thanksgiving. 🍂

A thanksgiving reflection, thoughts from my brain to yours. :

“I really believe that thanksgiving is the greatest time of year. Being away for thanksgiving last year reminded me that thanksgiving is totally about the mindset you go into the season with. I’m never one to turn down homemade turkey and pumpkin pie or a fun family game night, but last year I realized thanksgiving is most importantly about being reflective of your own life and thankful for all the growing, changing, struggling that shaped who you are and who you’re becoming. It’s about looking back and expressing gratitude to the people you love and the people who have impacted you, taken care of you, encouraged you. Like a Valentine’s Day of thankfulness.

One year after the start of one of my greatest adventures to date, i can say with confidence that one of the things I have to be most thankful for is the way my mind changed during that year. I came home a different girl than the one my mom reluctantly sent off on her own at the airport (the one who couldn’t even start the laundry machine by herself). 337 days out in the world, and I came back a changed girl; a world thinker, a girl who was finally confident to believe in herself. A girl who tried everything without thinking twice, one that knows how to be a friend. A girl who finally knew herself, her interests, and what made her clock tick. Not to mention a girl who kept a blog and felt no embarrassment in doing so. My eyes were opened to so many truths and prejudices we all see in our own everyday lives and in the world around us, and for that I’m thankful every day of the year.

I’m thankful for the people around me that build me up, encourage even the ideas you can practically tell will fail before they even develop, and inspire me to do great things and love others just from the way they are. The wonderful adults in my life and the ones that took care of me during my exchange are what make me more okay with growing up.

I’m thankful for the friends that are willing to drive in the middle of the night just to cheer me up, the friends i never see but it’s like we were together yesterday once we’re together again. Just two months ago I switched from one world to another, from my new world back into the same old world that raised me. Everything was the same except for me, a scary idea. It was lonely coming back into a world where I didn’t have close, dependant friendships nearby anymore, but I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life I was more thankful for my friends- for the ones that stuck around for me, encouraged me on bad days and loved me just the same when I came home, and for the powerful friendships I made during my year away that I know I’ll always have and cherish. What’s more, just one month ago I went back to school where I now knew nobody and had to re-establish myself surrounded by new people. It’s only been a month and I already have friends I feel like I can’t remember not knowing. Friendship is a beautiful thing. I’m so thankful and inspired everyday by the good, good friends around me that I have the pleasure of knowing and loving.

Also, my family- what would I do without them. My 5 house mates, the 3 devils that look too much like me that fake sleep walk into my room and sends me all day; my extended family, always keeping me in check and commenting on the recents, and my Norwegian family, also doing the above. The check-in texts, the little treats for no reason, and the encouragement when needed most make up for all the disagreements and roasting that actually happens over thanksgiving, and over every day of the whole year. Without my family, I’d be nothing.

Anyways, if there’s one thing you take home from thanksgiving with your leftovers this year, let it be that thanksgiving is an action, an everyday thing. Everything we have, every person around us, every struggle we’ve faced and every win we celebrate has built up the people we are, the community we make up together. Here’s to a beautiful world, and a beautiful life. Today and always I’m thankful for me, for you, for this wonderful world, and for the wonderful ways we connect within it.”

Thanks for coming to my ted talk cya next year

life post-norway/ livet etter norge 🇳🇴

hey everybody<3

9705aa5e-a7fa-40d5-a550-6b5a5aeb86d6Just thought I’d check in! I’ve been home for almost 3 months now (crazy!) and my whole exchange year feels like it was a dream. It’s crazy how I spent an entire year in a different country and it feels like it never even happened.

It was so incredibly heartbreaking to leave Norway and my host families, but it was nice to come home and settle back into my normal routines. Summer was crazy busy, but I needed it while I overcame the shock of ending the best year of my life.

I worked a bit this summer, went on my family boat, and hung out with friends. I also camp counselled girls’ camp for a week in August at Joy Bible Camp, and my family went on an RV trip to newfoundland.

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I still find myself thinking about Norway everyday. I stay in touch with a few of my friends from my year, even though it’s a lot harder than I expected it to be because of the time zones. I know I’ll always have my exchange friends though, and I’m literally counting down the seconds until I can catch my next flight to go see some of them, or go back to Norway.

Exchange truly did change my life, and there’s almost nothing I don’t see in a different way now. Looking back at who I was last August when I left, I don’t even recognize myself. I’m so thankful for how exchange has taught me about the world, given me an international family, and even for all the little practical things I picked up along the way, like learning how to spend time alone and how to take the bus and the train. I gained so much confidence in who I am over my exchange year, and words can’t explain how grateful I am for that.

