Archive for the ‘University Study in Norway’ Category

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Miles: Three adventures

March 22, 2011

I understand that I have been somewhat slacking on the whole blog updating front, and I apologize. It’s just that life gets in the way of talking about life on the internet, you know?

Here is an actual post that’s actually about things I’ve been doing!

Adventure 1: Yay Women!

On March 8th, I participated in my first International Women’s Day March. In Europe, IWD is a much bigger deal than it is in Minnesota, as far as I could tell. (This view may also be skewed by the fact that I’m in a Gender Equality class this semester…) A couple hundred people gathered in Youngstorget, a square in downtown Oslo, with signs and banners. There were a few speakers, all in Norwegian, and then we all marched across downtown Oslo.

Many of the political parties (because, you know, Norway has more than 2 big ones) were present. My favorite sign said “ekte mannfolk slår ikke” (Real Men don’t hit.)

It felt really nice to be a part of something semi-political. I think this semester has confirmed by interest in the place where gender equality and safety and language all combine. I definitely feel a passion for working towards rights/safety/equality for all people, regardless of gender identity and/or biological sex.

Adventure 2: Lillehammer!

Team Applesin, skiing champions of the world, spent the weekend in Lillehammer. We stayed at this place called Nansenskolen (Nansen School), which is a sort of folk high school. Most of the students are around my age, but anyone older than 18 can be a part of the program. You spend a whole school year at Nansen studying art, creative writing, or political science/philosophy sort of stuff.

We stayed with a couple students in their dorm room, and got all of our meals free from the school (that wasn’t necessarily supposed to happen, but I’m not complaining…) On Saturday we went on a short ski tour in the Mountains, and it was by far the most beautiful ski trail I’ve been on so far. I definitely had to stop a couple times just to look behind me and pick my jaw up out of the snow.

This trip definitely taught me a little about patience. Everyone at the school spoke Norwegian, and I didn’t understand most of the conversations that were happening. There wasn’t a ton that was being translated for me, and I barely spoke. I had a number of “oh, we’re doing this now? I missed that” moments. I had to stop myself from become extra frustrated a few times, and I tried to turn it into a learning experience. It was hard though. I feel like I didn’t get to know anyone and nobody really knew who I was.

Adventure 3: Grown-ups at the Museum!

So I’m in love. Their name is Norma Sass. They’re an all-women band in Oslo. Really, just watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEFemmGt4bE

I saw online that they were having a show at the Teknisk Museum in Oslo, so my friend and I decided we needed to go. The concert was a part of an entire evening that the museum put on where nobody under 18 was allowed in, they extended museum hours, and made it sort of a “grown-up play date” event.

The museum is a very hands-on science museum where you can learn about energy, the human body, wind, cars, and all sorts of other things through interactive games and simulations.

The band was great. They were adorable and talented and I had the best time. All in all, it was definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve done in Oslo so far.

So yes, that’s what I’ve been up to. Spring is finally coming to Oslo. It actually is making me a little sad to see the snow go. My goal is to use my skis as much as humanly possible before I give them back.

Things I have learned:

THE WORLD IS MUCH BIGGER THAN ME. Duh. But let me explain: while I was sitting in Lillehammer, feeling totally unable to communicate and irritated and all of that, I realized that all around the world, there’s so much that’s happening that I miss out on because of things as basic as a language barrier. I can’t possibly see/know everyone. I think that makes me strive for a mixture of meeting as many people as I can, but also just making sure that I have the best relationships possible with the people whose lives do intersect with mine.

A LITTLE SUNLIGHT DOES WONDERS. I was in a slightly grumpy mood earlier this week, and then, on Tuesday, it was extra sunny out. I had no idea how much sunlight would make me feel better. I went for a long walk and listened to music and danced around a little. (And then went skiing and fell down a giant hill and bruised myself –  no big deal, I’m fine.) BUT STILL, it feels good to be seeing more sun.

 

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Miles: Skiing

March 8, 2011

For the last few Sundays, a few of my friends and I, occasionally calling ourselves Team Applesin (Orange på norsk), have been spending our afternoons cross country skiing. Having never skied before coming to Oslo, I quickly fell for the sport, and have thoroughly enjoyed spending my time experiencing Norway on skis.

Some of my favorite things about skiing:

The silence. A couple Sundays ago, we were skiing up near Sognsvann, and all three of us paused for a moment. That day, the trail had been filled with Norwegians carrying radios in their backpacks listening to the Nordic World Championships, but we had managed to find an empty space. Surrounded by trees, trying not to think about all the hills we had gone up, for a brief moment I heard absolutely nothing. Silence in the forests of Oslo is a silence I hope to hold onto for a long time.

