The End of an Experience

I started writing this on my flight home, but didn’t finish. I’m finally getting around to finishing it after all Christmas busy-ness is over. ;) This post is about my last week in Norway, which was basically my trip to Tromsø. Tromsø is located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. It’s home to the midnight sun in the short summer they have and home to the Polar Night when from November to January the sun in not visible.

Our flight left Oslo Tuesday night at around 7:00pm and we got into to Tromsø around 9:00pm. We took the shuttle bus that runs from the airport to the city center, but the place we booked to stay, Tromso Camping, was not really in the city center. Since there was only us and one other group on the bus, the bus driver was extremely nice and said he would drop us off at the camping site, even though the bus normally does not run anywhere near there. It was very nice and just another example of how nice Norwegians are and especially from Tromsø. Everyone I met there was so nice and helpful, if they spoke English. All the young people speak English well like in Oslo, but not so much the older people. That was definitely a difference to how Oslo. The use of English is a lot less up in Tromsø than in Oslo.

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The bus driver dropped us off at the end of the drive way to the campsite. I knew we were in the Arctic Circle, but what I did not think was the everywhere would be so icy and slippery! I cannot even begin to describe how slippery the roads and sidewalks were when we got there. They had sand/rock salt put down on some parts of road, but it almost had been frozen into the ice so it defeated the purpose of it. We made it to the cabin, which was really nice. It had a nice little kitchen area, a pullout couch, a flat screen TV, one bedroom with a full size bed, a decent bathroom and heated floors throughout the place. I was really surprise how nice the cabin was and would definitely recommend them to anyone who is planning on going to Tromsø.

After bringing our stuff inside we decided to find a grocery store to stock up on food for the week so we didn’t have to eat out – because remember it’s Norway and everything is crazy expensive. ;) We took the city bus towards the city center. It was nice because there was a bus stop about a 15 minute or so walk from our cabin. If it wasn’t so icy, it probably could be walked in like 10 minutes or so. We got a bunch of groceries and went back to the cabin and had hotdogs for a late dinner. I actually never really liked hotdogs, but I’ve ate the most hotdogs during my time in Norway than I have in a really long time. They just taste so much better in Norway. Hahaha

Wednesday morning Ira, Steve and I had booked a day of dog sledding, so we had to be up early and at the city center by 8:45am for them to pick us up. We arrived at the dog sledding location after a a half-hour or so drive. As soon as we got there, we all got changed into more suitable arctic snow gear and then got back into the van to go to where the dogs were. Before starting to dogsled, we had to help harness all of the dogs up. That in itself, took quite a bit of time. The dogs were a lot smaller and leaner than I expected, but very strong. They pulled you in the direction they wanted to go. Since there was an odd number in our group, I ended up being paired with the instructor, Tor. I road inside the dogsled the first half of the way. It was quite relaxing sitting in there, taking in the beauty of the surroundings. At the halfway point, we stopped and the guide let everyone know it was the halfway point and that if they wanted to switch drivers or mushers, than do it now. I thought, that since I was with the instructor I wouldn’t be able to drive and was actually okay with it, but he said he wanted me to try it. It was a little nerve wracking mushing the sled of dogs with him sitting in it, when he’s competed in the Iditarod, the worlds biggest sled dog race. He joked around and said he was going to take a nap and that I was in charge. ;) I drove for about a half hour or so! It’s a lot harder than it looks because you have to balance standing on the sled, control the speed of the dogs by using the breaks, and since I was driving the first sled I had to also every so often turn around to to make sure the other 8 sleds were still coming. After the ride, we had to unleash the dogs and put them back into the kennels and then feed them. It was definitely a once in a life time experience and I enjoyed it. Not many can say they went dog sledding in the arctic circle in Norway.

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Thursday morning we got up and made breakfast. Then we headed into town to rent cross country skis. We spent the afternoon skiing through cross country trails around the city of Tromso. At first, it was super hard to get used to how to ski up the hills, but after I figured out how to do it, it was really fun. We even were able to sit up and eat our lunch atop a hill and watch both the sunrise and set during our lunch. ;) That was kind of the running joke throughout the trip is that we could go do something outside and watch both the sunrise and sunset within the span of 2 or so hours.

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Thursday night we rented a car in hopes to drive somewhere to see the Northern Lights. To say the least, we were very lucky and saw some amazing lights! I knew 3 or 4 people who went to Tromso earlier in the semester and did not see any. That might have been the highlight of the trip. The pictures don’t really show how amazing they are. It’s almost indescribable being so far north between mountains with these amazing greenish lights dancing in the sky.

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Friday we took the cable car in Tromso up to Stor­stei­nen (Big Rock) on mount Fløya, which is 421 meters above sea level. Steve’s friend, who is from Tromso, came with us. The view from up here is amazing, you look right out to the city, the water, and these snow covered mountains! I thought that view was spectacular, but Ole, Steve’s friend, said there’s a cabin at the top and it’s just a short half hour or so hike up. We agreed to it and it definitely was a bit of work. I can give you advice from experience, never go on a hike in skinning jeans and Ugg boots. It just doesn’t work. ;) We made it to the “cabin” it was a little wooden building with a table inside and lots of snow. It wasn’t actually too cold out so we had a snack on the picnic table outside looking out to an even more amazing view.

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After the hike down and back down the cable car, we stopped to get hot chocolate and then it was time to go to the airport to fly back to Oslo. Unfortunately, the flight was 2 hours delayed which sucked because I had hoped I would have had time to start packing that night when I got back, but didn’t get back to my room until after midnight.

Saturday morning, I struggled to get motivation to pack but I finally did. I got most of it done during the day. The friends I went with to Tromso were having a little get together/last party so I went over there for a while… yeah didn’t get home until 3:30am and I had to get on the bus and head to the airport by 6:20am and I still hadn’t cleaned my room which is required before you had your keys back. At the time, it probably was not the best idea because I got about 45 minutes of sleep that night, but in the end I think it all worked out. I literally passed out right away when I got onto my second flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. I was so asleep that after an hour of sleep, I woke up to the stewardess letting the passengers know why we hadn’t left yet and still were parked at the gate… hahahaha yeah I was tired. I slept and watched a couple of movies on the flight back and made it to Minneapolis around 6:00pm Sunday night. I made it through customs no problems, just a half hour wait in line. Then my aunt and uncle picked me up and we went out to dinner for my uncles birthday.  Monday morning we got up and drove to Grand Forks and now as I’m typing this have been home for exactly 1 week. It’s still a weird feeling being home, I had such an amazing 4 and half months in Oslo and I’ve had so many amazing experiences that I will remember forever. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to live in Oslo and study at BI. It’s hard to think of any negative things about my whole study abroad experience. It was almost perfect!  I really feel in love with Oslo and Norway in general. I’ve met so many people and gained many friends from all over the world  these past 5 months and I hope that I can continue to keep in touch with everyone. I sure do miss Oslo, but I know I’ll be back one day because Norway will forever be a part of me now! ♥

Spain & Coming to an End

I had this post written and wanted to post it yesterday, but I’ve been so busy with working on my term paper and hanging out with friends for the last time that I didn’t get around to it.  I leave in exactly 1 week from today, which is definitely a bittersweet thing. I will really miss Oslo and everyone who’s been apart of making this a wonderful experience. Having to do a term paper during the last weekend that a lot of friends will be in Oslo is not the greatest, but I’ve tried to divide my time fairly between the two. ;) Last night I got together with the group of people, who I’d say I hung out with the most, for the last time. It’s so crazy to think that we all met in our “Fadderullan” buddy group over 4 months ago and if it wasn’t for that, we never would have met. I’m just so thankful to have been able to study abroad at such a great school in a wonderful country, surrounded by good people.

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3 Fadderullan amigos! ;)

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So glad to have gotten to know all of you!

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I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture with Nickolas, so I had to add one of him and Sara! He’s my half American Norwegian! :P

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This post probably won’t be as detailed as some of the others about trips in the past. I want to get this typed up and posted by tomorrow before the “72 hours” start of my group term paper. I’m just so tired and should go to bed. ;) I went skiing today! I don’t think you can leave Norway without skiing. That was pretty fun, except I was not the greatest. It’s not like skiing in North Dakota or Minnesota, which are basically a joke compared to skiing in Europe.  And I didn’t get much sleep the last night and the day before I was up at 4:00am to catch a flight. So just bear with me!

