I remember the sound of the Boeing 747 as it prepared for landing. Jen, Rachael, and I woke from our slight slumber to see rolling green hills, red roof tops of homes, and each other's wonderful expressions of early morning and excitement. Little did we know how much our lives would change over the next 6 weeks.
Rachael and I at the airport before heading to Oslo!
Beauty surrounded me in this place, almost as if I were living in a dream. The buildings, places, city, and country inspired me with the beauty that surrounded me, and I often would return to my dorm room to write out all of my "sketched"ideas from my iPhone notes to paper. To understand the breath of life that was instilled into me, I have to return to the entrance to my door, room 402, building I, on the fourth floor of Blindern Dormitory at the University of Oslo.
Blindern Dormitory consists of 5 yellow buildings with a beautiful courtyard with a fountain in the center. Trellises of red roses and ivy climb the buildings, but only up to the second story. I'll never forget the moment when I climbed up the four flights of stairs with my skeleton key balanced in my hand, my mammoth suitcase, and my purse carefully clenched between my teeth. The green doors welcomed me with my name and where I was from carefully written on a simple piece of paper. I carefully slid the skeleton key into the tiny key hole, heard the latch click, and walked into a room that will forever be an escape for me. The walls were a crisp white with hardwood floors, my bed was white with crisp white sheets, and there was a window- an amazing, beautiful window with hunter green curtains that overlooked the back of Blindern. The ceilings had deep, romantic angles that framed the walls for conversations that took place between my roommate and I until all hours of the night. Upon entering the room, I saw the most beautiful postcards written in a language that I could not read. Those post cards served as opportunities to imagine stories, so I never asked Salo what they actually meant until a couple of nights before I left.
The first night that I stayed there was the most calming evening. Considering I am a quiet person with a teaspoon of anti-social and a dash of hermit, I decided to stay in for the evening for some peace, quiet, and rest. The sun, of course, refused to go down, so the evening left me curled up on the desk, looking out the window with yarn, crochet needles, hot tea, and Ray LaMontagne playing softly in the background. I watched it rain. I watched the sun flirt with the horizon. I watched people stumble by late in the night, never knowing that someone was watching them. I watched the metro train go by, filling the room with a perfect arpeggiated triad with a diminished seventh that always found tonic as it accelerated. I remember the smell of my hot tea, the joy of finishing a scarf, climbing into bed the first night, and the comfort of my roommate quietly coming in the door. That night was perfect, quiet, and time for me to reflect and prepare for the adventures ahead.
Lets be honest- I love to run. After being cooped up on the plane for hours and hours, I decided to grab my new found friend, Johnnie the Brit, and go for a run at 11pm a couple of days later. Johnnie and I ran about 2 miles in the city when the sun was just giving us enough light. This run would be a great warm up for our next adventure, which turned out to take a heck of a lot longer than the 2 mile run. The next night, Rach and Jen decided that they wanted to go down to the opera house, so I decided to tag along with them and Johnnie the Brit. Rachael told us that it would only take about 15-20 minutes, so I naturally grabbed my hermit objects, which were my journal and book, The Lovely Bones.
It took 2.5 freaking hours.
Granted, it was beautiful once we got there. We ended up sitting on the top of the opera for about an hour, turned to go back, got on the metro, but the metro shut down at 12 am. So, another 2.5 hours later (2-3 am) we arrived back at Blindern. Worth it? Yes, without a doubt.
Another great memory was the afternoon at Sognsvann Lake. I ended up walking around the edge of the lake with my camera in tow. I ended up standing waist deep, in the lake, with 2000 dollars worth of camera equipment just to take pictures of lily pads. This is a short snippet of that day, but it was a beautiful day full of pictures, friends, and lots of food.
One weekend, I booked a train ticket to Gothenburg, Sweden. Mike, Phil, Rach, and I stayed at a youth hostel outside of the city, which was an experience within itself. Here are a couple of pictures-
|Moose and I at the hostel.|
One of my favorite pictures from Sweden
One afternoon, Rachael and I decided that we would grab some friends and go to the island of Langoyene off the coast of Oslo. We reached the ferry around 12 pm and arrived at the island around 12:30 with afternoon clouds, drizzles of rain, and the sun breaking through the clouds at random intervals during the day. Of course, I brought my camera and journal on our mini day trip. This led to me being social for a bit and then venturing off to take pictures, write, and rock climb the sides of the island.
