Mia, outbound to Norway

Advanced Warning: Both my written and spoken English have deteriorated a lot so sorry if my blog reads a little funny or doesn’t flow well.

Last Sunday was February 8th 2015, making it officially 6 months since I moved to Norway. Half a year is a pretty long time to be away from everything you know, so I figured a blog post suited the occasion. A lot of things have happened since I wrote my first entry in November. I’ve switched host families, traveled to London, celebrated the holidays, become almost fluent in Norwegian, learned how to snowboard, broken my toes, and spent the night on a hospital floor. I guess the best way to catch you up is to tell you guys everything in chronologically order, so I guess I’ll just start from where I left off last time.

In late November, my host family took me on a trip to London, England. I’d never been to the UK before and it was such an incredible trip. We were only there for three days, but somehow we managed to fit in just about everything! We visited the Madame Tussuad Wax Museum, took pictures of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, rode the London Eye at night, dined at the top of a skyscraper, and saw the musical version of The Lion King (my favorite part because I’m a huge Disney movie geek). The only thing that wasn’t so great was me getting pick-pocketed on the subway and losing my credit cards and license but it was all replaceable so there was really no harm done.

When we got back to Trondheim, I had one last week with my family before I moved to my second host family in December. I wish I could just lie and tell you it was easy, but leaving them was honestly one of the hardest parts of my exchange so far. I had really connected with my parents and my adorable little brother, Eivind, and I felt so comfortable living there that moving was not something I wanted to do at all.

But because I didn’t have a choice, on December 6th I found myself in a new house, with a new bedroom, having dinner in a new kitchen with a new host brother and new host parents. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my second host family. My parents, Helge and Berit, are really nice and funny, and I get along great with my brother, Andreas. It just took a few weeks of awkwardness to get back into that feeling of familiarity I’d found in my first host family. Thankfully, right around the time I was feeling comfortable again, the holidays came.

And by holidays, I mean Christmas!!! A ton of relatives came to visit, including my host grandparents and my two older host sisters, so spending time with them was great, but some other things seemed very strange to me.
Traditions in Trondheim are very different from what I’m used to back home but I can sum up Norwegian Christmas in two words: dinner parties. No joke I went to eight dinner parties… eight! That’s a lot of food! I swear I gained like 20 pounds from it haha. Besides the dinner parties, Christmas here was also weird to me because they celebrated it on the 24th instead of the 25th, and they treat it as a much more formal occasion.

They were very confused when I told them how in America my family and I wear all pajamas all day long. Luckily, my mom sent me a Christmas package full of gifts, including a huge, obnoxious, American flag onesie. (Side note: Hey mom, so remember when I told you I wouldn’t open those gifts until Christmas? Well I may have torn through the box the day after it arrived… two weeks early. But in my defense, it was a box of presents just staring at me all day! Sorry you had to find out like this.)

Okay back to Norwegian Christmas traditions! That evening, we had a very popular holiday dinner called ribbe. Ribbe is the meat that comes from the side of a pig and, although it’s really fatty, it tastes amazing! We also ate rice porridge for dessert and my family played a game where we put one almond into the mix and whoever ended up with it won a prize. After everyone is done eating we all guess who has it because if you find it you’re supposed to try and keep it a secret until the end. My host sister, Hanne, was the lucky winner of the night.

Then it was time for presents! I got a lot of warm mittens and scarves, a ski shirt, a book on Trondheim filled with amazing photos, a super soft blanket, and a pair of fluffy socks that I love! I think my family might have picked up on the fact that I packed very poorly for the weather haha. All in all, it was really a fantastic Christmas.

Things kind of died down after that and everything was pretty normal until about midway through January. I had just gotten back from winter break and I was playing football in gym class. Now those who know me are already aware that I am just about the most clumsy and unathletic person alive but for those who have never met me… it’s true. Norwegians, on the other hand, have all been playing football since they were like seven so they’re extremely good. Anyways during a game I went to kick the ball and, at the same time, my friend Erik came up and did some magic football voodoo and managed to teleport the ball away. (Seriously, I still have no idea how he moved the ball. One second it was there, and the next it wasn’t.) However, my brain didn’t register the fact that the ball was no longer there so my foot kept going… into the wall… shattering my toe. Yupp that’s right. I had to go the hospital and explain to the doctor that I kicked a wall with so much force that I broke my toe. So I’ve been in a boot for the past 4 weeks now and I still have one more to go. Unfortunately, I would be back in the hospital again in 2 weeks but I will get to that in a bit.

At the start of February, I got to fly down to a city called Nesbyen to go to Rotary’s Wintercamp. It was so much fun! I got to see all of the exchange students again and I met the new inbounds from Australia and Argentina. I became really good friends with two of the Aussies, Courtney and Lilly. As this was the “winter” camp, we spent a ton of time doing winter activities. We went alpine skiing, cross country skiing, sledding, had a BBQ in the snow, and learned how to snowboard. On one of the days, they took us on an amazing 18km cross country trek! It was really long, and I was exhausted by the end of it, but when we got to the top we had the most amazing view! The few of us who made it that far all stopped to take photos and two of the Canadians even stripped down to nothing but their Norwegian flag hats to take the “ultimate postcard picture”. It was so funny and the picture actually came out really good!

On the last night, the Rotarians who were there through us a really fun going away party. There was food and music, and at one point everyone started dancing! Earlier in the week, my friend Courtney and I had been doing that dance move where you slide someone between your legs and pull them back out, so we decided to do it again. But this time it didn’t work. Courtney slipped on the way down and knocked her head into the ground and actually passed out for around 20 seconds. Obviously, once people realized what had happened, the party met its abrupt end and, when Courtney started to float in and out of consciousness, the Rotarians decided to take her to the doctor.

It took us about 40 minutes to drive to the hospital and when we got there (Courtney was feeling a bit better thankfully) they did some tests and said she had a minor concussion and had to stay for observation. So, Courtney and I got spent our final night at Wintercamp in a hospital bed! Well, technically she was on the bed, they were out of mattresses so I got to sleep on a comfortable section of tile flooring next to her lol. She had to be careful for the first week but Courtney’s fine now and we actually make jokes about it all the time. Our favorite is the fact that the first thing she remembers after falling is hearing my voice “calling her to the light” haha. I’m really excited to see her and Lilly and all of the other exchange students again in March when we meet in Oslo for another weekend trip!

Well that just about sums up everything since my last blog! If you guys haven’t noticed by now, my blogs tend to be realllllllyyyyy long because I‘ve been trying to cram three months of my life into one journal entry so I’m going to try and post more often from now on. (Like once every month and a half) Alright well yea I guess that’s it. Ha det!

P.S. Okay I lied. There is one more random thing I want to add. I’ve noticed something else on my exchange that no one told me would happen and it is honestly freaking me out. My taste buds are completely different. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is. All my life I’ve been sure that I hated the taste of three things: coffee, oranges, and ketchup. But in the past month or so I’ve tried them all again and now I love them which I find super weird. Seriously, I don’t know if any of the other exchange students have experienced this too but it’s really starting to annoy me haha.