This past Wednesday I arrived home from a lovely relaxing 6 days in Spain. My friend Amber is studying in Bilbao for the semester and since I had a little over a week off with nothing planned and didn’t need to use it to study I decided to take advantage, one last time, of being in Europe and take a long weekend trip down to Spain. Amber, and her roommates, were nice enough to let me stay at their apartment during their ‘finals week.’

When I looked for flights to Bilbao, the cheapest I could find left at 6:35am from Oslo Gardermoen. When I booked it, I didn’t really think about how I would get to the airport at that time since the metro doesn’t run that early. Luckily, there is a bus that runs all night near my residence to the central station and then I was able to take the express train to the airport. I had to leave my room at 3:50am to catch the bus and time it correctly so I could make it on the express train to make enough time to get through security at the airport. I had a 2 hour layover in Brussels, Belguim. It ended up turning out to be about 4 hours since my flight was delayed 2 hours. I eventually made it into Bilbao at around 3:00pm and took a bus to the city center in Bilbao to meet Amber. We stopped at a Café & Té, which I believe is a chain cafe throughout Spain before heading to her apartment.

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Amber lives in an area outside of Bilbao called Algorta, so it takes about a half hour metro ride to get to. For dinner that night, we went over to one of her friends apartments and had dinner with a few others. It was kind of weird being with a whole group of Americans. I hadn’t been around that many since before I arrived. That’s one big difference with her exchange is that they are not intermixed with the local students – they just have classes with the rest of the Americans who are on exchange. All the girls I talked to said they didn’t really know any of the local students. I’m really glad of how BI had all the exchange students distributed throughout all the buddy groups so we were given a great opportunity to get to know some Norwegian students.

Saturday morning Amber and I went to meet up with Courtney, a fellow UND student and another girl who’s in the same exchange program, try to catch a bus to Pamplona, the city famous for the running of the bulls. We ended up missing the 10:00am bus so we had to wait until 1:00pm for the next one. So we decided to walk around a bit and eat at a cafe. We got to Pamplona around 3:00 in the afternoon and we were quite hungry and found a place to sit down and eat. I can’t remember the name for it, but we had a three course meal for €13. I had a salad and fish, I also don’t remember what kind it was, but it was very good. For dessert, I had a piece of a chocolate cake type thing. We spent the rest of the day walking around Pamplona and then headed back on the bus to Bilbao.

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Sunday we went to 2 beaches which were amazing. Amber and I had fun goofing around and taking pictures on the beach. It was actually my first time stepping foot in to the Atlantic Ocean. ♥ I wish I lived by the ocean back home. I’d be sitting on the beach all the time. ;) We spent a couple hours at Larrabasterra and then on our walk back to the metro stopped at a restaurant called the Indian Motorcycle cafe or something. It was sooooo American in there. It was weird. hahah  We then headed over to Plentzia which is another sort of suburb outside of Bilbao to meet up with Courtney, Alexa (who’s also a student at UND), and then 2 other girls from their program to watch the sunset on the beach.

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Oh I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the weather was absolutely perfect! I guess the whole month of November was extremely rainy and gross and the day I got there was the first sunny day they’d had in a while. Everyday I was there the weather was perfect. Bilbao is in the north of Spain, so it was not like tank top and shorts weather, but I was in jeans and a tank top for a little bit at the beach. All in all, the weather was a lot warmer than Oslo, so it was a nice change.

Monday morning we again met up with the same girls at Casco Viejo or the old town. I really loved how European and culturally different Bilbao felt. With Oslo, it doesn’t feel too culturally different than home. I mean yes of course there are a lot of differences but probably more similarities to back home. With Bilbao hardly anyone speaks English and the culture is just a lot different. If you weren’t with people who all know Spanish, you’d have a bit of a harder time getting around. We stopped for a snack at a restaurant and all got churros con chocolate. It’s just churros with a cup of chocolate that reminds me of a mix of hot chocolate and chocolate pudding. I could have ate so many of those they were so delicious! We shopped and walked around a few other areas of Bilbao. I was able to buy a couple Christmas presents which was nice. Then we headed back to Amber’s for the night and just hung out. Amber had some school stuff to work on so I cooked us really good chicken taco sort of things for dinner since I had nothing else to do and I enjoy cooking. Hahah

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Tuesday was my last day and I wanted to go back into town to do a bit more shopping. Which I thank Amber for putting up with me and going back and forth from store to store not able to decide what to buy for certain people. ;) Then we went to the last beach for an hour or so since we didn’t make it there on Sunday. Then we went back to her apartment so I could get my backpack packed and my stuff organized. It is so hard to pack for 6 days with just a backpack to put all my stuff in, plus the items that I bought. Thankfully, I was able to carry on a shopping bag in addition to my backpack and purse. Later that night, met up with Amber’s friend Phuong, who we hung out with us when we went shopping for a bit on Monday, to go get kalimotxos or calimochos. I guess it it originated in the Basque country and is quite popular in Bilbao. It just is red wine and coke mixed poured over ice. It sounds super weird, but is actually really good. Might be my favorite drink of choice that I’ve tried abroad. ;)

When we went out a bunch of the other exchange students from Amer’s program ended up being at the same bar as us. So before we left Amber had to say goodbye for good to some of them which made me sad! It definitely put how close to the end of this whole experience is in perspective. It made me realize that I literally will be going back to Oslo and having to say goodbye in a few short days as well! :/ I still have 10 whole days before I’m back in the US, but like I mentioned above I have my term paper to do this weekend and I’m going up north next Tuesday through Friday and then leave early Sunday morning. I don’t have many days left in Oslo and a lot of people are leaving this weekend.

I’ll probably have one more blog post while abroad after I get back from Tromso which is just crazy to think about! It seems like I just arrived yesterday!

Woahh, It’s December Already!

I woke up yesterday morning having a hard time believing it was December already. I seriously cannot believe how soon I come home – 20 days to be exact! ;) Definitely getting excited to see everyone back home. Though this semester has flown by way too fast and it’s starting to sink in how little time I have left. I’ve had such a wonderful experience in Oslo and am so thankful for having the opportunity to study abroad and do a bit of traveling in Europe (My little thanksgiving speech for you :p ).

I have 2 exams left this week – both 4 hour written exams. The one I think will go fairly okay as long as I continue to study these last couple days before. On the other hand, the other one I’m not sure about because I’m already signed up to retake this course next semester at UND. I’ve mentioned in a previous post about that class. :p If you want to read about it, go back a few posts. ;) So basically, it’s kind of a waste of time to take the exam, but I have to go take it anyway.

Early Friday morning I leave for Spain for 5 days to visit my friend Amber, one of my friends who I was in Paris with, who is study in Bilbao. I’m excited to go, minus the fact my flight is at 6:35am and still haven’t decided how I’m getting to the airport since the metro doesn’t run that early. ;) It should be a good trip and great way to end exams. When I get back, the last school related thing I have is a 72 hour group term paper to do that starts on the 13th.

I had all intentions of posting this on Thanksgiving, but didn’t get time to edit it one last time. Then as you can tell, I planned on posting this the following day. Again, that didn’t happen. So finally here is my post about my trip to Bergen.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans reading this! (okay this actually didn’t get posted til the day after, so maybe it should say Happy Black Friday ;) ) Being abroad, it does not feel like it should be thanksgiving at all. Which may be a good thing because I don’t feel so bad about missing it. I had my first exam today which went really well. Unfortunately this was the easiest of the 3 and I still have 2 more to go. But it’s one out of the way! :D

In my last post I ended it mentioning I was going to Bergen for the weekend with Sara, so I shall tell you about my trip. We left on the train from Oslo S at about 11:20pm and arrived into Bergen just before 7:00am. The train itself was not bad, definitely nicer than Amtrak (for Americans to compare it with). There was free wifi, which for me is always nice. I tried to sleep, but had a hard time getting comfortable sleeping sitting up. Sara on the other hand had the window seat, which is always nicer and makes sleeping a lot easier. She ended up passing out right away. :P I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night.

