Sydney, Outbound to Norway

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So I’ve been in Norway for about a week now, and I’m still shocked at how beautiful everything is here! Everywhere I look there are green open fields or forests. Wildflowers grow on the sides of the roads and I haven’t even seen a billboard yet, so car rides in Norway are definitely different than the US. Another thing that’s different- my host club sings at the beginning of the meetings, which my sponsor club definitely doesn’t do! Luckily they keep lyric books on every table, so I was able to follow along.

I go to a school in Jessheim, which I have to take 2 different buses to get to. The school building itself is new, and it’s really nice. It’s definitely the biggest school I’ve ever attended. I’m having difficulty understanding some classes, but my classmates have been really nice and accommodating in helping me understand. In English class, we’ll be covering “American people and culture”, which should be interesting to take as an American. The textbook has Bruce Springsteen lyrics for students to read and understand the American working class. I’ve made two good friends in my class so far, Hedda and Mozhgan. I’ve also been in communication with my future host sister Sigrid.

My neighbor Julie has also been a really good friend. She taught me how to eat like a typical Norwegian teenager (ketchup on pizza and Pepsi Max), and I went to an activity park with her, her boyfriend Casper, and their friend Ivar. The activity park was really fun, even if it physically could be a challenge for an out of shape American like me. Afterwards, we shared an apple cider and talked about music. Her friends were very fun, and had a similar sense of humor to my friends in the US.

Also, my host family has a dog! This is really exciting to me, because I’ve always wanted one and my brother is allergic. His name is Elvis, and I’ve really enjoyed walking him in the forest by my house. I also got to see my host parents’ grandson’s band play at Jessheim Storsenter, and they were really good. They did covers of some songs I’m familiar with- Johnny B Goode and Communication Breakdown.

The other day, my host mom took me into Oslo. We had coffee and ice cream on a peninsula on the fjord and went to the Viking Ship Museum, the Fram Museum, the Kon Tiki Museum, and the top of Holmenkollen. Holmenkollen was amazing- you could see everything from the top. But my favorite had to be the Kon Tiki Museum. I’d heard about Kon Tiki, but I didn’t really know much of Thor Heyerdahl’s story. It was so fascinating!

So far, Norway has been a dream come true. I would like to thank Rotary as well as my amazing families (both host and biological) for making this possible. I would also like to leave you for now with a Thor Heyerdahl quote that greets you when you enter the Kon Tiki Museum, and has made me think a lot about my exchange “Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.”