Feeling Norwegian. I’ll never be Norwegian but connecting with Oslo on skis makes me feel close to this place in a way I can only assume Norwegians feel close to Norway. I am seeing more than Museums, than my campus—I really am seeing Norway. A Norway slightly less touched than downtown Oslo. Even though they may seem like simple afternoons spent skiing, I am keeping these moments as the times I felt truly connected to Norway and my experience here.

Kvikk Lunsj, duh. Meet Kvikk Lunsj: a Freia company chocolate bar that’s basically a Kit-Kat. They seem to be doing an incredible job at marketing themselves as the Athlete’s Candybar. The wrappers have stories of different skiers and they were huge sponsors of the World Championships. (There was a vending machine at the T-bane station near my flat that converted to entirely Kvikk Lunsj for the week. It was amazing.) We take a break mid-skitour every time to eat a snack. Typically it involves hot chocolate, fruit of some sort, and chocolate- usually Kvikk Lunsj.

Giving in to the challenge. I’m not a very skilled skier. I fall a lot. Maybe it’s cross-country skiing, or maybe it’s just the state of being I’ve found myself in lately, but whatever the reason, every time I fall, I laugh. I brush it off. I smile. Skiing is fun. I may have just fallen, but I’m still having fun. It’s a challenge. I silently applaud myself when I make it down hills without falling. I try not to fight it- fighting the challenge only makes it harder. Give in and smile. It’s way more fun.

This weekend Team Applesin is heading for Lillehammer to ski and relax and have a good time. I’m pretty excited. (That does, however, mean that I need to kick up my homeworkin’ so that I don’t have a pile of Norwegian waiting for me on Sunday night. To the library!)

Things I have learned:

OPPRESSION IS HARD TO TALK ABOUT, SO WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT A LOT. This, after a little ode to skiing, probably seems super sadsack and liberal affluent white kid of me to talk about. But here’s what happened: I’m in my Gender Equality class, and the teacher mentions something about Men being oppressed for their gender. I say “You know, as far as I’ve learned it, based on the definition of Oppression as being something one can only experience if you aren’t the group with power and privilege, I would have to say that Men, solely based on gender, can never be oppressed.” A person in the class (A man) says “That’s absurd!” and begins to tell me that I can’t say that men can never be oppressed. Part of the issue was clearly that he misunderstood or didn’t care that I had said I was only talking about gender oppression, but still, a phrase that stuck out to me in the worst way was “when oppression goes both ways.” Um, what? Oppression, by definition, can’t go both ways. That’s not how it works. Power means you can’t be oppressed in that specific situation.

Other people in the class also seemed to think I was a little off-base or just plain ol’ wrong. It felt like trying to fist-fight a brick wall. Part of it could have, admittedly, been a language barrier, but I think most of it is just proof that we as human beings aren’t talking about this stuff enough. Men, in most cultures, don’t face Sexism. The systems are working for them. If we ever want to change it, we need to first learn how to talk about it.

AFTER CLASSES LIKE THAT, YOGA RULES. All I needed was to deep breath that all out. Somedays you can only fight the brick wall for so long before you need to retreat and try again later.

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day. A thousand thanks to all the women who are and have been a part of my life.

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Miles: Göteborg (and more!)

February 27, 2011

In honor of my friend Caitlin’s Spring Break, I skipped off to Göteborg, Sweden for a couple days with her and our friend Melinda.

Loved the State Museum. Got a half-price Italian meal—ordered a glass of wine like a fancy-pants. Went Thrift-Store shopping (brand new red belt!). Fell in love with Lidl grocery stores and their cheap prices. Stayed at a hostel and snuck 3 people into a 2-person room.

http://takkforthewaffles.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/goteborg4.jpg?w=460

The world's only stuffed blue whale.

 

Basically, I had the best time. It was nice to just spend some time being in another city. Oslo is fun, and each time I return from a trip I feel more and more like I’m coming home to Oslo, but I am also enjoying my Scandinavian adventures outside of Oslo.