In Bergen, it was still dark when we arrived and not many people were out that early. We left the train station to find out Bed and Breakfast. Sara found a great deal on it, on one of those travel sites (I cannot remember which one it was). Bergen Bed and Breakfast, the name of the BnB, was only about a 10 minute walk from the train station and in a great location. We found the BnB and they were nice and let us put our bags there as soon as we arrived, even though check in was not until noon. We left our luggage and wandered off to find a cafe or bakery to get coffee and breakfast. We had no luck, since it was so early and had to settle on Deli de Luca. I’ve mentioned Deli de Luca in a few of my previous blog posts, but I would describe it as a luxury/high-end convenience store. I had a mocha of course and  Sara and I shared a couple Rosinboller, which is basically a sort of sweet bun with raisins. They’re very good and you can get them almost everywhere in Norway.

After sitting in Deli de Luca for some time, we went across the street to the tourists center, which is just above the famous fish market. At this point, it was after 8:00am and still fairly dark out. We decided to get the Bergen Pass, which is one of those tourist cards that gets you discounts and free entry to certain places. We didn’t know if we were going to get it because we were unsure of how worth it it would be. Luckily, with a student discount it was a great deal and decided to get it since it included entry into almost all the museums, free transportation on the buses and light rail, and because it was off season, it included the ride on the Fløibanen funicular, more on that later.

The only place that opened before 11:00am was the VilVite science museum. It reminded me of the Science Museum in St. Paul. We had some time to kill before it opened, so we walked around that area of Bergen and happened to stumble across their BI campus. Of course, being the proud students that we are had to take pictures in front of the sign and even attempted to get into the building with our student cards. Unfortunately, the swipe card machine, did not allow us Oslo students in. ;)

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(Classiest looking McDonalds I’ve ever seen! ) ^

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We spent an hour or so walking through the science museum feeling like kids again. It was fun and there were some actually pretty neat experiment type activities that were cool. After that, we headed back to the more central area of town on their light rail. One of the stops was called Florida, which I had a kick out of because Bergen is so not like Florida as it’s always cold and rainy in Bergen for most of the year.

Our next stop was the KODE Museum, which has the second largest collection of Edvard Munch paintings, after Oslo. We spent about 45 minutes here and then decided it was time for lunch. We visited the fish market and both had fish and chips. I can not tell you how amazing,  delicious and fresh it was. :D One thing my mom always mentioned before I left, is that she bet I would come back liking fish (because before I only liked crab and lobster type fish – I guess you could call it crustaceans). I hate to admit, but she’s right, I sort of really like fish now. :D

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After our lovely lunch we decided to spend the afternoon strolling along the  Bryggen, the Hanseatic Wharf. It’s the picturesque part of Bergen with colorful wooden buildings that house many shops.  It’s also part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage sites. We did a bit of shopping and just walked around this area in the rain, of course. I can’t say exactly what I bought because somethings might have been Christmas presents for certain people who I know will be reading this. ;)

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We stopped back at Deli de Luca, to warm up and get another hot beverage – coffee for me and tea for Sara. We decided head back to the bed and breakfast and relax for a bit since we were tired from not getting much sleep on the train and to leave some of the museums to do on Sunday since we thought none of the shops would be open.

For dinner, we took the suggestion of the bed and breakfast owner and headed just down the street to this small Italian restaurant called Da Stefano. Sara and I decided to share a vegetarian pizza. When the waiter brought the pizza out the candle on the table was knocked over by pizza, so we had to wait for a new one to be made. Though, the wait was worth it because the pizza was delicious. I didn’t think pizza would be one of the biggest foods I’d miss from home, but I guess I was so used to having it at least once a week since I worked at Papa Murphy’s. ;) & Frozen pizza is just not the same and expensive here that I just don’t buy it. The pizza ended up being enough for dinner and we had left overs to eat for lunch the next day.

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After dinner we went to bed quite early as we were a bit exhausted from the day. Luckily, nothing opened before 11:00am on Sunday that we planned to do, so we were able to sleep in. We woke up Sunday morning with a lovely surprise of snow! ♥ I don’t think I’ve mentioned snow yet in any of my blogs, but there is still no snow on the ground in Oslo and I’ve only witnessed it snowing here once. The other 2 times I was either inside school or it was when we were in Bergen, but obviously none of it has stayed on the ground for more than a day. I, being the winter-lover that I am, waking up to the snow really made my day! It seems so weird not to have snow around and it’s almost December.

We got ready and decided to take advantage of the beautiful snow and bright sun that was shining and go up Mount Fløyen on the funicular. It’s one of Bergen and Norway’s biggest tourist attractions and I can see why. See here for more information on it. The top has the most spectacular views of Bergen and the fjords. We picked the perfect day and time to go up because the snow on the ground just added that perfect touch and true feeling of being in Norway. After enjoying the view and taking pictures, we stopped at the gift shop up there and surprised that it was open on a Sunday. We did a little bit more shopping because it had the best prices out of all the touristy shops I’ve been to here. I definitely recommend going there. There’s a cafeteria type restaurant there as well, so we decided to enjoy a Norwegian waffle with brown cheese and lingonberry jam. I still cannot decide if I like brown cheese or not. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I’m quite unsure how I feel about it. ;)

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After going back down the mountain on the funicular, we visited the Rosenkrantz Tower and Håkon’s Hall. Both are part of the Bergenhus fortress, which is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. The tower was really cool and I always love going to things that have that super old historical feel to them. There were so many narrow spiral stairs and super low entryways into the rooms. Being an American from North Dakota, we are quite deprived from super old historical castle like buildings, which probably is part of why I love these types of places in Europe.

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We went back to the bed and breakfast to warm up and eat our left over pizza! That’s another thing European don’t really do – take home boxes. It’s just not a thing to bring half of your food home from a restaurant to eat it later. After warming up a bit, we realized we only had an hour until the last museum we wanted to see closed. We decided to try to make it the Cultural History Museum, since it was free with our Bergen pass. What we thought would have been an easier way to get there, ended up taking us a lot longer. We took a “scenic route” through a few residential areas before finally finding our way to the museum with exactly a half hour to go through it. Let me just say, I absolutely adore the houses in Bergen. I can’t really even describe them, I just want to live in one – they’re so darn cute with the narrow streets and adksghdigthghddg just thinking about them makes me want to live in one. Hahah seriously though, look at how cute these pictures are of them. (I wish the pictures did justice of how lovely they are)

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I actually really liked the museum and I wish I would have had more time to really look at the stuff. I’ve always sort of liked learning about history so I found it interesting when I think about how I have Norwegian ancestry on my paternal grandmas side of the family. I know it’s far off, but having somewhat of a connection to a part of the world or history makes it much more interesting. I really wish I knew what part of Norway her family is from and I think that is something I’m going to look into when I get home.

Before our trip to Bergen, we had read that there is this tradition in Bergen to build a gingerbread town each year. It also happens to be the worlds biggest gingerbread town. It was crazy to see how creative some of the gingerbread houses were and was very cool. It made me want to go home and make one! :D

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We couldn’t decide where to go to dinner and after wandering around trying to pick a place, we just decided to go back to Da Stefano, the same restaurant as the night before, and order pasta instead. I had tagliatelle with a creamy pesto sauce that was delicious! We had a ton of time to kill since our train didn’t leave until 11:00pm, so we took our time eating and chatting away.

After dinner, we got all of stuff together back at the bed and breakfast and chilled there for a while before finally going to the train station. Again, the bed and breakfast owners were so nice to let us leave our stuff there all day so we didn’t have to carry it around. We arrived back in Oslo around 6:30am and made our way back to our rooms. I went right to bed when I got home and got a few more hours of good sleep because public transportation sleep is never great. ;)

Handelshøyskolen BI

Welcome back, I’m sure it’s been a long two weeks with out a post and that you all are dying to hear from me again. Actually, I’m totally kidding. ;) I sometimes think my blogs would be annoying if I posted too frequently. Anyways, back to the contents of this blog post. I don’t like writing posts that don’t have a central or specific topic. I know they don’t need to have one but I just can’t get myself to write one unless I have a “topic” picked out. It’s just my little bit of ‘OCD’ kicking in. :D Looking back at my previous posts, I haven’t really talked about school all too much. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but never dedicated a post about my school. That being the reason I am actually over here, I thought it was a good idea.