Purple shells on the island
My trip to Bergen happened about 3 weeks into the program. On the day that we left, I remember walking out of my dorm to see a huge red double decker bus. I immediately ran to the top of the bus to snatch a window seat so I could take pictures. I ended up taking pictures for the entire first day of the bus ride with my headphones on, curled under a blanked, only to see the most beautiful scenery possible. That night, we landed in a beautiful hotel in a small little town. Jen and I decided to room together for that trip, so we ran up to our room, threw open the door, dropped our stuff, and pulled back the curtains only to find a mountain with a waterfall extending all of the way down the mountain. Needless to say, Jen and I stayed up writing most of the night talking and writing.
The next morning, I was the definition of a hot mess. I woke up late and went to breakfast, sporting my purple P.J. shorts, moose shirt, hair twirled on top of my head, my glasses, and......my retainer. We are not talking about a normal metal retainer...oh no. We are talking about a TMJ, hunk of plastic, discusting retainer. I grabbed my breakfast, sat down, snarfed, and ran upstairs to try to redeem myself. Because of my tardy awakening, my window seat from the day before was already taken, so I took the only one that was left in order to take pictures. After we took off for a while, we stopped to take a tour through the Sognefjord, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I ended up taking a few pictures and sleeping after we boarded the bus to finish our journey to Bergen.
Published in Trillium 2011. All rights reserved.
|A small town in the Sognefjord|
Bergen consisted of beautiful old buildings, fish markets, a fortress/castle, unusual sculptures, and interesting museums. We also ventured to Edvard Grieg's house (AND I TOUCHED HIS STEINWAY....sorry) and Oleg Bull's house. I played some of Grieg's music during high school band, so I was beyond excited. Anyway, here are a few pictures from that weekend.
The row of buildings in Bergen
|The view out of my hotel room window|
|A sculpture and I in Bergen|
The next adventure took place in Hallingdal, Norway. Rach, Jen, and I decided to go on this trip together. We stayed at a beautiful lodge in the middle of nowhere with a small animal farm in the back.
This is where it gets funny.
Sometimes being antisocial comes with consequences. On such occasion, I decided to go outside the fence into wild brush on the mountain and take my camera along with me. Once I got a little further up the mountain of brush, I heard a very distant ringing sound. My curiosity was sparked, so I decided to follow the sound. The noise kept getting louder and louder and louder. Finally, I saw the origin of said ringing- sheep. Yes, sheep. I got a little close to them, took a couple of pictures, and then noticed that the largest sheep did not look happy with me at all. So me, my camera, and the sheep with the cow bell took off down the mountain. Now, I will admit, I have two left feet, so the image of me with my camera being chased down a mountain by a sheep with a cowbell is quite a comical image. I remember looking up at a brief moment to see Jen and Rach with very puzzled faces. Thank goodness that I got up enough speed to jump the fence just in time.
|Blueberries in Hallingdal!|
|Rachael and I- This was the best picture of the brush that I had to run through.|
|The sheep that chased me down the mountain...|
A favorite memory from traveling to Hallingdal was the old train ride for 20 miles of our journey. I got to see some beautiful country side and I got to hang off the side in order to take pictures. It was a beautiful, peaceful few moments in between the cars of the train.
|Published in Trillium 2011. All rights reserved.|
I was hanging off of the side of the train.
|Leaving a station|
The rest of my 6 weeks consisted of nightly tea tunneling through the dorms, adventures around the city, locking myself in the piano room just to play for an hour, and camping at Langoyene for the last weekend.
|Tea spot :)|
|Camping on the island|
I remember the night before I left Norway like it was yesterday. I packed and packed, cried and cried, smiled, and played piano with Matt at the closing of ISS 2010. The morning of my flight, I hugged Salo goodbye, grabbed my bags, got on the metro, switched to the train, checked in at the airport, got on my plane, and cried as I watched the terminal numbers decrease- 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41....
And then we were off.
Tears came and went throughout the rest of the flight, which are permenatnly stained in my Norway journal due to my pickiness of Pilot V7 pens (they bleed like crazy, but flow beautifully...you must try them).
My life has changed drastically and in wonderful ways since I went to Norway, but if I had to pick a time when my life changed and influenced who I am now, Norway would be it. I am much more aware of cultures, who I am, and how different cultures influence others. I want to go back by myself once i have traveled around to the other countries on my "to see" list. Speaking of which, I just sent in my application to study abroad in County Cork, Ireland in the spring, and I am planning to tour England/Scotland after I finish at U of R! Fingers crossed!!