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. 😉

Paris Trip ♥ [part 2]

[Continued from previous post]

Sunday morning we woke up early to go to Versailles. Our plan was to get there right before they opened at 10:00am so we could get there before a huge line formed. We again stopped at Starbucks on the way to the metro and got to the last station where we had to switch strains to head to Versailles. As we were looking on the board to see what track the train we needed was, a worker asked us where we were going. We told him Versailles and then he said this train to Versailles is not running on weekends in October and that you have to go back this other way on a different train. Thankfully, they had directions printed out on paper for everyone, which was really nice. So basically that put us back a whole hour and we finally got to Versailles a little before 11:00am and the line was HUGE! I do not even want to explain how long this line was because first you have to wait in a line to get tickets ( I would recommend getting them online) and then you go wait in another line (the huge line) to get into the actual palace. We got inside and did the whole thing. It was again beautiful and just amazing how old these places are and that they are still intact today. I had a hard time staying focused and continuing to listen to the audio guides they gave us. There were just soooo many people and none of them know where they are walking and always pushing and shoving, which kind of makes for a lesser quality experience. The biggest thing that annoyed me is it was impossible to get a decent picture of the “Hall of Mirrors” where the Treaty of Versailles was signed because it was packed full of people and their giant iPads taking pictures… After walking through the palace, we didn’t have time to see the gardens because Kailey needed to be back by 3:30pm to catch her train back to Germany and since we were all so hungry, we decided to have lunch in Versailles. I had this huge plate of pasta with a cheese sauce and ham. It was very tasty. Then we walked back to the train station and headed back to Paris.

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One of the things we all wanted to try before we left were macarons. Unfortunately the place down the street from our apartment had some in the window and we thought we could get them on Sunday. It turned out they were closed, but McDonalds sells macarons in Paris. So Kailey really wanted to try them and I don’t blame her, so we stopped at McDonalds to try them. Let me just say from experience don’t have McDonalds macarons be your first experience with macarons. 😉 They were not horrible, but the ones we bought at an actual like bakery were 100 times better!

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The rest of Sunday night we just relaxed in the apartment and went to bed early since we had to be up by 5:00am to get to the bus stop to go to Mont Saint Michel in the morning.

Monday was a long day, but in the end I’d say it was worth it. We woke up around 5:30am and struggled to get ready. 😉 We left the apartment and headed to the metro to go catch the bus to Mont Saint Michel at around 6:20am. We made it there with time to spare. Amber booked our tour, so she checked us in, while Courtney and I tried to find a coffee shop open that early. There ended up being a ‘brasserie’ open across the street that had coffee and croissants. I can tell you I have never had a fresher croissant than that one. It was still warm and fresh out of the oven. It was almond and so delicious.

Back at the tour guide place, that I can’t remember the name of, we waited around until about 7:15pm for the bus to arrive. At this point, I was not sure how to feel about to get on this bus with all these tourists – mainly obnoxious Americans. No wonder we get a bad rap; it’s because of people like these… more on that later. 😉

Anyways, the bus ride was approximately 4 hours there and we made one stop at a “tuck stop.” Mont Saint Michel is located off the coast of Normandy. [more information on what it actually is, look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel] I slept for about the first 2 hours on the bus and then the second half stayed awake because our guide started talking about the Normandy area, which I found very interesting. Also, I loved just staring out the window at the French countryside. It’s beautiful. We finally got to Mont Saint Michel at around noon. This guided tour included lunch so we had lunch at this place called Relais Saint-Michel. We were brought into this huge banquet room with many tables that were labeled for different tour guide companies. Right away at the table were croissants and cider from Normandy. Back to the obnoxious American, this lady who I’d say was in her early 60’s looked like she looks like an old Sandy from the movie Grease with quite the wild hair and an annoying high-pitched southern Texas drawl. The first thing she said to the waiter was, “I need some butter for this bread, (they were croissants) and I mean like a lot, like a pound of butter.” The waiter just stared at her for a minute contemplating if she was even being serious; he later brought her the butter.