So for those of you that don’t know. I’m studying at BI Norwegian Business School, Handelshøyskolen BI, if you prefer it in Norwegian,  in Oslo, Norway. Before I go directly into talking about my courses, I’ll give you a bit of information about the school. BI, for short,  is a private, independent, specialized university institution with 6  locations in Norway – Oslo being the main campus.* It is one of Europe’s largest business schools with around 20,000 students. Internationally, BI has student exchange agreements with more than 170 institutions in 45 different countries.* If you’re interested in reading more about BI, go here. :D The building itself is amazing and super modern; it reminds me of a shopping mall. Everything about the school screams “Modern Business Professional” from the building itself, to the staff, and to the way the Norwegian students dress. ;) [which I’m going to miss seeing on a daily basis. It’s like walking into a school full of models, not kidding either] :D hahah

This semester, I’m taking 4 courses which is the minimum for full-time and the amount most people take per semester. Classes meet once a week for about 3 hours (I had one that met 4 hours a week) usually with a 10-15 minute break each hour. That took a lot of getting used to and now that I’m done with lectures, I don’t think I ever got used to it. I will say, having the breaks helped me stay focused and make the time go by a bit faster. Comparing that set up with UND, I think I prefer the way it’s set up back home meeting 50 minutes 3 times a week or an hour and 15 minutes twice a week. I do see how more could be more beneficial having longer classes once a week, I just never got used to the concept. Another big difference between classes here, and I think a lot of universities in Europe, is that the majority of the time, your final grade of the course is based off the final exam, and only that exam. There is no course work throughout the semester. Again, I never got used to this at all. I can’t learn by just reading and listening, I need to actually put the knowledge to use and do work and assignments with it. Though, some classes instead of a final exam have term papers. For example, my Business Ethics class had a group term paper instead of a final exam. I’ve completely done with that class and that paper was handed in last week. My Organization and Change course has 2 parts to the final grade: first part is a 30 questions multiple choice test based on the book that you must get 70% or better to complete the 2nd part, which is a group exam paper. We get 72 hours to complete it. My Social Entrepreneurship and Microeconomics exams are both 4 hour written tests. One other thing to note, is that all exams are taken off campus at various random locations in Oslo. For me that just puts an added stress before the exam trying to find the place. They suggest going a couple days before the exam to find the location… takes time away from studying.

This post is starting to sound a bit to critical (I don’t intend for it to be negative at all), but I wanted to give my honest opinion on my classes and the way they are structured.

With all of that said above, I can say I have learned a lot during my semester at BI both relating to the academics themselves and giving me more of a clear direction of what part of business I want to focus on. I definitely can say I’m thankful for having the opportunity to study at such an internationally accredited business school.

I will end this blog with a few random updates before I leave you with some pictures of BI.

I’m going  to Bergen  today, well tonight, with my friend Sara for the weekend. We’re taking the train over night, to save money and not have to pay for a hotel an extra night. We have all day Saturday and and Sunday and then our train leaves Bergen late Sunday evening. We’ll be back into Oslo Monday morning. I’ve been told multiple times my Norwegians that Oslo itself does not depict the true beauty of Norway or represent the real Norway so I’m excited to go head west and experience Bergen.

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Now that I’m completely done with the class lectures, my time will be dedicated to studying and reviewing for the most part. I have my multiple choice exam, mentioned above, next Thursday (on Thanksgiving :( ) and then the following week are my two 4 hour written exams (one on that Wednesday and the other on Thursday). Then that Friday morning I’m heading to SPAIN! :D for 5 days. Then when I get back I have the 72 hour group exam paper. The day after that’s handed in, I’m going up north to Tromsø, part of the arctic circle, for 3 days. Then back to Oslo for one day to pack and then I’ll be on my way back to good ole’ North Dakota! I’m actually getting really excited to come home and see everyone and be back in Grand Forks just in time for Christmas, but I can guarantee after a couple weeks, I’m going to want to be back here because I’ve been having the time of my life. ♥

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 *http://www.topuniversities.com/universities/bi-norwegian-business-school/undergrad

(Map photo credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9wxqcbGevoc/TwW4S8llS8I/AAAAAAAAMeA/dPPbHU8JTpE/s1600/norway-map.gif)

Paris Trip ♥ [part 2]

[Continued from previous post]

Sunday morning we woke up early to go to Versailles. Our plan was to get there right before they opened at 10:00am so we could get there before a huge line formed. We again stopped at Starbucks on the way to the metro and got to the last station where we had to switch strains to head to Versailles. As we were looking on the board to see what track the train we needed was, a worker asked us where we were going. We told him Versailles and then he said this train to Versailles is not running on weekends in October and that you have to go back this other way on a different train. Thankfully, they had directions printed out on paper for everyone, which was really nice. So basically that put us back a whole hour and we finally got to Versailles a little before 11:00am and the line was HUGE! I do not even want to explain how long this line was because first you have to wait in a line to get tickets ( I would recommend getting them online) and then you go wait in another line (the huge line) to get into the actual palace. We got inside and did the whole thing. It was again beautiful and just amazing how old these places are and that they are still intact today. I had a hard time staying focused and continuing to listen to the audio guides they gave us. There were just soooo many people and none of them know where they are walking and always pushing and shoving, which kind of makes for a lesser quality experience. The biggest thing that annoyed me is it was impossible to get a decent picture of the “Hall of Mirrors” where the Treaty of Versailles was signed because it was packed full of people and their giant iPads taking pictures… After walking through the palace, we didn’t have time to see the gardens because Kailey needed to be back by 3:30pm to catch her train back to Germany and since we were all so hungry, we decided to have lunch in Versailles. I had this huge plate of pasta with a cheese sauce and ham. It was very tasty. Then we walked back to the train station and headed back to Paris.

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One of the things we all wanted to try before we left were macarons. Unfortunately the place down the street from our apartment had some in the window and we thought we could get them on Sunday. It turned out they were closed, but McDonalds sells macarons in Paris. So Kailey really wanted to try them and I don’t blame her, so we stopped at McDonalds to try them. Let me just say from experience don’t have McDonalds macarons be your first experience with macarons. ;) They were not horrible, but the ones we bought at an actual like bakery were 100 times better!

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The rest of Sunday night we just relaxed in the apartment and went to bed early since we had to be up by 5:00am to get to the bus stop to go to Mont Saint Michel in the morning.

Monday was a long day, but in the end I’d say it was worth it. We woke up around 5:30am and struggled to get ready. ;) We left the apartment and headed to the metro to go catch the bus to Mont Saint Michel at around 6:20am. We made it there with time to spare. Amber booked our tour, so she checked us in, while Courtney and I tried to find a coffee shop open that early. There ended up being a ‘brasserie’ open across the street that had coffee and croissants. I can tell you I have never had a fresher croissant than that one. It was still warm and fresh out of the oven. It was almond and so delicious.

Back at the tour guide place, that I can’t remember the name of, we waited around until about 7:15pm for the bus to arrive. At this point, I was not sure how to feel about to get on this bus with all these tourists – mainly obnoxious Americans. No wonder we get a bad rap; it’s because of people like these… more on that later. ;)

Anyways, the bus ride was approximately 4 hours there and we made one stop at a “tuck stop.” Mont Saint Michel is located off the coast of Normandy. [more information on what it actually is, look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel] I slept for about the first 2 hours on the bus and then the second half stayed awake because our guide started talking about the Normandy area, which I found very interesting. Also, I loved just staring out the window at the French countryside. It’s beautiful. We finally got to Mont Saint Michel at around noon. This guided tour included lunch so we had lunch at this place called Relais Saint-Michel. We were brought into this huge banquet room with many tables that were labeled for different tour guide companies. Right away at the table were croissants and cider from Normandy. Back to the obnoxious American, this lady who I’d say was in her early 60’s looked like she looks like an old Sandy from the movie Grease with quite the wild hair and an annoying high-pitched southern Texas drawl. The first thing she said to the waiter was, “I need some butter for this bread, (they were croissants) and I mean like a lot, like a pound of butter.” The waiter just stared at her for a minute contemplating if she was even being serious; he later brought her the butter.

