Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pictures anyone?

These first pictures are just ones from around Kristiansand. The harbor and the fortress (where we went to a masquerade party at!)
In our homemade masks for the party!
This is our favorite kebab shop (or gyro)

Here I was just messing around and taking pictures out the window through binoculars..

A couple friends and I took a late-night walk on the beach! We could finally touch the sand and water (before it had been covered with snow)

What's up?

Probably the single-most thing that distinguishes you as an American--the greeting "what's up?"

I find myself using this greeting, without thinking, to international student friends. Their response? "How do you answer that question?" Ha. To which, I have no reply. How do you answer the question "what's up?" Am I merely trying to say "hi" or really want to hear their life story? That's the funny thing about language...

My English friend's greeting is not any better-- "Are you okay?" For the first couple times, I thought there was something physically odd looking about me! I have to say, though, I have learned a lot of new "English" words from her. Every now and again, I have no idea what she is saying to me because she uses such different words than Americans! Even though we are both speaking English, there can sometimes be a language barrier...that's the funny thing about language.

I have talked to some students from Spain, and they have the same issues with Mexican Spanish (which they say isn't real Spanish!) and students from France who have the same issues with Canadian French. Language is so fascinating!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yes We Can!

I've heard the good news here in Norway! Yay for Health Care Reform! Of course, I don't know many of the final details of the plan, but I'm sure it will no doubt surpass what we had.

There has been a lot of coverage in the news on the developments, but my favorite article came yesterday in one of the biggest papers (Aftenposten) in Norway.

The article is interviewing two large guys (one in a cowboy hat) in Austin, Texas. The title is "De svelger ikke Obamas helsereform" (They can't swallow Obama's heath reform) Their picture is on the front of the paper. Talk about knowing how to pick 'em. Anyways the article goes on to talk about the Reform and what these people in Texas think. As you can imagine, it doesn't make any sense. At one point, one of the guys talks about how he has had heart problems for two years, can't work, but couldn't qualify for Medicaid because he wasn't "poor" enough. He had to borrow money from friends--but he is still against the Reform. Does that make any sense to anyone? So, you got screwed over, but you don't want things to change...hmm... 

I was talking to the mom about this article, and she said something to the effect of "we, Norwegians, just don't understand that." That is the general consensus here in Norway; they just don't understand why we wouldn't want health reform. Why wouldn't you want everyone to be able to afford care? Why wouldn't you want everyone to be healthy?

Here are some facts about the Norwegian Health Care System.

- Children get free care until the age of 18 (I believe)-- 20 at the Dentist. You don't have to pay a dime (or in this case, a krone!)
- There are set amounts of time you must wait if you need surgery--depending on what you need. For instance, if you need a knee operation, it might take you 3-6 months to have the operation. But, if you need heart surgery, it could take weeks. If you don't get in for your surgery within the time frame they set, you are free to go wherever you want to get the surgery done.
- However, if you are over 80 (around this), you usually don't get treatment for your illnesses--because there are so many younger people who need it.
- I'm pretty sure all they have to pay when they go to the doctor is a co-pay of sorts
- My family has never had a problem getting into the doctor on short notice--or emergency room. The doctor's offices usually leave open a few time slots a day to accommodate those with emergencies. If not, you get in the next day.

Anything else you want to know?

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Don't stress"

**Edits from 'wonder lust' to 'wanderlust' provided by Kate Westby :) I've lost my ability to spell/speak English--sorry!**

I've come to this conclusion from the last 2 months; Norway suits me.

I think about my traits and what frustrates me while I'm in the states...namely my anxiety--and the pressure I feel because of it, needing to feel accomplished and independent--but not wanting to settle into a profession, my drive and motivation to make a difference--but the time it's taking me to do it, my wanderlust--and my desire to learn about new and different cultures...is very controlled and honed here in Norway.

