John, outbound to Norway

Well I suppose it’s time for a long overdue journal. Time goes by so quickly here, I wrote my first journal in the beginning of October and all of the sudden it’s December. Please excuse my tardiness. In my defence, I did write a journal in the middle of November, but something went wrong when I sent it in. It vanished from the planes of reality. Of course I made the amatuer mistake of not saving, so it’s lost forever.

So much has happened in the past three months, and I think the only way to organize my thoughts is to go month by month, so lets begin.

The most exciting part of this month was, by far, meeting the other exchange students in the beautiful city of Trondheim. Rotary organized a week long language and culture camp for all the Rotary exchange students in the country, a whopping 18 of us. We took some classes, explored the city, and formed bonds that I already know will last a lifetime. So far, that week in Trondheim has been the most incredible part of my exchange. There we were, from 7 very different countries, in breathtakingly beautiful city, creating memories that stepped over the cultural differences we had. Despite coming from places that had vast differences, we were all in the same situation here in Norway, desperately trying to carve out a life in this place that was foreign to all of us. As if this wasn’t great enough, this all took place in the most gorgeous city I’ve ever seen, Trondheim. Granted, it is competing with the likes of Atlanta and Orlando, but still. Every building seemed to be designed by the same divinity that created the fjords and mountains surrounding the city. There are very few places where the Nidaros cathedral is out of view, towering above the rest of the city. It was truly spectacular.

Needless to say, after such a magical week, it was a bit of a challenge to go back to the “normal” routine of things, but after a few days I got back in the swing of things: working on the language, my relationships, and trying to figure out this country.

I’ll go ahead and say that October was not a great month. This was the point at which being in a foreign place, away from everything I know really started to take a toll. I was constantly fatigued from putting all my energy into trying to grasp what people were talking about, I was getting bored at school, and to top it all off there were less than ideal things going on back home.

All that being said, there were definitely some good days. I went on mountain trips, went boating in the fjord, and started getting a grasp on the language towards the end of the month. While I didn’t enjoy the month of October while I was living it, now that I’ve made it past some of the challenges I was facing, I can look at myself with some pride. Obviously, if exchange wasn’t challenging there wouldn’t be much point in participating. It’s all part of the experience.

This is where things started getting good. First off, to kick my boredom I switched from being a music student in school to a film student. Studying film is something I’ve never even considered, but I figured that doing those kinds of things is what this year’s all about. Things in the music track weren’t ideal either. I don’t really know how to explain it, but I couldn’t seem to connect to the class. The people were nice, and the classes were interesting, but something was missing, so I made the switch. That definitely kicked things off. My Norwegian has gotten good enough to where I can actually talk to the other students on a deeper level, and I think that was what I was missing. Now I feel like I’m making more legitimate friends, and the people I talk to aren’t just being nice to the foreign kid, which is how I felt before.

This month I also got the chance to do a lot of cool things. I’ve had trips to Bergen and Stavanger, made a 30 minute presentation (in Norwegian!), played Norwegian and American folk music for Kindergarteners (long story), made a short film, toured one of the national news studios, seen one of the biggest firework shows in the country, visited the Grieg academy, shared twinkies and poptarts with my host family, and so much more. Things are going great!

So, in a nutshell, that was the past three months. I should probably mention that this is a very brief summary, and the experiences I’m having are too weird and complex to write down. As any exchange student will tell you, it’s indescribable.