Reasons to Study Abroad

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The End of an Experience

I started writing this on my flight home, but didn’t finish. I’m finally getting around to finishing it after all Christmas busy-ness is over. 😉 This post is about my last week in Norway, which was basically my trip to Tromsø. Tromsø is located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. It’s home to the midnight sun in the short summer they have and home to the Polar Night when from November to January the sun in not visible.

Our flight left Oslo Tuesday night at around 7:00pm and we got into to Tromsø around 9:00pm. We took the shuttle bus that runs from the airport to the city center, but the place we booked to stay, Tromso Camping, was not really in the city center. Since there was only us and one other group on the bus, the bus driver was extremely nice and said he would drop us off at the camping site, even though the bus normally does not run anywhere near there. It was very nice and just another example of how nice Norwegians are and especially from Tromsø. Everyone I met there was so nice and helpful, if they spoke English. All the young people speak English well like in Oslo, but not so much the older people. That was definitely a difference to how Oslo. The use of English is a lot less up in Tromsø than in Oslo.

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The bus driver dropped us off at the end of the drive way to the campsite. I knew we were in the Arctic Circle, but what I did not think was the everywhere would be so icy and slippery! I cannot even begin to describe how slippery the roads and sidewalks were when we got there. They had sand/rock salt put down on some parts of road, but it almost had been frozen into the ice so it defeated the purpose of it. We made it to the cabin, which was really nice. It had a nice little kitchen area, a pullout couch, a flat screen TV, one bedroom with a full size bed, a decent bathroom and heated floors throughout the place. I was really surprise how nice the cabin was and would definitely recommend them to anyone who is planning on going to Tromsø.

After bringing our stuff inside we decided to find a grocery store to stock up on food for the week so we didn’t have to eat out – because remember it’s Norway and everything is crazy expensive. 😉 We took the city bus towards the city center. It was nice because there was a bus stop about a 15 minute or so walk from our cabin. If it wasn’t so icy, it probably could be walked in like 10 minutes or so. We got a bunch of groceries and went back to the cabin and had hotdogs for a late dinner. I actually never really liked hotdogs, but I’ve ate the most hotdogs during my time in Norway than I have in a really long time. They just taste so much better in Norway. Hahaha

Wednesday morning Ira, Steve and I had booked a day of dog sledding, so we had to be up early and at the city center by 8:45am for them to pick us up. We arrived at the dog sledding location after a a half-hour or so drive. As soon as we got there, we all got changed into more suitable arctic snow gear and then got back into the van to go to where the dogs were. Before starting to dogsled, we had to help harness all of the dogs up. That in itself, took quite a bit of time. The dogs were a lot smaller and leaner than I expected, but very strong. They pulled you in the direction they wanted to go. Since there was an odd number in our group, I ended up being paired with the instructor, Tor. I road inside the dogsled the first half of the way. It was quite relaxing sitting in there, taking in the beauty of the surroundings. At the halfway point, we stopped and the guide let everyone know it was the halfway point and that if they wanted to switch drivers or mushers, than do it now. I thought, that since I was with the instructor I wouldn’t be able to drive and was actually okay with it, but he said he wanted me to try it. It was a little nerve wracking mushing the sled of dogs with him sitting in it, when he’s competed in the Iditarod, the worlds biggest sled dog race. He joked around and said he was going to take a nap and that I was in charge. 😉 I drove for about a half hour or so! It’s a lot harder than it looks because you have to balance standing on the sled, control the speed of the dogs by using the breaks, and since I was driving the first sled I had to also every so often turn around to to make sure the other 8 sleds were still coming. After the ride, we had to unleash the dogs and put them back into the kennels and then feed them. It was definitely a once in a life time experience and I enjoyed it. Not many can say they went dog sledding in the arctic circle in Norway.

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Thursday morning we got up and made breakfast. Then we headed into town to rent cross country skis. We spent the afternoon skiing through cross country trails around the city of Tromso. At first, it was super hard to get used to how to ski up the hills, but after I figured out how to do it, it was really fun. We even were able to sit up and eat our lunch atop a hill and watch both the sunrise and set during our lunch. 😉 That was kind of the running joke throughout the trip is that we could go do something outside and watch both the sunrise and sunset within the span of 2 or so hours.

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Thursday night we rented a car in hopes to drive somewhere to see the Northern Lights. To say the least, we were very lucky and saw some amazing lights! I knew 3 or 4 people who went to Tromso earlier in the semester and did not see any. That might have been the highlight of the trip. The pictures don’t really show how amazing they are. It’s almost indescribable being so far north between mountains with these amazing greenish lights dancing in the sky.

