Monday, January 7, 2013

My First Impression

Hello friends, family, and Internet wanderers!

This is my blog for my spring semester in Norway.  I settled in Oslo (the country’s largest city and capital) on Friday and have loved every second of it since.  Norway is such a beautiful place and is currently snow covered.  As most know/assume, Norway is chilly and I’ve been wearing warm layers each day.  I have also slipped on ice three times already (I’m so graceful).

Studying abroad here in Oslo marks my first time being in Norway, Europe as a whole even, and I came with guide books, winter clothes, and electrical outlet adapters in hand!  So far I’ve noticed quite a few differences between this fine bit of Scandinavia and America, and some were definitely unpredicted.  Of course the weather, cost of living, and language are all commonly known traits (cold, super expensive, and Norwegian obviously), but these characteristics of Oslo have caught me by surprise the most: 
  •  Norwegians apparently love convenient stores; I’ve never seen more 7 Elevens in my life!  Sometimes there are two on one block and I spotted three in the downtown central station alone.  But that’s just 7 Eleven, which is only one of the three chains, with Deli De Luca and Narvesen as the others.  Convenience in Oslo is ubiquitous.  And all of these stores are so nice, not like the kind of shabby ones in America; they are sleek.  And expensive.  But everything in Norway is expensive.   
  • My dorm building has half floors, so while I’m in room 706, I only have to walk four flights of stairs.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t been in a residence building built up like that in America, or one that tall without an elevator (hauling my luggage up proved difficult)
  • Next up: light switches.  Walking into my room, I reached to turn on the light and didn’t feel it immediately to my side like at home.  Nope, light switches here are up at least a foot higher, and they are big squares instead of little up and down knobs.
  • Automatic doors are pretty slow, and I just thought it was a store by store basis, but a trend is emerging.
  • Lastly, as for the darkness factor (meaning amount of daylight), I knew the sun wouldn’t be out as much but Oslo only gets about six hours of light.  From about nine to three.  This wasn’t as much of a surprise as other differences, but it has proved to be quite a change.  People of course stay out later than three, including myself, but even waking up at eight doesn’t guarantee a lit sky like the norm is in the US.  So I knew about this element of Norwegian life but not to this degree.
For the four days I’ve been in Norway, I’ve moved into my suite with two roommates (one from Sweden and the other from Switzerland) who are both nice, bought groceries based on packaging and price, walked around the beautiful city, started to master a few of the transit lines (The 3 of the T Bane is my train of choice so far), and yes, have gone to IKEA.

All in all, my first weekend consisted of a lot of exchange rate math in my head, new people, and fun.  Orientation with all the other international students is tomorrow and then Wednesday my classes start!  My hope is to post weekly entries, so stay tuned!

IKEA in Norway, the real deal

My Norwegian home

Note the light switch

View from my room

The T Bane

Passing through a park

Downtown Oslo

Off a popular plaza

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