Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just for Popsy

Look at these yummy Tyrkisk Pebers sitting in my room right now...see you soon? :)

"I'm on a boat!"

Okay, well I WAS on a boat...that title line is taken from a T-Pain song that my students loved this summer working at Upward Bound. Anyways...

I went with the student group on the ferry (more like a cruise ship) from Kristiansand- Denmark and back again. The point of the ride, I think, was the get the buffet (250 NOK= $42!) on the way back, since we had no time in Denmark to explore.

Here is what happened.

We arrived at the ticket office around 3:30--because the boat left at 4:30. No one had a ticket for me, even though I had signed up for the trip! (surprising..I think not) The Norwegians in charge couldn't have been anymore unhelpful, I don't think. Anyways, we went to the ticket counter to get my ticket--and asked if I could pay for the buffet right there. The guy said "No, you have to pay for it on the boat." Little did I know, it was not going to be that easy.

We got on the boat--and I headed straight for the restaurant where the buffet is. Asked them if I could buy it there. "No, you have to call the booking office and reserve a place", and gave me the number.

I tried calling but every time I was put on hold, and that was costing me a lot of money, so I decided to head down to reception and see if they could help me.

At reception, I asked if I could buy the buffet for the way back, "No, you have to call the booking office", and she, too, gave me the number. After walking away, my friend and I thought, well maybe we can use THEIR phone since it's costing us a fortune.

Went back to reception, asked a different lady. She was more helpful, said she could message them and that we should come back in an hour to see what they had replied.

An hour later: No reply.

Two hours later: No reply.

So I tried the booking office again. Finally got through and asked if I could buy the buffet. At first she said "yes" but then she retracted that and said, "No, you have to buy it on the boat." At that point, we had realized I could not, in fact, buy it on the boat.

We got off the boat in Denmark, waited for our tickets back. The Norwegian guy gave me my itinerary and said, "If you want the buffet, you have to go down to check-in to buy it." Easy enough, right?

Check-in. "No, you can't buy it here, you have to buy it on the boat!"

Now, I brought a friend to stand with me in line so I could get on the boat first and buy the freaking buffet. It was then that I realized that the Norwegian hadn't actually given me my ticket, but my itinerary..and had not told me to get my ticket. So, back to Check-in.

Now, we were talking in Norwegian, the woman in Danish, so it was a little difficult. It was a different woman this time. I tried to explain to her that I did not have my ticket for the way back, but only the itinerary..and needed the ticket. She then took my friends ticket (for some unknown reason) and seemed very confused. This is where it's get a little wonky.

The woman working next to her (which happened to be the first check-in lady we had talked to), handed her my ticket (why she had it, no idea) and the woman abruptly asked me for 250 Norwegian Kroner. "For what?" I asked. "The buffet", she answered. "But I thought I couldn't buy the buffet here?" "You HAVE to buy the buffet NOW".

Finally got the buffet. Here is the picture, me being really excited to have my ticket.

The kicker, you ask. The people working at the buffet didn't even ask to look at any of the tickets of the 64 students in our group. UGH.

Good buffet, though. Lots of crab legs, and other types of sea food! Oh, and free wine and beer! (well free for 48 dollars!) Wouldn't do it again, but I love sea food, so it was worth the one time!

And if you're wondering, I planned in advance and bought some wrist bands to thwart sea sickness..and it worked! I didn't feel like I was going to throw up--even though the boat was shaking a lot. What an accomplishment! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Could I get a Stop Sign please??

Do you ever feel like things you've done earlier in life, have come back to prove very useful for you in the present? Almost like that was the way it was supposed to work out?

Well, I'm pretty sure my learning to drive a manual car from day 1 (which was not so pretty--right Alex! Thanks mom!) lead me to have a pretty uneventful and fun drive yesterday alone in the family car! It was my first time driving, it was dark and one more thing...Norwegians don't believe in stop signs and traffic lights! Instead, I found myself looking at a lot of yield signs and roundabouts (2 laners!)

