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Would you like the short explanation or the long?

October 8, 2010
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A lot of people have been surprised to learn that I will be spending five months in Bø, Norway this coming spring semester. The town is small, the school is small, and the weather is cold. For those who know me well, I consider myself to be a pretty urban-friendly person who goes to a school with a student population of 42,000. And I hate winter. I’ve studied French for eight years, and I don’t speak a word of Norwegian. So why in the world would I choose to go to Norway? The answer is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is because I want to study abroad, and the cost of this program made it fairly attractive compared to the more well known European cities. To answer the question less simply, I need to go back two years to when I first started college.

As a freshman, I came to the University of Wisconsin scared and homesick. All of my high school friends went to other schools, and I felt alone and isolated. I missed my family, and I missed my cat. A coworker I chatted with at the dining hall (our dreaded place of employment) went to the fall semester’s study abroad fair. She had plans to go abroad her junior year. At the time, I could not even conceive wanting to leave the country and everything familiar for several months, and I had decided that studying abroad would not be a part of my undergraduate experience.

Time went on, and I became more comfortable in my environment. I took more and more French classes, I met some friends, and being away from home started to feel less foreign. By the time the spring semester of my sophomore year rolled around, I had lived with two different roommates, and even by myself.

When my second roommate moved out, I spent a lot of time alone. All my friends lived in the dorms, and I was by myself in a one bedroom apartment with my cat off campus. I hated it. I hated spring semester, and I hated the winter. At that time, I decided I would study abroad in the beautiful mediterranean south of France the following spring. It was the perfect solution to cure the pseudo-seasonal affective disorder I seemed to encounter each year around that time. The prospect of going to la belle France gave me something to look forward to, and I had committed myself to the idea.

I made it through the semester, and I spent my summer at home in Wausau, WI nannying for three children. In August, I moved into a new apartment farther from campus, and decided that it would be too difficult to come up with the $20,000 to study abroad in France during the spring semester. I was somewhat devastated because I had spent years learning French and wanted to practice my skills and become immersed in French culture.

As classes began, however, I got that same feeling back I had this spring. Schooltime blues. It was at this point that I decided to look at study abroad programs in other parts of Europe. Unfortunately, I’m not adventurous enough at this point in my life to want to study in a continent other than Europe, so that helped to narrow my search. Scandinavia has always been appealing to me because I have Finnish and possibly Norwegian and/or Swedish heritage on my father’s side of the family. After talking to friends who have or are currently studying abroad there, I decided I would too. I’ve wanted to learn Norwegian for the past few years, so the country was an obvious choice.

Norway is a gorgeous country with a society Americans can learn a lot from. The capital city, Oslo, has the highest cost of living out of any city int the world! The land is beautiful, and they are a nation committed to environmental sustainability. I have always been interested in this field, and I am so excited to go to a place that takes measures to limit their carbon footprint as much as possible.

I will be attending a small school, Telemark University College, in a town with a population of less than 5,000 people. This is particularly appealing to me because I go to such a massive school in the state capital. I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to experience something completely opposite of my everyday life because it will give me a refreshing perspective and a true taste of the Norwegian culture.

It’s been a long road of logistics, paperwork, applications, and last minute decisions, but…I’m going to Norway!

The existence of this blog three months prior to my departure is a testament to my excitement. I hope to develop a broad audience of readers, and I will update this periodically. I think that preparation for a five month journey can be quite noteworthy. I already have an arsenal of stories I hope to share in the near future.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    October 14, 2010 2:25 am

    Nice. I look forward to your future stories

  2. John Noble permalink
    January 6, 2011 1:11 pm

    Lisa – sounds like you handled all that came your way very well. It brought back memories of when my son Nathan studied abroad but in Thailand. From Chris’ and my experience of Norway, you will find the country challenging and beautiful. We had nothing but good experiences with the people and culture. Once you are settled and feel more comfortable with your surroundings, I’m sure you will find the mass transit system to your advantage. Take care and stay away from the snowplows.

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