Which sort of brings me to my point. I’ve been abroad for about a month and a half now, and I’m starting to wonder why I’m here. Not in an arms-outstretched, screaming to the heavens sort of way—I just want to know what I truly want out of my experience. When I come back home, and people ask me about my semester abroad, what will I want to tell them? Is it important to me to party every weekend, or is it important to me that I continue to write as much poetry as I write in the states? Do I want to ski on Sundays, or run around the city center? Do I want to travel around Europe, or do I want to stay in Norway the whole semester? (Yes, I know that the aforementioned trip to Sweden makes the latter option impossible at this point…) Do I want to try to eat out at every restaurant in Oslo, or do I want to keep cooking? Should I buy fancy bread, or make my own like I sometimes do in Minneapolis?

I try to keep all of these questions in mind as I make decisions about how I spend my time. I know I won’t be disappointed by my Norway experience, but I want to be as un-disappointed as possible, you know? I don’t really have the answers yet. I try to just trust my gut. I think that, as cheesy as it sounds, if I keep my one goal to be my truest self as often as possible, I’ll most certainly have the best experience that I can.

Things I have learned:

DADS RULE IN SCANDINAVIA. And by that I mean, they act like Dads. All the time. At the State Museum in Göteborg, I walked into the children’s area, and saw a roomful of small children and fathers. All sorts of fathers playing with their children. In my Gender Equality class, we’ve touched in the equality between parents in the Nordic Countries, but it was quite a gift to get to witness it. If I ever have children, that’s the sort of father I want to be—the kind that is an equal partner in the world of raising children.

MODERNIZATION IS SOMETIMES NOT SO MUCH FUN. One of my first reactions in Sweden was “wow, this look so European.” I would never argue that Oslo isn’t European, but it is much more modernized than Göteborg. Because of this, the buildings look much closer to buildings I see in the US. There are more chain restaurants and stores. More people speak English. Modernization = Globalization = US Imperialism? To be determined. (I think yes, at least a little bit. I’m not super fond of it.)

This was a shorter post. Maybe I’m actually getting better at not rambling? Doubt it! I think I’m in my second “too much input, no way to output” phase. It’s as if I’m cracking through to the second layer of life in Oslo, and I don’t know enough to comment yet.

Oh, and Wisconsin continues to fight. My mom keeps me updated regularly. I’m sending so many positive vibes towards Madison.

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Miles: On People

February 20, 2011

Most of my attention as of late has been on my home state, Wisconsin. For the past week, thousands of public employees, students and families have been protesting outside of the state Capitol in response to a Budget Repair Bill that destroys the public sector employee’s (my mother included) right to collectively bargain with a union. My entire family has spent days at the protests. UW-Madison students are sleeping inside the Capitol building.

The bill is ready to be voted on. 14 Democratic Senators have fled Wisconsin—they’re hiding somewhere in Illinois. Without these senators, there is no quorum, and the vote cannot legally happen. Governor Walker has sent police after the Wisconsin 14. All Republicans need to have a quorum and pass the bill is for 1 of the 14 to cave into the pressure and come back. Just 1.

I wish I was there. I haven’t really spent any time this semester wishing I was anywhere but Norway, but I want to help my people fight. This is the beginning of something huge for the country, and something huge for Wisconsin. This means giant change for my family, for my mother’s job. Her job is being attacked by the institution that is supposed to protect her. She’s fighting back. The people are fighting back. I’m scared for all of them and I wish I could be there.

I’ve learned a lot from my mother about doing the right thing. When I was a Senior in high school she left her job at a hospital to take the job she currently has working in Public Health for the state of Wisconsin. Right as her first of three children was leaving for college and the economy was about to suffer, she took a fairly large pay cut. She told me it was because in this job, she could make a difference. She taught me that making a difference is more important than making money. (And hopefully when I am forty and broke, she will remember that she taught me that…)

I’ve decided to go to Graduate school to get a Master’s in Social Work. I want to make a difference, not necessarily make a ton of money. (I’d like to make some, of course. I like eating, you know.) I do not yet know the whens and wheres of that Grad School Adventure. I have so much time. I have so many options.

As far as Norway goes, I’m doing quite well. The past couple weeks have been a time when I realized how many close friends I’ve made here. There are people who I know will be in my life forever. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending all sorts of fun times with them and am continuing to meet new people.

There’s a trip to Sweden in my near future. I’m pretty excited.

I made Sweet Potato fries and am slowly getting everyone hooked on them. Success!