Here are some reasons I think that that is the case.
  • There is a lot of pressure in the States to be someone and get there as soon as possible--with blinders on. In Norway, people are very content enjoying the view. 
  • Pressure, for me, equals stress. In the words of my host dad, "Don't stress". I got up late (happened once), he said, "Not a big deal, don't stress". We were leaving the house and I was in a rush to get ready because we were late, he said, "We have time, don't stress". 
  • Things in the States are very fast-paced. In Norway, things go at a uber-slow speed. At times this can be painfully annoying, but overall it makes me less of an anxious person. 
  • My wanderlust in the States does nothing but make me antsy and stress me out... by being in Norway, I feel very connected to the rest of the world, to other cultures and people--which makes me feel more grounded and less anxious.
Obviously, ideally, you would take everyone you care about and stick them into this society that works better with your overall personality, but that's impossible. So, I choose to focus on how being in Norway is contributing to me becoming a more calm, stable and successful individual from the inside out.

It has been a while since I have felt like I belong somewhere, and I have felt calm and happy. I am welcoming that feeling with open arms.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Baneheia is a large park overlooking the city--I went there once in January and the second time today. Check out the difference!



It was so nice and sunny today! I feel spring right around the corner (okay, I said that earlier this week, and then we had a blizzard on Thursday!) -- but it was so nice that I couldn't even wear my coat, I was too hot!

I also tried to take a panorama of the city--it doesn't line up exactly, but it'll do.

(If you click on the picture, you can see a bigger version)

Straight out in the picture you can see the church steeple, to the right you can get a glimpse of the ocean and everything behind me (where I'm standing to take the picture) are hills. Where I live is to the right about 5 Kilometers (3.1 miles! That was an easy one!). This is basically a picture of the center of Kristiansand. Not too big.

Here are some other pictures I took of the area.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010



My favorite new expression: Oi! Not because I want it to be--in fact I am quite annoyed at myself for saying it so much--but because it's been ingrained in my brain by these Norwegians!

For example:

- If you slip on a patch of ice, "Oi!"
- If someone spills a glass of juice on the table, "Oi!"
- If the little girl falls while walking, "Oi!"

Trust me, I use this expression more in one day then I ever thought possible.

This weekend in Oslo, my Norwegian friend and I decided that there should be instances when someone should double or even TRIPLE the expression "Oi!", depending on the severity of the incident. (I've attached a picture of us, just because I know you all like pictures! She's the one in the middle.)

So, I'm apologizing in advance if you find this irritating when I am around you; chances are I'll be just as annoyed as you. :)

On a funny side note: A girl in my Norwegian class who doesn't speak very much English came to class the other day with a t-shirt on that read "Silicon Free". After talking for a little bit she asked, "Can you read my t-shirt for me, and tell me what it means?" I just started laughing...how exactly does one explain that?! Good thing I know the word for breasts in Norwegian--the conversation ended with her saying, "No wonder everyone was starting at me at the gym!" Ha ha.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunday Phenomenon

I was in Oslo this past weekend visiting some friends, and I noticed something which is quite strange, if you're an American.

This is Karl Johans Gate. Otherwise known as the main walking street. This picture is what it would look like on any given day of the week...except Sunday, of course. 

This is the same street, this past Sunday.

EMPTY. That's because it's Sunday!

A good majority of things are closed in Norway on Sunday--clothing shops, grocery stores (except for a few expensive ones), train station information windows, etc.

The things that are open are museums, tourist shops and some little convenience stores and restaurants. It is, in my option, the strangest thing and something I will never get used to.

Sundays are considered the day "å gå på tur" (go for a walk) or at least the day to do something outside. Norwegians usually go for a walk for at least a few hours and take with food and drinks. Otherwise, there are hytter (cabins) around that you walk to (or ski to in Winter) and can go in to buy food and drinks. It's a pretty neat concept.

So, think about this next time you are relaxing inside on a Sunday (watching football perhaps?)--Norwegians consider it "relaxing" to be outside in nature, not home on the couch.