Woahh, It’s December Already!

I woke up yesterday morning having a hard time believing it was December already. I seriously cannot believe how soon I come home – 20 days to be exact! 😉 Definitely getting excited to see everyone back home. Though this semester has flown by way too fast and it’s starting to sink in how little time I have left. I’ve had such a wonderful experience in Oslo and am so thankful for having the opportunity to study abroad and do a bit of traveling in Europe (My little thanksgiving speech for you :p ).

I have 2 exams left this week – both 4 hour written exams. The one I think will go fairly okay as long as I continue to study these last couple days before. On the other hand, the other one I’m not sure about because I’m already signed up to retake this course next semester at UND. I’ve mentioned in a previous post about that class. :p If you want to read about it, go back a few posts. 😉 So basically, it’s kind of a waste of time to take the exam, but I have to go take it anyway.

Early Friday morning I leave for Spain for 5 days to visit my friend Amber, one of my friends who I was in Paris with, who is study in Bilbao. I’m excited to go, minus the fact my flight is at 6:35am and still haven’t decided how I’m getting to the airport since the metro doesn’t run that early. 😉 It should be a good trip and great way to end exams. When I get back, the last school related thing I have is a 72 hour group term paper to do that starts on the 13th.

I had all intentions of posting this on Thanksgiving, but didn’t get time to edit it one last time. Then as you can tell, I planned on posting this the following day. Again, that didn’t happen. So finally here is my post about my trip to Bergen.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans reading this! (okay this actually didn’t get posted til the day after, so maybe it should say Happy Black Friday 😉 ) Being abroad, it does not feel like it should be thanksgiving at all. Which may be a good thing because I don’t feel so bad about missing it. I had my first exam today which went really well. Unfortunately this was the easiest of the 3 and I still have 2 more to go. But it’s one out of the way! 😀

In my last post I ended it mentioning I was going to Bergen for the weekend with Sara, so I shall tell you about my trip. We left on the train from Oslo S at about 11:20pm and arrived into Bergen just before 7:00am. The train itself was not bad, definitely nicer than Amtrak (for Americans to compare it with). There was free wifi, which for me is always nice. I tried to sleep, but had a hard time getting comfortable sleeping sitting up. Sara on the other hand had the window seat, which is always nicer and makes sleeping a lot easier. She ended up passing out right away. 😛 I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night.

In Bergen, it was still dark when we arrived and not many people were out that early. We left the train station to find out Bed and Breakfast. Sara found a great deal on it, on one of those travel sites (I cannot remember which one it was). Bergen Bed and Breakfast, the name of the BnB, was only about a 10 minute walk from the train station and in a great location. We found the BnB and they were nice and let us put our bags there as soon as we arrived, even though check in was not until noon. We left our luggage and wandered off to find a cafe or bakery to get coffee and breakfast. We had no luck, since it was so early and had to settle on Deli de Luca. I’ve mentioned Deli de Luca in a few of my previous blog posts, but I would describe it as a luxury/high-end convenience store. I had a mocha of course and  Sara and I shared a couple Rosinboller, which is basically a sort of sweet bun with raisins. They’re very good and you can get them almost everywhere in Norway.

After sitting in Deli de Luca for some time, we went across the street to the tourists center, which is just above the famous fish market. At this point, it was after 8:00am and still fairly dark out. We decided to get the Bergen Pass, which is one of those tourist cards that gets you discounts and free entry to certain places. We didn’t know if we were going to get it because we were unsure of how worth it it would be. Luckily, with a student discount it was a great deal and decided to get it since it included entry into almost all the museums, free transportation on the buses and light rail, and because it was off season, it included the ride on the Fløibanen funicular, more on that later.

The only place that opened before 11:00am was the VilVite science museum. It reminded me of the Science Museum in St. Paul. We had some time to kill before it opened, so we walked around that area of Bergen and happened to stumble across their BI campus. Of course, being the proud students that we are had to take pictures in front of the sign and even attempted to get into the building with our student cards. Unfortunately, the swipe card machine, did not allow us Oslo students in. 😉

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(Classiest looking McDonalds I’ve ever seen! ) ^

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We spent an hour or so walking through the science museum feeling like kids again. It was fun and there were some actually pretty neat experiment type activities that were cool. After that, we headed back to the more central area of town on their light rail. One of the stops was called Florida, which I had a kick out of because Bergen is so not like Florida as it’s always cold and rainy in Bergen for most of the year.

Our next stop was the KODE Museum, which has the second largest collection of Edvard Munch paintings, after Oslo. We spent about 45 minutes here and then decided it was time for lunch. We visited the fish market and both had fish and chips. I can not tell you how amazing,  delicious and fresh it was. 😀 One thing my mom always mentioned before I left, is that she bet I would come back liking fish (because before I only liked crab and lobster type fish – I guess you could call it crustaceans). I hate to admit, but she’s right, I sort of really like fish now. 😀

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After our lovely lunch we decided to spend the afternoon strolling along the  Bryggen, the Hanseatic Wharf. It’s the picturesque part of Bergen with colorful wooden buildings that house many shops.  It’s also part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage sites. We did a bit of shopping and just walked around this area in the rain, of course. I can’t say exactly what I bought because somethings might have been Christmas presents for certain people who I know will be reading this. 😉

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We stopped back at Deli de Luca, to warm up and get another hot beverage – coffee for me and tea for Sara. We decided head back to the bed and breakfast and relax for a bit since we were tired from not getting much sleep on the train and to leave some of the museums to do on Sunday since we thought none of the shops would be open.