Things I have learned:

BE EASY, SWEET BOY. (Shout out to Sam Cook in MPLS). My good friend was telling me about a verb in Norwegian: å kose. When commonly used, it means “to relax, to make cozy.” You say vi må kose oss- we must relax ourselves, make ourselves cozy. And then Norwegians do. You spend time with your friends, sitting around and drinking tea. You breathe. You take care of your needs. This country lacks the collective stress of the US, and that’s a mindset I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

I MAKE AN IMPACT. One of my friends/flatmates and I were talking, and she said something about how everyone has impacted someone, even if they don’t notice. I know I’ve heard something like this before, but it’s always nice to be refreshed. I make an impact. I matter. I certainly don’t need to walk through life acting like I matter the most or anything like that, but I know I do matter to someone. We all do.

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Miles: Tromsø

February 17, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad,

Have you heard of couchsurfing.org?

Don’t panic.

Thursday:

Ben and I wake up and fly from Oslo to Tromsø. It is a city of about 60,000 North of the Arctic Circle line. We spent the afternoon in the center, wandering through art museums and shops, and attempting to cross the traffic bridge to the other side of the water before realizing the ratio of coldness of wind to length of bridge was not in our favor. Our plan was to stay with a man named Tor who, through Couchsurfing.org, agreed to host us for a few nights. The catch? Tor lives near Olderdalen, a tiny town two hours via bus away from Tromsø.

Here’s the thing about Norwegian regional busses: they aren’t like greyhounds where the driver is sure to stop at specific predetermined points and let everyone know where they are. (And anything they do say is in Norwegian. I could pick out every fifth word, maybe.) Instead, there’s a stop button above every seat. The route is set, and whenever or wherever you want to get off, the driver will pull over. We did not know this. We did not know when or where Olderdalen was.

We totally missed our stop.

Before we knew it, we had gone about a half-hour past our destination. Immediately we started brainstorming solutions—hitchhiking back, riding four more hours to Alta and finding a hotel—when a bunch of busses pulled over together at some sort of transfer point. Everyone started getting off and the driver looked back at us.

“Where are you going?”

“We missed our stop. We wanted Olderdalen.”

“He’ll take you back” he said and motioned to another driver.

We hopped on another bus, and sat right behind the driver. We were the only people on the bus—the driver was clearly headed back to Tromsø for the night and we were his pity traffic.

He let us off in Olderdalen center, which consisted of a gas station and a grocery store. Our next task—which we appropriately named Adventure Part 85—was to find Tor’s house.

Things we knew:

  1. It was grey.
  2. He lived about 2.5 km North of Olderdalen on E6
  3. The house was set only 20 m from the main road
  4. The house was the last house before a barren stretch of about 1 km

Did I mention that it was completely dark out?

We walked down the road, scanning houses. Finally we came to one that seemed to fit all the criteria. We sat in front of it for a moment, unsure, before Ben spotted the mailbox. Tor’s name was labeled! (Admittedly, when I saw this, I exhaled for the first time in an hour.)

While I was nervous about staying with someone I didn’t know, at that point, I would’ve slept anywhere as long as it was inside. However, I had nothing to worry about. From the moment he opened the door for us, I felt nothing but warmth from Tor. He cooked us dinner (delicious vegetable stew with rice) and talked with us about the environment and his plans to farm and create an “eco-neighborhood.” I spent the night in one of his guest rooms, sleeping under ten pounds of blanket.

Friday:

When I woke up, I realized that it had been snowing hard all night, and was continuing to do so. I went downstairs and sat with Tor for a while. He made the two of us coffee and offered me home-baked bread and cheese for breakfast. (So good!) I told him about Michael Pollan and my first part-time jobs—for once, someone seemed interested in all of the nut knowledge I picked up working at Buddy Squirrel.

To help repay Tor for letting us sleep at his home, Ben and I shoveled his driveway. There was something so nice about doing outdoor chores in a small town in Norway—this is totally what study abroad is about. As we finished shoveling, the fog and snow cleared and I could see the mountains across the water.

Oh yeah, Tor lives in the middle of a fjord. Greatest choice ever.

Ben and I took an adventure into Tromsø to get beer to go with dinner and a dessert. Tor made us a fish and tomato concoction (he kept asking if it was considered a stew) to go over potatoes. It was the first time I’d eaten fish, or any animal, for about two and a half years. I trusted Tor and felt comfortable eating this Norwegian fish that had been caught practically right out his front door.

Saturday:

Ben and I took the early bus back into Tromsø, knowing that we needed to be in the city to catch our Sunday flight. Crossing the fjord in a ferry was so cool—the mountains are stunning, and in my opinion, nothing is better than mountains right up against a sea. Once in Tromsø, we took a cable car up a mountain that overlooked the city. The two of us attempted to hike farther up the mountain, but it proved difficult to move in knee-high snow. (The view made it all worth it.)