Within about 10 minutes we were served our first course. It was a “Mère Poulard” omelet. It was very different and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not, but here is a link about the history of this omelet. [http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omelette_de_la_m%C3%A8re_Poulard] (might need to use google translate ;) ) The second course was salmon, rice and vegetables which was very good. I never thought I liked salmon or any non-crustacean type fish until I came to Norway. Then for dessert we had this Normandy apple pie. It was definitely not like an American apple pie, it actually reminded me of kuchen because the filling was a bit custardy. I thought it was good!

After lunch we hopped on the shuttle to take us to the actual Mont Saint Michel, which is basically this huge rock with an abbey built on top and adjoined by a super tiny town with a population of about 24.

Before heading to the abbey, our guide warned us about the long, many stairs to the top to enter the abbey, I was a bit worried. I had like the “Stairs of Death” from my 6th grade Wolf Ridge field trip pictured. All you Grand Forks kids will get that reference. ;) The walk up was really nothing, and maybe she has to make it seem worse since it’s usually a lot of older people on the tour?? ;) The only downside about the tour is you have to wait for everyone to get to the top before continuing on. Thankfully, our group made it up fairly fast and we started the tour. The guided tour was actually really nice. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the abbey without the guide. She gave us a lot of history and information that made the place a lot cooler. After the tour, we were able to walk around the “city” of Mont Saint Michel and by city I mean basically the one street with stores along it since the population is about 24. On the way back to the shuttle bus we got caught in a windy pouring rain storm for about 5 minutes. Then it cleared up and there was a perfect complete double rainbow right near the island. It was almost unreal looking. That for me, made up for getting caught in the rain. J We got back to Paris around 10:00pm and went straight to the apartment and to bed.

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Tuesday morning, we got up early to go to the train station to see if Amber and Courtney could get train tickets back to Bilbao since they wanted to have the whole day in Paris and they did not want to fly back on RyanAir. After being unsuccessful at that train station, we were sent to this other one, but was told to just get right on this bus and it will take us there. Yeah, we spent about an hour trying to find this bus stop because we were told different things each time the bus that we thought we were supposed to get one came. Finally, after wasting our morning, they got everything figured out and we were able to go get lunch and then have our favorite Berthillon ice cream once more! :D We also did a bit of last minute Paris shopping, got real macarons (oh they were delicious) and then I headed on the metro to the airport and back to Oslo. ♥

I had such a wonderful time in Paris and could have spent another week there, but as my time here in Oslo is winding down, I was ready to come back. This last month and a half is going to fly by. Counting it, I only have 30 days that will be spent in Oslo. The other 12 or so days will be spent between Bergen, Spain, and Tromsø.

I hope my Paris blogs weren’t too long or boring and that they were enjoyable to read.

-Hannah

Paris Trip ♥ [part 1]

I’m splitting up my trip to Paris into 2 blog posts because it is getting really long. I don’t want to bore you with so much text at once and I really need to get a blog up today! :) So this will be about the first half of my trip! :D

Paris is officially my number one favorite city in the world. Previously, that spot was held by non-other than “the big apple”, New York City. In some ways, Paris has the big city feel that New York has, but with the lovely European charm, which is what makes it top NYC.

I arrived into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Thursday afternoon, picked up my luggage and headed to the metro to find our apartment. We decided to rent an apartment instead of staying in a hostel because with four of us, it ended up being cheaper and I liked the apartment idea better. We booked our apartment on airbnb.com about a month and a half in advanced. The metro ride from the airport to the stop nearest to the apartment took about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, Paris does not have the luxury of have the express train to and from the airport like Oslo has. I was a bit overwhelmed by how many people were on this metro on top of that I really had no idea where I was going, just following my directions from Google maps. ;)

Surprisingly, I made it to the apartment without any wrong turns and no problems at all besides figuring out which door was the right one. Thankfully, Kailey, who had arrived a few hours earlier, was already at the apartment and let me in. I graduated high school with Kailey and actually have known her since kindergarten. She decided to take a year off of school and is a nanny in Germany right now and I had posted a status on Facebook a few months ago saying I was planning a trip to Paris and anyone was welcome to come. She commented on it saying she was only a 3 hour train ride and would love to come with. The funny thing is, we had never hung out in high school outside of school, but we took 4 years of French together and always were in the same class.

Anyways, I got up to the apartment and just kind of relaxed a bit. Traveling is sometimes really exhausting and all you need is a nice hour or so to just relax and not do anything. After catching up, Kailey and I decided to walk around the area of the apartment and do a little grocery shopping so we could have food for breakfasts; that way we would save money by not having to eat out for breakfast. We brought the groceries back and then headed out to go find a place to eat for dinner. We found a cute, typically Parisian-looking café to have dinner at. We both ordered Caesar salads, which were delicious minus the anchovies we picked off. ;) After dinner we headed back to the apartment and waited for the other two girls to arrive.

I met Amber last year in my French class at UND and we knew we were both studying abroad this semester. We always talked about how we need to meet up somewhere while we are abroad and go on a trip together. We thought around the idea of Paris, since it was kind of half way between where we both are studying (she’s in Bilbao, Spain) and it’s French. We didn’t talk too much over the summer just a couple times before I was going to leave for Norway and same with her before she was leaving for Spain, but we always mentioned that we need to plan the Paris trip and it eventually was planned! I’m really glad it all worked out and we stuck to our words. A lot of times people will say “oh yeah, let’s go on this vacation together and blahh, blahh, blahh” it never happens. So it was cool that it actually worked out! Amber’s friend Courtney came with, who also goes to UND and is studying in Bilbao. Travelling and studying abroad is such a unique experience and gives you so many opportunities to meet people you would never.

They flew into Paris on RyanAir, so it took them a lot longer to get into the city since all RyanAir airports are never very close to the actually city. They arrived to the apartment around 9:45pm and then we went to the grocery store down the street so they could get some food for dinner. Even though Kailey and I had eaten dinner already, we ended up snacking on delicious French cheese [I’m in love with Camembert] and crackers. The rest of the night was spent sipping on wine and chatting away. ;)

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Before our trip, I knew I wanted to have each day somewhat planned out or at least have an idea of what to do each day so we didn’t waste time deciding what to do in the morning. So me being the type of person, who likes to organize and plan things like this, I took charge and planned out our trip for the most part. I can tell you, that it was such a good thing to have. Even though we didn’t follow it completely to a tee, and that was not what it was for, it helped us a lot. I really recommend that if you are going to a city that has a lot of places to see and little time, make an itinerary! :D It helps!

Friday morning I planned for us to go the Louvre, so we woke up early enough to make it there within its first hour of being open. Side note: if you plan on going to see places like the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, etc. GO EARLY! You may be kicking yourself in the butt for deciding to get up so early, but once you’ve gone to the places and then see the line outside waiting to get in when you leave, you will thank yourself.

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The Louvre was really cool and of course got to see “La Jaconde” or the Mona Lisa in English. I had been told before of how small it is in person, so I was not really disappointed in it, but I can definitely see why someone would be shocked with the size of this painting, if they had not heard that before. We saw a bunch of other cool paintings and stuff and the building itself is beautiful. I was almost more in awe of the building than the paintings. I just love seeing old buildings that are still standing and in use after so many years, with such amazing history. After seeing the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I was ready to leave because one, we hadn’t really ate breakfast, two, we had already spent about an hour and half in there, and three, it was getting so busy – and sometimes I just cannot handle people pushing and shoving not knowing where they are walking.

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After the Louvre, we went to have lunch and since we were all starving, we decided to just go down couple streets to eat in a French restaurant. We all ordered the same thing to eat – Croque Monsier! It was delicious! In high school, we made them in French class a couple times, so I thought I had to try one in Paris. It was probably one of my favorite things I ordered while I was in Paris. It’s so simple, yet just so good.

