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Orienting myself

January 7, 2011

Hello everyone! I wanted to thank you all for your kind, encouraging comments. I have received an outpouring of support which has really helped me focus and remember why I came to Norway in the first place. Your comments and messages have really lifted my spirits and brightened by day, and I really enjoy feedback, so keep it coming!

Things have been relatively busy these past couple days. After much time, I finally got internet in my room, so now I have something to do during down time. Yesterday was the first day of orientation for the international students. We had a meeting where we learned about the details of paying our tuition and housing bill. We also got a lesson in Norwegian cleaning products (which are somewhat different than American products…more on that later). After that, we got a tour of campus and of Bø. The campus is only one building. Needless to say, it is a big (albeit welcome) change from my home institution of 42,000 undergraduates. Bø is just as small as the school, but it has everything a person needs to live well. There is even a small shopping mall with a good variety of stores. Supermarkets are certainly not in short supply here. Despite the town’s small population (~5,000), there are about five grocery stores. However, all of the stores are quite small, yet they offer everything a Norwegian likes to eat.  That being said, prices of goods here are outrageous. This will likely be a common theme amongst my posts as I have had to completely change my diet and eating habits. Yesterday, I purchased Norwegian ramen noodles called YumYum.

Many people have asked me if it is dark here all the time. The simple answer is, no. While night does fall rather early (around 3:30, 4:00 PM), it starts to get light out around 10 AM. However, I would not describe the lighting conditions in the morning as “dark.” It looks more like dusk. Here are two short videos to give you an idea. Click the links below.

Yesterday, we also got to take a trip to the Bø museum where we were taught how to make traditional Norwegian artisan bread in an old brick oven. It was lovely, and the bread is quite good! However, the whole process is incredibly time consuming, and were were in an old house with no heat. While our bread was baking, we toured this old home which used to also be a general store. The owner packed up all of his goods during World War II and never returned, so all of the artifacts in the museum are genuine from that era, though the home/store predates the war by about one hundred years.

I also had the opportunity to try Brunost (brown cheese). It is a traditional Norwegian goat cheese that turns brown during the heating process due to caramelization. Consequently, there is a distinctively sweet taste to this cheese. After the bread baking, I headed to Rema 1000, one of the local supermarkets, to purchase my first beer (legally). I picked up a bottle of the cheapest beer for 6 NOK (about $1). All other alcohol is extremely unaffordable. I chose lettøl which means “light beer.” All I can really say about it is that it’s better than Keystone Light! Later that evening, some of the international students gathered to play cards. The Americans taught the Europeans how to play spoons, and we made quite a bit of fun out of it by creating our own rules. We taught each other children’s songs from our home countries, and it was a good time.

Today, we had more orientation. I got my visa printed in my passport, I received my official registration for the university (Høgskolen i Telemark), I got my school ID card, and did some shopping for some other items I had not picked up earlier in the week. This weekend I get to relax and spend more time with the international students. We are having a get together at the local pizza place tomorrow, and then we are heading to the student pub for the first big party of the year. Unfortunately, the paries at Kroa i Bø all cost money, but the international students do get a discount since the cost of living in Norway is so high.

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Til i morgan,


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    January 8, 2011 1:52 am

    Thanks for the videos! And yes, it is like dusk. I’m glad there are light posts along the way. And looks like you definitely need some good traction walking the paths. Are there sidewalks under the snow?

    The bread looked amazingly delish! I would have to try the Brunost. I might like sweet cheese!

    Enjoy the Norwegian pizza and the party at Kroa i Bo.

  2. Anna permalink
    January 9, 2011 3:10 pm

    That sounds really cool! Keep on posting!

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