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Friday we took the cable car in Tromso up to Stor­stei­nen (Big Rock) on mount Fløya, which is 421 meters above sea level. Steve’s friend, who is from Tromso, came with us. The view from up here is amazing, you look right out to the city, the water, and these snow covered mountains! I thought that view was spectacular, but Ole, Steve’s friend, said there’s a cabin at the top and it’s just a short half hour or so hike up. We agreed to it and it definitely was a bit of work. I can give you advice from experience, never go on a hike in skinning jeans and Ugg boots. It just doesn’t work. 😉 We made it to the “cabin” it was a little wooden building with a table inside and lots of snow. It wasn’t actually too cold out so we had a snack on the picnic table outside looking out to an even more amazing view.

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After the hike down and back down the cable car, we stopped to get hot chocolate and then it was time to go to the airport to fly back to Oslo. Unfortunately, the flight was 2 hours delayed which sucked because I had hoped I would have had time to start packing that night when I got back, but didn’t get back to my room until after midnight.

Saturday morning, I struggled to get motivation to pack but I finally did. I got most of it done during the day. The friends I went with to Tromso were having a little get together/last party so I went over there for a while… yeah didn’t get home until 3:30am and I had to get on the bus and head to the airport by 6:20am and I still hadn’t cleaned my room which is required before you had your keys back. At the time, it probably was not the best idea because I got about 45 minutes of sleep that night, but in the end I think it all worked out. I literally passed out right away when I got onto my second flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. I was so asleep that after an hour of sleep, I woke up to the stewardess letting the passengers know why we hadn’t left yet and still were parked at the gate… hahahaha yeah I was tired. I slept and watched a couple of movies on the flight back and made it to Minneapolis around 6:00pm Sunday night. I made it through customs no problems, just a half hour wait in line. Then my aunt and uncle picked me up and we went out to dinner for my uncles birthday.  Monday morning we got up and drove to Grand Forks and now as I’m typing this have been home for exactly 1 week. It’s still a weird feeling being home, I had such an amazing 4 and half months in Oslo and I’ve had so many amazing experiences that I will remember forever. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to live in Oslo and study at BI. It’s hard to think of any negative things about my whole study abroad experience. It was almost perfect!  I really feel in love with Oslo and Norway in general. I’ve met so many people and gained many friends from all over the world  these past 5 months and I hope that I can continue to keep in touch with everyone. I sure do miss Oslo, but I know I’ll be back one day because Norway will forever be a part of me now! ♥

‘Fall’ing into Winter

Again like my last post, this week hasn’t been too exciting. I literally have exactly 2 months ( and 1 day) left in Oslo, which makes me quite sad. ;/ Though I do look forward to being home for Christmas 😉 This past week I’ve basically been to class and did a bunch of school related stuff. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about switching my major…

That sounds crazy, but really it isn’t since I’m not that far into my degree anyway. Obviously, I am sticking within business [I can’t see myself in any other profession], but I definitely am starting to think economics is not my thing. I mean, maybe it’s because I just go unlucky and have the worst teacher here for microeconomics or it’s just not what I really thought I liked. I really enjoy my Organization and Change class here at BI and find myself enjoying the lectures and the topics. To be honest, I’ve always thought HR (Human Resource Management) was ummm…. well kind of a dumb thing to study, but in reality it’s not and every company needs HR people. So who knows what I’ll end up doing, but we’ll see. 😉

Friday night was my friend Ira’s birthday party. That was quite the fun night, to say the least! 😉

The weather here is definitely starting to change and feel more winter-like, which I happen to love. Everyone is complaining about how cold it is (40ish°Fahrenheit), when I really don’t think it’s that cold. But I’m a North Dakotan and I know what cold really feels like and this is not cold. 😉 For all the non North Dakotans reading this, the average winter temperature in Grand Forks is somewhere between 2° Celsius  to -20° Celsius.  It actually was snowing earlier this morning, but melted before it hit the ground.

Speaking of winter, I’ve decided to go to Tromsø with my friend Ira and her roommates in December right before I come home. Tromsø is one of the farthest north cities in Norway and is considered part of the Arctic Circle!  Read about it here 🙂  http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Where-to-go/North/Tromso/Key-facts/ We’re going December 17th-20th and my flight home leaves early on the 22nd of December. My plan is to have most of my stuff packed before I go, so I can enjoy my last full day in Oslo.

We had a really lovely fall with bright colored leaves on the trees, but now a lot of the leaves have definitely started to fall. The pictures below were taken at Frogner Park a little over a week ago.

In other news, I am going to  Parison Thursday! & OhhhMyyyGoddd I cannot wait ! 😀 Paris is that one city in the world for me that, for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to go to. I took French 4 years in high school and a year in university, but I’m awful at speaking it (in other words, I can’t speak it too well) hahah but I can read and write a lot better. I’m feeling like I should brush up on my French before I go, but hoping some of the basics will come back to me once I’m there. 😀

I’ll leave you with some pictures that I took  the past couple weeks  and I promise the next post will be just wonderful and full of pictures and my time in Paris.

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My aunt sent me all the pictures they took when they were here visiting me. So I thought I would add one that they took, since I don’t think I posted any with them when I wrote about them visiting. 🙂

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[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!!

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:

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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! 🙂