Pulpit Rock!

What an amazing place.  Norway is spectacular.  I wish I didn’t have to take the night train to and from, so I could see the incredible countryside, but the weekend was still incredible.  We arrived in Stavanger around 8 am, right in time to see the morning sun shining through the clouds.  The ferry ride from Stavanger to Tau was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.  The way the sun rays were shining down over the green mountains with the fog illuminated- it was like a dream.  The short bus ride from Tau to the Priekstolenhytta (our hostel) was beautiful as well; a great taste of what our weekend was to be about.  We arrived to our little abode for the weekend and it was astonishing- it sat right in the middle of this beautiful valley, right on the lake.  The view was stunning; it was easy to sit there for an hour just looking.

We decided to the actual hike to Pulpit Rock the day after we arrived, to give our bodies a good rest.  So, we decided to walk around the lake, which we were told was about a 3 hour endeavor.  The walk turned out to be more of a mission- the “trail” was not always a nice gravel path.  Most of the journey was a flooded swampy marsh area that you had to weave your way through from rock to rock.  I had my Chaco’s, so I led the way most of the time, trying to find the driest points for the other girls to hop to.  It didn’t really matter though, because about a quarter of the way through, both of their shoes were completely soaked.  We stopped about halfway to start and finish a sleeve of tea cookies, admiring the beautiful view.

The second half of our journey was a bit more challenging- we had to cross at least two waterfalls and the trail was completely submerged at one point.  After the worst of it, we came upon a nice little meadow complete with a small cottage and a cherry tree with three swings- you couldn’t ask for a more perfect scene.  So we sat on the swings for a bit, admiring the glorious moment we were partaking in.  The incredible view of the lake and the surrounding mountings, the swaying grass all around us, and the wonderful company made the scene ideal.  If there is a heaven, this is the place you want to go after it.

Our hike took us about 5 hours, and afterwards we were all starving. As the girls showered up, I started the pasta.  And we devoured our meal.  After dinner I introduced Aisha to toasted bread with Nugatti on it (Norwegian brand of Nutella)- she loved it, of course.

We had free breakfast during our stay, and it was incredible. All the three days we stuffed ourselves full of bread, marmalade, tomatoes and cucumbers, brown cheese, boiled eggs, meat and cheese, muesli with this yogurt that was much thinner than normal yogurt, and of course lots of coffee and tea.  The breakfast before our hike to Pulpit Rock was our biggest.  We just kept going back to the line to get more and more bread and all the fixings.  Marie had a food baby that lasted throughout the hike.  Actually, after we ate, we went back to the room and it took considerable motivation on Marie’s part to get Aisha and I out of our food comas.  But, alas, we trekked.

The hike proved to be challenging, but very doable.  The views along the way were incredible, as you could imagine.  As we got to the top, all of our breaths were taken away by the sheer beauty of it all. We sat at the top for a while, taking pictures, inching our bodies to the edge, and eating our packed lunch.  It was quite an incredible experience-  the view of the fjord was so so beautiful.  (Forgive my lack of word choice- there are too few words in the English language that mean ‘beautiful.’)

The girls had to head back earlier than I did on Sunday because there wasn’t anymore tickets left for the night train I had booked before them.  I spent the day reading, napping, drinking tea, and doing a bit of homework, all while taking in the beauty that was that place.  I don’t think you could ever get used to a view like that.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the incredible landscape, even though I knew a picture could never capture how awesome the sight was.  I headed back to Stavanger in the evening, and the ferry ride back proved to be just as beautiful as the first one, just with the sun setting on the other side of the fjord.  I spent some time in Stavanger walking around and sight seeing a bit before I caught my train home.

After a long train ride back (although it didn’t seem that long, I slept the whole time), I arrived back in Oslo.  What a spectacular weekend!  I’m so happy I got to have that experience- now for more planning to explore this beautiful country even more!

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First Week (Arriving, exploring, orientation….etc)

So crazy start to the first week, spent the entire day of August 29th in airports I was lucky enough to have just missed hurricane Irene that paid the east coast a visit, so all of my flights where on time. I think I hit every Starbucks in the airport.

