Monday, June 21, 2010

Americans abroad: Be yourself!

From my time abroad in Norway and other places, I have come to dislike Americans who pretend they are Canadian. That is probably one of my biggest pet peeves.

I pride myself in the fact that I have been told numerous times by non-Americans that I "do not seem like an American" and break stereotypes of what people think is a typical American. I mean, why travel abroad, pretend to not be American and just reinforce the stereotypes? I say be yourself and show the rest of the world that Americans are more than the stereotype.

The reality of it, though, is that there are plenty of Americans who do fit the stereotypes. However, if you are traveling abroad, you already break stereotypes--so go with it, and maybe you'll find it's better just to be yourself. 

While we are on the subject of pet peeves; I have one more: native English speakers who use excuses as to why they can't or don't learn other languages later in life.

Let's face it, a good majority of the non-native English speaking world learns at least two languages growing up--with one of them usually being English. As many studies have shown, this makes it easier to learn more languages later in life. BUT, just because you grow up learning only one language does not mean it's impossible to learn another later in life. It may take a little longer, but everyone can learn a language. If I can learn one, as a math person, anyone can learn one. Stop wasting energy complaining and making excuses for why you can't learn another language, and focus that energy on actually learning one.

Being Productive

This weekend I was in Oslo visiting a couple of friends at their new apartment. Here is their view from the balcony...basically overlooking the entire city. Amazing view!
(click on the picture to make it bigger)

While I was in Oslo, I made a discovery about being productive. Being outside makes me feel so much more productive then being inside doing the exact same activity. For instance, if I'm eating outside, I feel about 10 times more productive than if I were eating inside. I'm not exactly sure why I feel this way...but maybe the view had something to do with it (and the weather)!

On Sunday, the rain cleared up for us to go to Frognerparken (click on the link!) and hang out in the sun. I didn't snap too many photos, but here are a couple. This park is huge and an amazing spot to spend a sunny day.

The three in the foreground are Norwegian friends and my American friends Joey and Blake are playing catch in the background.

Oh, here are a few more pictures from Oslo...but these ones are from April. Notice the ice still on the lake.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

VM fotball (World Cup)

VM or verdensmesterskap (which means a competition with participants from around the world) is in full swing. If you aren't following it, that's okay, you're probably American! :)

Just a side note on Norway, they love to use abbreviations for big sporting events, like the World Cup. In fact, I had to look up with the "M" meant, and that was no easy feat. Another well known abbreviation is OL, or olympiske leker, which is the Olympics. Not to be confused, they usually put what sort of World Cup (skiing, soccer, etc) and Olympics it is after the abbreviation. For example, OL-vinter is the winter Olympics, since "vinter" means "winter". Okay, that's my Norwegian lesson for the day!

Anyways, back to VM fotball. I had the pleasure of watching the US-England match last Saturday in a sport bar downtown. I was surrounded by English people/English fans and their constant swearing when things go wrong, or actually, when anything happens! At first, it was funny and I didn't want it to be known that I was cheering for the US (because I knew I would get lots of crap!). However, the US scored a goal on a mistake by the England's goalkeeper, and I just couldn't contain myself! It was really funny to see all the England fans go crazy, I heard a lot of "f--- you"s in their funny English accents! Anyways, if you were wondering, the match ended up 1-1, which is a good result for the US.

Here is one thing I find interesting about the US and Europe when it comes to the World Cup; Europeans are more than happy to watch a game, even if they don't like soccer, if it's a big event like the World Cup. Americans could care less. It's not a bad thing, it's just how it is. For example...

I have a friend from England who hates soccer, can't stand to watch it. In fact, we ran into a soccer match when visiting a neighboring city here in Norway, and she was so bored in the 2 minutes we were standing there. However, last Saturday, she was in an English Pub watching the game like everyone else. If Americans don't like soccer, the World Cup is not going to change anything.

One more thing I find interesting is that Europeans are so angry and drunk when they watch, and Americans are just happy to be there. Referring back to my bar story with the Englishman, I'm pretty sure they were all wasted and while screaming out profanities. My Dutch friend told me that's how it is in the Netherlands as well. Maybe it's because they expect a lot from their teams; high expectations plus high hopes equals a lot to lose (math anyone?). I find that Americans are just happy to be in the game. Sure, the players get angry, I got angry when I played, but in general our fans are smiley, and if we don't win, we tried hard (for the most part). That's why it's so fun to mess around with Europeans fans, they're so serious about it...you can really piss them off!!

