in my room on the internet. As soon as she heard that she quickly introduced herself as Ava. Later she passed me a note that read…”Norwegians are pretty skeptical when it comes to international students. Shy as well. But you’ll get used to it!” This almost came as a relief. Woof! It’s not completely my fault. This seems very true though. I feel like as soon as people hear me speak they turn away and try to avoid me. UGH! Later in our group discussion about America I was really struck by a few thoughts that were brought up.

1. They felt that America was very religious compared to Europe.
a. I thought maybe it had to do with the crazy ways we celebrate Easter and Christmas, but all that really is commercialization, not religious celebration. I asked my German roommate what she thought, and she said she had thought that America was strictly religious because of American movies she had seen. I guess there are a lot of church scenes in movies, but still usually they involve Christmas or weddings, the one time a year most Americans attend church.
2. They felt that Americans were being scared by their government.
3. They felt that Americans banded together in times of war.
a. This is definitely not true. There is more than one American I know who doesn’t support the war. If anything the war has split the nation. Just yesterday I read an online story about how a flight of troops arrived at an airport and they were booed.

I was actually excited for my Norwegian Life and Society class until the professor started. He droned on for full 2 hours from a pre-written sheet of paper. He had no slides of pictures and struggled with his English. I couldn’t even take notes his lecture was so disorganized and he was using so many Norwegian words I had no idea how to spell. I have never had such a bad teacher. I learned absolutely nothing!

Tuesday:
Only intending to go for a quick walk around the lake, I guess you could say I got a little distracted. I ended up hiking through the wilderness for nearly 3 hours. The trails just keep going and going! And while I was walking these paths I was struck by something… I saw not a single animal! No birds were even singing. I’m not sure if this is because I’m still near Oslo, or what but it was weird. No squirrels, no birds, no deer. Haha. I’ll say that today and then tomorrow be eaten by a bear! In the afternoon I worked on planning my travels. I booked a flight in early November to London and Dublin for round trip $70! Jamie and I are also planning a trip in December to Rome and Paris! I cannot wait, especially for Paris. Finally I’ll be able to practice my French on an unexpecting waitress! Haha.

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Natalie: First day of class

August 24, 2010

Friday
This morning I woke up bright and early and headed to campus.  I was able to get my student card which enables me to use the library, get student discounts, and print. Classes start on Monday.

I then headed down town to do some shopping. I bought a 60 Liter backpack for my upcoming trips. I’m assuming it’s not the nicest backpack due to the fact I bought it at Clas Ohlsen, an everything store, but it was only 350 NOK ($50), so I assume it will at least get me through.

At 4, I went to international coffee hour at Chateau Neuf. There were a trillion people there and I felt really lost in the jumble. It was hard to just approach an already engaged group and introduce yourself. Luckily, my roommate spotted me. And so the rest of the afternoon we sat there with the rest of our flat mates eating free cookies and drinking coffee.

We finally met some Norwegians tonight! They filled us in on all the great places to ski in the area as well as a few new phrases. They were a little frightened though, when after having a quick gab session in Norwegian I informed them jokingly that I had understood every word that they had just said. Haha. I wish. One thing that is a bit annoying here is that the international students are never mixed with Norwegian students. We all live together and take classes together. It’s a bit sad. I wish I could learn more about their ways from actually spending time with them. Another thing that is sometimes tough is that I am 19. No complaints other than to get into a lot of events, 20 is the minimum age. This means I have to stay behind sometimes.

Saturday
Again, I woke up to the sound of rain pounding outside. So there was no choice but for a lazy morning. Suddenly the sun decided to come out so I went for a jog around the lake. There were people everywhere! After, I decided just to dip my feet in the water. Haha, that turned into a swim after I slipped on a rock and was completely soaked. It was quite the embarrassing walk home, barefoot and dripping, through a busy sports university campus.

Later, Jamie and I went downtown to see what was happening. Due to the fact it was Sunday many shops were closed or closing. We did stop in a few tourist shops and looked. It’s funny how now when there is a crowd of tourist we get annoyed. Walk faster people! We also saw the Royal Palace.

Sunday
Already this morning the sun is shining and I am ready to go. We have a lot of over ripe/ smashed bananas so I’ve decided to make banana bread. The kitchen is filled with the aroma of it. I sense that fall is about to break loose soon.
We took a trip up to Holmenkollen today. There lies the site of ski jump from the 1952 winter Olympics and a ski museum.

It is the number one tourist attraction is Oslo. The site was under construction due to the fact that they are hosting the FIS World Cup Ski Championships this year and the jump didn’t meet height requirement for the organization so it is being completely rebuilt. We were still able to tour it though. The tour cost 80 Kr and took us to the very top of the jump. The view was spectacular.

One can see all of Oslo being that the jump is the highest point in the city. The museum was also very informative. There was a display showing how skis were made 5000 years ago until current. There was also a lot of information about the ski movement in the 1900’s when the Norwegian government made skiing the national sport and created multiple campaigns to encourage people to get out and enjoy nature. The crown prince was even a skier himself!

Monday
I woke up at 6 am to take a shower, eat, and gather my things. I hadn’t even bought notebooks, textbooks, or pens yet! My roommate was probably a little annoyed…

I was lucky to have gotten to class so early, I guess. There are 300 students registered in the class and only 200 seats in the auditorium. I guess like my professor said, “They aren’t expecting 100 students to show up a day.” Eh? My first and only class for the week was American literature. It was odd sitting in a class of 300 Norwegians learning about America. Lewis and Clark… I know them! California? Where is it? I’ll show you! I really enjoyed the class though, and am excited to start the reading list, which is extensive! I bought the textbook for the class: 3 inches wide and weighs nearly 10 lbs! The other reading I plan on borrowing from the library in order to save some money. The teacher spoke really great English. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is from the US.

One thing I will say is that I am thrilled that classes are starting. Finally I’m starting to realize how lucky I am to be a student. Not only is it an opportunity that not reachable for everyone, but also the fact that we are able to spend time learning about the world around us and not worrying about much else in extremely special. We are given the tools and knowhow to pull of some pretty amazing things and come up with some incredible thoughts. This time is fast fleeting though as I’ve learned from my roommate who only has a year left in her master’s program. So I must appreciate it.

After class I went down town to Grønland where I picked up some more things from the market and took a look into a couple other stores. I needed notebooks, colored pencil, copy paper, and a broom. When I checked out the woman flat out laughed at me as I placed a pad of paper covered with a clown picture, a pink canister of colored pencils, children’s themed notebooks, and a neon blue broom on the counter. They were cheap all right?!

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