Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last day of September

Well, it looks like I have pretty much made it through this past week. I have no idea how I did on my Norwegian exam, but I am hoping for the best. My class is trying to pull something together this weekend so we can practice some more speaking. I think it will be a lot of fun. :D This next week will be tough too. I have an exam in my Film and Fiction class on Thursday. I am not too nervous for it because I have been to ever class and have done all the readings. The only difficult part left is writing an exam for three hours. Ugh. I am ready for my hand to fall off already just thinking about it. It takes me back to my freshman year at Luther when I had to write my two exams for Paideia. Ugh Paideia!

Other than Film and Fiction, which is in English by the way, I have to write two pages for Norwegian by Tuesday on a topic of my choice. I think I will write about the family live in Norway because I have an okay start on it so far and I am betting that Kine, Fay, and Nana will be willing to help me out and have a lot to add. Especially since it has to be 6 - 8 pages! Oy! Did you know that the paper in Norway is a different size than in the US? Who would have guessed. I guess it makes sense that they don't use 8.5 X 11 inch paper, but it never dawned on me. Instead, they use the A4 standard which means more for me to write to fill up a page. In addition to the paper, I have to give a presentation about the author Knut Hamsun. We just finished reading one of his books in Film and Fiction, so I hope I can find some interesting things about him. And did I mention that I am not allowed to use any notes and that this must be 100% in Norwegian. Double trouble there. But the problem with this is that the class in which we are giving the presentations is over lapping with our exam period for Film and Fiction. I'm not sure what will happen with this then. Scheduling here is rather crazy!

Let's see here, what else is happening in Bø? Umm, I guess the weather is getting colder. We have had a good frost the last two mornings and it hasn't been getting much above the mid 50's during the days. It is now officially sweatshirt weather and wearing my lighter jacket when I have classes in the morning. Brr! But I do like the cooler weather and I am looking forward to seeing how much snow we will get here. I am just not looking forward to trekking up the hill with a back pack full of eggs and other groceries.

Speaking of groceries, I just bought a little over 12 pounds of potatoes. There are a lot in that bag! So if you have any good recipes that use potatoes and not many other ingredients, let me know. Currently my spice cabinet contains salt, pepper, and sugar. :D Not much variety, I know. But on a lighter side, I will only be here for 80 more days and then I can raid mom's spices. Wow, only 80 more days, that's crazy! Time seems to fly sometimes and I hope that my Norwegian learning will start to get kicked into high gear soon. It is rather frustrating, but I am glad that we have started to meet as a group outside of class. That should help a lot!
Well, this is good for now. And Sharron, when I was in Bergen, I didn't go to any of the art museums there, but they did have a couple and even one that went on for more than a city block and wrapped around the park with the fountain which you can see in one of the pictures I posted. The museum included all those buildings on the top side of the water. Also, thanks for reading and commenting too! :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tough week coming up

Well, this next week will probable be the toughest one that I have had so far. I have classes every day and a Norwegian exam on Tuesday. I am pretty nervous for the exam since it counts as 20% of my final grade. I just hope that it goes well. Not too much has been going on here. The weather is starting to really cool off and I can see snow up in the mountains in the mornings, but it melts of by midday. The rain has not been as frequent and I hope that it stays that way. It is hard to believe that September is almost over already. Time is sure flying, but I still can't wait to get back to Luther. I really miss the people there and it has been hard to make new friends here, but I think it is getting better. It is still really hard to get to know Norwegians, but everyone just says that it is their culture.
There are a couple things that I remembered to blog about this past week that I had to write down so I would remember them. The first would have to be that canned liver that I talked about before. I found out the brand and googled a picture so you all can see what the packaging looks like. Doesn't it make you just want to eat it all day, every day?

The next thing that I found strange here was the advertisements on the internet that come up. Since they know that I am accessing the page from Norway, they have adapted the ads to be more appealing to foreigners. I like seeing all the ads in Norwegian, but I found it surprising how many ads were telling me about how I could get an American Green Card. I understand that they must be a valuable commodity, but I never would have expected ads to try to give them away.