I experienced so much in a year, and it ultimately shaped who I am. People always ask me if I’d go back to Norway, and to me that kind of question is a no brainer- of course I’ll go back, I have a second home and a second life in Norway now, friends and people who are like family to me that I care so much about. This year was 100% the hardest thing I’ve ever done and of course there were times I wanted to make the call to hop on the next flight home, but it’s the things that are difficult that are the most rewarding in life. I’m so proud of my year on exchange and I don’t think there’s a single person on earth who wouldn’t grow or benefit from living abroad.

I hope this blog showed you guys a little bit about what it’s like to be an exchange student this year, or at least kept you updated on what I was up to! This blog was one of the most important parts of my year, and I grew to truly love working on it and using it as an outlet to share my pictures and practice my english a bit. Anyways, thanks for giving it a read and if you get nothing else from it, I hope it inspires you to travel a bit- even if it’s just a roadtrip to the coast- and gives you the desire to experience the world & new cultures and gain global understanding.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch and send me a message if you have any questions at all for me! xx

Lauren

juni.

Hello!

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I’ve finished my last month and a half in Norway and have now been back in Cobourg for almost  a month! This year has flown by, and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to come on exchange thanks to the Cobourg Rotary club. This year has been the best year of my life and I can’t believe it came to an end so soon.

Everything’s now come to a close now that my exchange is over- I had my last day of school, my last dinner where I saw all of my host families, my last rotary meeting, my last trip with all of my exchange friends. Now that I’m home it feels like the whole year was a dream. As much as I hated saying goodbye, it was nice to come back into my life in Canada and get back into routine. The last six weeks in Norway were so busy and so fun, so I didn’t really have much time to think about going home.

 

At the start of the month I went on a 10-day bus trip around Norway with all the other exchange students. It was such a fun trip and I’ll always remember those days to be some of the happiest days of my life. We started our trip in Oslo, the capital, and then travelled to the mountains and to NesbyenBergen, Alesund, Kristiansund and Lillehammer. We also went swimming in a glacier, white water rafting and flying in a wind tunnel in Voss (like the water company), cycled rallarveien, saw incredible views, and of course, climbed some mountains. I’ll always remember and cherish the memories we made on trip- the whole trip everybody was so happy to be together, and even the bus ride ended up being fun- maybe even one of the best parts.

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After our trip around Norway, I came back and finished up school. In Norway, in the year before the final year of high school, we only have to do one final exam. The exam taken in the second last year is pulled at random for each student, and I got picked to take the French exam. My exam went well, and it’s cool that now I can say I took an exam in Norway.

Of course I also went on some cabin trips this month- I spent every weekend I wasn’t travelling at the cabin. June wasn’t as warm as May, but it was still nice and I swam in the ocean anyways. One of the weekends I was with two of my exchange friends, and we put on wetsuits and went tubing in the ocean. That was a really memorable experience for me, especially since I got to do it with my best friends.

I also got to celebrate midsummer at the cabin in Norway. In Norway, midsummer is celebrated, but not as much as in Sweden where it’s a holiday. Norway still celebrates though, because midsummer is always around the longest day of the year- a day where the sun hardly goes down in Norway. My host family and I celebrated at the cabin with Norwegian barbecue, waffles, and swimming in the ocean even though it was only 15 degrees out. The sunset was pink and everybody was in such good spirits, and I will always remember this when I remember my host family.

After midsummer, I went with my best friend from Canada and her host family on a roadtrip to three different places around Norway, one of them being Trondheim- the second biggest city in Norway and the furthest north I’ve been on my exchange. We also went to this little town called Røros, a super old town where they used to mine copper.

At the very end of my exchange I had an 8-day trip to Madeira, a Portuguese island, with my District Youth Exchange Officer and an exchange student from Australia. While we were there, we saw fireworks choreographed to music, went snorkelling, rode a boat that was a copy of the one Christopher Columbus used on his adventures, and ate more ice cream than I’m willing to admit. It was a great trip and a great way to end my exchange!

My last day in Norway was just spent at home with my host families and my friends from both Norway and around the world. We had my favorite Norwegian dinner (rice, salmon, and mango salad) and just enjoyed each other’s company while I worked on packing.

Anyways, this is pretty much the end of my blog! I hope they provided a little insight into the life of an exchange student, life in Norway, and gave all of you a little inspiration to come and visit Norway yourself! Norway has won my heart this year, and exchange has truly been the best experience of my life.

I guess this is goodbye until the next adventure! xx

Lauren

madeira, portugal. 🇵🇹

Hey everybody!

