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One of the things I am asked the most by people I meet in Norway is “why Norway”. In complete honesty, most of the time I can't remember my exact reasoning, but having lived here for over three months now I can think of plenty of reasons for the next exchange student to give as an answer to that question.
I joked quite a bit with my family about the unearthly beauty of this country before I came here, but it really is the truth. While I am not living anywhere near the breathtaking west coast and it's jaw dropping fjords, where I am living has its own charm.
It may be only the fact that I have never lived somewhere so rural, but the endless rolling fields produce a scene of such natural beauty that at times I cannot believe it is not a figment of my imagination. Without the products of man cluttering my peripheral vision, the sky opens up as if to swallow me whole just for daring to assume I am worthy to behold such a sight.
I brought a camera with me in a hope of capturing memories of my time here, I don't dare to assume that any I may take will do this country justice.
Now again, this could just be my city girl speaking, as I'm sure there are places in my home country that can compare, but the night sky here is like nothing I have ever seen.
As I mentioned before, with no buildings to block any angle of your vision, and only rolling fields in almost every direction, the sky opens up like a gaping maw. On a crisp clear night, of which I have been blessed to behold many in my short time here, the very heavens come down to touch our sky.
If such beauty alone is not enough to sway you, worry not, for that is far from all that endears me to Norway.
While I will not disillusion you to the makeup of this society's character, and there is a good bit of truth behind some of the harsher sentiments, there is also a lot of positivity that is not often brought to the attention of foreigners. In complete honesty, making friends is a hard thing to accomplish, it has taken me these three plus months to make more than mere acquaintances. The youth are cold in their treatment of not only me, but the children I have met that have immigrated to this country. What I have found heartening, is something that I have recently been made privy to. When you do make friends, you make them hard and fast and they are quite hard to be rid of (not that I wish to be rid of any one of them). A true Norwegian friend is something to be cherished.
Beyond the difficulties found in socializing with my own peers, there is something to be said about the hospitality of those that invite you into their homes, be it for an evening or for a few months. I have been made nothing but welcome since I have arrived in my first home and can say the same for each and every one of my families. From the examples set before me, I cannot say I have seen or heard of any other exchange student that has been similarly blessed, while this may just be my own god fortune, I prefer to think of it as a dominant characteristic of the Norwegian people as a whole.
I believe that my most common response to the question of why I chose Norway is something about my joy of nature, and boy has that come to be the truth.
On a similar, but different note than my first, the all encompassing love for the earth we inhabit that Norwegians hold is a wonderful thing. One very important thing for any prospective exchange students to Norway to remember is that if you cannot see yourself going on seemingly random jots through the woods or hikes up the occasional mountain, then you really ought to choose a different country. For the Norwegian love of the outdoors is not something to be overlooked.
I have always been one to enjoy the exploration of the world around me. Sadly, doing so became a bit to dangerous to make a habit of when living in Florida. Living here in Norway reminds me strongly of growing up in a small forest filled neighborhood where I was free to trek through foliage without fear of coming across a critter that could take my life, or one of my limbs. Despite the encroaching cold I cannot express how much I have come to enjoy being free to once again explore the beauty of the world around me, and it is beautiful indeed.
All of these wonderful, broad topics are wonderful reasons for loving this country, but there are so many little things that I have come to adore as well. From the rather obsessive love of waffles (do not mistake me for complaining, I love the waffles) to the love I have found in my new families, to the sheer pride for their country that so many of its citizens hold with enough force to rival even the patriots of my home country.
If I were given the choice to go back in time and change destination for this year, I would stay exactly where I am.