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Journals from Telemark University, Bø, Norway

2013-01-24 Not in Kansas Any More


I have now been in Norway for three weeks, but it feels like it has been months already. Settling in took a little bit of time, but I think I am adjusting fairly well. It is a new country, but it feels like home already. I have had a few obstacles, but I think I’ve done well.

I encountered my first major obstacle the day after I arrived; it was grocery shopping. Although I was assured ahead of time that everyone in Norway speaks English, I was not aware that everything written would be in Norwegian. Shopping was challenging, to say the least. I had to stick with simple foods like bread, jam, and peanut butter. At this point, I didn't have any utensils so finger foods were good. I also had to get some basic toiletries. I knew that prices were going to be high but I didn’t realize that in addition to the price, tax is much higher. Food items are taxed at 15% while household items are taxed at 25%. Going home from the grocery store was quite the workout. I live in student apartments up on a very large hill.

There is a variety of housing options for students here. My apartment consists of a bedroom, storage room, and a bathroom. I share a common kitchen and living space with the three other people on my floor. There are four people on the second floor of the house and they have the same setup. The laundry room for the house is upstairs. It has a washer and a dryer. Using the stove and the laundry machines has been an adventure in itself. They are very different from home, especially since they are also in Norwegian.

Before I left home, I was concerned about being alone in a new country. Most of the Linfield study abroad programs have groups of students who go and therefore those students know they at least have people to talk to. I am the only one in Norway this semester, so I was nervous about being alone and not having friends. In hindsight, though, it was silly to think I would not make friends. Since day two, I have met some amazing people who are in situations similar to mine. We’re all in a new place and therefore have a lot in common. We’ve shared new experiences together, and I think my memories of my time here are going to be that much more precious because of the people I’ve met.

Most of the students I interact with are other international students. I have met people from the U.S.A.., Canada, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and Nepal. Because our classes only have international students, I have not had many opportunities to meet Norwegians. From what I have learned from classes and from other students (some of the international students were here in the fall), Norwegians are incredibly shy and can be hard to get to know. However, I still have plenty of time to meet some Norwegians and get to know them in the next few months.

Look forward to my next journal entry! I plan to describe what classes are like, what entertainment there is, and my adventures learning how to cross country ski!

Ha det bra!

Amber Hay

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