 

During my last week of exchange I had the opportunity to go to Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast, closer to Morocco than Portugal. I travelled with my District Youth Exchange Officer and Sofia, an exchange student from Australia, and we had so much fun! Here are some of the highlights from the week:

Taking the gondola to the top of funchal

 

On one of our first days on Madeira, we took the gondola up above the city. It was a little bit rainy but we had such a beautiful view from the gondola. It was my first time in a gondola that long and it was so fun!

Sliding down in wicker baskets

Once we got to the top of the gondola we slid down the mountain in these little wicker baskets. It was like summer sledding down the road.

Fireworks

On our first day in Portugal we got to see fireworks over Funchal! It was special for me because it was the day leading up to Canada day, and the firework show was unlike any I’d seen before. Every Saturday night in June in Funchal (so for four weeks), there’s a firework competition put on by one of four teams. The fireworks are coordinated to music and they were so beautiful.

Pregos, Brisa maracuja, and football.

While we were in Portugal, it was the World cup and Portugal played against Uruguay. Unfortunately, they lost (plus it was a boring game) but we got to try some Madeiran specialties like this passionfruit soda called Brisa Maracuja as well as these steak sandwiches called pregos.

Seeing dolphins& being Christopher Columbus

On one of the days we took a boat that was a replica of the boat Christopher Columbus took during his first voyage. The boat went along the coast of the south side of Madeira. By some stroke of luck, we ended up seeing so many dolphins and they started swimming alongside the boat. After the dolphin excitement the boat stopped and we jumped off and swam in the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

Snorkelling

Halfway through the week we moved to a new apartment right on the water. It had access to lots of pools and the ocean, and one day we went snorkelling. I had never been snorkelling before and it was a little bit weird to have all the fish around. I actually really enjoyed it though and it was good to try something new and out of my comfort zone.

Roadtrip around the island

The best day of the trip was the day we rented a car and decided to drive around part of the island! We got to see so many cool sights like Cabo Girão (a giant sea cliff with a glass floor), these volcanic rock pools called Porto Moniz, The São Vicente volcanic caves, and one of the prettiest sights I’ve ever seen, Camara de Lobos.

Icecream (of course)

Over the course of the week I ate a lot of the best ice cream cones of my life. Here’s a photo documentation of the legendary cones.

Exploring funchal

We got to know Funchal really well over the course of the trip and learned to navigate the bus, find the best snacks, and of course worked our way through every store in the area. We saw all the cats of Funchal, watched a soccer game live in a field, checked out the markets. Here’s some more pictures from one of the coolest weeks on one of the coolest islands ever!

Adios,

Lauren

sankthansaften☼

hey everybody!

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celebrated sankthansaften (midsummer) in Norway this past weekend and just thought I’d share some pictures from it ❤ I spent it at the cottage on the water with  my host family & it was super cute! The weather wasn’t so warm, but it was still nice and not cloudy, and of course I went swimming anyways.

Enjoy the pics & see you in 12 days Canada! x

Lauren

norgestur- lillehammer🎢

days 9&10- siste dagene av turen❤

Once we arrived in Lillehammer, we went to the place we were staying for the night- an old converted barn- to drop off our stuff. We then went to dinner at a farm where we enjoyed our last night together.

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After we got back from dinner, we spent the night altogether signing eachother’s flags and starting to say our goodbyes to one another. Sara made a speech and we all cried like babies lol

The next day we packed up from our last hytte (the barn lol) and went to hunderfossen, a little amusement park in Lillehammer.

We only had two hours there, but there wasn’t too many rides so we had enough time there to enjoy ourselves. We went on a rollercoaster, a viking ship ride, some go carts, and this haunted house thing that you walk through and the get strapped into, and then start going up super slow then drop down super fast in the dark.

For lunch, we ate tacos at the amusement park and i had my first guacamole in a longggg time. After we left to go home and started dropping everybody off to go home.

At Oslo S the last exchange students apart from Kali and I got off the bus, and we said our last goodbye to some of our best friends.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSaying goodbye was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to do this year, especially after being with the other exchange students for 10 days straight. The exchange students have become family this year, and we’ve been through this whole year together through everything from learning our first norwegian words at intro camp, to suffering on cold ski trips during winter camp. I can’t imagine my life without these people, and they were definitely the best part of this year.

Overall, Norgestur was the most fun trip I’ve ever been on, and the whole trip the mood was super positive and we enjoyed ourselves. I will always remember norgestur as some of the best days of my life❤

 

norgestur- ålesund, kristiansund, & trolldalen

days 8&9!

DTTB7310 (1).JPGThe second and third last days of the trip! We drove a lot these last two days, and it was sad that these were a few of the last days we’ll all be together in Norway.