Within about 10 minutes we were served our first course. It was a “Mère Poulard” omelet. It was very different and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not, but here is a link about the history of this omelet. [http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omelette_de_la_m%C3%A8re_Poulard] (might need to use google translate 😉 ) The second course was salmon, rice and vegetables which was very good. I never thought I liked salmon or any non-crustacean type fish until I came to Norway. Then for dessert we had this Normandy apple pie. It was definitely not like an American apple pie, it actually reminded me of kuchen because the filling was a bit custardy. I thought it was good!

After lunch we hopped on the shuttle to take us to the actual Mont Saint Michel, which is basically this huge rock with an abbey built on top and adjoined by a super tiny town with a population of about 24.

Before heading to the abbey, our guide warned us about the long, many stairs to the top to enter the abbey, I was a bit worried. I had like the “Stairs of Death” from my 6th grade Wolf Ridge field trip pictured. All you Grand Forks kids will get that reference. 😉 The walk up was really nothing, and maybe she has to make it seem worse since it’s usually a lot of older people on the tour?? 😉 The only downside about the tour is you have to wait for everyone to get to the top before continuing on. Thankfully, our group made it up fairly fast and we started the tour. The guided tour was actually really nice. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the abbey without the guide. She gave us a lot of history and information that made the place a lot cooler. After the tour, we were able to walk around the “city” of Mont Saint Michel and by city I mean basically the one street with stores along it since the population is about 24. On the way back to the shuttle bus we got caught in a windy pouring rain storm for about 5 minutes. Then it cleared up and there was a perfect complete double rainbow right near the island. It was almost unreal looking. That for me, made up for getting caught in the rain. J We got back to Paris around 10:00pm and went straight to the apartment and to bed.

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Tuesday morning, we got up early to go to the train station to see if Amber and Courtney could get train tickets back to Bilbao since they wanted to have the whole day in Paris and they did not want to fly back on RyanAir. After being unsuccessful at that train station, we were sent to this other one, but was told to just get right on this bus and it will take us there. Yeah, we spent about an hour trying to find this bus stop because we were told different things each time the bus that we thought we were supposed to get one came. Finally, after wasting our morning, they got everything figured out and we were able to go get lunch and then have our favorite Berthillon ice cream once more! 😀 We also did a bit of last minute Paris shopping, got real macarons (oh they were delicious) and then I headed on the metro to the airport and back to Oslo. ♥

I had such a wonderful time in Paris and could have spent another week there, but as my time here in Oslo is winding down, I was ready to come back. This last month and a half is going to fly by. Counting it, I only have 30 days that will be spent in Oslo. The other 12 or so days will be spent between Bergen, Spain, and Tromsø.

I hope my Paris blogs weren’t too long or boring and that they were enjoyable to read.

-Hannah

Paris Trip ♥ [part 1]

I’m splitting up my trip to Paris into 2 blog posts because it is getting really long. I don’t want to bore you with so much text at once and I really need to get a blog up today! 🙂 So this will be about the first half of my trip! 😀

Paris is officially my number one favorite city in the world. Previously, that spot was held by non-other than “the big apple”, New York City. In some ways, Paris has the big city feel that New York has, but with the lovely European charm, which is what makes it top NYC.

I arrived into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Thursday afternoon, picked up my luggage and headed to the metro to find our apartment. We decided to rent an apartment instead of staying in a hostel because with four of us, it ended up being cheaper and I liked the apartment idea better. We booked our apartment on airbnb.com about a month and a half in advanced. The metro ride from the airport to the stop nearest to the apartment took about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, Paris does not have the luxury of have the express train to and from the airport like Oslo has. I was a bit overwhelmed by how many people were on this metro on top of that I really had no idea where I was going, just following my directions from Google maps. 😉

Surprisingly, I made it to the apartment without any wrong turns and no problems at all besides figuring out which door was the right one. Thankfully, Kailey, who had arrived a few hours earlier, was already at the apartment and let me in. I graduated high school with Kailey and actually have known her since kindergarten. She decided to take a year off of school and is a nanny in Germany right now and I had posted a status on Facebook a few months ago saying I was planning a trip to Paris and anyone was welcome to come. She commented on it saying she was only a 3 hour train ride and would love to come with. The funny thing is, we had never hung out in high school outside of school, but we took 4 years of French together and always were in the same class.

