I am back in Italy, safe and sound, but this post is dedicated to the second half of my week in Norway.
Torsdag(Thursday) Rolf invited me to speak at his school. He is a rektor(principle). The schooling system in Norway is run differently than the schooling in America.
Kindergarten (age 6)
Barne Skole (age 6-12, grades 1-7) Equivalent to our elementary and part of our middle school.
Ungdoms Skolen (age 13-16, grades 8-10) Equivalent to our middle/high school
Videregående (ages 17-19, grades 1-3) Equivalent to our high school/part of college.
After school, the boys, if they are healthy and fit, must (by law) serve in the military for a year. After this they are free to do additional schooling if they want.
I talked to three different classes. I started out by introducing who I was; my name, age, what year I'm at in school, what I'm studying, school in Italy, and then I branched into why I am in Norway (mini family tree included). I also explained how the school system in America differs from theirs. After that intro, which took probably five minutes total, I let the students openly ask me questions. Some were really shy, others were not. In the first group there were a lot of students really interested in theatre, so they were asking me about theatre in the states. They also asked, "Are the American films true? Are there cliques in high school?" and the last group asked, "how much does soda cost?" because EVERYTHING in Norway is mad expensive compared to the prices that we pay - and in Europe soda in general is way pricier. For example, a coke in Italy cost 3 or 4 Euros at a restaurant for one glass, so basically 6 or 7 dollars. It was really nice talking to the students, though. A bunch of them had been to the US before and when I asked if they liked it better than Norway they said yes. I replied by saying, "Well, if you ask any American student if they would rather be in Europe, basically everyone says yes." You always want what you don't have...
After I was done speaking at the school, I accompanied Rolf to a banquet. It was for his friend who was retiring from his position as a rektor at a different school. Although I couldn't understand any of the speeches, it was interesting being there and listening to the language. When there is a language barrier, it makes you focus on the others ways in which people communicate (aka the body). I was able to understand tones of the speeches based off of the body language of the speakers; I could tell when things were more comedic or when they were saying something heartfelt and serious, etc. More than anything, though, being there gave me more motivation to learn Norwegian. It's so frustrating being in a country and not being able to speak/understand the language. Even though nobody expects it of you, you can't help but feel stupid wherever you go.
When I got home, Tore and I decided to go into Oslo to get dinner. We took a train in and then once we got into town we took a trolley to a different branch of Oslo. On the trolley I asked Tore if they checked people for tickets and he said that they don't all the time, but that they have people who dress in civilian clothing that will ride the trolley for a while and then all of a sudden demand to see your tickets. If you don't have one, they take you in this car and make you pay a fine. I thought he was kidding, but it actually happened. We were riding it for probably two stops and the people right next to us all of a sudden took out their badges and demanded to see our tickets. Pretty crazy. Luckily I had my week long pass and Tore was covered as well.
We ate at this Mexican restaurant. It was so good - and they were playing Rufus Wainwright at one point which made me really happy. As we were walking home, Tore saw this big sign for Norwegian chocolate and said, "Oh man, have you tried Norwegian chocolate yet?" I had not, so we made a pit-stop.
Um. Norwegian chocolate is AMAZING. I mean, European chocolate is way better than American chocolate in general; I've had both French and Italian chocolate and both were incredible but Norwegian chocolate takes the cake.
Fredag (Friday) I went to Videregående (** see the school list above if you are confused) with Tore. In the morning he had German (AH. Norwegians speaking German....as if I wasn't confused enough with just Norwegian!) He was supposed to have social studies afterwards but turns out that some of the theatre students were putting on a play so class was canceled so that everyone could attend the play. In the afternoon I left Tore for a bit and went to watch the theatre students in their movement class. Mikkel (one of Tore's good friends) was in the class, and he took good care of me.
When the school day was over, Tore and I took a train into Sandvika (a neighboring town). By the way, I should probably mention, (although I'm assuming you've guessed), but Rolf and Kirsten's home is not directly in Oslo. They actually live in a city called Asker on the outskirts of the city. Anyway, Sandvika is on the outskirts as well. We got a late lunch at this place called Egon. Over our meal, we talked a lot about differences between Norway and the US - specifically political. It's funny how "with it" Europeans are - they are so connected to what is going on in the states and yet people in the states never know what is going on with people in Norway. Frustrating.