I landed in Shannon, Ireland on the 30th I was extremely tired since I didn’t really sleep on the plane due to the fact that the movie ‘Water for Elephants’ was playing and I really wanted to watch it…….so I guess in the end that was kind of my fault.

The drive from Shannon airport to Galway was about 1 hour long. My taxi driver was extremely nice and told me stories about ‘fairies’, ‘fairy trees’, and also some history behind the city. He also told me where I could buy food, bedding & electronics along with showing me the general direction of where the school was.

After getting settled into my apartment…..okay more like throw my bags in my room. I decided to start walking around town to get to know where everything was at……it was either that or go to bed and it was only 12pm, but due to experience going to sleep that early makes it take forever to get over jet lag.

I went all over town getting adaptors, a phone, bedding, and food. Oh and something that I learned the hard way, because I don’t have a vehicle while over here you have to carry all the food items you buy back to your apartment. Where I buy my food is only about a five minute walk away from where I live…..but when you’re carrying a heavy load of food the walk seems to take forever. And another thing that’s extremely different from America is that you have to buy grocery bags & bag your own food……that was quite different. I now have a stash of plastic bags under my sink that I stuff into my back pack so if I need to go to the store after class I don’t have to buy more bags.

The food place that I buy my food at is actually kind of neat…..it’s like a mini mall. There’s a bakery, clothing store, bank, hair salon, and fabric store all in one place.

It took me a while to learn to look “left then right” instead of “right then left” because the cars drive on the other side of the road. And with roundabouts it’s like playing leap frog because I don’t know when cars that are on the roundabout are going to get off. I’ve gotten used to it though being here for a couple days.

Homesickness kind of kicked in for me a lot this week……missing my family, missing my horses extremely badly. I’m able to IM my sister all the time so that helped a lot being able to always have someone to talk to and she herself participated in a study abroad program so she kind of knows how I’m feeling.

It was kind of hard being in the apartment by myself a day or so without roommates…….although one of my roommates arrived at the apartment at 12:30am. And she hardly spoke English she was from Spain and spoke mostly Spanish. The other two roommates arrive the next day.

Orientation was kind of a blur. I was still trying to get over jet lag…..I think next time I would arrive a week earlier. It was helpful but a lot of information to take in.

One of my roommates and I discovered a back road to the college that cuts the walking time in half AND I get to walk by horses……it’s hard not to be able to play with them but it’s nice to be able to see them. Although when it rains I would advise not walking that way as every vehicle that passes by splashes you with water…..the umbrella doesn’t even help lol.

This week I was having a tough time with the timetable concept and picking classes and also discovering that I will not be able to take any accounting classes over here, but I managed to figure out a schedule (having both MSU-Northern course book & NUI Galway Visiting Student modules open). I got so frustrated trying to figure it out that I decided to take a tour to the Cliffs of Moher instead (lucky it was a weekend). That helped a lot to just get away and take pictures with my camera……oh and the best part was not only did the tour bus pick me up and drop me back off at my apartments, I got a card so that I can take their tours for free the entire rest of the time I’m here. The tour guide was awesome to!

When I got back I still struggled with the timetables but managed to get a schedule put together. And I listened to the Celtic Woman song Níl Sé’n Lá which means “Seize the Day” ……club & society day is on the 14th & 15th and I’m extremely excited to join some clubs!

Today classes started…..my Mondays are pretty easy so far with only one class in the afternoon until the Irish language course starts at the end of the month. I actually really enjoyed the lecture. It was neat to get a different perspective on Human Resource Management.

I have a feeling that I should be blogging about every couple of days because by the looks of it I have written a small novel. I might have forgotten a couple of things but for now that’s all I can think of. It is now almost a quarter to 11pm and I should probably be thinking of getting to bed.

I’ll be posting pictures a lot. I already have over 700 and have just started editing them so I’ll try and post a couple a day because after all a picture is worth a thousand words right?