Anyways, I got up to the apartment and just kind of relaxed a bit. Traveling is sometimes really exhausting and all you need is a nice hour or so to just relax and not do anything. After catching up, Kailey and I decided to walk around the area of the apartment and do a little grocery shopping so we could have food for breakfasts; that way we would save money by not having to eat out for breakfast. We brought the groceries back and then headed out to go find a place to eat for dinner. We found a cute, typically Parisian-looking café to have dinner at. We both ordered Caesar salads, which were delicious minus the anchovies we picked off. 😉 After dinner we headed back to the apartment and waited for the other two girls to arrive.

I met Amber last year in my French class at UND and we knew we were both studying abroad this semester. We always talked about how we need to meet up somewhere while we are abroad and go on a trip together. We thought around the idea of Paris, since it was kind of half way between where we both are studying (she’s in Bilbao, Spain) and it’s French. We didn’t talk too much over the summer just a couple times before I was going to leave for Norway and same with her before she was leaving for Spain, but we always mentioned that we need to plan the Paris trip and it eventually was planned! I’m really glad it all worked out and we stuck to our words. A lot of times people will say “oh yeah, let’s go on this vacation together and blahh, blahh, blahh” it never happens. So it was cool that it actually worked out! Amber’s friend Courtney came with, who also goes to UND and is studying in Bilbao. Travelling and studying abroad is such a unique experience and gives you so many opportunities to meet people you would never.

They flew into Paris on RyanAir, so it took them a lot longer to get into the city since all RyanAir airports are never very close to the actually city. They arrived to the apartment around 9:45pm and then we went to the grocery store down the street so they could get some food for dinner. Even though Kailey and I had eaten dinner already, we ended up snacking on delicious French cheese [I’m in love with Camembert] and crackers. The rest of the night was spent sipping on wine and chatting away. 😉

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Before our trip, I knew I wanted to have each day somewhat planned out or at least have an idea of what to do each day so we didn’t waste time deciding what to do in the morning. So me being the type of person, who likes to organize and plan things like this, I took charge and planned out our trip for the most part. I can tell you, that it was such a good thing to have. Even though we didn’t follow it completely to a tee, and that was not what it was for, it helped us a lot. I really recommend that if you are going to a city that has a lot of places to see and little time, make an itinerary! 😀 It helps!

Friday morning I planned for us to go the Louvre, so we woke up early enough to make it there within its first hour of being open. Side note: if you plan on going to see places like the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, etc. GO EARLY! You may be kicking yourself in the butt for deciding to get up so early, but once you’ve gone to the places and then see the line outside waiting to get in when you leave, you will thank yourself.

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The Louvre was really cool and of course got to see “La Jaconde” or the Mona Lisa in English. I had been told before of how small it is in person, so I was not really disappointed in it, but I can definitely see why someone would be shocked with the size of this painting, if they had not heard that before. We saw a bunch of other cool paintings and stuff and the building itself is beautiful. I was almost more in awe of the building than the paintings. I just love seeing old buildings that are still standing and in use after so many years, with such amazing history. After seeing the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I was ready to leave because one, we hadn’t really ate breakfast, two, we had already spent about an hour and half in there, and three, it was getting so busy – and sometimes I just cannot handle people pushing and shoving not knowing where they are walking.

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After the Louvre, we went to have lunch and since we were all starving, we decided to just go down couple streets to eat in a French restaurant. We all ordered the same thing to eat – Croque Monsier! It was delicious! In high school, we made them in French class a couple times, so I thought I had to try one in Paris. It was probably one of my favorite things I ordered while I was in Paris. It’s so simple, yet just so good.

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We then headed on the metro to the Champs Elysées. Let me make another side note: the Paris metro is the EASIEST metro ever! As long as you have a map of all the lines and know where you are heading, you can get literally anywhere in Paris. We all bought the 5 day passes for zones 1-5 since that included getting to Versailles. If you are just going to Paris and not planning on doing Versailles, just get zones 1-3. It was about $80usd and included all metro lines and busses. The Champs Elysées is one of the most famous streets in Paris, if not the most famous. It has tons of shops, cafés and the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde are on this street as well. We spent the afternoon walking down the one side towards L’Arc de Triomphe and then took pictures by it and then walked back up the other side.