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We then headed on the metro to the Champs Elysées. Let me make another side note: the Paris metro is the EASIEST metro ever! As long as you have a map of all the lines and know where you are heading, you can get literally anywhere in Paris. We all bought the 5 day passes for zones 1-5 since that included getting to Versailles. If you are just going to Paris and not planning on doing Versailles, just get zones 1-3. It was about $80usd and included all metro lines and busses. The Champs Elysées is one of the most famous streets in Paris, if not the most famous. It has tons of shops, cafés and the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde are on this street as well. We spent the afternoon walking down the one side towards L’Arc de Triomphe and then took pictures by it and then walked back up the other side.

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We also did a bit of shopping and of course had to stop at the Starbucks! ;) I, being the makeup loving person I am, had heard all about French pharmacies and their skincare and French makeup brands. So to say the least, I went a little bit too crazy with my makeup purchases… and I am going to end that at that. ;) I also did end up buy a pair of jeggings and shirt from the H&M there as well.

After a long afternoon of walking around and shopping we went back to the apartment to relax and then got ready to go out. Amber and Courtney had booked tickets for dinner and a show at Moulin Rouge and Kailey and I chose not to go and went out for dinner and walked around the Eiffel Tower at night. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time is surreal, well at least for me it was. It’s such an iconic landmark of Paris and France and a place I’d never thought I’d be able to visit at only 19 years old, on my own with friends. At night when it’s all light up is breathtaking and indescribable and I could never get sick of just staring at it. :D It’s just beautiful!

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Saturday morning again we got up early to go to Notre Dame, but not without first stopping at Starbucks right before getting on the metro. Last fall, I had an obsession with Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks and being in Europe, I really didn’t think I would be able to find them… not sure why. I even had my mom send me the Starbucks instant pumpkin spice coffees. Well anyways, we walked up to this Starbucks and smack-dab right at eye level, is a sign for, you guessed it, PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES! :D I almost had a mini heart attack from the excitement, not even kidding. :P I even ordered  it entirely in French! That was a proud moment as well. ;) Oh and the barista was real cute! :D

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We walked up to Notre Dame with Kailey’s phone playing songs from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and we were not ashamed of that… ;) Hahah It was again beautiful. I really should get out a thesaurus and find some other words to describe all these places in Paris, but they all were just beautiful. Thankfully, we got there earlier enough so the line moved pretty fast to go inside and we walked around in there as well.

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We then headed to Île Saint-Louis, the other island connected by a bridge to Paris, where they have this, at the time, “supposedly” greatest ice cream ever. We decided to have our ice cream before lunch since we were already in the area to get it. Let me just tell you, that ice cream did not disappoint! I had been told to get the vanilla because it’s the best, from a fellow student at BI who’s from Paris. I am not usually a vanilla person at all, so I opted for a scoop of chocolate of course and vanilla, to try. Let me tell you it was the BEST ice cream I have ever had by like a million and I never say things like this, but the vanilla was better than the chocolate! :D Seriously, if any of you reading this are ever in Paris, you have to get Berthillon ice cream; you will thank me later. It was so good; we ended up going a second time, the last day we were in Paris. ;)

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After enjoying our ice cream sitting on the bank of the Seine, we decided to head to Les Invalides to see Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb and go to the army museum there. The army museum there was really cool and had World War II exhibit thing, which was really cool. I found it interesting to go through a museum like that, looking at the war in sort of their [French] eyes versus, like an American museum’s perspective.

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The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent walking around Paris and then we went back to the apartment. Before going to eat dinner, we decided to go to the Centre Georges Pompidou. We knew we wanted to eat dinner in the Le Marais area of Paris and that museum was right near there. We got there around 7:00pm and the museum closed at 8:00pm, but we were okay with that since we didn’t have to pay to get in. A lot of the museums in Paris are free for anyone under 25 with a European Union residence permit; sometimes they even included Norway in that. ;) So that was a really nice not having to pay for all these entrance fees. I am not the biggest fan of museums, but I love art, which is kind of strange. But I really liked this museum because all the art in it was extremely modern and very different. Some of the pieces really made you think and were so unique. I liked it a lot and the building itself is super unique from the outside.

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After that we had a nice dinner outside. I had this sort of lasagna thing that was actually really good, but reminded me of sloppy Joe meat. ;) [Sorry to any non-North Americans reading this, you probably have no idea what sloppy Joe’s are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloppy_joe ] After dinner, we walked around the area in search for Crêpes because you have to have a real French Crêpes when in Paris. We all ordered one with Nutella and bananas. It was soooo good! ;)

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I’m going to stop here for now and will post the 2nd half of my trip in a few days, so stay tuned for that! :D

-Hannah

‘Fall’ing into Winter

Again like my last post, this week hasn’t been too exciting. I literally have exactly 2 months ( and 1 day) left in Oslo, which makes me quite sad. ;/ Though I do look forward to being home for Christmas ;) This past week I’ve basically been to class and did a bunch of school related stuff. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about switching my major…

That sounds crazy, but really it isn’t since I’m not that far into my degree anyway. Obviously, I am sticking within business [I can’t see myself in any other profession], but I definitely am starting to think economics is not my thing. I mean, maybe it’s because I just go unlucky and have the worst teacher here for microeconomics or it’s just not what I really thought I liked. I really enjoy my Organization and Change class here at BI and find myself enjoying the lectures and the topics. To be honest, I’ve always thought HR (Human Resource Management) was ummm…. well kind of a dumb thing to study, but in reality it’s not and every company needs HR people. So who knows what I’ll end up doing, but we’ll see. ;)

Friday night was my friend Ira’s birthday party. That was quite the fun night, to say the least! ;)

The weather here is definitely starting to change and feel more winter-like, which I happen to love. Everyone is complaining about how cold it is (40ish°Fahrenheit), when I really don’t think it’s that cold. But I’m a North Dakotan and I know what cold really feels like and this is not cold. ;) For all the non North Dakotans reading this, the average winter temperature in Grand Forks is somewhere between 2° Celsius  to -20° Celsius.  It actually was snowing earlier this morning, but melted before it hit the ground.

Speaking of winter, I’ve decided to go to Tromsø with my friend Ira and her roommates in December right before I come home. Tromsø is one of the farthest north cities in Norway and is considered part of the Arctic Circle!  Read about it here :)  http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Where-to-go/North/Tromso/Key-facts/ We’re going December 17th-20th and my flight home leaves early on the 22nd of December. My plan is to have most of my stuff packed before I go, so I can enjoy my last full day in Oslo.

We had a really lovely fall with bright colored leaves on the trees, but now a lot of the leaves have definitely started to fall. The pictures below were taken at Frogner Park a little over a week ago.

In other news, I am going to  Parison Thursday! & OhhhMyyyGoddd I cannot wait ! :D Paris is that one city in the world for me that, for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to go to. I took French 4 years in high school and a year in university, but I’m awful at speaking it (in other words, I can’t speak it too well) hahah but I can read and write a lot better. I’m feeling like I should brush up on my French before I go, but hoping some of the basics will come back to me once I’m there. :D

I’ll leave you with some pictures that I took  the past couple weeks  and I promise the next post will be just wonderful and full of pictures and my time in Paris.

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My aunt sent me all the pictures they took when they were here visiting me. So I thought I would add one that they took, since I don’t think I posted any with them when I wrote about them visiting. :)

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[random] “Stories” :)

This blog post is all over the place with random stories, so I apologize for that. . ;)

Lately I’ve had a lack of motivation to write my blog. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using all my writing ability on my Business and Professional Ethics term paper? ;) Anyways, maybe I’ll update you on school. Classes are going okay. I still can’t say I’m use to 3 – 4 hour long classes meeting only once a week. I just can’t get used to it. I would much rather go to class for only an hour or hour and half multiple times a week. I actually really enjoy 3 out of the 4 classes that I am taking here. We had a really cool presentation in my Social Entrepreneurship class about social innovation today. I really enjoyed that.  I can’t say I enjoy my microeconomics course. I cannot understand anything the professor says due to his really thick accent and quiet voice in a big room; I even sit in the front. He doesn’t explain anything he teaches and he just shows us notes that look like they’ve been written years ago in sloppy handwriting. The way the courses here are set up is that there are no assignments during the semester – so the grade for the course is just the final exam so I have no indication of what my grade would be right now. I’m definitely thinking I’m probably going to have to re take this course when I get back to UND.

