Friday, December 10, 2010

Time Flies...

I have officially hit my last Friday :(  Only 3 days from now, I will be back in my little apartment in Minneapolis.  It will be SO NICE, but having to say all of these goodbyes is getting harder by the day. 

What I've been up to for the last week?  Tying up loose ends and slowly relieving stress.  My last weekend was uneventful, and I started off the week with my exams on Monday.  It was a 30 minute oral exam, and through some bumps, I came away with a B, which is like an A- in the American system.  I've been told that this is a really good grade for this I'm happy.  And glad it's over.  Tuesday we had another group meeting, our last preparation, which I was expecting to be about an hour, and it ended up being 5.  UGH!  But that evening I had to go run some errands in town, including buying a glass at Hard Rock Cafe for Jordan who collects them.  After that I went to the Christmas Market at Aker Brygge and explored that a bit.  I came away with some reindeer sausage that I'm excited to bring home and share!!

AK, Camilla, Kristin
Wednesday was FINALLY our presentation.  A half hour in front of the whole 3rd year class and teachers.  We did reallllly well.  People were laughing and enjoying it, and we got really great feedback.  It was fun, but so exhausting to plan.  Another thing that I am glad is over!  That evening I met up with Kristin and Helene for some coffee at a cafe "bar".  We had some good girl talk, and those girls are so awesome.  Only one person bothered us, and I got to see Helene's awesome "Get the heck away from us" routine...she is WAY too nice!  We headed home pretty early because they had lots to do the next day and I tired as well.  But I will see them again tonight before I officially have to say goodbye :)

Thursday we had our farewell lunch for the international students.  We had a traditional Norwegian Christmas lunch.  Yummy bread, smoked sheep and pig meat, traditional cookies, fruit, everything was really good.  Last night we also had a class party to say goodbye to everyone.  They were in the English class because they will all be traveling abroad next semester.  So while we're going home, they're all leaving!  We had LOTS of treats to share, and played the present game with the dice..I got Toy Story PEZ from Camilla!  The subway ride home was fun with Anette, Aleks, and Matthias. 

That's the quick version!!  It will be one of my last blogs, I'll be home SOON!  Today we had lunch with the old crew.  The boys got nice gifts for all of us:  Magda got brown cheese, Matthias got grot, Anette got bernaisesauce, and I got chocolate!  They were all really special personal gifts, thanks boys!  After that we had to say goodbye to Anette, which was really hard!  It reminded me of saying goodbye to my freshman year roommate, Lucy.  I will miss Anette, that little crazy girl, love her!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Girls, Girls, Girls

Anddd it's been ANOTHER week since I've blogged, again, nothing too exciting, but I'll get you in the loop :)  Last Saturday (27th) we had a little girls night.  Christine and Anette came over, we made pizzas, made ourselves beautiful, indulged in a few cold beverages and head out in the cold to find some dancing!  We went to a place we found online, and it had a cover charge so we looked for something else for a while.  We found all places that had cover charges and lines, by this time it was 1 in the morning and we were FREEZING, so we headed back the first place.  It was really small, the music was boring, and there weren't many people, but it was just us girls, we paid to get in, so we made ourselves have fun :)  It was worth it, nice to finally go dancing and have some time with girlies.

The week then brought my tons more group work, I will be 10 times fabulous when this damn project/presentation is OVER (next Wednesday).  My momma turned the big 5-0 on Tuesday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her!!  (*And my oldest brother turns the big 3-0 tomorrow, Happy Birthday to him too!!)  Wednesday the choir sang during the lunch break in the small church service.  That was the last performance I will do here :(

Thursday was when I had to lead the last group session in my 2nd year class.  Berit and I were responsible.  The day started rough when I turned off my alarm!!  Mike does that ALL the time, but I have never done it...and when do I do it?  When I am in charge of teaching the friggin' class!  But I made it on time, only to see that we needed to do dishes so we had coffee cups, and the internet was down, blah blah...CRAPPY MORNING!  I was so glad when it was over.  I also brought my Norwegian flag to class for people to sign, it is getting filled up with lovely messages :)  I will really treasure that keepsake for a long time.