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We also did a bit of shopping and of course had to stop at the Starbucks! 😉 I, being the makeup loving person I am, had heard all about French pharmacies and their skincare and French makeup brands. So to say the least, I went a little bit too crazy with my makeup purchases… and I am going to end that at that. 😉 I also did end up buy a pair of jeggings and shirt from the H&M there as well.

After a long afternoon of walking around and shopping we went back to the apartment to relax and then got ready to go out. Amber and Courtney had booked tickets for dinner and a show at Moulin Rouge and Kailey and I chose not to go and went out for dinner and walked around the Eiffel Tower at night. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time is surreal, well at least for me it was. It’s such an iconic landmark of Paris and France and a place I’d never thought I’d be able to visit at only 19 years old, on my own with friends. At night when it’s all light up is breathtaking and indescribable and I could never get sick of just staring at it. 😀 It’s just beautiful!

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Saturday morning again we got up early to go to Notre Dame, but not without first stopping at Starbucks right before getting on the metro. Last fall, I had an obsession with Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks and being in Europe, I really didn’t think I would be able to find them… not sure why. I even had my mom send me the Starbucks instant pumpkin spice coffees. Well anyways, we walked up to this Starbucks and smack-dab right at eye level, is a sign for, you guessed it, PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES! 😀 I almost had a mini heart attack from the excitement, not even kidding. 😛 I even ordered  it entirely in French! That was a proud moment as well. 😉 Oh and the barista was real cute! 😀

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We walked up to Notre Dame with Kailey’s phone playing songs from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and we were not ashamed of that… 😉 Hahah It was again beautiful. I really should get out a thesaurus and find some other words to describe all these places in Paris, but they all were just beautiful. Thankfully, we got there earlier enough so the line moved pretty fast to go inside and we walked around in there as well.

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We then headed to Île Saint-Louis, the other island connected by a bridge to Paris, where they have this, at the time, “supposedly” greatest ice cream ever. We decided to have our ice cream before lunch since we were already in the area to get it. Let me just tell you, that ice cream did not disappoint! I had been told to get the vanilla because it’s the best, from a fellow student at BI who’s from Paris. I am not usually a vanilla person at all, so I opted for a scoop of chocolate of course and vanilla, to try. Let me tell you it was the BEST ice cream I have ever had by like a million and I never say things like this, but the vanilla was better than the chocolate! 😀 Seriously, if any of you reading this are ever in Paris, you have to get Berthillon ice cream; you will thank me later. It was so good; we ended up going a second time, the last day we were in Paris. 😉

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After enjoying our ice cream sitting on the bank of the Seine, we decided to head to Les Invalides to see Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb and go to the army museum there. The army museum there was really cool and had World War II exhibit thing, which was really cool. I found it interesting to go through a museum like that, looking at the war in sort of their [French] eyes versus, like an American museum’s perspective.

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The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent walking around Paris and then we went back to the apartment. Before going to eat dinner, we decided to go to the Centre Georges Pompidou. We knew we wanted to eat dinner in the Le Marais area of Paris and that museum was right near there. We got there around 7:00pm and the museum closed at 8:00pm, but we were okay with that since we didn’t have to pay to get in. A lot of the museums in Paris are free for anyone under 25 with a European Union residence permit; sometimes they even included Norway in that. 😉 So that was a really nice not having to pay for all these entrance fees. I am not the biggest fan of museums, but I love art, which is kind of strange. But I really liked this museum because all the art in it was extremely modern and very different. Some of the pieces really made you think and were so unique. I liked it a lot and the building itself is super unique from the outside.

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After that we had a nice dinner outside. I had this sort of lasagna thing that was actually really good, but reminded me of sloppy Joe meat. 😉 [Sorry to any non-North Americans reading this, you probably have no idea what sloppy Joe’s are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloppy_joe ] After dinner, we walked around the area in search for Crêpes because you have to have a real French Crêpes when in Paris. We all ordered one with Nutella and bananas. It was soooo good! 😉

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I’m going to stop here for now and will post the 2nd half of my trip in a few days, so stay tuned for that! 😀

-Hannah

[random] “Stories” :)

This blog post is all over the place with random stories, so I apologize for that. . 😉