Until next time,
Karlie Kafka

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle

One of the horses I walk by on my way to class everyday.

I walk by this on the way to class.

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First week of school…

Well, it’s been a busy week!  Classes finally started full throttle- it looks like I’m going to have a lot of reading ahead of me…But it will be a different kind of reading than I’m used to.  Not so much fact based, scientific material, but more open to interpretation reading.  My Norwegian Art History class seemed a little dry at first- the teacher went through a huge list of paintings, describing what each one showed.  But, I think once I get a better handle on what to look for in paintings, it will be much more interesting.  My psychology class I think will be my favorite- the teacher is a funny French-Italian (At least that’s what my classmate and I have decided) that really wants you to engage with the whole class and contribute your opinion.  Considering I’ve never taken any kind of art history class or psychology class, this semester will be full of new things!  My Norwegian language course is proving to be a bit tricky…but with some more practice, it will be easier.

Last Sunday was the Red Bull Flugtag event- the thing where they build these crazy “flying” machines and launch them off a ramp into the water.  It was a blast! So cool to actually see the event live!

Yesterday, it was the University of Oslo’s 200 year anniversary celebration-  complete with food, drinks, and a band!  After the band, they set up some of the buildings to have a club atmosphere, a lounge for watching football, and various other set-ups.

I’m planning to take at a trip to see Pulpit Rock next weekend with a few girls from my class- an 8 hour train ride to Stavanger, then a ferry with a bus connection to the hostel, which is where the hike actually begins.  If you haven’t seen pictures of Pulpit Rock- google it, because it’s spectacular looking.  I’m very excited to see it in person!

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Spaniards vs. Americans

Yes, I know the title sounds like your average nationalistic American, but just give me a second to explain my thoughts.  This is my first time traveling out of the country so its a completely new experience for me, living in Spain.  I found my mind instinctively processing all the new data that was entered from the moment I stepped off the plane in a comparative manner.  Everything I saw, smelled, tasted and heard went under one of two categories:  “Similar” or “Dissimilar”.  The hardest part about this organization of data is the constant desire to switch the titles to either “Best” and “Worse” or “My Way” and “the Highway”.  I’ve found it to be so easy to simply use these easy labels for all of my new experiences, thus eliminating all the hassle of having to analyze my own traditions and cultures.  The boxes are nice, clean and consist of merely black and white.  But I don’t think that’s the point of studying abroad, or world travel in general.  Yes, I’m used to doing things a certain way.  Yes it is a bit jarring to see large, Spanish women sun-bathing topless on the beach, and yes it is a little confusing when only certain streets have street signs posted on them (and in the most obscure places).  But I have to think to myself, “If this has worked for them for so many years, there might be some merit to it”.

Perspective.  In this game its all about keeping perspective, striving to look beyond the initial differences and into new and exciting avenues of thoughts and ideas.  For example, I can choose to focus on the high level of humidity of coastal Spain and all the long nights spent lying on soaking wet sheets trying to sleep through the heat, dreaming about Bozeman’s beautiful white wintery days, or I can look at the Spanish palm trees and the sun and remember that while all my homeys in Montana are piling on 10 layers of clothes trying to keep their noses from freezing off, I’ll be cheerfully skipping (or riding my bike) to school wearing my chacos, shorts and sunglasses.  Ahhh, perspective!  So the next time you are granted the opportunity to travel abroad in another culture (like Spain), maybe instead of thinking of how many bacteria were spread to your face after the traditional double cheek kiss you can look forward to the next time you are introduced to a beautiful senorita.  Ah yes, perspective.

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Far from home (but not as far as I thought)

Well, my journey into the land of study abroad began early Thursday morning with a long flight out of Seattle.  The first few days of this week were filled with much excitement, lots of questions, and plenty of stressing out over how to fit all my necessary posessions for the next five months inside one duffel suitcase and a backpack (the duffel was a whole .6 pounds under the max limit, something I’m quite proud of!).  But sure enough, it all came through and my flight went off without a hitch.