Later that day, we had the last choir rehearsal of the semester.  It was bittersweet.  Choir was really something that kept my head on straight here.  The girls are amazing, talented, and just really sweet all together.  They all signed my flag as well, and Kristian, our pianist!  Afterward, 6 of us headed to a cafe to say a little goodbye.  It was such a fun time.  We talked, laughed, got serious, shared, and prayed.  These girls are really strong in their faith, and got me to pray out loud...which I don't even remember the last time I did that, I don't even know if I ever have!!  They are really passionate, and I regret it now that we haven't spent more time together this year...we all had that feeling when we were saying goodbye.  I had to say goodbye to Helena-the "director" of our choir, who was essentially my first friend here.  She is going to Brazil on Sunday, so that was our real goodbye :(  She is an AMAZING person, and I will really cherish our friendship for a long time. 

Today was another group meeting (barf), more homework, and I ended the night be going to a Christmas concert in the city with a few friends.  It was really laid back, and had some really talented people, one group really reminded me of Mumford & Sons!  A group that Helena is in, Funky Baptized, performed, so we went to support her.  It was a fun time, and the only not-fun thing was waiting forever for a tram and a bus on the way's COLD!  Yet another negative of public transportation...

The title?  This week I spent time with girls, and not only with my boys.  I'm learning!  ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


So I haven't posted for a while, basically because nothing has really happened.  I have been doing schoolwork constantly, attempting to read ALL of the assignments for one of my classes, as well as doing new and old readings for another.  On top of that, my huge group project with my third year class has taken up this whole past week.  We worked every day from 9am until 7pm, literally.  And we FINALLY got it all printed out yesterday.  It is over 11,000 words long and ended up being 36 pages...time to celebrate, right?!  Nope...we still have to write a process report for our group, and put together a presentation to deliver in front of the whole 3rd year class and teachers, over 70 people.  So I'm not rejoicing quite yet.  Also next week, I have to lead the last group session for my 2nd year class and prepare everything for my exams on December 6th...EWWW!! 

Along with all this schoolwork, I have been coughing constantly, leading me to not get much sleep, in turn making me more sick.  Needless to say, I'm absolutely exhausted, but since I don't have much time here (only 2 more weeks!), I want to be doing things.

Rachel from Concordia picked up her boyfriend from the airport on Saturday the 20th, and stayed at my school for the weekend, so we had dinner together and got to do some more catching up.  We luckily got their keys because the lady spoke absolutely NO English...which is pretty rare in Norway.  It was nice to see her again and finally meet the Jon she is always talking about!

This past Monday, Aleks and I went to House of Pain in Oslo to get my tattoo.  It is my ultimate souvenir from Norway, and I never want to forget my time here.  Marco was really nice, helped me make some good decisions for my tattoo, and now I love it!  At one point he said, "The cross is blue, right?" which gave us a good laugh, because Iceland's flag is the exact opposite of Norway's, so that would have been a big mistake!  It didn't take very long, and I have been needing a release lately, so I just took the pain and got such a high from it!  I gave him a nice tip, which isn't very common in Norway, so I hope he enjoyed!  So now I am in the healing process, which is more painful than the actual tattoo, in my opinion...  Aleks was anxious the whole time, asking "Does it hurt?!" ...little baby, haha. 

Thursday, I had class all day, followed by choir, which still never fails to make my day better.  I absolutely love it.  We ended a bit early to head out to the woods for a Christmas gathering with DiaVillmark.  It was pretty cold, but we had a fire, shared some food, and of course, good friendship and conversation.  I left a bit early with Linn Eli to head back because I was still sick and figured I should get back indoors.  But I am so glad I went, it was a fun time...and I always love having my clothes smell like bonfire :) 

Last night I was supposed to go bowling with friends, but had to finish my paper instead.  So I met them at Aleks' place later in the night for a cider.  It was really nice to just relax and listen to so music.  We went from being at Aleks' like 4 times a week to not being there at all.  This was our first time there since Halloween, almost a MONTH, so it was a fun time. 

Hopefully that was a quick update!  Basically I am missing home right now...not that I don't love being here (I DO!) but right now, "here" is really stressful, so it is making home seem much nicer.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, luckies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All in All?