The next one would have to be the cats in this country! They are all so fuzzy. I guess it makes sense since it gets so cold here during the winters, but still. I haven't seen any cats with the shorter hair like the ones at home. All of them have fur that is at least as long as Chester's is. It's just another thing that I never would have though to be so different. :)

O yea, I guess this past weekend we went on a tour of the two churches in Bø. The "Old Church" was built around 1180 and is still standing. This is because it was built of stone and has walls that are a few feet thick. The "New Church" was built in 1875 and lies just a few yards from the old one. This still feels old to me, but apparently not in this area. :)

The "New" Church
The "Old" Church

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bergen was wonderful!

Sorry that it has been a week since I have posted, but I was waiting to have something more exciting to talk about after my trip to Bergen. So to fill you all in completely, I left for Bergen around 9am from Bø and had my first train layover about an hour later in Hokksund. It was okay because I only had about an hour to kill at the train station and the weather was nice. Then I boarded my train for Bergen around 11:30. I took a ton of pictures on the way. The train ride through the mountains was wonderful! All of my pictures are on facebook, but I will put some on here too. The train ride to Bergen lasted a little over six hours from Hokksund so overall, it took me just over 8 hours to get to Bergen.

Once I got there, I met Nana in the train station. We didn't do too much more that night, but she cooked up a great supper. Yummy! The next morning, we went to the fish market, took the Fløibanen to the top of one of the mountains to get a good view over Bergen. One of those pictures is below. After I had some camera issues, I raided the souvenir shop that they had up there. I was really glad to have gotten some things there. After we rode the Fløibanen back down, we went to McDonald's. It was by far my most expensive trip there in my life! You would think that it would be cheap everywhere you go, but that is not the case in Norway. I got a chicken nugget meal and it ended up costing me more than $13! I am glad that I don't have one close to me, otherwise it would be tempting to go there more often. Then I went and got some new batteries for my camera and didn't really have any more issues. :) After this, we went to Akvariet i Bergen (the aquarium). It was pretty neat and it wasn't too busy so we could get some good pictures. Unfortunately, the souvenir shop there was not very good so I didn't get anything.

On Monday, Nana had to go to work, so I had some time to kill around Bergen. So I went to the tourist center there and didn't really find out much. So then I went down and shopped around the fish market and when to most of the shops down by the dock. It was a lot of fun looking around in them all, but I didn't buy anything this day. For lunch, I went to Burger King and got a "cheap" cheeseburger. Then I came back to meet Nana, and we went out looking into more shops. I still didn't find anything that I wanted to buy, but I was glad to be able to see more of the town. After we came back, Nana cooked up another wonderful supper. :D

On my last day there, Nana had to work again so I went down to the center of town again. This time I had figured out what I wanted to buy from the shops and where to go. I was a real tourist on this day by raiding all the shops and finding stuff for myself as well as gift for others. I still have yet to get anything for mom. She is really hard to shop for! After this, I went back to meet Nana and say good bye. There were not very many people on the train ride back. I think it was because it was so late. I didn't leave Bergen until 4:10pm and then got to Drammen,where I had to change trains, until 11:00pm. My train there was running late and had another 40 minutes or so to kill there. Once my train came, I hopped on and felt relieved because I knew that I only had another hour and a half until I was back in Bø. It was not fun having to walk up the hill so late at night, but I feel it went by pretty fast. I got back to my room and just crashed. What a great weekend! Glad that I was able to make it over there and only miss one class. I think that is about it. If I remember anything else, I can add it later.
Train ride to Bergen.
The view of Bergen after taking the Fløibanen.

Bryggen in Bergen. (This is what I think of when someone says Bergen.)
My friend Nana and me right before I leave.

