Journals from Bø, Norway Spring '12
2012-01-21 Snow og Silence
First big snowfall, 1/21/12
This post is a random mix of observations, differences, things I miss, etc .
In my hometown, it is a special occasion if we get snow. School gets cancelled or delayed for just an inch of snow because no one there is used to driving or walking in it. There was one famous year, when I was about 5, when it snowed about 3 feet. Point being: I'm not used to snow. Obviously I knew that there would be snow in Norway but I didn't expect it to be as hard to adjust to as it is. The first major adjustment was learning to walk, which I have definitely gotten better at. I have even gone to the store and back without slipping! Something about the snow that has started bothering me is the whiteness, which sounds ridiculous. The views are gorgeous, without doubt, and I love watching snow fall, but sometimes I just wish I could look out my window and see something other than white. The cold that comes along with snow hasn't bothered me much, but maybe that is because it is a "warmer" winter here than usual. Despite how I might presently feel about the snow, I am truly glad to be getting a snow experience in my life.
Another observation that another American and I have made is the general lack of communication between Norwegians. We are both used to at least smiling to strangers on the sidewalk, but here they don't even look at each other. One time an old man nodded at me as we passed and I was so happy! I was at the store one day wishing I knew how to say "excuse me" so I could get around people in the aisles, but then I realized that no one was saying anything to me when they needed to get by. They just quietly push through. Anyone who has been to Norway will tell you how reserved Norwegians are, but it is still something to get used to once you actually experience it. My friend lives in a building with 7 Norwegians, where she has her own room but the kitchen is shared. It is pretty much silent 24/7! She doesn't know the other people in the building even after a semester of sharing a kitchen. So strange.
This is kind of random, but the water gets really really really hot, really really quickly. Washing your hands can be dangerous.
One thing that I miss from home is personal touches in my room. I wish I had posters or pictures or something. The walls just feel so naked and the room doesn't feel like mine since there is nothing personal in it.
Obviously the language has been a big adjustment. I'm actually starting to get used to it already. I have had four sessions of Introducing Norwegian so far and am really enjoying it. I think it will be neat to learn a language with basically no previous background while being surrounded by it everywhere I go. Hopefully it will make grocery shopping easier!
Before and after arriving, I heard many stories of American girls who had visited Norway where they met their husbands and then moved here. I was starting to wonder why this was a trend. But after half an hour of sitting in the main lobby of the college and people watching, I think I have figured it out. Young Norwegian men are super attractive. Their style, their hair, their faces, everything. I just kept thinking they could all move to Portland and blend right in. I would call their style Portland-chic, or classy hipster. One guy, for example, was wearing tight-ish red jeans, a plaid button up shirt with a semi-baggy grey cardigan, a scarf, and thick rim glasses. Hopefully I'll befriend some of them so I can take a picture without being creepy.
Before I left, someone who studied here last year told me that I should have a hobby because there is a lot of down time. I really wish I had taken this advice seriously. Classes don't meet as regularly as at Linfield and the snow makes it hard to go wandering outside, so I have spent too many hours watching tv shows online. So if you are considering doing the Spring program in Bø, have a hobby.