All together, Mike's visit was a success!  We were exhausted, and poor thing, he had to go to work right after he got back :(  I on the other hand, have been doing straight up homework since he left, literally.  Anette also came to me and said that she was going to back to Finland for good, so I had to send her off on Monday afternoon.  I miss having her right next door, but she will be back for exams, so that made me feel better.  But...I just wanted to reflect a bit on the whole visit:

-9 days can go ridiculously fast
-France is not that much cheaper than Norway (from my observations)
-I liked the Paris subway system because you never waited more than 5 minutes at any time of day.  In Oslo you can wait a long time, especially a low traffic times
-I am insanely sick of rain
-RyanAir cares only about the flight, not the passengers
-Shops were open so late in Paris, it sucked to come back where everything closes at 4 or 5
-French people are rude, just like everyone says.  Norwegian people are just shy.
-French sounds gross, it was nice to come back and hear Norwegian :)
-I am tired of museums/artwork for a while
-Being a tourist can get exhausting
-I am a clean person, but having our stuff in my room made it feel more homey, now it feels empty
-I still LOVE taking pictures
-Europe is way cooler than the US...sorry, Mt. Rushmore just doesn't measure up!
-I am so glad I pushed myself to go through with this experience, totally worth it

Home Sweet Norway

Thursday morning we had to get up really early, once again, to call a taxi to get to the coach park to ride back to the airport.  This airport (Beauvais, Paris) absolutely SUCKS.  I recommend not going there, ever.  It is small, the people are rude, and things are disorganized.  This is where the ATM wouldn't take either of our cards, the stupid guy made me put my purse in a suitcase because RyanAir only allows one bag (even though I took it out right after we walked past, obviously), the screens didn't tell you which gate to go to, they made you wait outside, and various other idiotic things.  Needless to say, by this point, all we wanted was to be back in OSLO.  That was too much to ask though, because our plane couldn't land, we got rerouted to a different airport, from which they decided to bus us to the original one.  CHAOS!  They didn't tell anyone where to go, when the buses would be there, how long it would take, ughhhh!!  Unluckily, we had bought a 2-way bus ticket when we left from Oslo, so we HAD to go to this other airport, otherwise we would have just left from there to get back to Oslo city.  Then when we got there, there were no buses to take us to Oslo, (even though they say that if your plane is delayed they will wait) so we had to wait for another plane to land and take THAT bus.  Complete idiocy, we were tired, hungry, and just wanted to be home.  We were supposed to be back at 12, and rolled in to my place at 6. 

Being that we lost a whole day, we just got groceries (I had none left...we have a food stealer and I didn't want to lose food while we were on our trip), made some food, and relaxed that evening.  Traveling is really exhausting!  We slept in the next day (Friday) before heading to Vigeland's Park to take some pictures, as well as City Hall, and the Opera house.  I have seen these multiple times now...but they're the big (FREE!) things that everyone should see in Oslo.  The next day we went to the Resistance Museum (about the occupation during WWII) which we both really enjoyed.  I also finally made it to the Munch Museum, everyone has been telling me to go there, and it was free this time of year!  He is most famous for "The Scream" and "Madonna".  I actually really enjoyed his artwork, he has a pretty unique style.  We saw more of his work when we went to the National now we have seen 2 versions of "The Scream" and "Madonna" with different medias.  They hurried us out of the National Gallery pretty fast at close, so we checked out the Royal Palace quick before we headed home. 

That was our last night together, and the next day was hard.  It was so nice being taken care of, not sleeping alone, and having a little bit of home here with me.  I tried to send a bunch of stuff home with Mike so that my packing will be *easier* when I leave here.  One of Mike's planes was delayed almost 5 hours, and we he got back he accidentally got the wrong luggage :(  I have BRIGHT GREEN luggage, and somehow, someone on his flight had the exact same stuff, I've never seen it before!  But luckily our luggage was waiting there when we went back the next day (good thing we only live like 10 minutes from the airport)!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Freee Day!

Wednesday was our last day to explore Paris.  Since our Museum Passes were no longer valid, we saved all of the free stuff for this day.  This was the only day it didn't rain.  We started out at the Carnivalet Museum, basically about the history of the city.  There were mainly paintings, art, old artifacts, nothing extremely special, but we enjoyed it.  They did have Napoleon's death mask and his suit of armor, pretty neat.  Then we headed to see the Eiffel Tower, up close and personal...Finally!  The thing is huge, Mike couldn't believe how big it was.  There were people trying to sell you stuff constantly, and it was all the same stuff!  Insanely annoying, but we managed.  We took lots of pictures, did a bit of people watching, and admired all the dogs at the dog park.  I know so many people have seen it, but it's pretty neat to think little-old-me has been to the Eiffel Tower :) 

