Hello friends, I’m sorry I haven’t posted for the month of April until now but April is a very busy month in Norway as exams are beginning, and we have spring break and travels and what-not. Those of us living in Norway were actually quite fortunate this April as it was much warmer on many days than what is normal. There were still a few snow days here and there, and some rain, but there were also quite a few beautiful days as well. For those of you who will travel here or exchange in Norway, I have to say April is a actually a difficult time to travel as everyone is travelling for spring break and Easter at this time. A lot of my time was actually spent at home in April due to spring break and some other needs. My exams for my courses began on the 13th of April (which was a 2 week process of research and presentation), so travelling home and studying were my go to activities. Something I would like to mention that I’m not sure I have mentioned before are the coffee shops here in Norway. You can literally find one on every corner and I have yet to be disappointed by any of them. (There are 3 really close to the school too) As much of my April has been stuck in a library or at my desk, I have tended to frequent these precious establishments. Another pro-tip for my future exchange comrades, there are these magical little cardboard packages called “IsKaffe” and they are a lot like Starbucks’s bottled frappucinos but I think they’re a bit less sweet and even tastier. I always get the Mocca, I can’t help getting my chocolate where I can. It’s the perfect pick-me-up after a few hours of intensely staring at a computer screen or a text book. I advise those exchanging at BI to read as you go, many of the textbooks are quite large and it is a lot easier to understand the concepts and the professor if you read as you go. Also, some of your professors may have a difficult accent in which case, having read the material will help you understand them better. Please also plan something fun for your Spring break, there are tons of adventures to be sought out, even taking a trip back home would be nice. Well I’m off to begin my last project before heading home. I wish you all the best of luck with finals and everything!
This March has been abundantly hectic. I have done quite a bit of travelling and have tried to explore some other part s of the country. A couple weeks ago a few of my girlfriends and I visited this awesome northern city named Tromsø. This is probably most well known for the Northern lights sightings and dog sledding. I was very fortunate that my group took a tour to a very remote part of the country and were able to see the lights in all their glory. I hate to say this, but they don’t look very much like what you see on your postcards. They are not that green, at least not the ones I saw. They are big and bright and they dance perfectly across the sky. I can just imagine being a pioneer or a Sami and believing they were the spirits’ way of reaching us.
We were also lucky enough to see the arctic cathedral, which was as gorgeous as you can imagine, and very quiet.
While there we also visited the Tromsø Kunstmuseet (an art museum) and another art gallery. We also got the opportunity to see the University of Tromsø museum, and the Polar museum; both of which I highly recommend, as they cost together about as much as a cappuccino. We wandered the city a lot and walked the harbor and sat in cafes and even saw a Norwegian boy band in city center. Needless to say, although Tromsø is a more remote part of Norway, it is quite accommodating and has lots of fun and quick things to do.
The very next week my my Mom and younger sister came to visit me and we took the famous train ride to Bergen. It was long but absolutely beautiful. We even saw Finse (the famous area where Star Wars Episode VI was filmed). When we arrived in Bergen is was quite rainy, as is usually the case for Bergen.
But, like Tromsø, there were many things to do and it was just a really fun city to be in. The first night we ate at a restaurant named Enhjørningen, and let me just say it may have been the best food I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. We got two different types of fish, one a Link and one a Hake… I don’t even like fish.. usually. It was just so delicious and so rich and beautiful. We were actually recommended this restaurant by the mayor of a Gol ( a town between Oslo and Bergen). He actually told us to order Bacalao, which is a traditional Norwegian dish made from dried salted cod and served with bacon and cheese. I will go back and try it one day but again, the choices we made were superb. While in Bergen we also took a short fjord cruise where my younger sister was thrust under a waterfall in full fisherman’s gear and made to catch the water. It was intimidating I’m sure considering the freezing temperatures outside. That day we also went to a local fish market where they cook what they catch, or don’t depending on what you want. They even sell something called “Princess Caviar” and it’s hot pink! My little sister had Prawns which are basically shrimp ut they’re so sweet, they almost tasted like lobster. I definitely recommend going there as it is quintessentially Bergen. Our last day in Bergen we went on one of their hiking trails up a mountain, which you have to do if you’re ever in Bergen. The forests there truly look like a story book. Every corner you anticipate a troll popping out, or a moss covered rock to awaken.
There are still so many places to see here and I can’t wait to visit them all. At any rate, I hope you are all enjoying your time in Texas or abroad! Until next time.
It’s me again, Madison. Tomorrow I will have been in Norway for 1 month. The thought of that is a bit unsettling. The reason I have titled this blog as such is because Forelsket is an untranslatable word that explains the euphoria that comes when a person is first falling in love with someone, or somewhere in my case. I won’t say that Oslo is all fun and smiles, because it is not. It is still very foreign to me and I’m in the part of the “Culture Shock W” between my lowest point of being home sick and starting to move up the curve toward developing coping mechanisms and coziness in my host country. It’s a hairy process, cultural immersion. This country is amazing and brilliant and untouchable. The feeling you get on rainy days and really cold days when you want to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of earl grey, I feel that every day almost. So far here I have visited 3 museums: The Norsk Folkemuseum, The National Gallery and the Holmenkollen Ski museum. The first is a walk-through museum depicting how life would be like through the centuries starting in around the 16th century, although the majority of houses and barns are based around 18th and 19th century living. The most beautiful staple is the very old stave church that is housed there that was built in the 16th century, though the outside was remodeled in 1888. The second is the art museum that houses Edvard Munch’s “Skrik” or the Scream. It was a small but beautiful art musem that also housed artists like Johan Christian Dahl
, and Edvard Munch . The third is a very Norwegian experience in that it revolves around the national past time; skiing. The more I learn about the culture and history, the more I come to love this beautiful little country and all it’s inhabitants. The most amazing thing about this culture is how self-ruled and equal these people have been the majority of their existence. Even when under Danish rule, Norwegian peasants were comparable to Danish nobles in that they were able to address the king directly and demand things; something Danish peasants would never have dreamed of. There is a very famous picture from 1973 of the young king Olav the 5th had to buy a metro ticket and ride the metro during the petroleum crisis in the 70’s.