Ever wonder what Norwegian traffic signs look like? Click on this link!


Now, let's go over this car I was driving (I don't have pictures, sorry!)-- an old, little car with sticky and tricky gears, wonky doors and very little inside-the-car detailing. Just my kind of car! If you know anything about manuals, the reverse gear is to the left side of first gear...I accidentally put the car in reverse a couple times when trying to put it in first!

Because of my extensive stick driving, I had no reservations about the actual shifting part, however, following the Norwegian traffic signs (and lack there of!) was a little bit tricky. There is one important reason for roads to have stop signs...to be able to take a couple seconds to stop and think to yourself "now where am I going?", without them (such as in Norway), everyone is making split second decisions. This is how it is in Norway-- act first, think later. There were a couple times when I thought (out loud) "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" 

However, I made it to all my destinations (gym, guitar class) on time and without much incident, which I am proud of. I'm not so sure though, if I would have taken a wrong turn on the interstate, that I would have been able to find my way back again. So, thank god I didn't take a wrong turn!

Oh and if you're wondering about the guitar class, I had my first class yesterday--my fingers hurt from holding the strings down, and it was a little difficult because I don't know guitar words in Norwegian, but I managed to learn how to play the Johnny Cash song "Folsom Prison Blues", which is pretty cool!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today's accomplishments: First Norway run and shoveling!

Okay, well to be honest, I did shovel last night too. Kristiansand got dumped on the last couple of days. The mom says she doesn't remember the last time they had this much snow. 

I volunteered to go out and shovel last night around 8 (yep, that's right mom and popsy--I volunteered!!). It was dark--the garage has no lights--and the mom told me to look for the shovel on the right side of the garage.

Now, when you think of a shovel, what do you think of?

I think of the thing on the left, naturally.

So, I shoveled away. The path was nice and clear. When I woke up in the morning--it had snowed A LOT. It was as though some trolls came to our house last night and decided they would just fill in the snow where I had shoveled! It didn't even look like it had been shoveled in the first place!

Then today after my first Norway run (which was good, except for the hills and the snowy paths--which makes you feel like you are running on a cold, inclined beach)--on my cool down walk/big hill I didn't want to run up-- I saw some Norwegians using some strange device to shovel their driveways...hence the thing on the right in the picture.

Once I was back--and about to shovel--I discovered that, low and behold, this family had one of those shovels as well! Made for a much easier time shoveling. Wow, those Norwegians and their contraptions! They're so crafty! Here's another look.

Here is my shoveling job today

and here is me, using the self-timer, to document the moment!

By this point, I was sweaty, wet and cold. Ready to go inside and drink some warm tea!

Oh and a side note: I was talking to a Norwegian guy today in Norwegian, and after a while he asked where I was from, and of course I said USA--he then proceeded with (in Norwegian), "Why the hell do you know how to speak Norwegian?!?" (emphasize 'hell'!) Ha ha. Highlight of my day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

All I want for February is...

If you feel the urge to send me things (please do!)--here are some things that interest me...(but not limited to)..

  • jigsaw puzzles (working on one right now--but they're expensive to buy!)
  • a good book
  • some good coffee (I don't like the coffee they have!!) Preferable ground. (mom, you can ground it in your new grinder and send it to me!)
  • American Peanut Butter
  • pictures!
  • yarn for knitting (any size because I have a plethora of needles)
  • interesting newspaper stories
  • guitar strings/picks (starting a guitar class next week)
  • Anything you think would be a good waste of time (games, puzzles, etc)
  • REDVINES! (even though I'll probably eat them in one sitting---ugh)
  • Yourself :)
  • TV series DVDs (expensive I know, but I don't have anything to watch!)
  • Magazines (trashy, intellectual, I read them all!)
  • Markers (preferably skinny)
  • Sketchbook/pencils

Okay, you get the point.

Now, what can I send you??

An experiment in socialization

Everybody know how much I hate socializing and how horrible I am at small-talking??

Well this week has been one of trying to be social and meet new people...scary, huh?

