Reasons to Study Abroad

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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. 😉

15 Things & Packing Tips!

Long time, no blog! I haven’t written in over a week mainly because I haven’t done anything too cool or out of the ordinary here in Oslo. I’ve basically went to my classes, did school work i.e. reading, and hung out with friends. Ooooohh! I’m officially going to PARIS! 🙂 I booked my flight and rented an apartment for the time we will be there. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to a specific city as much as I have always wanted to go to Paris! I’m meeting up with my friend Amber, who is studying abroad in Spain this semester. We actually met in my French class last year at UND. A friend of Amber’s is also coming with and then Kailey, who I graduated high school with,  lives in Germany and is meeting us in Paris as well. We were in French class together all 4 years of high school. Our tip is planned for the end of October and I cannot wait! 🙂

I’ve decided to do something a bit different with this blog because like I said I haven’t done anything too out of the ordinary this past week. So I thought I shall do a sort of “15 things” post. I have three categories: “Things I’m Glad I brought”,”Things I shouldn’t have Brought”,”Things I Wish I Would’ve Brought”

THINGS I’M GLAD I BROUGHT:

Glad I brought

1. My Nike running shoes! The only comfortable pair of shoes I brought with me and so glad I did. I would tell anyone who’s studying abroad make sure you have a good pair of shoes for all the trips/touristy stuff you do – they usually require a lot of walking!

2. My backpack! It’s a good dual purpose item that all study abroaders should have. The obvious use is for school, but it’s good for just weekend trips when you don’t need to pack for more than a few days. It’s so much easier than lugging around a big suitcase.

3. My water bottle! Good in so many ways. Buying bottled water in Norway is freaking expensive and you basically are getting the same water from the tap as you do in the bottle, so you save a ton of money. Plus it keeps you hydrated 😉

4. My makeup and enough to last me while I’m here! Okay so of course this one only pertains to girls and girls who love makeup. Most people would say to just buy it in your country abroad. If it’s going to cost you the same price as back home than definitely save the room in your suitcase, but check that out before you leave. I was looking at makeup at a store the other day, for a basic Maybelline concealer it was like $16. An Essie nail polish purchased at H&M was $18. You could get both the concealer and nail polish in the US for the price of just the concealer here.

5. Adapters/Converters! Buy a good converter for your laptop and then a few converters before you leave. It will save you money and the hassle of trying to find one abroad.

THINGS I SHOULD NOT HAVE BROUGHT:Should not have brought

1. So many sandals! My advice to you, think about the weather for the whole time you’ll be there, not just the first month.  You can’t wear flipflops in the winter 😉

2. My Columbia fleece! This is just a personal preference, but whenever I wear mine (I’ve only done it twice) I feel like such a foreigner… I don’t know why. People don’t really wear them here.

3. PINK yoga pants/capris! In the United States, for the most part, it’s acceptable to wear yogas as basically pants. Here, that is not a thing. Yoga pants are strictly for the gym. I’m glad I have a couple pairs, but I definitely brought too many.

4. My ‘big’ camera! Again, this one will be probably just my personal preference, but truly ask yourself, will you really use that camera if it’s so big. I haven’t used this camera once and I’ve been on a couple little trips where I could have taken pictures with it. It’s just too bulky to carry around in it’s case and honestly my little point and shoot camera is just fine for me. If it was an actual DSLR camera, I’d probably have a different opinion.

5. Bootcut/Straightleg jeans! This is probably the biggest thing I regret bringing. All my jeans I have with me, would be considered “in style” back home. Here? Definitely not. NO ONE WEARS THEM! 😛 All they wear are skinny jeans…at least I brought one pair of those 😉

THINGS I WISH I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT:

wish i brought

1. Slippers! For wearing around my room and my floor. I have flip flops for the shower, but in my room my feet get cold.

2. Rainboots! Again like I mentioned with the sandals above, research the climate/weather of where you’re study abroad at to see what’s the best footwear. It rains here a lot and when it snows it’s the wet kind of snow, so Uggs would not be a good choice.

3. Fall jacket! I didn’t pack a decent “fall” type jacket, all I brought was my Columbia fleece that I talked about above and my winter coat. So I ended up having to buy one while I was in Sweden.

4. Skinny jeans! I’ve again mentioned this above, I should have packed only skinny jeans! 😉

5. A duffel bag! I wish I had brought a bag that was bigger than my backpack, but smaller then my suitcases to bring for longer trips.

I hope some of these things were helpful to those who are going to be studying abroad. A lot of the things somewhat correlated with each other, so I’m sorry if it was a bit repetitive. I don’t have anything else to update you with, except to look for a more entertaining blog next week. I’m going to Copenhagen, Denmark on Thursday with a few of my friends so look out for that blog sometime late next weekend! 🙂