Lately I’ve had a lack of motivation to write my blog. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using all my writing ability on my Business and Professional Ethics term paper? 😉 Anyways, maybe I’ll update you on school. Classes are going okay. I still can’t say I’m use to 3 – 4 hour long classes meeting only once a week. I just can’t get used to it. I would much rather go to class for only an hour or hour and half multiple times a week. I actually really enjoy 3 out of the 4 classes that I am taking here. We had a really cool presentation in my Social Entrepreneurship class about social innovation today. I really enjoyed that.  I can’t say I enjoy my microeconomics course. I cannot understand anything the professor says due to his really thick accent and quiet voice in a big room; I even sit in the front. He doesn’t explain anything he teaches and he just shows us notes that look like they’ve been written years ago in sloppy handwriting. The way the courses here are set up is that there are no assignments during the semester – so the grade for the course is just the final exam so I have no indication of what my grade would be right now. I’m definitely thinking I’m probably going to have to re take this course when I get back to UND.

Okay now on to things that are a bit more happy and exciting. Though I do feel like my portrayal of studying abroad in all my previous blogs has been portrayed as almost “perfect” all fun and no bad experiences so far. (**knock on wood**) 😉  But it has, so far, basically been that way, which is amazing and I am so thankful for how well everything has worked out and for being in such a good place.

A few cool things I’ve done this past week was on Thursday I went to the Opera and saw a ballet with Sara. I had never been to a ballet before so I had no idea what to expect. It was actually very cool! And inside the Opera house is just about as cool looking as the outside. We got a very good deal on the tickets, 100kr for good seats, minus the fact they were “bar stool” seats. Luckily enough it wasn’t sold out and there was no one sitting in the row below us, so we moved down to sit in the comfortable regular seats half way through.

The ballet consisted of three main parts with 2 intermissions. The acts or dances were all very cool and it’s actually amazing to think about how a ballet is essentially a story being portrayed by just dance and music. After the first dance was over, the audience gave a very lengthy round of applause. In fact, I’ve never experienced a situation where people clapped for that long. I am not kidding when I say they clapped for almost 5 minutes after each act. I almost couldn’t take it seriously, because it was just so much clapping!! hahah 😀 The dancers would come back on stage and the audience would clap, then they’d close the curtain (audience still continues to clap), then raise the curtain again and the dancers would bow. This repeated 3 or 4 times after each dance. It ‘s definitely either a big cultural difference or that’s what people always do at ballets? I do not know. 😉

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I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous blog, my friend Sara and I booked a little weekend trip to Bergen for late November. We both said we have to go somewhere else in Norway besides Oslo to see the true beauty of this country. Everyone suggests Bergen as the place to go for a weekend. So I’m looking forward to that trip.

OHHH!! I also booked a flight to Spain in December to visit my friend Amber who is studying abroad there this semester and also one of the girls I’m meeting in Paris. I have a week “off” before my last final and it’s one that I can’t really study for, since it’s a group written exam. So I decided I needed to go somewhere since everyone else here will be busy with either exams or going home already. I’m excited for that trip as well!

Speaking of exams, it’s crazy to think  that I’ve been here for 2 months already and my time here is almost half over… :/ It literally feels like I just arrived last week.  It has gone by so incredibly fast and I truly love it here! I am so glad I chose to come to Oslo. Though I do look forward to going back home and seeing everyone, I’m going to not want to leave Oslo.

Last Friday night, I had dinner with a lovely Norwegian family. They are really distant relatives of one of my moms best friends and I was able to meet Stein and his daughter Helene, who’s my brothers age, earlier this summer when they were in Grand Forks. One of the first days I arrived in Oslo, Stein showed me around Oslo and had said one night we’ll have to have you over for dinner. We finally were able to fit both of our schedules and they picked me up on Friday. Funny side story: I texted Helene and asked her what color car they were in. She replied, “The craziest car you can see! Green one.” So I just expected some maybe weird shade of green car. I go outside and walk to where they said they were picking me up and it’s a green HUMMER! hahah I’ve never ridden in a Hummer before, so that was super cool. Before we went to their house for dinner, he had to stop at work to lock things up for the weekend. I can’t really explain what his job is, but I think he’s a contractor and builds houses on islands in the Oslo fjords or something similar. We took this little boat to one of the islands he was working at. That was neat as well. 😉