It all started on Friday, when I went to a party for the new students at the University of Agder (in Kristiansand). I was told by the woman in charge that I could go to the student events--turns out she is friends with the mom. Anyways, it was quite awkward for a while before I got talking to a German woman (22) and an English woman (23). I state their ages because I'm not hanging out with anyone under 22! Anyways, to make a long story short, I hung out with the English woman on Saturday in town, and yesterday at another student event! YAY, I have a friend everyone!!

So, at this International Pub yesterday, the Norwegians who are head of the international student group told all of us about Norway, and played us some informational videos (or are they?) about Norway from YouTube. You have to know they're going to be good because they're from YouTube, right?

Just to let you know, I was laughing really hard when I saw these..because they are SO TRUE!!

Here are the links--Enjoy learning about Norway and the Norwegian culture!!

this is norway

and (this one uses the "F" swear word a lot, so viewer discretion is advised!!)


Also, here's the newest celebrity in Norway--


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stop judging me you Norwegians!

Just a quick note about today..when I was at the barnehage (open preschool/kindergarden). People just come and go to the barnehage as they please, not everyone comes every time, etc. Today was my second time with the little girl here. She was NOT happy when her mom left and wouldn't play with me very much! Instead she clung on to the woman who runs the barnehage (whom the little girl knows quite well) the whole time. I felt like I was awkwardly standing around and I could sense people looking at me and wondering who I was! When it came time to have the little girl eat, she was less than happy to be eating next to me..and I had these other moms looking at me the whole time. I think they were wondering why my child hated me so much! Thankfully the little girl said "mama" and I said back to her "Hun er på jobb (she's at work)" and then the women who had been staring at me the whole time understood who I was! They then asked me why I could speak such good Norwegian,etc.

I would hope that if I have a child, they would want to be around me and wouldn't cry every time I tried to hold them! I felt like all the Norwegians (who didn't know who I was) thought I was just a terrible mom, when in reality, I'm not even related and she's known me for 2 weeks! It was just really awkward and thought I'd share that with all of you!

A walk on the frozen fjord

Here are some pictures from the walk across the frozen fjord. Very rarely freezes over, guess I'm just lucky and came for a unusually cold winter! We heard later that people had fallen through the ice..but they were more on the outskirts--where the ice was ending. We were in the middle, but I was still nervous! Obviously my concern wasn't shared with anyone else..look at all these people. I was sitting on the top of a very large rock island...

Looking towards Denmark!

Looking back at Kristiansand from the other side of the fjord.

After walking across (well the rest of the family skated..I didn't have skates) the fjord, we sat on this rock island--made a fire, drank some hot chocolate, ate some chocolate and ate pølser med lumpa (hot dog wrapped in tortilla type bread)

People were ice fishing. Here is their catch--

Big ice chucks and me trying to be artsy.

The mom wanted to take a picture of me looking this way because she said "you can see all the way to Denmark!"

Speaking of Denmark, the mom said that this might be the first winter in like 14 years that the water between Norway, Denmark and Sweden will all be frozen over. You could literally walk to another country over the ocean if you wanted to!

I got a kick out of all the dogs on the ice because their legs would move really fast, but they wouldn't go anywhere! They weren't quite sure what to do, and why they weren't moving! I tried to get some video of a dog but it's not good enough to spend the 10 minutes uploading it onto the blog!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Happenings

1. messed up the lasagna last night (noodles didn't cook because I overlapped them!) Oops!! Someone needs to teach me how to cook!

2. Ate smoked/dried/salted raw sheep leg meat- salty and weird tasting.

3. Ate some sort of really disgusting fish tonight. It's worse than Lutefisk..if you can imagine!

4. The little girl non-stop cried today for an hour after her mom left..until I gave up and put her down for a nap. ugh, that was exhausting!

5. Walked across the frozen fjord on Sunday! Also tried ice skating for the first time! (Video in previous post) More to come in next post on this.