Okay now on to things that are a bit more happy and exciting. Though I do feel like my portrayal of studying abroad in all my previous blogs has been portrayed as almost “perfect” all fun and no bad experiences so far. (**knock on wood**) ;)  But it has, so far, basically been that way, which is amazing and I am so thankful for how well everything has worked out and for being in such a good place.

A few cool things I’ve done this past week was on Thursday I went to the Opera and saw a ballet with Sara. I had never been to a ballet before so I had no idea what to expect. It was actually very cool! And inside the Opera house is just about as cool looking as the outside. We got a very good deal on the tickets, 100kr for good seats, minus the fact they were “bar stool” seats. Luckily enough it wasn’t sold out and there was no one sitting in the row below us, so we moved down to sit in the comfortable regular seats half way through.

The ballet consisted of three main parts with 2 intermissions. The acts or dances were all very cool and it’s actually amazing to think about how a ballet is essentially a story being portrayed by just dance and music. After the first dance was over, the audience gave a very lengthy round of applause. In fact, I’ve never experienced a situation where people clapped for that long. I am not kidding when I say they clapped for almost 5 minutes after each act. I almost couldn’t take it seriously, because it was just so much clapping!! hahah :D The dancers would come back on stage and the audience would clap, then they’d close the curtain (audience still continues to clap), then raise the curtain again and the dancers would bow. This repeated 3 or 4 times after each dance. It ‘s definitely either a big cultural difference or that’s what people always do at ballets? I do not know. ;)

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I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous blog, my friend Sara and I booked a little weekend trip to Bergen for late November. We both said we have to go somewhere else in Norway besides Oslo to see the true beauty of this country. Everyone suggests Bergen as the place to go for a weekend. So I’m looking forward to that trip.

OHHH!! I also booked a flight to Spain in December to visit my friend Amber who is studying abroad there this semester and also one of the girls I’m meeting in Paris. I have a week “off” before my last final and it’s one that I can’t really study for, since it’s a group written exam. So I decided I needed to go somewhere since everyone else here will be busy with either exams or going home already. I’m excited for that trip as well!

Speaking of exams, it’s crazy to think  that I’ve been here for 2 months already and my time here is almost half over… :/ It literally feels like I just arrived last week.  It has gone by so incredibly fast and I truly love it here! I am so glad I chose to come to Oslo. Though I do look forward to going back home and seeing everyone, I’m going to not want to leave Oslo.

Last Friday night, I had dinner with a lovely Norwegian family. They are really distant relatives of one of my moms best friends and I was able to meet Stein and his daughter Helene, who’s my brothers age, earlier this summer when they were in Grand Forks. One of the first days I arrived in Oslo, Stein showed me around Oslo and had said one night we’ll have to have you over for dinner. We finally were able to fit both of our schedules and they picked me up on Friday. Funny side story: I texted Helene and asked her what color car they were in. She replied, “The craziest car you can see! Green one.” So I just expected some maybe weird shade of green car. I go outside and walk to where they said they were picking me up and it’s a green HUMMER! hahah I’ve never ridden in a Hummer before, so that was super cool. Before we went to their house for dinner, he had to stop at work to lock things up for the weekend. I can’t really explain what his job is, but I think he’s a contractor and builds houses on islands in the Oslo fjords or something similar. We took this little boat to one of the islands he was working at. That was neat as well. ;)

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After a bit of a rainy time on the island we went back to main land and headed to their house. Their house was beautiful! I wish I would have taken some more pictures, but didn’t want to awkwardly take pictures of their house. ;) We had tacos for dinner, which I guess is the “thing” to eat of Friday nights. ;) They were very good since I can’t remember the last time I had tacos – definitely before I got to Oslo. We had a nice meal and it reminded me of home, which is a nice feeling. :)

After dinner and dessert, Helene, Henrik, her brother who’s actually just a few days younger than me, and I hung out the rest of the night. :D & They tried to teach me to count to 10 in Norwegian, but I have the hardest time pronouncing anything in Norwegian. I didn’t get past learning “two”. hahah It was a really nice having kind of a “family” night and I definitely thanked them for having me over. They’re all super nice people!

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On Tuesday afternoon I was walking to the train and this older lady stopped me and asked me ‘what time it is’, in Norwegian of course. I politely told her I didn’t speak Norwegian, which I really wish I could speak because it’s such a cool sounding language. Anyways, she couldn’t believe I wasn’t Norwegian. She said, “that’s the reason I asked you because I thought you were Norwegian.” The rest of the way to the metro, it’s about a 10 minute walk, she just kept going on about how I look so Norwegian. I love when that happens and always take it as a compliment! :)

I don’t really have anything else to update on that I can think of, so I think I will end this blog here. :) Thanks for reading!

-Hannah :D

P.S I’m going to PARIS in exactly 2 weeks from today and I’m super excited for that!!

Copenhagen

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A few weeks ago, my friends and I had heard about these cruises to Copenhagen where you are on the cruise ship for 2 nights and spend about 7 hours in Copenhagen. The best part of it all was the company, DFDS Seaways, had a special running this fall for 100 kr per person – that’s $17 usd! This fall was the 100 year anniversary of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. We booked it kind of late so the dates were a bit picked over, but it definitely worked out in the end.

We left Oslo around 4:15pm Thursday afternoon. The Norwegians seem to be very trusting because we never once had to show an ID or our passports going to and from Oslo & Copenhagen. Thinking about that just reminded me that when I flew to Stockholm, Sweden I don’t think I had to show my passport either. Back to the story ;) We got on the boat and found our little cabin. By little, I mean really little. It had 4 beds and a small bathroom with a super small bathroom. For $17 we couldn’t complain and it turned out to be fine, since we really didn’t even spend much time in the cabin anyway.

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To save even more money since we’re all fairly broke college students, we all brought food with to eat for dinner and breakfast the next morning. We walked around the boat, did a bit of duty-free shopping ;) and then went back to our cabin to have our “dinner.” We spent the rest of the night at one of the “clubs” on the boat. I quoted the word clubs because on a Thursday night, we were the youngest people there by probably all our ages combined (besides the kids who were being entertained by a pirate) … In other words a lot of old people so not much of a party. ;)

It was a good night, we ended up sitting in this lounge area and ate chips and candy and I had to share my obsession of Smash! candy with them since 2 of them had never tried it so we bought a big bag at the duty-free shop. Thanks to Sara for telling me about it one day, so I tried it and yeah it’s my favorite candy now… I’m quit addicted to it. :D Hahah

We arrived in Copenhagen, or København in Danish, at about 9:45am. We hurried off the boat and went to wait for the bus to take us into the city center. We only had 7 hours in Copenhagen so we wanted to make the most of our time. Our first stop after the 20 minute bus ride was Joe the Juice shop to get coffee. I had brought an iced coffee with so I didn’t get anything here. With a map in hand (i.e. Sara’s hand ;)) we headed to Nyhavn, which literally translates to New Harbor, a very iconic district in Copenhagen with beautifully color buildings lining the harbor full of restaurants, shops and bars.

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We then headed over to Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish royal family. It’s located right in Copenhagen. There are 4 identical palaces and a courtyard with cobblestone streets and sidewalks built in 1760. The palaces are guarded day and night by the Den Kongelige Livgarde or Royal Life Guards. They have the changing of guards everyday at noon. We got there at 11:00am so we decided we had enough time to walk to the Little Mermaid statue and come back to see the changing of the guards since we didn’t want to waste any time. 