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After a bit of a rainy time on the island we went back to main land and headed to their house. Their house was beautiful! I wish I would have taken some more pictures, but didn’t want to awkwardly take pictures of their house. 😉 We had tacos for dinner, which I guess is the “thing” to eat of Friday nights. 😉 They were very good since I can’t remember the last time I had tacos – definitely before I got to Oslo. We had a nice meal and it reminded me of home, which is a nice feeling. 🙂

After dinner and dessert, Helene, Henrik, her brother who’s actually just a few days younger than me, and I hung out the rest of the night. 😀 & They tried to teach me to count to 10 in Norwegian, but I have the hardest time pronouncing anything in Norwegian. I didn’t get past learning “two”. hahah It was a really nice having kind of a “family” night and I definitely thanked them for having me over. They’re all super nice people!

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On Tuesday afternoon I was walking to the train and this older lady stopped me and asked me ‘what time it is’, in Norwegian of course. I politely told her I didn’t speak Norwegian, which I really wish I could speak because it’s such a cool sounding language. Anyways, she couldn’t believe I wasn’t Norwegian. She said, “that’s the reason I asked you because I thought you were Norwegian.” The rest of the way to the metro, it’s about a 10 minute walk, she just kept going on about how I look so Norwegian. I love when that happens and always take it as a compliment! 🙂

I don’t really have anything else to update on that I can think of, so I think I will end this blog here. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

-Hannah 😀

P.S I’m going to PARIS in exactly 2 weeks from today and I’m super excited for that!!

Stockholm!

It’s been a while since my last post on here and I apologize for that. 🙂 I won’t waste anytime, I’ll just jump right into what I’ve been doing.

Last Thursday, I had my first movie theater experience abroad. I went with my friend Simon, his friend Niko, Niko’s girlfriend, Simon’s friend Max, and then 2 of my Norwegian friends. We planned on going to see The Conjuring at 9:00pm, but that did not happen. When we arrived to the ticket counter at the theater, we were told that they only had 10 seats left, but none of them together. Which was actually weird to me, that the seats are reserved. So we decided not to go to that one because who wants to sit alone at a scary movie? None of the other movies playing at that theater were English, so we decided to walk across the street to the other theater to see if there was any decent movies playing there.

We ended up seeing Kick Ass 2 for the price of roughly $17.00 USD for just the movie ticket. Sometimes, you just have to get over the prices of things here and just live. 😉  I’ve never seen the first one and had no idea what it was even about to be honest. It actually wasn’t that bad. The movie itself was in English and just had Norwegian subtitles. It was a cool experience and I think where ever you study abroad it’s something you should do! 🙂

Friday morning I woke up and finished packing for my weekend in Stockholm with my aunt and uncle. I took the airport express train from the central station in Oslo to the airport. My flight left Oslo around 1:00pm and arrived in Stockholm right around 2:00pm. I got off the plane and walked to the baggage claim and met up with my aunt and uncle. They arrived in Stockholm from Copenhagen about an hour before me.

We checked in to the hotel at like 3:00pm and then headed out on a boat tour of Stockholm. We stayed at the Nobis Hotel, which was very nice. I would definitely recommend it, if you’re not on a budget. It’s located right in Old Town and by the main shopping area. An interesting fact about the building the hotel is in, is that the term “Stockholm Syndrome” originated in this building as it was home to the famous bank robbery in the ’70’s.

The boat tour we took was beautiful. I never realized that the city was made out of 14 islands. I was surprised by the beauty of the city. The buildings are beautiful and we had the best weather. It’s been unusually warm here in Oslo and Stockholm the past few weeks. I’ve been loving the weather, but is it bad that I’m secretly wanting winter? 😉

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After the boat tour we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant that served traditional Swedish food. Of course I had to go with Swedish meatballs because how can you not order those in Sweden? They were quite good! It reminded me of home with mashed potatoes and salad.

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The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I was in LOVE with European breakfasts. I could not believe the array and quality of food to choose from. Breakfast was amazing and after filling myself up with Swedish pancakes and fruit, we took a cab to a couple museums. We first went to the Vasa Museum which, according to Wikipedia, displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged and sank in 1628 on it’s maiden voyage. The other museum we went to was Nordic Museum, which is basically a museum about Swedish and Scandinavian cultural history. I really enjoyed both museums and had fun at them.