Coming back from Bergen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Five without classes

As you can guess by the title, it has been another week where I don't have any classes for five days. Luckily, today is my last day with having nothing to do besides homework because I have two classes tomorrow. Also, between my two classes, the school sponsors a waffle coffee hour where they have free waffles. :) Free food is always good with me. It is a major hot spot for the international students too. I took used up a little time today to go get groceries. I go across town just to buy some eggs because you can buy 18 eggs there for less than you can buy 12 at the store that is closer. It felt kinda strange going in there and just buying eggs, but since everything else there is a little more than the closer store I don't bother buying my other stuff there. It was not fun walking back up the hill to my apartment after I got all my groceries. I was trying to plan ahead so I bout a lot of the heavy stuff today. Including, milk, juice, sugar, corn syrup, canned corn, and pineapple. I know that I will use it all and since it doesn't go bad, might as well buy a bunch at a time.

This Saturday is when I will be hopping on a train to Bergen. I am really excited to be heading to a bigger city! The train ride is 9+ hours one way so I decided to go this weekend so I could stay more than just the weekend. I will be staying there until Tuesday with my friend who just graduated from Luther, Nana. I am really excited to see her and she is being so nice and letting me stay with her while I am there.

I finally finished the chocolate cake that I bought at the fair this past weekend. Chocolate is so yummy! I also discovered all the ingredients that I need to make those peanut butter corn flake bars. (Did I already talk about this? If so, you can tell that I am really excited about them!) Corn syrup rather cheap here and I think I might be the only one who buys it because when I went back to the store to get some more today, the only open spot was from where I took mine from before. I also was happy that I could read and understand the back of my Corn Flakes box too.

Hmm, what else is going on here? Since I have been in my room so much, I know that my Norwegian is not getting any better. UGH! Hopefully I can practice a bit with Nana this weekend. It is just really hard to try since everyone here speaks such great English and it is easier for them to just say it in English instead of me trying to understand. This is why I wish that we would have Norwegian class more than just once a week too. I might go talk to someone about this, otherwise, Dr. Stokker will be upset that ,my Norwegian still sucks when I get back to Luther.

I guess that's all I know for now. Hopefully after Bergen, I will be able to have something more exciting to talk about.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Rain has Returned

As you can tell by my status, the rainy days have arrived again here in Telemark. Fortunately, it didn't rain on us yesterday for our hike up Lifjell. It was a nice hike in the mountains, but I failed to prepare properly for the cold weather. Luckily, my professor lent me a hat which helped a lot. I got a few pictures, but I haven't downloaded them from my camera yet. When we were up on the mountain, my professor (Tone is her name) asked me where I learned such great English. So naturally I said the United States, not really thinking about it. So she asked if I studied there. I said yep and told her that that is where I actually was from. She was rather surprised because she though I was from the Czech Republic or something. I though that was kind funny. I must not act like the average American because I have had a lot of people ask me where I was from. Even at Luther! I have had a few people think I am Russian. :)

Today we went to a fair in Seljord called Dyrsku'n. It was pretty fun, but we did get rained on the whole time. I bought some orange-flavored chocolate that was pretty orange in color. I took a picture of it but it is still on my camera. I also bought some chocolate cake to help sooth my sweet tooth since I can't bake here like I can at home. It was a little expensive, but I though that I saved time by just buying it there and then I didn't have to get all the ingredients either.

On my way to the fair, I sat by the bus driver's wife. She was nice enough to tell me about the fair and thought that it was neat that I was from Wisconsin. She said that she had been there before to visit family. (There are a lot of Norwegians that have family in Wisconsin because most that I talk to have been there.) She also told me a little about the sea monster that apparently lives in the lake near Seljord. It is similar to the Lochness Monster right here in Norway!

