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Journals from Telemark University, Bø, Norway

2013-05-23 Celebrations!

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International Students at the Syttende Mai Parade

Hei Hei,

May has been a bittersweet month filled with a lot of good memories and new experiences. Toward the beginning of the month, there was a huge concert at Kroa (the student nightclub) that everyone was talking about going to. It was too expensive for some of us internationals, so we decided to volunteer to work at the club (it's run almost completely by student volunteers). I’d never done it before, but it was actually a lot of fun. I worked with one of my friends in the cloakroom (taking coats). We didn’t see any of the concert, but we had a lot of fun. After cleaning up, all the volunteers hang out and have a beer and eat pizza (at like 3 in the morning). It was a neat experience. The sun was starting to rise when we walked home.

The day after the concert was the Kroa Ball. It basically was a huge barbeque for all the volunteers that worked at Kroa over the year. We were allowed to come, even though we had only volunteered the night before. Everyone had to bring his or her own meat to BBQ (which is a great way to save money, I think).  We played “Kroa Ball” which is sort of a modified version of baseball fit to play in the parking lot. There was one car in the lot that was from someone not at the BBQ, so all the guys went out and attempted to move it. They partially succeeded. Afterwards there were awards given out and then they had some bands play for us. Overall it was a great time.

The following week I had my final exam, which was a paper for my Telemark II class. We were able to choose our own topic, so I decided to research trolls and Norwegian fairy tales. It was quite an interesting topic to write about. I interviewed a few of my Norwegian friends to find out what stories they were told as children and what they thought about trolls and their role in Norway. Here, instead of just turning a paper into your professor, you have to turn it into the exam office and sign a form.

The 17th of May (Syttende Mai) is the biggest holiday and celebration in Norway. It is their Constitution Day celebrating their independence from Denmark. Most stores are closed and there are parades and events that go on all around the country. In Bø, there was a parade in the morning of all the little school children (who were adorable). Towards the end of the parade, all the international students joined in. The parade ended at the Church on the Hill, which is above the university. We listened to the speeches (though they were in Norwegian) and then we explored the church and graveyard area. It was an absolutely gorgeous day (the first one in two weeks as it had been raining nonstop before). Afterwards we had ice cream at a café and then went to the train station to pick up Trina’s best friend who arrived from the US. We were all exhausted at that point, so we took a nap before cooking for a group potluck we held. The food and company were great and afterwards we went down to Bull Inn (a pub in town) and played some darts. It was a fantastic day!

The day after Syttende Mai, a few friends and I decided we wanted to go to Notodden (a nearby town) and see the famous Stave Church. We hopped on a train to Nordagutu, where we would then transfer to another train. But when we got there, we found out that the train we were supposed to get on didn’t run on the weekends (it was Saturday). So that messed with our plans and it was going to be awhile for the next train or bus that would take us back to Bø. So the group of us decided to try to hitchhike to Notodden, but there were six of us, so that didn’t work out, though I’ve heard it is very safe to hitchhike in Norway. Two of my friends decided to go hiking in the area and the rest of us decided to take the bus back. Sometimes spontaneous plans don’t work out. We didn’t get to visit the Stave Church, but we had a fun day when we got back.

This week has been somewhat challenging. I’ve been trying to coordinate my summer plans, which is not an easy thing to do while abroad. Communication is via email mostly, which isn’t the most reliable method, but it will do until I get back. I’m planning to take two more trips before I leave, one to Krakow, Poland, and one to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I am looking forward to these trips, even though they are stressing me out a little bit in regards to money and card issues.

Many of my friends have left, and saying goodbye hasn’t been easy. It hits home that this chapter of my life will be ending soon. I have enjoyed life here so much and I hope I can take that back home with me. I still have a couple weeks left and I will be making the most of all the moments until I leave.

Ha det bra!

Amber Hay

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