Most of our Saturday was focused on the Northern Lights. We had yet to see them, and were determined to before leaving. We took a long walk around the city with no luck. Around 10 pm we set out again, knowing that we had just entered the peak time for Nordly action in Tromsø.

Armed with my white t-shirt (Tor told us that the best way to see the lights is to dance and wave with a white sheet), we took off for a frozen lake we’d seen on a city map. We got a little lost, but finally made it to what appeared to be the lake. Fellow foreigners told us we were indeed right on the lake, and then mentioned, “you need a camera to see the green.”

Standing on the frozen lake, cold and tired, I saw the Northern Lights. What the man had meant was that the activity was so dim that night, you needed a long exposure on a camera to capture most of the green glow. What I saw with my naked eye was something faintly green but more cloud-like dance and curve across the sky. Brilliant or not, I was impressed.

Sunday:

Wake up. Drink so much free coffee at our hotel. Check out the public library and read pre-school level Norwegian books with mediocre success.  Come back to Oslo.

Click to view slideshow.

In short, this trip was exactly what I needed this weekend.

Things I have learned:

HOME IS WHERE I MAKE IT. Oslo is home right now. When I got back to my flat, I was relieved to drop my bags off in my room at my house. One of my flatmates said “It’s good to have you back home.” It is. It’s good to be back home. It’s part of why I needed to leave for a weekend.

I CAN DO ANYTHING. Okay, maybe this is entirely true, but it might be. I survived Thursday night. I stayed with a stranger. I ate fish and the vegetarian in me stayed calm. Ben and I talked about Grad School, and I feel a new energy to collect experiences and go everywhere. I am so invincible.

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Miles: Holmenkollen

February 9, 2011

Hei hei!

Updates:

I performed at an open mic in my student village. It went well, and it felt nice to be behind a microphone again. I miss slam poetry more than I thought I would, but I am glad that I’m taking a break.

Went to an “Oldies” party and danced my butt off. God I love 50s rock music. So much sock-hop. So good. Also, maybe it’s just my love for Ferris Bueller, but “Twist and Shout” may be one of my favorite Beatles songs.

Scandinavians love ABBA. Big time. I can’t complain.

I started my Gender Studies class. It seems promising. The reading list looks great and I think I’ll learn a lot of interesting things about the way different countries approach ideas of equality.

My academic competitive naturing is showing a little- I have made it my (unimportant) mission to be better at speaking Norwegian than the Germans in my class. (It is common knowledge that Germans have the easiest time of the internationals at learning Norwegian.)

Tromsø tomorrow! So excited. A trip is exactly what I need right now.

Today a few friends and I took an adventure to Holmenkollen—the giant ski jump in Oslo. Starting two weeks from tomorrow, it will be the homebase of the Nordic Skiing World Cup: the olympics of cross-country skiing. I’m hoping, if I’m not traveling, to sneak into an event (or just go on the free day…)

I’ve never been particularly interested in ski jumping, but being that close to people willing to shoot themselves off a slope and use every muscle they have to ensure that they don’t land in a way that could kill them was pretty damn cool. They look so weightless when they’re falling, and it’s really sort of beautiful. It happens so silently—you hear the skis against the track, and then you hear nothing. There’s just floating and falling. Not so bad to watch.

After watching for a while, we walked up to a kafé and had kaffe og muffins. We talked about all the museums we still want to see, and tried to explain the difference between a Beagle and a German Shepard. (My definition of Beagle: “A four-legged glorious bird of prey. Duh.”)

Now I have to do homework. I probably won’t update again until I’m back from Tromsø. Please please cross your fingers and send all Northern Lights vibes toward Norway.

Things I have learned:

MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY’RE AT. A few times now I’ve heard someone say something that, in my opinion, sounds uninformed or just plain rude. I’ve been working on resisting frustration and seeking explanation. I remember that not everyone comes from the same background as I do, and that there is a lot I have left to learn. I don’t know much about Europe at all, and rather than judge people’s tolerance levels or education on a US-scale, I try to remember where they come from and learn from them. I’m not here to lecture anyone.