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After the museums, we went back to the hotel and then my uncle and I headed out to go shopping. I was on a mission to buy a “fall”ish jacket. I didn’t have a nice jacket with me. All I brought was a Columbia fleece, which I felt soooo American in, when I wore it. After a bunch of shops, I finally found one at a store called Bik Bok. Funny thing is, that it’s actually a Norwegian store. I paid around $90 usd for a fall jacket, which is’t too terrible and it looks Norwegian. It  was a little cheaper to buy in Sweden so I’m glad I bought it. (:

The shopping excursion lasted about 3 hours in that  time we picked out a few shirts for my aunt, I bought my jacket and a shirt, and we experience a Swedish outdoor food market. Oh and got lost. 😉 We left the hotel with no map, thinking we would be fine. We somehow got all turned around and gave up trying to get back to the hotel after 20 mins so we opted for a cab ride back to the hotel because our feet hurt. We then relaxed at the hotel until dinner. I ate at the cutest little French cafe and enjoyed a three hour dinner with my aunt and uncle. I really can’t thank them enough for how well they treated me on this trip and all the most delicious meals I ate. (:

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We left Stockholm Sunday afternoon and checked into the hotel in Oslo with my aunt and uncle who stayed two more days in Oslo! Monday we once again had a delicious European breakfast and  then went to Frogner Park where all the statues are. It’s quite an amazing place. We spent a couple hours there and then I brought them up to Holmenkollen ski jump and took them to this restaurant called Frognerseteren to eat their “famous” apple pie cake, which is pretty much heaven. Check out their website here >>> http://www.frognerseteren.no/index.aspx The building is beautiful and has an amazing view of the city.

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Monday night my amazing aunt and uncle took me out to dinner with my friend Sara. I really enjoyed having them visit and am thankful for them taking me to Stockholm! (:

I’ve Arrived! Pt. 2

——– continued from pervious post ——-

I then took the train and then walked about 2 blocks to Blindern, which is like the main campus of University of Oslo, to pick up my key. Keep in mind I had both my bags with me weighing almost 50lbs each and it was super hot out. Oslo is definitely not flat like North Dakota! I was literally dragging my bags up the sidewalk up a hill at turtle pace because they were so heavy and I was exhausted from the travel. I got my key and went back down this hill to the train to go to Sogn, which is the area my dorm is. There was a couple people I met at Blindern getting our key who are at Sogn as well, so we all struggled with our luggage together.

When I picked up my key, the guy had asked if I wanted to be on a high floor or lower floor or if I had any preferences and I couldn’t think of any at the moment. So he gave me my keys and said it was on the 7th floor but like it’s not really 7 complete flights of stairs. I didn’t think anything of it until I got to my building…There are no ELEVATORS!! So here I again struggle with my bags. I was literally dripping in sweat when I was done carry my bags one at a time. I then realized why he asked if I had a preference and said the 7th wasn’t as bad as it sounds. 😉

When I got to my room, non of the other “roommates or flatmates” were there so I just started unpacking my stuff a bit. (I still have all my clothes in my suitcases, I just haven’t felt like finding places for them. lol eventually it will happen) The buildings are set up so that there are 5 rooms on each floor and we share the like hallway, kitchen and bathroom. So far I only have one roommate who’s from Germany named Finn. The others have not arrived.

After a while, my roommate and his friend from Germany, I can’t remember his name, went to Ikea, the cheapest places to buy like the basic things for the rooms. There’s a free bus that runs from the Oslo Central Station to Ikea so we road the T-Bane, what they call the subway/train, to the Central Station and got on the bus, which was packed with students. I got a pillow, a blanket, a mirror, a lamp, and a couple other random things. I was so tired by the end of it that I literally was bobbing my head on the bus pack about to fall asleep.  This was like going on hour 36 with out sleep. So I got back to my room and unpacked my stuff and then realized I hadn’t ate so I walked to the grocery store at Sogn. It’s just down the block not far. I bought a frozen pizza to eat. I went to turn on the stove and realized I like had no idea how to use a European stove. I somehow figured it out, not sure if it was the correct way, but it ended up cooking. I had a couple pieces, then Skyped with my aunt, mom, and brother and then went to bed. I slept in the next day until almost 1:00pm in the afternoon.