I am really excited for this next weekend to come too because I am finally getting to go to Bergen! The train tickets were not too expensive which was nice. I am looking so forward to being a tourist there. And I hope that I can pick up some souvenirs too. Well, that's all I can think of at the moment now. I think I might download those pictures quick so you can see a little more of what I see. :)

Hiking Lifjell
A mountain farm

My chocolate cake and orange-flavored chocolate

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 27

Wow, it is hard to believe that it has been almost a month since my arrival in Norway. Things have still been going pretty well for me, I guess. Since thing are in full swing again at Luther, I have been getting a lot of e-mails of events that are going on. If I only was there, I would be going to pretty much all of them. I forgot how many things I actually was involved in. Since I have only had one class since my last post, I can't think of anything to say along those lines. I have a lot of free time currently so I have been listening to the radio and playing cards. Not too thrilling, but it passes the time. I am really excited for this weekend because we are going to a county fair type event  for one of my classes. I hope it is a lot of fun and maybe I can pick up some souvenir. Also, a week from Saturday, I will be heading over to Bergen to see Nana. I can't wait to go to a bigger city and just be a tourist in all aspects. I will be spending about three days there so I am hoping that I will be able to take in most all of the attractions. I guess another thing that is happening this weekend is that we are hiking Lifjell. Lifjell is the highest mountain in Telemark, the county that I am in. So that should be exciting and I will be able to get some more pictures. :)
I am still not having very good luck with the variety of foods that I have been able to make. I did see some canned liver in the store the other day. Not quite my style, but the kid on the packaging sure looked happy to be eating it. My newest mission is to find some corn syrup so I can make those peanut butter corn flake bars. The desert selection here is almost nonexistent. There are like two different kinds of brownies and waffles and I think a chocolate cake that didn't look good on the package. I think I might try to go food shopping while in Bergen since they might have a little more of a selection.
Another thing that I found kinda interesting today was that I received a coupon for Burger King. It was for a Jr. Wopper with fries and a pop. Only 49.- kroner! That is still about $10 USD so I am not seeing the real deals yet. Fast food here is probably the most expensive thing. Subs at Subway also started around $10, too. Ugh. I think I will be sticking to my pasta for now. And I just finished using up my 2.2 lbs of cheese that I bought three weeks ago for $13. I have eaten a lot of cheese! I guess that has to do with my roots as the son of a dairy farmer. :) But I am missing the beef that was alway in our freezer. I was told today that the hamburger here is nothing like the states so I am a little hesitant to spend a lot of money on it. I think I might break down and buy some chicken soon. At least then I could make chicken salad. :) But I have yet to try the hot dogs here. People have said they are better than the states. Okay, enough about food.
Yep, only 103 more days until I am back in the states. Seems like a long time now, but I think it will go fast and I am still enjoying my time here. So don't think that just because I am counting down, it is a bad sign. Have a great week!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Living more like a Norwegian

Wow, I can't believe that it has almost been a whole week since I have posted to this. I hope that I haven't freaked anyone out too much since I have been out of contact for a little while. I have just been busy with other things here, which is good. This past Friday, my class ended up going on a day hike to Gygrestolen. It was pretty fun and I am glad that I went and it didn't rain. The class is called 'Friluftsliv' and has to do with the strong connection between Norwegians and nature. I like it so far, mostly because we have very little homework and we go on field trips every week!
Another Norwegian experience for me this weekend was going out on a fjord with Kine and Fay's family. It was a lot of fun. Being out on the ocean is a lot like going out in a lake on a boat, but the water is a lot choppier in the ocean even when there is no wind. When I go home with Kine or Fay, they usually feed me common Norwegian dishes. :) So far, I am four for four with liking them. On Friday night, we had potatoes with cheese, corn, and meat. Yummy! Then for lunch on Saturday, we had crabs that were just caught. This was my first crab-eating experience. I think it went rather well and I like the meat in the claws the most. Then we went out on the boat and then also in a row boat. Glad they convinced me to do this. When we got back, we ate potatoes and fårikål which is lamb in cabbage. It was actually pretty good. They thought it was kinda odd that I didn't peel the skins off my potatoes. I just ate them like usual.
I am also planning a trip to Bergen soon to see Nana. Nana just graduated from Luther this past year and was actually my Norwegian tutor my freshman year. It is strange to think how far I have come. I am really looking forward to getting to a bigger city and taking the train through the mountains. It is a nine hour ride, but it will be well worth it.
Also, I set it up now so that my blog allows anonymous comments so anyone can write. Please remember your name though!

The lake that we at lunch at for our hike.
Out on the boat in the fjord.