KNOW YOURSELF. I know what I want, or I know that I don’t know what I want and am hopeful that I’ll figure it out at some point. A lot of people I meet are here to do a grand Euro tour and see different countries all over every weekend. I’m not here to do that. I want to go home knowing as much as I can about Norway and what it’s like to live in Oslo. (Who knows, in a year and a half I may very well be back here doing my Masters…) I do want to take trips and intend on it, but I want to see fewer places and see them more thoroughly. I want to see Norway. I want to see Scandinavia. I’m not interested in marathon sprinting my way through Europe. Occasionally I feel a little weird for not wanting what other people are doing. I’m trying that whole “be true to yourself” thing. Why is it that the cheesiest advice is always the most applicable?

(My goal for a far(ish)-away trip is to go to Holland and see the tulips. Really, I want to go for the tulips. I’m that nerdy.)

 

Playing at Holmenkollen

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Miles: Thursday nights=random feelings?

February 6, 2011

This is less of a “Miles has something full of insight to say” sort of post and more of a “hey look, I’m still alive!” sort of post.

My cold is gone! I spent all of last weekend in my flat, watching TV on my computer and pretending that my throbbing headache could be wished away. I bought a Norwegian Neti-Pot (you proud, mom?) and it looks like a green sea-dwelling dinosaur. RAWR. It’s helping. I’m excited to ski again.

Classes are going well. I absolutely adore my Norwegian professor, Astrid. I would go as far as to say Jeg elsker Astrid. (look it up, fools. I’m practicing.) My gender studies course begins on Monday, and I’m looking forward to meeting the sort of Norwegians who sign up for a gender studies course. I am not looking forward to the 9:15 am class — thus far, I have been spoiled with all late-afternoon courses. The United-Statesian who teaches my North American studies course is starting to bug me—he mumbles, he may have (definitely) used a word for African-Americans that makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

I went to a fantastic open mic at the Nordic Black Theater last night. It’s called Open Xpressions and runs every 3 Wednesday nights. The house band plays reggae music, the acts ranged from hip-hop to acoustic. Apparently other nights it spans across more than music — poetry, monologues, etc. Next time I think I’ll perform a poem.

I am going to the Arctic Circle! Another United-Statesian and I are going to Tromsø, which is probably the farthest north I will ever go in my life. We hope to see the Northern Lights. Please send all Aurora Borealis vibes toward Norway next weekend. In return, I will post pictures when I get back to Oslo.

Last weekend seemed off for a lot of people, myself included. All of the new internationals have been in Oslo for about a month, and a sort of comfort is settling in. My flatmate and I talked (in-between coughs) about how the comfort almost makes one more homesick. I agreed. It isn’t that I feel homesick, it is that I feel strange feeling at home in Oslo. It makes me wonder where my “home” is—or if it is or will ever be contained to one place. It makes me wonder how to shape the rest of my life. I’ve started thinking about graduate programs, and what sort of careers I want to pursue. But I also think about travel. Being here makes me want to be everywhere. I think I needed that first push out of the US to realize that the whole word exists. I want to see it all.

I’ve also noticed a discomfort, but a beautiful discomfort, in how much time I’ve been spending with myself. This is not to say that I’ve been spending time alone. I mean that I’ve been learning about myself. I am the person who knows myself the best, definitely, but in Minneapolis, or in Madison, there are enough people who know me almost as well as I know myself that sometimes I can let them take care of me. Here, nobody knows me well enough for that, so I am forced to pick up just about all of the weight with regards to myself as a person: how I function, how I react to things, my daily feelings, what triggers me to act/feel certain ways, how I push myself socially/physically/mentally. I am learning a lot about who I am. I am learning to truly take care of myself. A lot of times there is an element of difficulty, of discomfort, but I try to welcome it. I am learning.

(Also added to all of that was certainly the fact that I was sick all weekend and just wanted someone to take care of me but had to be a grown-up and take care of myself.)

Things I have learned:

I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO WILL EVER SEE NORWAY (AND THE WORLD) THROUGH MY EYES. Even if I am surrounded by international students right now and even if I know a bunch of people from Minneapolis who are abroad right now, I am the only person in the world who will have the Miles Walser Norway Experience and that means I will have a story to tell. I have a worthwhile voice. Sometimes I need to remind myself of this.

I AM GOING TO BE OKAY. No matter what. I will. (Again, I sometimes need to remind myself. I am starting to really believe it. It’s a good feeling.)

That was sort of a lot of feelings. In my defense, when you don’t go out all weekend, you spend a lot more time thinking about yourself and your life and the world. (If you’re me, at least.) I’ll try to jam-pack my next post with action and adventure. KA-POW!

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