That reminds me of 4 years ago when Sarah, Lisa and I were in an Italian pub watching the US play Italy, and we were definitely the only ones cheering for the US. Everyone else in the bar was giving us the evil eye; they were not happy that we were there! We didn't care though, we were just having fun! (Total Americans!)

One more thing, here is a article about what Glenn Beck (and the far right?) thinks about soccer and the World Cup...I've decided he's definitely not intelligent enough to understand this great and beautiful game (as opposed to just not interested).

Glenn Beck's (worthless?) opinion


Friday, June 11, 2010

The problem with being settled...

Just imagine...you move to a completely new and intriguing place; you are so excited to be away from home and somewhere new that even something as mundane as putting a puzzle together can be extremely fun and satisfying. You read and read and read, because, well, it too is satisfying. This is what I call the honeymoon period of moving.

Five and some months later, here I am, watching tv online, sleeping and feeling as though I don't do anything nearly as exciting as that puzzle I put together in the first month. Remember all those hobbies I had in MN, Mom and Popsy? I can't remember anything I did in MN to pass the time anymore. Yes, the weather is nice now, but if you know me, I HATE to go places alone. I just like to share experiences with others. So, taking into account my last post, about having few friends, I feel like the only place I go these days is to the gym. (Especially since the classes I had three nights a week are over...that doesn't help any...)

Anyways, I'm determined to change that...I just need some hobbies! So, if any of you reading this have any suggestions on things I can do to pass the time AND feel like I've accomplished something, I would really appreciate it! Let's just keep in mind I hate hiking alone (afraid of animals...even in Norway where there are no animals!)! Oh, and these have to be cheap hobbies (painting is too expensive!), because I have little money.

This is a chance for all of you to be a part of my personal think tank. (haven't you always wanted to be in one? Or is that just me?)

What should Anna do in her free time?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

big city vs. small town

So, for as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to live in a big city. Fargo/Moorhead was just a little too small for my taste (and a little too conservative). However, there was one major hiccup in my thought process; I hate people. Now, I don't necessarily hate all people, I just hate being in a big group of people or have lots of people around me. So, you're probably wondering, why do you want to live in a big city, Anna? Believe it or not, I just realized the answer to this question: diversity.

After living in Kristiansand now for 5 months, with it's population of 80,000, I've realized that there isn't much diversity (obviously--"small town" Norway). This, however, wouldn't really be a problem for me if I didn't need/want friends. Call me snooty, but I'm not the kind of person who becomes friends with just anyone. They have to be interesting. Kristiansand lacks interesting people. Oslo ("big city" Norway) has no shortage of interesting people. So, to recap, diversity = interesting.

So, with the lack of interesting people (to be fair, I have met one or two...), comes a lack of friends. Friends that have interesting insights on different situations, pose interesting questions and can have intelligent debates about religion, politics, etc.

I'm slowly weeding through the population of 20-somethings in Kristiansand, in search for this elusive diversity. Diversity, if you're out there, show me a sign.

ps. on a very random side note, the strike is over! Thank god, taking care of three kids was driving me batty!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


No, I'm not talking about baseball (Lisa and Alex) or bowling (Sarah? I don't know..who bowls?), but a worker strike.

Don't get too alarmed, this is an annual thing for Norwegians. Every year the public sector (people who work in schools, hospitals, etc.) organize a strike to get better pay/benefits from the government. They don't return to their jobs until a compromise has been made. Friday was the first round of strikes; certain schools and other public organizations in the major cities in Norway closed. This included the oldest boy's school. Since they have not reached an agreement yet, tomorrow starts the second round of strikes. Even more schools and other public organizations are closed. This includes the little girl's preschool and the other boy's kindergarden. They will be closed until an agreement has been made.

Now, they aren't out on the street holding signs on account of this strike, however, some have chosen to "sit in" in schools and other places. I also saw women at the gym wearing shirts that read "strike"-- or "streike" in Norwegian.

These strikes raise a problem; when the kids can't go to school who stays home with them? I can imagine there have been many parents taking time off to stay home with their kids...which is inevitably slowing the system down to an even slower dripping molasses.