I will end this post here, even though I have much more to write about. (:

I’ve Arrived!

I arrived at the Minneapolis airport around 10:30am thinking security would take a while and they suggest that for international flights you arrive 3 hours early. My aunt, mom, and brother dropped me off. I said goodbye to them though I had a few tears when my mom started crying. Having lived at home for all previous 19 years of my life this experience was something completely new to her and everyone. I checked both of my unfortunately heavy luggage bags. One was 49lbs, just a pound under the limit. Thank goodness, but at the end of the day I wished I hadn’t had them that heavy. -more on that later-. I went through security without a hitch and there was no line at all! So much for arriving 3 hours early. I went and to exchange $200USD to get  Norwegian Kroner. That’s about $1200 Kroner. And it does not go far at all. My flight from Minneapolis to Detroit was no problem though I was in the middle seat, which always sucks. The older lady behind my was from Grand Forks and we talked for a bit. She noticed my “Sioux” sweatshirt I had on and asked if I was a Sioux fan. I told her well yes and I’m from Grand Forks. She wasn’t on her way to Norway, but she said she was there last summer visiting some relatives and it was absolutely beautiful. I arrived in Detroit with about 40 mins to spare before boarding to Paris. The first ever international flight was to Paris and it was so long. I had an isle seat, much better than the middle, but it was still uncomfortable for that long of time. I read a whole Sarah Dessen book, watched part of a movie, listened to music and attempted to sleep. I probably slept for 2 hours and that was not solid sleep by any means. I arrived in Paris at 7:00am (which was 1:00am MN/ND time) So it basically was a new day starting when I should have been going to bed. I had an hour or so in the Paris airport and I bought a lemonade, French candy and French magazine which I still haven’t read yet…but I will. My flight from Paris to Oslo, I was exhausted. I attempted to sleep the whole 2 hour flight. I got to Oslo Gardermoen airport at noon local time. I found my luggage right away. I hopped on the train to the Oslo Central Station. My bags were so heavy that this Norwegian guy had to help me lift my luggage onto this train… I arrived at the Central train station and met the people from BI.

——–  This post is already long but, I will finish it later  ——–

*I need to work on summarizing everything better*  (:

48 Hours – Introduction

I’ve never written a blog before so please bear with me with the first few blog posts. (:

I leave in a little less than 48 hours and today is my last day in Grand Forks until December. Tomorrow we’re driving to Minneapolis to stay at my aunt and uncle’s house and my flight leaves Thursday afternoon from Minneapolis.  I can’t believe it’s almost time to hop aboard the plane and start this adventure. I am honestly not really nervous at all… I’ve almost been finding it weird that I have no nerves as I am about to leave the town I’ve called home for these past 19 years and live in a country I’ve never been to before, where I know no one. I have come to the conclusion that it really means I am ready to do this.

I’ve spent the past week or so organizing and getting things ready to pack. Finally last night after about 4 or 5 times of repacking and organizing my suitcases I got almost all of my stuff together. I hate packing all together – whether it’s just for overnight or a week long vacation I hate it. So packing for 5 months was a challenge. I am someone who almost always over packs and I need to have a lot of choices when it comes to what clothes I am going to wear. Before I started packing I looked at lists online of what other people suggests bringing for studying abroad. I can tell you a lot of them said like only a few pairs of jeans, a pair of dress pants, and like shirts to last about a week. I can tell you that for sure there is no way I could live with that few of clothes. (; I really just suggest pack what you are comfortable with and what you think you will be able to manage carry/wheel throughout the airport and when you arrive if you have to take public transit to get to your dorm or host family’s house. I’m checking two suitcases and carrying on a backpack.

The only packing I have left to do is organize what I am going to take with me on the plane in my carrying on. So far I have my laptop, headphones, ipod, camera, 2 books, a set of clothes, and all my paperwork.

If you want to learn a little bit more about me take a look at my about me page titled ‘behind My Oslo Experience’. (link is on the top menu bar)

I can’t wait to take you on my journey and share  stories, pictures and videos with you throughout my entire study abroad.