6. Have read 4 books in 2 weeks...'Have a Little Faith' 'The Beach' 'The DaVinci Code' and 'The Guardian' by Nicolas Sparks. Next up: 'Angels and Demons'

7. Rediscovered how delicious Norwegian yogurt is. Have eaten it nonstop.

8. Got a box from my mom today! My first mail!! 6 sets of knitting needles was probably overdoing it though mom... :)

9. Had a four way chat on Skype the other day with my mom/dad, sister and aunt!

10. Have been on Facebook WAY too much. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My first time skating!

Too bad mom and popsy never let me skate when I was younger; I could have been a world class skater!

I walked, I saw and learned some stuff along the way...


Yesterday, I took some time to take a walk around the area I live in..and saw some interesting things (and not so interesting things) along the way. Join me, in my walking tour of Kristiansand (or at least a few miles of it!)

The mom dropped me off at the workout place (where I was thinking of joining), which is located in Kristiansand's own warehouse district and right next to a fjord (at least I think it's a fjord...pretty sure)

Warehouse district--where you can find a workout place, indoor soccer, a huge play land for kids, a huge store with cheap Chinese imports, etc.

The ice froze over the fjord for the first time in many winters...lots of Norwegians out skating, walking, playing hockey!

This was a view down the road from a pedestrian overpass, pretty huh? :)

Some cute Norwegian houses

Look Popsy! Norwegians get icicles on their houses too!

Vågsbygd Center

A mall essentially! Food stores, clothing stores, library, where I take the little girl to preschool, etc. Also, where I learned to very important things the other day...

1. Never assume you know what a Norwegian is going to say to you. It's very easy, when you go to the grocery store for instance, to assume what the cashier will say--because they have a routine. Tell you the price, ask if you want a bag, ask if you want a receipt. That's about it. I went to buy a yogurt (because they are oh so good, and I was hungry) and assumed that the cashier would say, "kvitteringen?", which means receipt. Instead he did not, but it was too late, I had already answered the questions I thought he was going to ask me. Duh. So lesson number 1, never assume you know what a Norwegian is going to say to you.

2. Don't let the dialect fool you--you know what they are saying! It was a matter of two words... leter and leiter

Leter du etter noe?
Leiter du etter noe?

Both mean, are you looking for something? Which I was, the library..but had found. I use the first question --in the which the first word is essentially 'letter' in English with a Norwegian accent! The second (which he used) is more like 'lighter' in English with a Norwegian accent. I was confused..gave him an answer not knowing what he had asked me, but luckily had an acceptable answer. But as soon as the pressure was off..I thought..OHHH he was saying Leter du etter noe! Anyways, difference in dialect (I believe).

Moving on...

Pretty church

Remnants of a firecracker full New Years Eve along the shoreline.

Can you imagine what the owner of this boat was saying..."oh crap, I knew I forgot to do something this fall!" Only in Norwegian!

And finally...a picture of the ice.

Okay, that was long, sorry. It takes a while to explain things! If you made it this far--great job! Finally, after 2 weeks, I think I've got my bearings here--and I'm actually good at directions!

More to come soon!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Whoo hoo! Thanks for reading! I know that it's probably only like 5 of you looking a bunch of times...but it makes no difference to me. I'm glad you guys are enjoying my blog and actually reading it...makes me like to write in it!

Some side notes:

-it's so cold here. It wouldn't be so bad expect for the ridiculously strong wind coming off the ocean.

-My Wild Rice Soup ended up tasting pretty good, considering that I had to convert the measurements, plus I've never made it before. The parents liked it and the little girl. The boys weren't too fond of it, but that's just the way they are! After we were finished eating, the mom said the leftovers could feed another family! That's true, it could have. Our portions in the States are definitely bigger than the portions in Norway!

-I recently showed the two boys a racing game on my computer...and I've created two monsters. That's all they want to do is play that stupid game. All I want them to do at the end of the day is leave me alone! (Okay, not really--but I have to sit and watch the game--and it's sooooo BORING!)