We walked into downtown Asker and I listened to Tore rehearse with his band for about two hours. Their name is "Eg er blivet microweiväet" (I have been microwaved ---best name ever) They are a really talented group of guys, consisting of three guitarists who shift between guitar and upright bass, a piano player, a drummer, a singer, and a guy who plays tuba. I'm making Tore send me their music - it's legitmately really good. Sounds a bit like Tom Waits. If you aren't familiar with him, you should quickly acquaint yourself. After band practice, we went home and helped Rolf make a late dinner. MOOSE. I ate MOOSE. Not Chocolate Mousse. MOOSE. SO good. Afterwards we had coffee and ice cream and during this Kirsten got home. (She was on call all week for work. Busiest woman alive;I don't know how she manages it, to be honest. I think she has hidden super powers...) After dinner, Tore and I walked back downtown (probably about a 15-20 minute walk) and bought MORE Norwegian Chocolate...because...well...why wouldn't we? haha. We took a couple hidden routes there - I wish I would have had my camera but even so, the pictures don't do it justice. Some of the views we had of the city at night were absolutely stunning.
LØrdag (Saturday) Tore and I made a to-do list entitled, "Eva has less than 24 hours" and I am happy to report that we completed all, with the exception of number 12: Buying a pump organ. We took the train into Oslo and visited a bunch of vintage shops. Tore was on the look-out for a wool tie and he found several. While looking for a place to get some lunch we stopped into "Bar Boca" - the bar that Kristian works at - but of course he's in Russia and sadly the place was packed so we couldn't grab a cup of coffee. Instead we went to this other restaurant and waited FOREVER to get our food. Right as we were about to ask for our money back (because we had already complained once) our food came. Classic, right? We didn't have a lot of time to eat because Tore had to meet up with his band so after a 45 minute wait, we got our food, ate it, and were out the door in seriously about 5 minutes. How disgusting are we? haha.
After Tore met up with his band (they were getting ready for a gig that they would have later that night...more on that later) Tore and I met up with Kirsten and Rolf at "Den Norske Opera & Ballett". It is a new building (only about two years old) and it is incredible; made entirely out of marble right on the fjord. They bought tickts for us to see "Shoot the Moon" - a four part modern ballet danced by the National Ballet of Oslo and accompanied by the Norwegian Opera Orchestra. I was "over the moon" (Haaaaaaaaa bad joke eva....but no really I was) because I have never been to the ballet before! For those of you who know me, I have a mild obsession with dance - so inspiring to see professionals do it live. It was really beautiful. I felt very lucky.
After the show, Tore went to go help his band set up while Kirsten, Rolf, and I went out for dinner at Engebret Café, Oslo's oldest restaurant (from the 1800's). It was a café known for attracting specifically theatre artists, Ibsen included, and has remained popular even today; the king has been seen eating there. :) I ate reindeer with a blackberry sauce over it - so delicious. For a second I thought I was "seeing the light" and leaving earth for a better place (whatever that means)...but seriously. If you ever get a chance, eat moose and reindeer.
(a little blurry, but Rolf and Kirsten outside Engebret)
Following dinner, Rolf and I went to go see "Eg er blivet microweiväet" play. It was a competition between a bunch of different bands - the prize being that if you get high enough up in the ranks you can move on to bigger/better venues. Well, Tore's band got second place so they are moving on! YAY!!!
So there you have it. My last few days in Norway.
What a place. What people. That's really all I can say - it was by far the most important thing I've ever done; extremely life changing. I am so happy that I got in touch with my family - who are now wonderful, wonderful friends and will be for life. I know I will be back there soon. In the morning on SØndag (Sunday) I said goodbye to Kirsten and Luke (the Canadian Cowboy dog) and Rolf and Tore drove me to the airport. This was the sunrise on the way out... I mean, seriously, you would cry at the airport too if this was what you were leaving..
I could write forever about how much I love Norway and how much better it is than every other country, but really you should just go there and see for yourself. I was so sad to leave - but am so happy that I had the opportunity to go in the first place. I can't imagine my life without those people and that place in it.
After a car, two planes, a shuttle, a train, and a taxi, I made it back to the little American bubble atop the Italian hill. My first night back was not fun at all. Withdrawl, man. Norwegian withdrawl. I had very little motivation to do anything - in fact I did nothing - other than dream about snow and chocolate and reindeer and bands that have apparently been microwaved and canadian cowboy dogs and the people who sound like this: UNGdom Broske ikkeno. (Vs. the Italians: Babiddy babiddy ba!) :)
Miss you Rolf, Kirsten, Tore, and Luke. Tusen Takk for everything.