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Two Month Update

March 7, 2011

Tomorrow marks my ninth week here in Norway. That means that in exactly one week, half of my time here will be spent. This is a thought I have been tossing around in my head lately. I have met so many people, learned so many things, and visited three new countries in this short amount of time. I think that the second half of my study abroad experience will be over before I know it, and I will be on a plane back to the US. This thought brings me some discomfort for several reasons:

  • I am still in need of a place to live next year. My friend Katelyn and I (and my mom) are searching for apartments online. And they are going to take a trip to Madison so see them.
  • I am anxious about registering for both my online summer class and my classes for the fall. If I don’t get in the classes I need, I will have to go through a lot of scheduling conflicts so that I can complete my major in one more year.
  • I am trying to complete another certificate program at UW: Global Perspectives. I’ve been e-mailing professors and advisers trying to work out the details so I can be ready for class registration in a little over two weeks.
  • I wish I were in Madison right now so I could stand beside my classmates and coworkers and protest for worker’s rights. This is such an important time for Wisconsin, and I wish I could partake.

Thus, all of these things have been on my mind lately, and they’ve made it difficult to concentrate on the present. It’s hard to handle matters back in the US from abroad. Each morning when I wake up, I tell myself to take advantage of every day. My time here is short and precious, and I need to value every moment of it so that I do not regret wasting my time in Norway thinking about the future.

That being said, here is a quick roundup of what I’ve been doing these last couple of weeks.

My Telemark class went on a tour of a shop that makes the traditional Norwegian costume: bunads! Each region of Norway has a unique bunad, and these costumes became popularized during the early 20th century during Norway’s nationalism movement. The costumes themselves can date back to the early 18th century. Today. bunads are worn on the national day, May 17, as well as at weddings, baptisms, and other formal occasions. The picture to the left is of a typical Telemark bunad. Each region can also have a few different models, but these are the ones I liked best. I believe they are from western Telemark. Each bunad, along with the silver and gold embellishments, are handmade and cost about $10,000. That is not a misprint. $10,000.

My friluftsliv (outdoor life) course took a trip up into the high mountains on Friday. It was about a 15-20 minute drive from the school to the Lifjell mountains. The view was just fantastic! Although the weather was cloudy, it was quite warm, and we enjoyed a day of skiing. At lunchtime, we ate around a fire in a 6 foot deep hole that our classmates dug for us (complete with snow benches)! Our classmates who dug the hole are in a different program of study. They take nine day expeditions into the mountains where they ski and camp each night. Remember, it is still winter in Norway, so camping out for over a week is pretty intense!

My finished pinnebrød

We also got to cook pinnebrød around the fire. Pinnebrød literally means stick bread. It is dough wrapped around a stick and cooked over the fire. In Norway, it is commonly wrapped around a hot dog or other piece of meat and then roasted over the coals for a hearty lunch on the trail. It is a bit different from the American tradition of roasting marshmallows, but it was just as tasty.

Yesterday, Norway celebrated Fastelaven. It is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, where young children make Fastelavnsris (twigs decorated with feathers). The twigs are pussy willow branches, and when you place them in water, they bloom and become a pretty, springtime decoration. Another tradition is to eat Fastelavnsbolle. Boller is a Norwegian sweet roll, and Fastelavnsbolle is the same sweet roll with vanilla custard and whipped cream in the center. It is also common to eat them with jam. Last night, the international students celebrated by eating fastelavnsbolle and making fastelavnsris. It was a good time, and now I have a pretty feather tree for my room. From what I understand, Fastelaven seems like the Norwegian version of Mardi Gras.

I have a busy week ahead as well. On Wednesday, my sustainability management course is visiting REC, a solar power company in Porsgrunn. Thursday is the Internasjonal Dag (International Day) where my classmates and I will be hosting a table for our home countries. Because the US is so large, each state is permitted to have its own table. I’m excited to finally share about my state with people since I’ve spent so much time learning about Norway.

Also, I will be traveling to Gdańsk, Poland from March 19-22. I’m very excited to go, especially because I never planned on visiting that country before. It should be a unique, exciting trip.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    March 7, 2011 5:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Boy time is flying by! Seems like yesterday when you were preparing for your trip. Remember how nervous we were?
    And now you’re going to Poland. You continue to make the most of this study abroad experience. It’s so good!! Grandma is excited about your trip to Poland. Great Grandpa Joseph would be proud.

    Good luck at International Day! On Wisconsin!

  2. Jim McGrath permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:08 pm

    Is that an optical illusion or is your Pinnebrod bigger than that man next to it?

    • March 8, 2011 11:49 am

      Definitely an optical illusion. The picture above it is more representative of the actual size.

  3. nanswa permalink
    March 12, 2011 1:43 am

    I think that you took a closeup of your Pinnebrod. So when you look at that picture, it looks like a gigantic pinnebrod. LOL. Like its actually bigger than the people.

    • nanswa permalink
      March 12, 2011 1:45 am

      Oh gosh, please ignore my comment. Its late and I looked at 19 apts. today in Madison!

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