Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back in the USA

Sorry for the delay in writing this!  Totally said I was going to do this a day after landing in the states, but now it’s been three days.  Oh well, I hope this post doesn’t disappoint! 

Oh America, my home.  I have returned to the west coast after being in Norway for just about three and a half months.  I’ve said this in so many entries before, but I can’t emphasize enough how quickly time passed.  My departure from Oslo felt a little sudden, like my goodbyes and packing were all in a whirlwind.  Now, the living fantasy of my European semester is over and I’m back in the real world.  I’ve of course missed aspects of America, some of which I’ve cashed in on right away, which aside from seeing my family have been mostly food oriented (Girl Scout cookies!  Steak!  Fast food!).  Other than being lazy on my couch, which only in part is due to jet lag, I’ve had to jump into responsibilities on my to do list including apartment hunting and stuff for my summer job.

All that said, this post is dedicated to reflecting on Norway one more time for this blog!  I started off with this online travel journal with my first impressions, and am now concluding with my final insights.  Here are some things about Norway that make me laugh, caused me anguish, and are all unforgettable:
  • PRICES! They have been mentioned several times in this blog, and were always something to be aware of. I only ate out like four times in Oslo, and obviously went out for every meal when in Bergen.  As one of my other posts pointed out, buying clothes weighed less on my conscience than buying food or beer.
  • Norway’s laws on alcohol, the topic of conversation second to prices.
  • You have to bag your own groceries in Norway even at clerk lines, and pay for bags if you don’t bring them.
  • Most grocery stores are closed on Sundays, primarily for labor law reasons.  Actually almost nothing is open on Sundays.  Except museums surprisingly
  • Public transportation in Oslo is awesome
  • The sun doesn’t really start shinning until late March, and even then the sky can be a tease
  • Norwegian water is delicious (I passed by the town of Voss on the Bergen train!)
  • Gravel removal was just starting as I left earlier this week (the country uses gravel instead of salting roads and sidewalks for snow and ice)
  • The prides of Norway (aka the things that dominate souvenir stores): cheese/cheese related items, moose, polar bears (that don’t even live in the country), trolls, and Vikings.
  • Politics!  Norway has multiple parties!  With youth branches!  And lots of NGOs!
  • Education on the university level: state involvement, “go ahead, get a Master’s”, and not much school swag (no apparel in the bookstore).
For a funny video on these same insights and more, check this out, it’s pretty much Norway in a nutshell for foreigners:

Anyways, studying in Norway for my semester abroad was everything I hoped for and more.  I went extreme sledding, braved the cold, travel around Europe, had great flat mates, was a volunteer bartender, interned for an NGO, wrote a thesis, had classes and field seminars with a cool group of Americans, and made friends that I adore dearly.  But the main thing that Norway gave me was a good look at myself.  Reflection and growth were the two most important things I got from being abroad, and all I can say is, thank you Norway and everyone that was a part of my adventure.  I miss you, and will see you again sometime down the road.  Even the prices won’t keep me away :)

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