We started off the day with a roadtrip to Ålesund! All of us were soo tired and everybody slept on the bus. Once we got to Ålesund we got out to see a lookout over the city, then walked down 400 steps into the city. It was a bit rainy but we still had a nice view from the lookout.

Luckily the weather picked up after Ålesund, and we had nothing but sunshine when we drove along the Atlantic road. We got out in the middle of the trip to go for a little walk at a lookout point, take some pictures, and eat some ice cream.

Afterwards, we arrived in Kristiansund. There we went to a museum on dried fish, tried Bacalao (a dish which is pretty much fish in tomato sauce. That night we stayed in our favorite place, in these little semi-detached cabin things. We dyed some hair, ate some noodles, and watched lots of weird norwegian reality shows. Classy.

The next day, we drove all the way from Kristiansund to Lillehammer, a drive that took almost the whole day. We drove through Trolldalen, an area with huge, very unique mountains. On the way we watched lots of movies in the bus and napped a bit.

Stay tuned to read about the last day! xx

Lauren

 

norgestur- geiranger

Hey guys! Here’s more from Norway Tour:

BNOG7113 (1).JPGAfter Briksdal isbre, we drove to Geiranger which is a famous tourist place on the inside of one of the fjords where nearly every cruise ship that goes to Norway stops. The view really looks like it’s right out of a movie.

The road to Geiranger was thrilling to say the least, and the roads were a little bit scary on our big tour bus.

Once we got there we had some time to walk around and explore, and we tried brown cheese flavored chocolate.

We also took lots of pictures at the lookouts to and from of course.

We left to go to where we were staying for the night pretty early- everybody was worn down and we didn’t mind taking it easy. When we got to fjellstova (where we stayed), a few of us climbed a little mountain. The view was like something out of the sound of music, and I’m so glad i went to the top even though I was exhausted. If Norway has taught me anything, it’s that the climb is always worth the view- and that in Norway, there’s always a view.

For dinner we had barbecue and cake, to celebrate one of the boy’s birthdays. This day was such a fun day, maybe my favorite from the whole trip.

stay tuned for litt til!

Lauren

 

norgestur- briksdal isbre

day 6!

today we drove through the mountains to a place called Førde to have lunch! It was a super cute little mountain town, and a great setting to hang out for a bit and eat some tacos.

After lunch we drove to another spot in the mountains to a place called Briksdal Isbre, which was a huge glacier with runoff we could swim in. The weather was so great and even the walk up to the glacier was super fun! The path was really nice so it was kind of cheater’s hiking.

At the end of the trail we reached an area near the glacier where there was runoff we could swim in. The water was about 5 degrees celsius and hundreds of years old, but it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience (mostly because most of us would never do it again lol).

That night, we stayed in a little town (I have no idea what it was called, I just remember thinking it looked like a place a lot of motorcycles stopped). We stayed in tiny little cabins and all 25 of us played on the playground there for most of the night.

That’s everything from day 6! Bye for now xx

Lauren

norgestur- Berhhhgen☔

Day 4&5 !❤

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We spent two nights in Bergen! We arrived there after Voss, and went to our hostel in an area called Montana with a great view of the city.

We ate dinner, then a group of us went on a hike up a mountain to see the sunset. It didn’t take so long to go up but it was pretty steep and after the day’s activities we weren’t so motivated to get to the top.

The view was so worth the hike and even worth the cold wind at the top- the sunset was seriously one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. After we took all the pictures we could, and after all of our phones died from the cold, we hiked back down while it was starting to get dark.

The next day we woke early and took public transportation into Bergen. We had a guided tour with a rotarian who spoke the local dialect in Bergen- a dialect a lot of people who are good at Norwegian can’t even understand, much less a group of norsk rookies. Again, the weather was nice (rare for Bergen where it always rains) so we enjoyed ourselves anyways.

After the tour we had to walk up a little mountain to get to where we were going to have lunch, and nobody was expecting or too happy about that hahaha. We were sooo hungry, but that was motivation. We had a super traditional Norwegian lunch- shrimps that we had to peel on bread with mayo and lemon. Peeling shrimps used to cause me grief but I’ve done it so many times now that I don’t even think twice about it.

In the afternoon we had some free time, so we met up with a girl on exchange in Bergen called Madi, and we just walked around and hung out, ate icecream and shopped a bit.

For dinner, we took public transport to a rotarian’s house where we had grill food. It was such a nice view where we were, and it was so fun to be there and hang out together.

That night we just sat outside and hung out while the sun was setting, it was so beautiful

The next morning we ate then left bergen, and started on our way to Briksdal Isbre❤