The First 11 Days

Last week the University of Minnesota reached out to students going abroad, asking for consent to re-publish our experiences on the Learning Abroad blog page. I wasn’t sure if I would write down any of this semester in a blog or any sort of public forum, but since I won’t be taking any journalism classes this semester, I figure I should stay up on my major in some fashion.

Right, so last week I got on a plane to Iceland. Interestingly enough, there are no direct flights from Minnesota to Norway, so Iceland was the layover. The entire time in flight wasn’t as long as I thought. It was about six hours to Iceland and then another two and half to Oslo. All in all, the traveling wasn’t what I was expecting, although now that I’m a good ten days into my semester in Norway, I can say I vastly underestimated the jet lag. I’ve never been seven hours ahead of my native time zone, so suffice to say, jet lag is a b*tch. I’m just starting to get comfortable with it, and like I said, I’ve been here for about ten days.

The first thing I noticed about Norway was how much natural beauty there was, even in the city area. Oslo is filled with nature, longer stretches of trees than I’m used to in a major metro area and plenty of green zones. From a distance, the entire city looks to be situated in a bowl, with the residential area sprawling up into the greener hills, and the downtown closer to the Fjord head. It’s amazing.

The first thing I did in Norway upon landing, along with my guide and newly acquainted friend, Torestein, was take a drive to the top of a hill that overlooks the entire city. The view was amazing with the sun seemingly having just risen at 11 AM, and seemingly ready to set again in a few hours. Any picture I post wouldn’t do the views justice.

The factor that concerned me the most about studying in Scandinavia was the apparent lack of sun for the majority of the day. I can say my concerns were pretty valid. It’s hard getting used to ~18 hours of darkness in a single day. You get up at 8 AM expecting to see a little sunlight peaking over the horizon, but nope. Still dark. Back to bed.

Conversely, its pretty hard to tell the time at 6 PM when its already been completely dark for a good 2 hours. I fell asleep in my bus back from Ikea at around 6:30 on my second day in Oslo, my mind thinking it was the middle of the night given how long the sun had already set.

Complaints aside, Norway is beautiful, and the people are amazingly kind. I’ve yet to meet anyone who wasn’t at the least, attempting to be helpful in my figuring out of Oslo and its surroundings.

For those thinking of studying abroad in Norway, be prepared to pay a lot for food or drinks, or really anything. The more socialist structure of the nation means that individual prices are a much higher than what you pay in America, and really the rest of the world. The people here don’t seem as upset with this as if it were to happen in say, the U.S. It seems the population understands where the taxation goes, and are generally pretty accepting of it.

Do I like paying 25 kr (~3.00 USD) for a burger at MacDon’s? Not really. But hey, we aren’t in Minnesota anymore.

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