As classes end and studying/writing begins, the reality of the inevitable end to this experience is starting to hit me. It has brought on the strange mix of sadness and happiness that comes with one thing's end and another's beginning. I have been taking some time to reflect on what I will miss about Norway (or Bø specifically) and what I am excited to go back to in the States. Here are the results:
Things I will miss about Norway-
The quietness: There just isn't a lot of noise here, simple as that. Before spring break I noticed that my shoes were squeaking a lot, but on break I didn't notice it. Then when I got back I heard it again. I think it is just because Bø is so quiet that you can hear your shoes squeak. Also, I have heard sirens once this semester. Once, this entire semester. At Linfield I would hear multiple sirens each day.
My international friends!: The other night we had a barbecue together and then hung out in the common house. At some point four guitars showed up and some of the Spanish boys starting playing and singing. I am going to miss moments like that so much! When at home do I get to hear English songs sung with an adorable accent? But also where do I get to hear a group of people singing in Czech or Spanish? It makes me really sad to think about leaving them, so I'm just going to try not to. Plus, there's always Facebook, right?
The scenery: While the nature here is very similar to that of the Pacific Northwest, and while the PNW does have amazing views, there is just something about Bø. The view from the top of Breisås hill has never not made me stop for a second to take it in. It's the combination of the mountains, the fields, and the red and white houses that is just so amazing. Also, sunsets. Wow.
Safety: I have no reason to ever feel unsafe here. Of course I can't help my mind thinking that there is a murderer behind every tree or in every bush when it's dark, but deep down I know that I have nothing to worry about. You can really see the safety of the town in the behavior of the children. They just walk home from school unaccompanied by an adult and play outside away from their houses and the eyes of their parents. It's neat to see such a trust of the society from the parents.
Being surrounded by foreign languages: While it can be frustrating to never really understanding what is going on around you, not being able to understand the language (be it Czech, Spanish, or Norwegian) creates a kind of fun challenge. It requires you to really focus on tone of voice and body language, or just tune it out (which is really easy to do). I also really enjoy having ads on Spotify and Facebook in Norwegian. Again it is easier to ignore them. Plus, who doesn't like listening to other languages? Czech/Slovakian is so cool sounding! I never expected to hear so much of it.
Things I am excited to get back to-
Not being surrounded by foreign languages: While I do enjoy the challenge/being able to tune people out, I am also excited to eavesdrop again. It will also be nice to be able to perform everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, faster because, in the case of groceries, I will quickly know what price goes with what item. I am also pretty sick of having people speak Norwegian to me and quickly analyzing tone of voice and choosing whether to chuckle, nod, or say "nei". I know that I could just say that I don't speak Norwegian, but it usually doesn't seem necessary.
Food: Not that I haven't been eating well while I've been here, but I'm excited for more variety, particularly in the produce department. Kale/other greens and buttermilk pancakes are probably the two things that I miss the most. I'm also super excited to bake again! I could've here, I just didn't want to buy all of the flour and stuff and I didn't have cookie sheets or anything.
The American college system: I'm so ready to go back to Linfield and feel a sense of purpose again. My friend and I were talking about how this semester has seemed so pointless when it comes to school. It is hard to go from a super busy schedule of homework, class, work, and extracurriculars to having only one class most days, a final that counts for most of my grade, and no club involvement. I don't enjoy feeling like I haven't accomplished much this semester. We'll see if I feel the same way once my senior year has started...
My phone: It sounds really superficial after the last one, but it's true.
People who don't look like models: I always feel under-dressed compared to Norwegian students. There is a certain sophistication in their dress that I am just not used to. My style is by no means fashionable at home, but that's normal. At Linfield I feel dressier than some people just because I'm wearing jeans instead of sweat pants. I miss that.