5 months (or150 days) in Norway have officially passed! December has posed a bit of a challenge for me, as it was my first Christmas celebrated away from home, but I had a great month and Norway has so many unique Christmas traditions that I was lucky to be a part of!
At the start of the month, I moved to my second host family! It was sad to say goodbye to the first but I really like my new family and am having a great time with them so far! At my new family, I’m living with just a mom and a dad- there are two kids who are 25 & 29 that are now moved out. My host dad at my new family is retired, so I’m normally spending a lot of time with him after school doing different things. Over the holidays I think I attended about 7 Christmas concerts, most of which were with him.
I took a weekend trip to London with my last host family this month! I went just with my host mom and host sister, and we had a really great time. My host sister used to live in London, so she acted as the tour guide for the trip. We visited London Bridge, Big Ben (which was under construction), winter wonderland at Hyde Park, Camden town market, and I even got to visit an exchange student friend I met in Canada last year (from finland) while I was walking Oxford Street.
On our way home, our flight was cancelled due to snow and we ended up staying an extra night in London- honestly I think this ended up being the best night of the trip. We had to go from the airport back to the city centre, where we stayed at a super nice hotel (that my host dad booked from Norway like an hour before) and just ate pizza and watched a super cute Christmas movie. This actually turned out to be one of my favorite nights of exchange so far. The next day we ended up spending a few hours in a town on the west coast of Norway (because it was the only route home) which was fun as well- the trip was still so great and I think the detours actually made it better! London really is magic at Christmas time, and I truly am so grateful to have experienced it.
Of course, I visited the Christmas markets in the city many more times throughout December. I went skating for the first time in Norway there actually- I love skating and there aren’t so many indoor rinks here so it was super nice to get to do that. I also went back only a day before Christmas Eve with my exchange friends, and we rode the Ferris wheel which was a dreamy experience. We also found a cute donut shop in the city that makes really good donuts (which is hard to find in Norway) which I know I’ll be going back to in the very near future.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been given tickets to the ballet “the Nutcracker” the week before Christmas. It was honestly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, thinking about it now makes it feel like a dream. I was lucky enough to get to share this experience with my friend from Canada, who stays not too far from me here in Norway.
Christmas in Norway was a really neat cultural experience, and it was then that Norwegian culture really stood out to me. It was a bit sad being away from my friends and family for the holidays, but I’ve grown to make new friends and family here that made sure I had a wonderful Christmas. Christmas in Norway is a 3 day ordeal during which everything is closed. We got a Christmas tree a few days before Christmas- we got a real tree from a parking lot shop, which was something i haven’t done before. I spent the holidays with my current host family, and the festivities began on Christmas Eve which is the main day of Christmas in Norway. At 2 o’clock people came over to our house and we all ate rice porridge. Then, we all made our way to the church for a Christmas Eve service. After that we came home and had a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner with just the family. It is very common in Norway that the families eat a traditional dish on Christmas. The two most common ones are pinnekjott, which is lamb, and ribbe, which is pork ribs.
On the 25th (which is when we normally have Christmas in Canada), everybody just relaxes and normally there’s another family dinner that night! On that day I went to visit my best friend from Australia, since we’re both used to normally celebrating Christmas on that day. If you want to read more about my Christmas away from home, click here !
At the end of the month I visited one of my Australian friends in a town called Hamar. It was such a cute couple of days- Hamar is a gorgeous town and I’m really glad I got to visit it. One of my best memories from exchange so far was from this trip; my friend and I went for a walk in the snow and came to this big airport runway that doesn’t get used in the winter, and we made a snowman in the middle of the huge open space. This was the first snowman my Australian friend had ever made, and I haven’t made one in so long so it was really nostalgic for me. We stayed out for probably 2 hours and it was so nice to just relive my childhood for a bit and play in the snow.
I also got to visit the munch museum, that houses a lot of the paintings from the norwegian painter Edvard Munch. It was cool to see some of his paintings, however I wish I had’ve gotten to see them at the new museum they’re making in Oslo that’s expected to open in a few years.
Anyways, that’s all for December! If you have any questions or comments about my exchange, comment below or scroll to read some more! I’ve been kind of under the radar about my blog lately, and I haven’t really been putting it on social media when I have a new post which is part because I’m lazy and part because I just always forget. Basically what I’m saying is, there’s probably lots of new stuff to read below so get comfy!
Until next time,