Taylor, outbound to Norway

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I can't believe that I've already spent one month in this amazing country! It's difficult to put the experience I have had into words but I'll try my best. 

The day I remember down to every exact detail is the day I left the United States. A day that no exchange student could ever forget. Saying goodbye to your friends, family, and your life in the states is not easy but taking comfort in the fact that you will have new friends and family members, and eagerly awaiting the adventure that is ahead of you makes you feel better. After I arrived to the Frankfurt airport in Germany and anxiously got through customs, I boarded the plain to Oslo (both of my flights were great, nothing eventful). My first host family and club counselor met me at the airport. I drove back with my club counselor, Bente, because I stayed with her for half a week before I stayed with my first host family. Which I loved! It was great to get to know my club counselor, I feel a lot more comfortable with her and I got along with her son really well (we both have an unhealthy obsession with the Harry Potter and Star Wars film series).

My first host family consists of: Tone (my host mom), Richard (my host dad), and Tiana (my host sister/13 years old). I couldn't have asked for a better host family. They are all very kind and welcoming. To go into some details on what they are like: Tone is very strong-willed, motherly, and easy to talk to about anything. Richard is very warm and knowledgeable, he's taught me a lot about Norwegian history, the Kon-Tiki expedition, in particular. Tiana is very quick-witted, brave, beautiful, and mature for her age. 

School is a lot different here. We have a different schedule every week and teachers go from class to class. Most students bring their lunch from home, it's called matpakke. Gym is also mandatory for everyone, I usually have an hour of it 2 days a week. Its also a lot less strict in comparison to schools in the United States. There is no dress code and you can just get up and go to the bathroom any time you want during class. I wake up at 6:20, get ready, and then walk to the bus stop. The bus leaves at 7:15 then arrives at the school at 2:15 to pick up the people that live in Bagn, including me, that take that bus. Sometimes when the teacher is lecturing or explaining something, I get lost because every class (other than my International English class, of course) is in Norwegian. But it gets easier everyday because I learn new words, everyday. 

My Rotary Meetings take place every Monday at a cozy local diner. The Rotarians in my club are currently working on a project that helps people in Kenya get clean water. They are all very kind people that play an active role in their community. We have a guest speaker every week. 

The food here is amazing. Bread and cheese are the staple food items of Norway. Most people have bread with jam or cheese for breakfast, but because I'm in a rush to get to the bus early, I usually have yogurt. As I mentioned previously almost every student packs their lunch, I have bread and cheese or a granola bar. For dinner, pancakes and waffles with jam and sugar are common, but they taste nothing like the ones in America. Norwegians are always surprised to hear that Americans like waffles and pancakes for breakfast. Potatoes baked or mashed, broccoli, salad, and rice are all common side dishes. It's also a tradition for Norwegians to eat tacos for dinner every Friday. Dinner on the weekdays is around 4pm but dinner on weekends dinner is served at a later time, around 7pm. Candies, soda, and other sweets are reserved for the weekends. Also note, they are very proud of their brown cheese and I must admit, its pretty tasty. 

Norwegians love nature, hiking is a very popular hobby. Almost all Norwegians own a cabin up in the mountains so that's usually where they go to hike. They also love to talk about the weather. Weather here is almost always cold and rainy but I love it. A Norwegian summer= a Floridian's worst winter. 

On the good days, everything feels as exciting as they first day you set foot on your host country's soil, you feel so happy and want to cherish every second of the day, home doesn't even cross your mind. But on the bad days, the days when the homesickness kicks in, you wonder why you ever left home, cry yourself to sleep, and you want nothing more than to be able to talk to your friends in person or to hug and kiss your parents or siblings. And you wonder if they think about you like your think about them or miss you like you miss them and ask yourself how they could be so happy and content without me? Those bad days are very painful. But after listening to some Adele and Bobby Vinton, thinking about how many people would kill to be in your shoes, and the beyond excellent opportunity Rotary has given you, you get over it, and make more good days. 

I have Rotary camp from Wednesday to Sunday. I can't wait to meet all of the other inbounds in Norway that have come from all over the world! And I can't wait for all the memories I will make and the adventures that lie ahead of me! 

Inntil neste måned! (Until next month!)