My second month of my exchange in Norway (September) is now complete! I have had a very busy and eventful month, and have gotten to experience so many new things!
I’ve been having so much fun with my host family! Whether we’re going to the furniture store at 9pm on a Thursday, test driving the new car in the pouring rain, or hanging out in the living room watching “Alt for Norge” together every Sunday night, I always look forward to spending some time doing things with them. (Side note: Alt for Norge is a Norwegian reality TV program where a group of Norwegian-Americans come to Norway and compete for the chance to meet their Norwegian relatives.)
I had many culinary firsts in Norway this month. To celebrate one month of being in Norway, I had brunst (brown cheese made with goat milk) and Norwegian waffles! I have also grown to love knekkebrød, a crunchy brown cracker that tastes a bit like cardboard- but I love it. I also had Peppe’s Pizza (Norway’s beloved pizza chain) for the first time this month, with my exchange who is also from Canada.
I’ve also had plenty opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Norway this month. I spent a couple mornings bike riding with my host parents, as well as completed a 3 day trip with my class at school. On the first and second days, we biked a total of 80 kilometres along Rallarvegen, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Norway. On the third day, we hiked starting from østerbo, and walked 20 kilometres down a mountain- the first mountain I had ever hiked. Overnight, we camped in the mountains which was a first for me. Overall the trip was a challenge, but it was a good experience and I got to see a lot of Norway!
The day after my bike trip with school, I woke up and went to Sweden with my host family to go shopping. Many Norwegians do this, as everything in Sweden is more affordable than in Norway. My legs could hardly move from my bike trip, but it was a fun experience and both my host sister and I each got 2 kilos of candy in the spirit of our Swedish shopping trip.
I’ve had many fun experiences with friends this month also! I spent a weekend at my counselor’s cottage with two other exchange students, where we cooked (american Mac n Cheese), swam, visited Gamle Fredrikstad (“Old” Fredrikstad), and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was a rainy weekend, but that didn’t stop us from taking advantage of the little amount of sunshine, pulling out the wet suits, and going for a quick swim and boat ride in the fjord.
I’ve had a couple of trips to Oslo with friends during the week this month as well. Getting milkshakes has been a favorite activity this month- I went twice with different friends within the span of one week . An important lesson Norway has taught me is that calories don’t count if you can’t say the number in Norwegian.
The last Saturday of the month was also a highlight for me. I met in Oslo with three of my exchange friends from Canada, Japan, and Mexico. We didn’t have very much time together but it was so fun to catch up, do a little shopping, and visit the royal palace together. I’m so lucky to have made friends like these girls, who make me laugh so hard I cry❤️
This month, Rotary held an intro camp in Stavanger (on the west coast of Norway) where I got to meet exchange students from 11 different countries. At intro camp, we spent time getting to know one another and learning Norwegian as well as a bit about Norwegian culture and history. Most importantly, I learnt that there’s no better way to bond with new friends than to share a heaping bowl of chocolate mousse with vaniljesaus or to sing “en solskinnsdag” 17 times a day. At intro camp, we also took a dip in the chilly waters of the North Sea, as well as visited a town called Sandnes where we explored a science museum (as well as an ice cream shop nearby).
We also attended a Rotary district conference while we were in Stavanger. At the start of the part of the conference we attended, we walked in carrying the flags of the countries we were from. It was such a cool moment and it was a neat symbol of how we’ve all come from all over the world but our love for adventure has brought us altogether for a year of friendship and trying new things.
I have had a busy and eventful month, and have lots to look forward to in the coming month! The weather is turning here, and while there’s only a short time between summer and winter, I’m loving the fall weather and colors.
Bye for now!