Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Spring is here, that means it's time to explore the southern region of Norway around Kristiansand. In the winter, with the snow, everything looks the same and really, the towns aren't up and running...so this is my first time exploring the surrounding small towns. The south is known for it's beaches, and it is where Norwegians, and others, go for summer vacation. I've never lived in a place that's a summer tourist destination!



Mandal: known for it's white-washed houses.

Alt for Norge

There's a new tv series on TV Norge, "Alt for Norge". 10 Americans compete in Norway to win a chance to meet their Norwegian families. They compete in challenges every week, which are supposed to reflect things that Norwegians do/eat/etc. However, I'm pretty sure not all Norwegians do most of these things! But, the show wouldn't be interesting then, would it?! Every week, one contestant is sent home (which is completely devastating for them). I have found some good clips on YouTube..look up "Alt for Norge tv Norge" for more clips!

Here the contestants are taking a Norwegian class Norskkurs

Here they are asked to make what they think is a traditional Norwegian bag lunch, or matpakke.

I watch this every week with my Norwegian friend, and we laugh throughout the whole episode! I have friends in Oslo (who are American--most from St. Olaf) who watch it all together as a group on Thursdays. There are 4 contestants representing Minnesota..which I'm not sure is a good thing or not! There are also 2 contestants who graduated from St. Olaf!

Check it out, maybe you will get a laugh or two even if you don't know any Norwegian or anything about Norwegian culture!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"Nye fenomener gir nye ord." -Aftenposten (newspaper)
(new phenomenons yields new words)

Add another word to the Norwegian dictionary:

Askefast: To be stuck and unable to fly because of volcanic ash clouds.
"aske" means "ash" and "fast" means "stuck"
Norwegians love to put two words together as one, hence, askefast.

By now, I'm sure you have all heard about the volcanic ash cloud that is covering (or was) most of Europe and halted many inter-continental and cross-continental flights. Because of this phenomenon, the Norwegians have created a new word: Askefast.

The cancellations and delays over the past week have not affected me personally, but have affected many of my friends and many important people in Norway. The Prime Minister, for instance, was stuck in New York until he eventually got a flight to Spain, and then by car up to Norway. The Crown Prince may or may not be still stuck in London. The King and Queen were supposed to have tea with the Queen of Denmark until the ash cloud forced them to cancel. They also had to drive from the west coast of Norway back to Oslo, instead of taking a plane. My friend Sally was supposed to go back to England for good last Monday, until her flight got canceled. She is rescheduled to fly on Sunday (keep your fingers crossed!). Two other friends took the train to Oslo to fly out to Italy (where one of them is from) last Wednesday, until they found out their flight was canceled and have been stuck in Oslo ever since.

The airport in Kristiansand has been closed, open, closed and open again.

In some parts of Norway, large flakes of ash could be seen on the ground, but nothing like that has happened here in Kristiansand. The only thing that happened was that it got cloudy and rained (and was told that it was acid rain? Or at least had a lot of ash particles in it).

Most of the airlines are back up and running now, since KLM's experiment (testing airplanes to see if the ash in the air does any damage to the engines) and thanks to the volcano emitting less ash.

For me, this is just one more reason to be apprehensive to fly. Not to mention the plane crash a few weeks ago which killed the Polish President and many other important people. I just hope by next Thursday, when I'm supposed to fly down to Amsterdam to visit a friend, that the ash is long gone along with my newly increased fear of flying.

Oh, and check this out:
Island joke
It's written in "messed up old Nordic", says my Norwegian friend, since it's supposed to be from Island...basically it is saying "Give us 30 billion Euros and we'll turn off the volcano! Don't call the police!" Get it? :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In my own backyard

I continue to explore and come upon new things in the Kristiansand area, especially now that Spring has come to be (or so it seems).

Here are some pictures from a walk around Odderøya ("øya" here meaning "island"). Odderøya used to be a military island, so all the buildings are no longer in use, and no one inhabits the island. The dad here told me he was stationed on this island (since men are required to do one year of military service) when it was still up and functioning. Now, it's a great place to hike--and even has a volunteer run cabin you can hike back to on Sundays (remember, Sundays = nothing open in town/go out for a walk day). My friend Sally and I, and Sally's friend that was visiting from England went to check out this island about a week or so ago.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Påskeferie (Easter break)

Wow, what an exciting April already, and so much more to come!

Last Thursday, I decided to take a little adventure (with a little encouragement from my mom!) and visit a Norwegian friend in Haugesund. Haugesund is located between Bergen and Stavanger on the West Coast of Norway. I'm sure glad I went; I got to experience a Norwegian Easter, great Norwegian food, a beautiful city/ocean and be exposed to tons of Norwegian!

Here is a panorama I took of the city (with the ocean in the background)--click on the picture to see a bigger version!

I stayed at my Norwegian friend's (his name is Øyvind--go ahead, try to pronounce it!) parents' house on the coast in Haugesund. 

The interesting thing about this area is that during WW2, the German's set up a lot of mines off the coast and a lot of bunkers within this rocky coastline. We went to check some of them out.

I thought these were REALLY creepy!

Lastly on our coastal walk, we visited this viking memorial. This mound was supposedly created upon a Viking King who brought all the other Viking Kings from different areas together and created peace throughout the different groups of Vikings. 
Some old Norwegian
"Here was Harald Haarfagre Hauclagt 933" The Viking for which the monument was built for.
"To the memory of Harald Haarfagre"-- gathered the Kings, 1000 years after a certain battle. (something to that effect--old Norwegian)

Staying on the Viking topic, we also visited this "island" that was rebuilt to look like it had during a viking settlement.

Also, there is a very famous church called St. Olav's Church, that has a rock slowly starting to fall onto it...

Okay, now something we randomly stumbled onto in the area...
The Statue of Liberty! Apparently, all the copper that the French used to make the Statue of Liberty for the US was mined in this area, melted down, and sent to France.
Where the copper was melted down.
More German bunkers! The second one is a picture from inside..looking out at what the German's could see..

Here are some pictures from around Haugesund.
The last picture is of a statue of Marilyn Monroe. Apparently she traveled to Haugesund a lot. Who knew?!

Lastly, some pictures of another coastal area around Haugesund.
The last one is a memorial for a boat (a ferry, actually) that sunk 10 years ago.

One last picture that I think is great...Øyvind's mom gave me an Easter egg full of candy! I was pretty excited... :)
That's my trip! Spent a lot of time speaking Norwegian with my friend's family and friends, which was really good for me (Since most of my friends here in Kristiansand speak English, and no Norwegian)! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

This month is full of exciting trips, Sarah giving birth and visiting friends! Check back soon for updates!! :)