For dinner, we took the suggestion of the bed and breakfast owner and headed just down the street to this small Italian restaurant called Da Stefano. Sara and I decided to share a vegetarian pizza. When the waiter brought the pizza out the candle on the table was knocked over by pizza, so we had to wait for a new one to be made. Though, the wait was worth it because the pizza was delicious. I didn’t think pizza would be one of the biggest foods I’d miss from home, but I guess I was so used to having it at least once a week since I worked at Papa Murphy’s. 😉 & Frozen pizza is just not the same and expensive here that I just don’t buy it. The pizza ended up being enough for dinner and we had left overs to eat for lunch the next day.

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After dinner we went to bed quite early as we were a bit exhausted from the day. Luckily, nothing opened before 11:00am on Sunday that we planned to do, so we were able to sleep in. We woke up Sunday morning with a lovely surprise of snow! ♥ I don’t think I’ve mentioned snow yet in any of my blogs, but there is still no snow on the ground in Oslo and I’ve only witnessed it snowing here once. The other 2 times I was either inside school or it was when we were in Bergen, but obviously none of it has stayed on the ground for more than a day. I, being the winter-lover that I am, waking up to the snow really made my day! It seems so weird not to have snow around and it’s almost December.

We got ready and decided to take advantage of the beautiful snow and bright sun that was shining and go up Mount Fløyen on the funicular. It’s one of Bergen and Norway’s biggest tourist attractions and I can see why. See here for more information on it. The top has the most spectacular views of Bergen and the fjords. We picked the perfect day and time to go up because the snow on the ground just added that perfect touch and true feeling of being in Norway. After enjoying the view and taking pictures, we stopped at the gift shop up there and surprised that it was open on a Sunday. We did a little bit more shopping because it had the best prices out of all the touristy shops I’ve been to here. I definitely recommend going there. There’s a cafeteria type restaurant there as well, so we decided to enjoy a Norwegian waffle with brown cheese and lingonberry jam. I still cannot decide if I like brown cheese or not. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I’m quite unsure how I feel about it. 😉

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After going back down the mountain on the funicular, we visited the Rosenkrantz Tower and Håkon’s Hall. Both are part of the Bergenhus fortress, which is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. The tower was really cool and I always love going to things that have that super old historical feel to them. There were so many narrow spiral stairs and super low entryways into the rooms. Being an American from North Dakota, we are quite deprived from super old historical castle like buildings, which probably is part of why I love these types of places in Europe.

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We went back to the bed and breakfast to warm up and eat our left over pizza! That’s another thing European don’t really do – take home boxes. It’s just not a thing to bring half of your food home from a restaurant to eat it later. After warming up a bit, we realized we only had an hour until the last museum we wanted to see closed. We decided to try to make it the Cultural History Museum, since it was free with our Bergen pass. What we thought would have been an easier way to get there, ended up taking us a lot longer. We took a “scenic route” through a few residential areas before finally finding our way to the museum with exactly a half hour to go through it. Let me just say, I absolutely adore the houses in Bergen. I can’t really even describe them, I just want to live in one – they’re so darn cute with the narrow streets and adksghdigthghddg just thinking about them makes me want to live in one. Hahah seriously though, look at how cute these pictures are of them. (I wish the pictures did justice of how lovely they are)

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I actually really liked the museum and I wish I would have had more time to really look at the stuff. I’ve always sort of liked learning about history so I found it interesting when I think about how I have Norwegian ancestry on my paternal grandmas side of the family. I know it’s far off, but having somewhat of a connection to a part of the world or history makes it much more interesting. I really wish I knew what part of Norway her family is from and I think that is something I’m going to look into when I get home.

Before our trip to Bergen, we had read that there is this tradition in Bergen to build a gingerbread town each year. It also happens to be the worlds biggest gingerbread town. It was crazy to see how creative some of the gingerbread houses were and was very cool. It made me want to go home and make one! 😀

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We couldn’t decide where to go to dinner and after wandering around trying to pick a place, we just decided to go back to Da Stefano, the same restaurant as the night before, and order pasta instead. I had tagliatelle with a creamy pesto sauce that was delicious! We had a ton of time to kill since our train didn’t leave until 11:00pm, so we took our time eating and chatting away.