-I'm constantly hungry. Maybe it's because I eat about half of what I would eat in the states...or because I eat dinner at 4:30, but I'm hungry. Very hungry!

-Had my first day at the play center with the little girl today. She wasn't so happy that her mom left, but I managed to distract her!

-I've discovered I love oranges and tangerines (maybe just the Norwegian kind, ha)

-I've already read two books, 'Have a Little Faith' and 'The Beach' (which is much better than the movie!

-I'm going to start going to guitar classes (and Norwegian classes) at the end of the month!

-My bathroom as yet to be worked on...boooo!

-I love tea!

Okay, I'm stretching for things to write...that means I need to stop!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ja, jeg elsker dette landet...except when it comes to getting things done!

If you've never been to Norway before, or you've been to Norway but haven't had to get anything done of real importance (Visa, personal number, drivers license, etc)--here's a word of advice: Don't expect to get any one of these things done on the first try.

Today, the boys finally went back to school after a very long Christmas break. That left the mom, the little girl and I to go into the city and try to get my TB test, give the receipt to the police (for my Visa) and get a personal number (to open bank accounts, etc). It's been a week since I got my Visa, and these were some of the other things I need to do in order to make my year (or however long..) as simple as possible.

First stop, TB test. Didn't actually turn out to be a test. Just a note saying that I didn't have TB. I don't know why I couldn't have just been asked by the police where I was from and if I'd been to Africa or South America in the last year. But that is Norway.

Next stop, Police station to drop off my TB test receipt at the information window. When I got my Visa, the woman told me to just drop it off here, because otherwise, I would have to wait a really long time in the waiting room to talk to someone. When we got up to the 5th floor--imagine this--the information window was closed! There also were about 20 people waiting to talk to someone, so that didn't get done. Funny that the information window was closed, since that particular department in the police station is only open like two days a week. That is Norway.

Next stop, to check if I can use my US drivers license in Norway. We went downstairs to ask (from the 5th floor), just to be sent back to the 5th floor! Different department this time. We went to the desk specifically labeled "førerkort (drivers license)" but they had no answer. They told us to contact another office by phone to ask about the drivers license. That is Norway!

I decided to talk to the mom about how this has happened to me before--while studying in Oslo, Kari and I were trying to get our money, the school sent us to the bank and the bank sent us back to the school! She laughed and said, "It's funny that you say that no one can give you a straight answer, it's so true!"

Last stop, folkeregistrar to get my personal number. That was a little easier--just filling out two applications for a personal number and tax form. After I was done with that, the woman said "okay, we will send it to you". Asked how long it would take. She couldn't tell us (just like my Visa, no one could give you a specific answer about how long processing your Visa would take)! That is Norway.

So, there were tasks completed today, but I still have to go back to the police station (for the third time) to hand in my TB test. Hopefully, next time, it'll be an in and out thing.

Ah, Love Norway!

Side note, I'm making Wild Rice Soup for the family tonight--never made it--I hope it's good!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The funny thing about eating...

Well I have to say, Americans are not very adventurous nor efficient while eating.

Proof of this are the meals I have eaten in the States and the meals I have so far eaten here in Norway.

1. Americans do not know how to use utensils correctly. Have you ever noticed when you need to cut up your food, you never just put the fork in your left hand and have the knife in your right...like this:

Americans are always switching hands, putting the knife down to switch the fork to the right hand, etc. I'll admit, I am a hand-switcher too--you are a product of your environment after all.

This funny habit us Americans have created became obvious to me the other night at the fancy New Years Eve party. I found myself trying, in hopes to fit in, but felt really awkward having the fork in my left hand. I don't think my wrist moves in the right positions to have it feel comfortable. I decided I would tell everyone at the table about this unfortunate habit and they were all astonished..."Doesn't that take a lot of time?", "Do you lay the knife down before you switch, or just switch in mid-air?", etc. Most of these questions, like any good habit, are unanswerable. We just do it!