Being the smart person that I am, I decided I would plan ahead by staying up late Wednesday night, thereby punching jet-lag in the face and making it much easier to fall asleep at the right time while on the plane.  That plan kind of backfired.  Instead of falling asleep at the proper time, I managed to stay awake long enough to see the sun both set and rise (some of you might need to be explain that that means I didn’t fall asleep).  I am writing this at 10:15 my time having not had a good chunk of sleep in almost 2 days.  But I realized that my insomnia turned out to be a blessing in disguise, a sheep in wolf’s clothing…  While I was on the plane, having admitted defeat in my battle to lose consciousness, I reluctantly turned to thoughts of how far from home I had traveled and how different my life would become over a period of hours.  Yet just as these thoughts were passing through my head, I turned my attention to the deep, black, night sky just outside my window and, low and behold, I was blatantly reminded of how insignificant all those miles seemed to be when compared to the vastness of the spherical blanket of star and night that surrounds us all.  Seemingly resting on the plane’s wing tip was the very same Big Dipper that I had just recently looked upon in my home turf, Montana.  And while this spectacular moment revealed to me a new level of comfort and awe at the world God had created and set me in,that same night sky would simultaneously act to violently steal my breath away upn witnessing the most spectacular sunrise my eyes have ever beheld.  If you can imagine gazing upon the horizon line of the Atlantic ocean, black and blended with the similarly black night sky, slowly and creepily lit up with a single thread of crimson red, just faint to the eye, a thread that grows into a brilliant shaft of light that then continues to grow into a true rainbow of colors until the brilliant ball of flame behind the masterpiece finally concedes to its long expectant audience and, in a brilliant display of color and light, reveals itself to the world in all of its glory and splendor.  That is what was going through my head as I began my journey to Spain.  That is what I will always remember about the introduction to studying abroad.

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The easy life…

Whelp, yesterday, I in fact did not have my first class. Although it did say classes started this week, the detailed lecture plan revealed that our first class is next week. So, little did I realize, I didn’t have class at all this week except tomorrow, Friday, from 8-11.  Then, next week, I ACTUALLY START CLASSES.  Finally!

Yesterday I rode the metro to Holmenkollen, a huge ski jump.  I didn’t check out the museum, but the gift shop had a lot to display.  The view was wonderful- it overlooks the city of Oslo and the Oslofjord.  I didn’t stay too long though; I needed to get to my class that doesn’t start until next week.

That night, I met up with Kelli, the girl I met at the Police Registration day.  We hung out with some people from her buddy group for a while before heading to my place to pick up some drinks and Maria.  We then went to Kelli’s place and watched some of her Norwegian videos and checked out some of her pics.  We spent a little time at Chateau Neuf, but decided to leave pretty soon because there weren’t many people there, plus they had to get up early the next morning.

Today, I got up, skyped with Michelle for a bit, then packed myself a lunch and headed out for Frognerseteren- the end of the first metro line that you take to go the ski park.  There’s a nice (overpriced) restaurant with a  great view.  There’s a great trail system up there, so I spent some time hiking around, exploring the area.  I ate my lunch and read a bit at the restaurant, taking in the beautiful view.  Afterwards, I went to Gronland for some cheap groceries, then home to relax a bit.  I could get used to my little Norwegian life style.

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New friends and new confusions!

Buddy week went great!  The first people I met were three girls from Singapore, who all came from the same University.  After the initial breaking of the ice, the group seemed to hit it off.  A Polish girl named Dorota was very nice, and I think we’ll be great friends. J  A lot of Germans and French were in our group, and after some talking with some other groups, it proved to be the same throughout.  Also, a lot of Spanish people have come to Norway.  Not a lot of Americans, which I suppose is expected- I would think most people go to Italy, Spain, or France.