We got a crepe with chocolate and chantilly and watched the carousel by the tower.  There were 2 couples taking wedding pictures, and they couldn't have looked less thrilled, it was really weird.  But we headed back and went to the Sacre Coeur to see the inside finally.  It looked really beautiful because it was dark by the time we got back.  We didn't know, but there was a service going on, so we got to listen to singing while we walked around, and we sat in the service for a while.  Pretty neat feeling, although we obviously couldn't understand anything.  We headed outside at 7pm to see the Eiffel Tower's "light show" where it gets all sparkly for 10 minutes at the top of every hour. 

That night we decided to hit up the Hard Rock Cafe, and apparently everyone else did the same time.  We waited for about an hour, and didn't get out of there until after 11pm.  But our waiter was really funny, the burgers were good, and we got a free chocolate sundae to share for dessert.  It was a spendy bill, but now that's my 4th Hard Rock visit :)  Before we went home, we went to see the Moulin Rouge all lit up.  It looked really cool, and there were TONS of people outside.  We walked the block back home, absolutely exhausted, packed up, and got ready to get up super early to get our flight back to Norway. 

Tired Feet!

At Versailles
On Tuesday, I started the morning rough by putting hydrogen peroxide in my eye, ouch!  It was the travel contact solution Mike brought me, supposed to use a special case and I didn't so my eye was all red and extremely painful.  Anyway, we wanted to take advantage of the last day of our Museum Pass so we took the RER (train) out to see Versailles.  This place was HUGE!  King Louis XIV had it built, and he was definitely making a statement.  There were also paintings and statues of him everywhere, he was full of himself.  We spent several hours there and realized that the part you tour is only one little section of the palace.  There are also miles of garden and water features surrounding it.  Inside was filled with lots of art, old furniture, and "artifacts".  There was also a ridiculous art exhibit running through the whole castle, some Japanese totally ruined the feel, but oh well.  Audio-guides were free so we got to learn along the way while seeing some beautiful things.  It rained the whole time until we went outside :)  For lunch we ate some McDonalds...boring right?  NOPE!  I had my first BigMac, ever, and Mike had beer with his meal.  WEIRD!  We were so tired on the train ride back, but still had lots to see!
Place de la Concorde

We went to Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette (we saw her escape door at the palace) and thousands of other people were guillotined.  There is a huge obelisk from Egypt there and some fountains, but mainly...the traffic was crazy!  There was also the Tuileries Garden, so we walked through that a bit and realized we were right across the river from the Museum d'Orsay, so we went there...which was the beginning of our over/under estimation of distances.  Everything looks really far away on maps, but really close in person, so we walked everywhere that night, and it ended up being a LOT, our feet and legs were dead by the end of this night.  But we were glad we went to that museum.  Van Gogh's famous self-portrait was there, and we also got to see some great Monet, as well as a bunch of pointillism and pastel paintings.  We also went to their exhibition of Gerome, who we had never heard of, but it was amazing!  His paintings were so realistic they looked like photographs, very different than the approach of many other older artists.  *No cameras though :(

The Arc de Triomphe
Mike at the top with the Eiffel Tower
We then headed to our final destination of the night, the Arc de Triomphe.  We walked all the way down Champs Elysees, a famous avenue with lots of expensive stores on it.  I got my first French crepe on the way, nutella...mmm so good!  Somehow I got chocolate EVERYWHERE, even inside my jacket, which we had a good laugh about pretty much all week.  We walked under the huge roundabout that surrounds it (chaos), and made it to the top after many more spiral stairs.  I used to think spiral staircases were cool, but after walking over 1,000 of them in a few days, they are no longer fun.  There is also a "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" under the arc, very neat considering I have laid a wreath on the one in the US at Arlington Cemetery. 

That night we had planned to eat a a French restaurant, but the homey ones were ridiculously small, the tables were too close for our American taste, so we found a much less crowded one with an English menu.  Mike finally got to try veal, but I felt awful when I tasted it, baby cow :(  I had a pizza that was AMAZING, which is strange because there was no meat on it.  It had eggplant, zucchini, and lots of other veggies, and it is now definitely in my top 5 favorite pizzas I've ever eaten, YUM!