2. Americans keep our food separate on the plate.

Now this might not apply to everyone, but the more I see Norwegians eat, the more I think about how boring and uncreative us Americans are with food. For instance,tonight we had tomato soup. But not just tomato soup, here's what was in it:
hard-boiled egg quarters
pølser (I think that translates to hot dog)
and some green leaves (some sort of garnish--wonder why I don't know my garnishes?)

You might be thinking, well that's not that weird. When I think about the meals I would eat at home...for instance potatoes, steak, vegetables, I never really ate those things together. I always just ate some potatoes, then switched to the steak, etc. The other night I saw people eating all three together, in the same bite! That fascinated me! Who does that!!

Maybe we could all learn a thing or two from the Norwegians.
I'm practicing, but old habits are hard to break.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What I have spent my time doing...

Has it only been a week in Norway? I talked to my parents on Skype tonight and we all decided it's felt like much longer than that. Not that that's a bad thing- I needed a break from the monotony of life in my parents house, and get on to big and better things. I do have to say though, at some point, I will begin to feel lonely and for that I have prepared.

This is my latest creation--on my bedroom door. The pictures I brought from home. However, they are pretty random and basically ones that I had printed out for scrapbooks, but never made it in. Therefore, if you are not in any of these pictures and should be (and you are 'should be' if you are reading this blog) than I apologize, that just means you need to send a picture to me to hang up!

You're probably wondering, what's up with all the colored paper? Well, that my friends, is where my loneliness ends. Those are all post-it notes (which again I brought from home--unnecessary? Absolutely) that I am using to write inspirational words, comments, wishes from family and friends. If you're name is Amanda Larson, you are the first to be put on my wall of "Stop being so lonely!" Thanks for the encouragement!

That's that. It has given me something to do, which is essential! Proactive, I know.

Okay, that's it for today. One more day of holiday for the kids and then the real fun starts!! Whoo hoo!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Eve 2009

Happy New Year!!

Yesterday was a pretty laid back day in preparation for the New Years Eve party that we were all invited to. It was two other couples besides the one I live with, and a total of six kids. I was the awkward one who was about 20 years older or 20 years younger than everyone at the party! Besides the fact that I am horrible at small talking. Everyone continues to be surprised that I can speak Norwegian, and the questions about how I learned Norwegian, why I learned Norwegian, etc. are getting old! :)

The party was, shall we say, relaxing. I was just thankful to have somewhere to go on New Years Eve! I was very under dressed for the party, the guys were wearing suits! There was some drinking going on, but the house was mostly full of screaming kids until about 8:30 (party started at 5). The adults then ate at about 9 (who eats at 9? I was so hungry!) and we sat at the table until 2! That is way too much socializing for me! Today I am feeling antisocial as the family has the same two families from the party and a third family over today for some sledding and risengrot (yum!). (no Norwegian letters, sorry!) The best part about the evening was the celebration that went on for New Years.

Norwegians love firecrackers on New Years! They are only allowed to buy them two days before New Years but can set them off wherever. The party was at a house in a valley, which had hills all around it. When it was midnight, there were firecrackers going off from every hill around us! You could turn 360 degrees and see tons of firecrackers! I'm not just talking tiny ones, I'm talking what we would think of as "professional" firecracker shows! Hopefully no one blew off a finger last night!

Oh we also had Kransekake! For those of you who don't know, I made my first Kransekake during Christmas and it turned out great. I can proudly say that my "good" Kransekake layers were much better than the store bought one from last night!

Again, I forgot to take pictures of anything all that interested outside (like fireworks??)--but I did take pictures of my room and other places in the house.

"Oven" One way they heat the house. One upstairs and one downstairs:

Julenisser! Christmas gnomes?

Living room with juletre (Christmas tree)


Table where we eat all our meals:

Soon-to-be bathroom (hopefully):

My room!

The view out the window of my room:

That's all I have for today. 9 hours at the party last night has fried my brain...

Oh, side note. All the Norwegians were curious as to what traditions Americans have on New Years Eve...drink? That's all I could come up with! ha.