We all went downtown and listened to the Mayor, the Minister of Education, and some other people speak at a ceremony.  There was a full orchestra and choir as well! It was all very official.  Afterwards, they fed us burgers and fruit- the burgers were quite different than in America.  The meat was much lighter and instead of the usual tomato, onions, cheese, and lettuce, there was simply a small bit of lettuce with some corn.  I’ve noticed that the food here is much simpler than at home- not very many ingredients or spices go into their meals.

We all went home to rest up a bit before heading out again for a party at Chateau Neuf- a student-led place where they have a bar/dance floor at night and various events/activities during the days.  First time buying a drink at a bar! Woo hoo!  I guess I shouldn’t’ be celebrating though, it just means one more reason to spend money here.

The next couple of days were spent touring our campus and around the city as well.  When we were walking around the city, we made a stop at Gronland again where we bought some cheap vegetables and groceries.  I was quite hungry at this point (we had been walking around all day and it was well past my dinner time), so me, a few Iranians, and a Norwegian guy got some delicious Pakistani food and a nearby, decently priced restaurant.  Friday, we were going to participate in some Oslo Hunt activity as a group, but due to confusion in the registration process, we did not.  But, we did get free waffles and coffee at the student parliament building!  Apparently they do this every Friday, so I’ll be sure to mark my weekly planner as not to pass up the opportunity to eat some free food!

That night was our first night out as a group, preparty and all.  We met up at one of the Buddy’s house and then headed to campus for a party.  Apparently they have events like this a lot at school, and every faculty even as their own bar!  No shortage of nightly activities here!  The night went well- our group was the first on the dance floor, trying to motivate others to do the same; which of course worked because our group was full of cute girls!  A Norwegian guy and I danced for a while- I was so excited to have my first Norwegian dance partner!  He of course was blonde, blue-eyed, and quite a babe.

The next morning Maria and I got up bright and early to get a head start for Police Registration Day.  While waiting to get our passports stamped with our magic pass, we met a girl from Connecticut who spent the morning chatting with us about snowboarding, beautiful Norwegians (a hot topic for us foreigners), and some lessons in basic Norwegian.

After some packing/cleaning at home, Maria and I set off for Stockholm!  Just a 6-hour train ride and we arrived around 10pm.  After a bit of a frustrating revelation that my debit card wasn’t working, we made our way to our hotel.  We freshened up a bit then went to reception to ask about some good bars/clubs to go to.  He was very helpful, e and explained to us how to get there.  After sitting at the bus stop for about an hour, we decided that he wasn’t that accurate in his description, given that the “night bus” wasn’t showing up.  So, we called it a night.

The next morning we got an early start with some free breakfast (!!!) and made our way to the Old Town.  We walked around the shops, checking out all the cool souvenirs.  I got a little Swedish troll girl, whom I’m getting a Norwegian boyfriend as soon as I can.

We saw the royal palace, the Nobel Peace Prize museum, and then walked around the city a bit.  We made a stop at a cool place with some rocks to sit on that overlooked the water.  A guy approached us and explained he was shooting some photos for a photo competition coming up and asked us if he could take our picture.  A chance to model a bit, how could we pass it up?  We ate some lunch (courtesy of our hotel’s free breakfast) and headed to see the Vasa museum- the Vasa is the oldest ship still preserved today.  It’s kind of a silly reason though.  The ship was very elaborate, adorned with hundreds of carved sculptures, all brightly colored. When it set sail on its maiden voyage, there wasn’t enough counterweight in the bottom of the ship, so after 1,500 meters, it tipped over and sank.  After 333 years, it was brought back up and preserved.

Afterwards, we got an ice cream from a cute Swedish guy and went to Skansen- the largest open air museum.  It had old time Swedish style farmhouses and animals as well as Scandinavian animals from the region- including reindeer!

After a long day, we took a quick rest at the hotel before making our way out on the town for attempt number two.  After searching and searching, we finally arrived to the bar which we were told was a great place.  Maria had her student card, but they wouldn’t accept it as a valid ID, unlike all the other bars in Europe.  So, we made our way back home.  The next day we spent shopping in the nearby shopping plaza then hopped on the train back home to Oslo.