I had been told about how small the Little Mermaid statue is, so I wasn’t surprised by how small it was when we walked up to it. Though, I’m sure had I not been told, I would maybe have been disappointed a bit about the size of it. It was still very cool and a must-see in Copenhagen. Image


Back at the Amalienborg palaces, we arrived just in time for the changing of the guards. I had no idea what to expect since I’ve never been to anything like it. It was really cool. The changing of the guards ceremony lasted about a half hour with the guards marching on the cobblestone streets up to the palace, followed by a marching band playing traditional Danish military marches. The marching band only following if the royal family is in residence. I always get random bursts of excitement or I don’t know how to describe it, but just being in a place where there is so much history I love it. I guess that’s the part of me who enjoys history coming out. ;) I become in awe of how the buildings have been preserved, and all of the traditions being carried on from so long ago. I just love it and get excited seeing it. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that the United States is relatively a young country with not much history dating from that far back and we don’t have any royal family or castles. ;)

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After that, it was lunch time and we had planned on eating at this organic vegetarian restaurant we had saw online located in Christiania. So we headed to towards Christiania or “The Greenlight District”. I had never heard of it, until our friend told us about it when he went to Copenhagen a couple weeks ago. Here is a good description of the area http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/christiania so I don’t have to describe the history behind it.

Being the “anything with peace signs, somewhat of a hippie lover” self I was intrigued and interested in the whole idea and place of Christiania. I had also talked to one of my Norwegian friends and mentioned we were going to Copenhagen, he said we had to go there just to see it. It was about a 15 minute walk from where we were. We could not have had better weather while we were there. It was perfect. The walk was lovely actually, I love old European architecture. The buildings in Copenhagen are beautiful and a lot of them are so colorful.

Walking under the large “Christiania” wooden archway is like walking into a completely different word. Once entered you are not allowed to take pictures and that is clearly stated all in spray paint on the hippie-esque buildings and signs. We walked around for a short time and tried to find this restaurant, but had no luck. We realized how unprepared we were because non of us had exchange Norwegian Krones to Danish Krones so we couldn’t even eat at any of the restaurants or cafes because they don’t take credit cards. So we basically just walked back out. I would have liked to eat lunch there and walked around more. I didn’t really feel uneasy about being there, though I’m not sure the others felt quit the same way. ;)

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We left Christinia and headed back towards the center part of Copenhagen. We stopped at cute little sandwich shop and got panini’s. I had a chicken one and it was delicious. Maybe it was due to the fact I was starving and hadn’t ate chicken in over a month.

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We enjoyed are quick lunch and then headed to the shopping district of Copenhagen. It was again a nice walk. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet at all in this post is how many people ride bikes in Copenhagen. It is crazy! They are everywhere! ImageImage

My goal for shopping was to find this place called the Sweater Market. I really want to buy a Norwegian sweater and I had read online this store has all sorts of Scandinavia sweaters. We walked down the main shopping street and we stopped into this sporting goods store that my friend Sara wanted to go in. She had been wanting a Fjällräven backpack. It’s a Swedish company that has these backpacks. They are actually really cool looking.

We never made it to the Sweater Market because we ran out of time and one lady we asked thought it might not be open anymore. We only had about 4:45 minutes before we needed to get back on the bus that takes us to the ship. We decided to just head back to the bus stop and then find a place to buy food for dinner because it’s cheaper than eating on the ship.

We made it back just in time for departure and then spent the rest of the night mainly in our cabin. We were all extremely tired from the walking and all the we did. We got back into Oslo around 10:00am Saturday morning.

I enjoyed the trip a lot, but for sure would love to have spent more time in Copenhagen. I definitely would recommend it as a place to visit! :)

15 Things & Packing Tips!

Long time, no blog! I haven’t written in over a week mainly because I haven’t done anything too cool or out of the ordinary here in Oslo. I’ve basically went to my classes, did school work i.e. reading, and hung out with friends. Ooooohh! I’m officially going to PARIS! :) I booked my flight and rented an apartment for the time we will be there. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to a specific city as much as I have always wanted to go to Paris! I’m meeting up with my friend Amber, who is studying abroad in Spain this semester. We actually met in my French class last year at UND. A friend of Amber’s is also coming with and then Kailey, who I graduated high school with,  lives in Germany and is meeting us in Paris as well. We were in French class together all 4 years of high school. Our tip is planned for the end of October and I cannot wait! :)

I’ve decided to do something a bit different with this blog because like I said I haven’t done anything too out of the ordinary this past week. So I thought I shall do a sort of “15 things” post. I have three categories: “Things I’m Glad I brought”,”Things I shouldn’t have Brought”,”Things I Wish I Would’ve Brought”

THINGS I’M GLAD I BROUGHT:

Glad I brought

1. My Nike running shoes! The only comfortable pair of shoes I brought with me and so glad I did. I would tell anyone who’s studying abroad make sure you have a good pair of shoes for all the trips/touristy stuff you do – they usually require a lot of walking!

2. My backpack! It’s a good dual purpose item that all study abroaders should have. The obvious use is for school, but it’s good for just weekend trips when you don’t need to pack for more than a few days. It’s so much easier than lugging around a big suitcase.

3. My water bottle! Good in so many ways. Buying bottled water in Norway is freaking expensive and you basically are getting the same water from the tap as you do in the bottle, so you save a ton of money. Plus it keeps you hydrated ;)

4. My makeup and enough to last me while I’m here! Okay so of course this one only pertains to girls and girls who love makeup. Most people would say to just buy it in your country abroad. If it’s going to cost you the same price as back home than definitely save the room in your suitcase, but check that out before you leave. I was looking at makeup at a store the other day, for a basic Maybelline concealer it was like $16. An Essie nail polish purchased at H&M was $18. You could get both the concealer and nail polish in the US for the price of just the concealer here.

5. Adapters/Converters! Buy a good converter for your laptop and then a few converters before you leave. It will save you money and the hassle of trying to find one abroad.

THINGS I SHOULD NOT HAVE BROUGHT:Should not have brought

1. So many sandals! My advice to you, think about the weather for the whole time you’ll be there, not just the first month.  You can’t wear flipflops in the winter ;)

2. My Columbia fleece! This is just a personal preference, but whenever I wear mine (I’ve only done it twice) I feel like such a foreigner… I don’t know why. People don’t really wear them here.

3. PINK yoga pants/capris! In the United States, for the most part, it’s acceptable to wear yogas as basically pants. Here, that is not a thing. Yoga pants are strictly for the gym. I’m glad I have a couple pairs, but I definitely brought too many.

4. My ‘big’ camera! Again, this one will be probably just my personal preference, but truly ask yourself, will you really use that camera if it’s so big. I haven’t used this camera once and I’ve been on a couple little trips where I could have taken pictures with it. It’s just too bulky to carry around in it’s case and honestly my little point and shoot camera is just fine for me. If it was an actual DSLR camera, I’d probably have a different opinion.

5. Bootcut/Straightleg jeans! This is probably the biggest thing I regret bringing. All my jeans I have with me, would be considered “in style” back home. Here? Definitely not. NO ONE WEARS THEM! :P All they wear are skinny jeans…at least I brought one pair of those ;)

THINGS I WISH I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT:

wish i brought

1. Slippers! For wearing around my room and my floor. I have flip flops for the shower, but in my room my feet get cold.

2. Rainboots! Again like I mentioned with the sandals above, research the climate/weather of where you’re study abroad at to see what’s the best footwear. It rains here a lot and when it snows it’s the wet kind of snow, so Uggs would not be a good choice.

3. Fall jacket! I didn’t pack a decent “fall” type jacket, all I brought was my Columbia fleece that I talked about above and my winter coat. So I ended up having to buy one while I was in Sweden.

4. Skinny jeans! I’ve again mentioned this above, I should have packed only skinny jeans! ;)

5. A duffel bag! I wish I had brought a bag that was bigger than my backpack, but smaller then my suitcases to bring for longer trips.

I hope some of these things were helpful to those who are going to be studying abroad. A lot of the things somewhat correlated with each other, so I’m sorry if it was a bit repetitive. I don’t have anything else to update you with, except to look for a more entertaining blog next week. I’m going to Copenhagen, Denmark on Thursday with a few of my friends so look out for that blog sometime late next weekend! :)