After dinner, we got all of stuff together back at the bed and breakfast and chilled there for a while before finally going to the train station. Again, the bed and breakfast owners were so nice to let us leave our stuff there all day so we didn’t have to carry it around. We arrived back in Oslo around 6:30am and made our way back to our rooms. I went right to bed when I got home and got a few more hours of good sleep because public transportation sleep is never great. 😉

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Handelshøyskolen BI

Welcome back, I’m sure it’s been a long two weeks with out a post and that you all are dying to hear from me again. Actually, I’m totally kidding. 😉 I sometimes think my blogs would be annoying if I posted too frequently. Anyways, back to the contents of this blog post. I don’t like writing posts that don’t have a central or specific topic. I know they don’t need to have one but I just can’t get myself to write one unless I have a “topic” picked out. It’s just my little bit of ‘OCD’ kicking in. 😀 Looking back at my previous posts, I haven’t really talked about school all too much. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but never dedicated a post about my school. That being the reason I am actually over here, I thought it was a good idea.

So for those of you that don’t know. I’m studying at BI Norwegian Business School, Handelshøyskolen BI, if you prefer it in Norwegian,  in Oslo, Norway. Before I go directly into talking about my courses, I’ll give you a bit of information about the school. BI, for short,  is a private, independent, specialized university institution with 6  locations in Norway – Oslo being the main campus.* It is one of Europe’s largest business schools with around 20,000 students. Internationally, BI has student exchange agreements with more than 170 institutions in 45 different countries.* If you’re interested in reading more about BI, go here. 😀 The building itself is amazing and super modern; it reminds me of a shopping mall. Everything about the school screams “Modern Business Professional” from the building itself, to the staff, and to the way the Norwegian students dress. 😉 [which I’m going to miss seeing on a daily basis. It’s like walking into a school full of models, not kidding either] 😀 hahah

This semester, I’m taking 4 courses which is the minimum for full-time and the amount most people take per semester. Classes meet once a week for about 3 hours (I had one that met 4 hours a week) usually with a 10-15 minute break each hour. That took a lot of getting used to and now that I’m done with lectures, I don’t think I ever got used to it. I will say, having the breaks helped me stay focused and make the time go by a bit faster. Comparing that set up with UND, I think I prefer the way it’s set up back home meeting 50 minutes 3 times a week or an hour and 15 minutes twice a week. I do see how more could be more beneficial having longer classes once a week, I just never got used to the concept. Another big difference between classes here, and I think a lot of universities in Europe, is that the majority of the time, your final grade of the course is based off the final exam, and only that exam. There is no course work throughout the semester. Again, I never got used to this at all. I can’t learn by just reading and listening, I need to actually put the knowledge to use and do work and assignments with it. Though, some classes instead of a final exam have term papers. For example, my Business Ethics class had a group term paper instead of a final exam. I’ve completely done with that class and that paper was handed in last week. My Organization and Change course has 2 parts to the final grade: first part is a 30 questions multiple choice test based on the book that you must get 70% or better to complete the 2nd part, which is a group exam paper. We get 72 hours to complete it. My Social Entrepreneurship and Microeconomics exams are both 4 hour written tests. One other thing to note, is that all exams are taken off campus at various random locations in Oslo. For me that just puts an added stress before the exam trying to find the place. They suggest going a couple days before the exam to find the location… takes time away from studying.

This post is starting to sound a bit to critical (I don’t intend for it to be negative at all), but I wanted to give my honest opinion on my classes and the way they are structured.

With all of that said above, I can say I have learned a lot during my semester at BI both relating to the academics themselves and giving me more of a clear direction of what part of business I want to focus on. I definitely can say I’m thankful for having the opportunity to study at such an internationally accredited business school.

I will end this blog with a few random updates before I leave you with some pictures of BI.

I’m going  to Bergen  today, well tonight, with my friend Sara for the weekend. We’re taking the train over night, to save money and not have to pay for a hotel an extra night. We have all day Saturday and and Sunday and then our train leaves Bergen late Sunday evening. We’ll be back into Oslo Monday morning. I’ve been told multiple times my Norwegians that Oslo itself does not depict the true beauty of Norway or represent the real Norway so I’m excited to go head west and experience Bergen.

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Now that I’m completely done with the class lectures, my time will be dedicated to studying and reviewing for the most part. I have my multiple choice exam, mentioned above, next Thursday (on Thanksgiving 😦 ) and then the following week are my two 4 hour written exams (one on that Wednesday and the other on Thursday). Then that Friday morning I’m heading to SPAIN! 😀 for 5 days. Then when I get back I have the 72 hour group exam paper. The day after that’s handed in, I’m going up north to Tromsø, part of the arctic circle, for 3 days. Then back to Oslo for one day to pack and then I’ll be on my way back to good ole’ North Dakota! I’m actually getting really excited to come home and see everyone and be back in Grand Forks just in time for Christmas, but I can guarantee after a couple weeks, I’m going to want to be back here because I’ve been having the time of my life. ♥

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 *http://www.topuniversities.com/universities/bi-norwegian-business-school/undergrad

(Map photo credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9wxqcbGevoc/TwW4S8llS8I/AAAAAAAAMeA/dPPbHU8JTpE/s1600/norway-map.gif)