Today was my first day of classes!  I was quite eager to get a feel for what school would be like here, so I arrived early to walk around the area and get more comfortable with the building.  I sat in the classroom for a while, before realizing all the people around me, including the teacher, were there for an upper-level psychology course- not mine.  The teacher told me the lower level class was held in another auditorium.  So, I made my way to the new classroom.  When I walked in, I saw that all the slides were in Norwegian and had a little heart attack. I asked some girl if I was in the right class, but she informed me the class was yet another psychology class- not mine.  I was already 15 minutes late for my class, wherever it may be.  So I followed signs to the student administration desk, where I found that they had closed a half hour before.  I logged on the student class forum, where I found no messages informing us of a classroom change.

I had to take a few deep breaths to avoid breaking down there and then- how could this happen on my first day of class!  I looked at my watch, it was 2:50.  My class started at 2:15.  I luckily had some notes from the student orientation day, where it was listed a woman was available to answer questions on Tuesdays from 11-3.  So, I booked it over to her office.  I came in right at 3, clearly presenting myself as very flustered to make up for coming in right when they were supposed to be leaving.  I explained my predicament, and the woman showed me the webpage I had been staring at for the last 20 minutes trying to figure out what room the class was supposed to be in.  She pointed to the date of the first class- next week.  A HUGE wave of relief went through my body.  I felt like crying again I was so relieved.  I had not been a complete failure my first day.  After I laughed at myself for being so silly, I got myself a chocolate bar and headed home.  Tomorrow, I checked, I DO have my first class- Norwegian Art history.  Hopefully, it will go smoothly and without confusing schedules.

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Explorin’!

13.9.2011

Yesterday we went to the market to get some fresh veggies and fruit- the stand had an indoor part with all these great foods from around the world (none from America though…).  It was a bit cheaper than the grocery store, but it was PACKED. Lots and lots of people.  Afterwards, I got myself equipped with a Norwegian cell phone and then purchased my first six-pack of beer!  No need to wait until you’re 21 here….  Although I got the cheapest brand, it tasted as sweet as ever, because I’m the one who bought it!

Today, Maria and I went downtown.  We checked out all the main tourist attractions- Slottet (Where the King and Queen live), the National Theater, and the Opera house.  Walking around, there was a jazz band playing in the street with dancers all around them-  apparently it was in preparation for the Oslo Jazz Festival.  As we were walking around to the Opera house, we got a free mini concert by the orchestra- they have open-air rehearsals!  After downtown, we went to the Munch Museum, which was awesome. I didn’t know too much about him, and they did a great job with the museum.

14.9.2011

Today Maria, Ola, and I toured the city.  Ola is a Polish girl that lives downstairs from us.  We decided to take some ferries around and explore the Oslofjord.  What a beautiful place!  We stopped at a few islands to walk around, take some pictures, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  The houses there are adorable- all painted the same shades of red, blue, yellow, and green.  It’s quite apparent that nature is very important to the Norwegians.  One of the islands we visited was Hovedoya- the home of the Cistercian monastery, Hovedoya Abbey.  There isn’t much left, but the stone walls that once stood tall made for some great climbing.  (Although later we discovered a no climbing sign tucked in a corner- oops!)  After a quick coffee and look-through of an art gallery that was on the island- we made the ferry ride back to the mainland.  We then walked to another port where the ferries took us to the Viking Ship museum as well as the Maritime museum (both of which we did not venture into….not really our thing).  We walked around the area a little bit and decided  that the people around there must be very wealthy; all the houses were gated and looked like there was at least a staff of 6 running each place.

Ola went home at that point and Maria and I went to go shopping.  A little known fact about Oslo is that despite it being a large, urban city, most shops are closed on Sundays.  Crazy, right?  We thought so too.   So since shopping was out, we got a quick bite to eat and headed to Vigeland Sculpture park- a magnificent displace of Gustav Vigeland’s work.  All of his sculptures revolved around a common theme of family- from birth to death.  It included mother to mother, father to father, father and child, mother and father, etc.   They were amazing!  Being the largest park in Oslo, it certainly was a masterpiece.

