Finally I have arrived in Oslo, Norway! After a grueling, sleepless flight from Denver to Reykjavik to Oslo it felt wonderful to step outside in the brisk winter air. I arrived on Monday the 7th of January at 11:00 A.M. Central European Time. I was extremely tired when my cousins picked me up from the airport but kept having the realization that my journey was just beginning.
The first day was a difficult one to get through as the time difference (jet lag) took a massive toll on my sleep schedule. The excitement was enough to keep me awake as my relatives drove me to the dorms I would be staying at. The first day was foggy but even so I could notice the striking similarities of the landscape to my home state of Minnesota. But when we arrived to the city the architecture was immensely different from what I am used to in the states. The smaller, twisting roads and the design of the buildings were enough to throw me off. However, after a short trip to Ikea and picking up my keys at the University it was a welcome relief to finally sleep!
The first week was filled with a lot of fun and very little sleep. Right away there was an orientation week in which all the international students met up and learned the basics of living in Oslo. We were put into “Buddy Groups” based on our field of study and would hang out with them for the coming weeks. Right away our buddy group hit it off and I met a lot of cool people from all around the world including Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea, Japan, and of course the United States. Our leaders were students from the university who wanted to volunteer to help us through our first weeks. These people were very cool and really easy to get to know. I knew right away I was going to have a great time in Oslo.
There were many welcome parties the first couple weeks where I met a lot more people from around the world. I went on a bus tour (I know, pretty cheesy) around Oslo which took us to see the City Hall, the fjord, and the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump. The city is absolutely beautiful and the view from the ski jump was incredible. I visited the Nationalmuseet with my buddy group and we were able to see famous works from Pablo Picasso to Norwegian native Edvard Munch. It was a great experience to see the works of Norway’s best artists. I also went ice-skating one day and having told everyone that I came from Minnesota they assumed I was very good at skating. I proved a lot of people wrong that night.
Getting around in Oslo has been such a great surprise. The amount of public transportation is staggering as I can get literally everywhere in the city by taking a metro, bus, or tram. This has made it less frightening when I choose to get lost in the city as whenever I see a bus I know I can get back to the student village.
The weather has been very cold lately with some snow. At first I bragged to people about my love for the cold but soon I realized I was not as prepared. Wearing gloves and a hat is necessary when walking around town. The days are very short to the point that sometimes I think I woke up too early but really it is almost noon! The sun sets around 4 p.m. every night and because of that I end up feeling ready for bed around six or seven. But I will keep saying that is jet lag.
The language barrier was very intimidating at first but soon I learned it is very manageable. Everyone is able to speak English but Norwegian is preferred. The first time I went to the grocery store I panicked and only bought bananas and grapes as everything else was in Norwegian. And when I am checking out the cashier initially speaks Norwegian to me. I had to be that “American” and say, “English please” but soon I was able to pick up what they were saying. So far the automated voice on the metro has taught me my first Norwegian phrases which are “Dorone Lukkes” (door closing) and “Neste Stasjon” (next station). I hope to learn a lot more while I am here.
I started classes on my second Monday in Oslo. The first was an hour and a half lecture on the history of Norway for my class “Norwegian Life and Society”. The class was filled with international students and I learned a lot about what sort of impact Norway has had in the development of the old world. However, the class system is very different here in Norway. I have one class on Monday and two classes on Tuesday and that is it. I have no classes for the rest of the week. My dream of a super-weekend of no school is finally true but I am worried what I am going to do with all my free time in Europe!
I hope to travel a lot but while I am here in Oslo it seems that the most popular thing to do is cross-country ski. When I ride the metro I always see so many people with cross-country skis. I had no idea it was so popular as cross-country skiing in the States only practiced by a few. My relatives have promised to take me cross-country skiing a lot while I am here in Oslo.
Which brings me back to my wonderful family in Oslo. They have been so hospitable during my two weeks so far in Oslo. They have had me for dinner and showed me around town all while making sure I have all the necessities for living in Oslo. I am so lucky to have this connection in Oslo and it definitely makes me want to live here in my future.
I apologize for not posting this earlier but I had a hard time condensing the experiences I have been having into one single blog post. I am going to be posting at least once a week from now on to make sure that my experiences are not so abridged. Skol to a great semester in Oslo!
Too Long, Did not read: I love this country and I love the people I have met. My family here is wonderful and I am looking forward to six months in Oslo! Skol!