1994 is a year Norway will never forget, but most young people around the world have no connection to that year, either they were not born yet, or they were very young. 1994 is the year Norway hosted the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. I recently got to experience the atmosphere in Lillehammer, and let me say it is a small city with big hopes. Much of the city is built with the Olympics in mind, which came useful last year, as Lillehammer once again got to host the Winter Olympics, except this time it was the 2nd annual Winter Youth Olympics. Norway has been able to turn many of the venues used into public sporting facilities that often host world championships and other sporting events. Lysgårdsbakkene for example is the ski jumping venue, and will be hosting the Ski Jumping World Cup the 13 – 14 of March. Recently I was in Lillehammer, and was able to climb Lysgårdsbakkene, lets just say if you’re a ski jumper, you have one amazing view. While in Lillehammer I also attended the Norwegian Olympic Museum, which has artifacts not just from Norwegian Olympics, but all Winter and Summer Olympics. It outlines the history of the Olympics, from the original Olympics 2,700 years ago, to the modern interpretation beginning in 1896. The museum is very interactive, as you can take a quiz as you wonder through the museum, play games that enrich the exhibits, and can even give a try at shooting like a winter biathlon athlete. The Olympic Museum is also paired with the open air Maihaugen, which features hundreds of traditional wooden Norwegian buildings. Lillehammer has plenty to do, and is known for its outdoor recreational activities, as there are dozens of ski resorts and trails in the reagion.
Lillehammer is not the only city in Norway to host winter events. Oslo will be hosting the FIS World Cup Nordic the 10 – 12 of March along with the BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon the 17 – 19 of March. Each year thousands of Norwegians and foreigners congregate at Holmenkollen on the outskirts of Oslo. I’ll be attending the FIS World Cup Nordic, where I will feel the full atmosphere of what it means to share in the national sport of Norway. I myself have been doing quite a bit of cross country skiing (langrenn) in my free time. Living on the edge of Oslo gives me the opportunity to easily put on a pair of skis and go explore the local mountains and forests for a few hours. Recently I also attended an international student cabin trip, where we could hike or ski to the cabin. The trip was short, but was a great way to get to know other international students, and to get the experience of staying in a Norwegian cabin. Winter in Norway is full of life, as many times it can be dull and drab. Most Norwegians no matter the temperature and amount of snow will go cross country and alpine skiing, along with heading out on a hike. No one complains about winter, and how cold or too much snow there is, in fact they often wish for colder temperatures and more snow.
I have been apart of two associations here for over a month now, and I am so happy I joined them. I am apart of the River Kayaking association, and we have practices in the evening on Wednesday. Its been going so well that I will be going for my Kayaking license in late April, which certifies that I am able to kayak on my own and am responsible for my safety. I am also apart of the Oslo Model UN, and will be attending a regional conference in the Hague, Netherlands in late April. I will get to meet people that are doing real change in the world, along with getting to simulate a UN conference over a few days while in the Hague. With all of my activities, I still have class. My classes are great, and my professors are amazing, they really want to help you with course topics, or help you figure out your topic for the term paper.
The past month has been filled with so much, and I am looking forward to the rest of March. My time here in Norway is going fast, and I know already that I wont be ready to head back to the U.S. in late June.