We then took the tram back to the central station where we walked to the Opera house for a free concert demonstrating little bits of what the upcoming season had to offer. After sitting in the rain for about 30 minutes  waiting for the concert to start, they decided to let everyone come inside.  It was wonderful!  Built only in 2007, the architecture is wonderfully modern and Norwegian.  With the simple lines and beautiful wood, it was very elegant.  The concert was fabulous!  The tickets are only about 100 Nkr (~$17) for the in-season performances, so Maria and I will definitely be attending some Operas and Ballets this semester.

After a long day out and about, we took the number 5 metro home and changed into some warm clothes and put the water on for some evening tea.  Tomorrow will be another busy day, but it will be a day of new people!  It’s the first day of Buddy Week, a time for getting to know the people you’ll be attending school with!  Let the festivities begin!














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Getting Ready to Fly Out!

I’m getting ready to fly out to Galway, Ireland. I fly out on the 29th of August at 6am in the morning and arrive in Galway around 11am giving me a day to regroup before orientation starts.

I’ve attempted to start packing but turns out packing for a year is a bigger challenge then I thought ……and I’ve come to realize that my horse Diego will not fit in one of my suit cases.

I’m getting extremely nervous as the days draw closer about flying out because I have no idea what to expect, which also makes it exciting at the same time. Although I’m going to miss my family, my horses, and my dogs extremely I feel that this is something I need to do for myself.

Also just a heads up I take a ton of photos not even kidding. So expect a lot of pictures along with video footage which I will attempt to post on the blog….if not I’ll include the youtube link.

Karlie K

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First few days…

Today was my first day in Oslo, Norway.  The European journey started with a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland- the airport was modestly sized despite it being a pretty substantial international hub.  Sitting in the cafeteria area, eating my pear and drinking my fruit juice, I realized the world is quite small.  I travelled not even half a day to reach a destination so full of different cultures; you could practically see every country in front of you.

After a quick two and a half hour flight to Oslo, my study abroad semester has started.  My bags came in no problem, and I was on the airport express train in less than 10 minutes after that.  When I was buying my ticket for the train, it read 75,000.  So naturally, in my mind I read it as seventy-five thousand Norwegian Kroner- which would be roughly 14,700 USD.  I had a mini panic attack that the train ride would cost me a new car- but alas, I remembered that the comma is indeed a place holder in Europe, so I did not have to worry about spending my live savings on a shuttle train. Hence, confusion #1. I arrived at Oslo Central Station- a little mall of sorts with all kinds of shops and cafes for all your shopping needs.  After a bit of a confusing cab ride (the driver didn’t quite know where we were going), I got to campus and began the scavenger hunt for my keys.  After some help from a very cute Austrian boy, I found the spot.  I got my keys and started my long haul to the student village where I’m staying.  About 40 grueling minutes later (probably would take me 20 without hauling 130 lbs. worth of stuff around) of schlepping all my crap uphill, I found my humble abode.  I share a decent sized kitchen, small toilet room, and a small shower room with three other people- we each get our own rooms.

There’s Maria, a Russian girl and two boys from Norway, Jonas and Thomas.  Maria fixed me some tea and gave me some granola when I met her; she was eating dinner and felt sorry for the poor little girl who didn’t have anything yet.  She showed me where the supermarket is (a stones throw away as it turns out- the student village has it’s own little grocery store) and suffered through the Norwegian-only food labels with me as we shopped (confusion #2: buying chocolate milk when I thought it was regular).

I made a toasted cheese sandwich with my new food after a nice hot shower to wash the airplanes and trains and uphill lugging off.  As I was cooking, I noticed the butter (which was an odd brown color) wasn’t melting properly and was just flaking off the bread.  I nixed the butter and just used some olive oil instead.  The next day, I asked a woman at the supermarket what kind of butter I had got, and afte

r I pointed to her which one, she told me it was yeast for baking bread.  Confusion #3.  I guess I have a bit of learning to do…

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