This was the same king who walked around without a bodyguard and he said he had no need for another because he already had 4.5 million, referring to his people. This is how kings were in Norway, how they have always been. No bodyguards, no fancy clothes, no extravagance. They believe in living like others, and being equal to their people. Although Norway is very much a part of western European culture, they still hold onto these ideals I feel. Although the people are trendy and tote around Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton bags, the heart of this place is still very much a balance of equality and introversion
This whole process is the beginning of a long a grueling journey to finding who I am as a person and what it is that unites me to the rest of humanity. Maybe this sounds a bit nebulous but in fact it is how I feel and many of my international friends feel. There is a place in all of us that is longing to be home, partly due to nostalgia and partly out of a need for normalcy but it is there nonetheless. However, there is also a part of us that hungers for a connection, a sameness with these people. It almost seems hard to put your finger on. I feel very Norwegian sometimes. I look the part at least, save the fact that I’m 5 foot nothing that is. There are times when I look out my bedroom window and I can see the fjord, and I can see the tall trees and mountains and I just want to become the wind so I can travel atop this place and watch the life happening here. I want to watch the skiers and the sledders and the hikers and the animals and just feel their energy. Its hard to believe that I won’t be here forever. I’m not quite to the point of not wanting to leave, but it is creeping in. I am slowly adjusting to ways here and my friends and the locals are making it very easy to love this place. I often feel like I’m cheating on Texas with Norway… It’s such an obtuse way of looking at things but it also makes me laugh a bit. I’ve given up bar-b-que for Jarlsberg and Wasa crackers. I’ve left my bikini behind and picked up ski pants and mittens. I hope that this somehow explains what is going on here, within the international student here. I hope it makes want to travel or at least learn about others’ culture. It makes one appreciate one’s situation but also find meaning in bettering it. Until I write again,
I would start with petty introductions but I don’t think that is why you are reading this blog. All you need to know for now is that I am a business student from TAMU and my name is Madison. I am currently sitting in the dining area on the first floor of BI Norwegian School of Management (the University I am attending here in Oslo). For those of you reading this and preparing for your trip abroad, listen closely, I am about to drop extremely valuable information in your lap and I suggest you sit while reading this. The first couple days of any trip are excruciating and you will probably cry at least twice, but I promise if you can survive those couple of days you will not only feel accomplished, but very close to the place you are staying. I arrived on the 2nd of January after about 19 hours of travel, not including the 7 hours lost. If you chose to live in certain buildings, like Nydalen Sio, you must travel, with all of your luggage, to Blindern to get your house keys and if you are extremely lucky, you may wait an hour; I waited over 3. After lugging 120+ pounds of luggage uphill to the office and waited in the freezing cold for about 3 hours I sat in a bathroom stall and cried, wondering why I was brought here, I prayed to God to bring me someone or something to make my day better, to get me through what seemed like the worst day of my life. 10 minutes later I met one of the nicest young ladies I will probably ever know who got me to my room and carried my 50+ pound bag to my room uphill, as I dragged behind.
From that moment on, everything seemed uphill from there… but then I locked myself out. It’s shameful how silly I can be at times. The next day I went on a bus tour that I signed up for (sign up for things like this if you have an opportunity, not only do they show you around and give you tons of ideas for adventures, but you will probably meet good friends as well). At first I was a little hesitant to go and I definitely contemplated staying in bed, but I got there and after a quick introduction I met some people I see every day now. After the bus trip, my new friends and I had the greatest dinner I may have ever enjoyed, and we were in Burger King. Burger King is so much prettier her and the french fries are much better too. 😛 We went to IKEA after that, IKEA is huge here because it is soooo cheap compared to everywhere else. We also found a beautiful frozen lake very close to kringsjå, where a very large chunk of the international student live, and many local students and families as well. It was so beautiful and people were ice skating and building campfires and walking their dogs. It may have the been the most beautiful piece of scenery I’ve ever witnessed.
Although the days are very short and the nights are quite cold, this place is beautiful in every way and I have already fallen in love. The most confusing thing I have learned so far, and the most useful, is the public transportation system in your place of study. Public transportation is probably the greatest tool you will have on your stay. Oslo is quite small and I learned fast, but I still make mistakes now and then. One thing I wish I would have done is pack some food or snacks. The food is quite expensive and I did not have an opportunity to buy groceries until the next day, so I went about two days on nothing but tap water… So, even if it is just some packages of peanut butter crackers, I promise you will be grateful for them. I know some of what I have said seems horrific, but I feel it necessary to be honest and help people prepare with as much knowledge as possible. Knowing these things may help someone make better decisions than I did about packing and food and what not.
I would go through all of this and more again and again if it left me in the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, surrounded by the most kind and welcoming group of people that resides here, especially my international friends. So though I warn you based on my early experiences, I also challenge you to take a leap of faith and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or maybe even never wanted to go. I’m sure your will find people and go through experiences that you can truly cherish forever. Well enough of the serious talk, vi snakkes friends!
It’s so hard to believe that I have officially been in Europe for almost two months and in Copenhagen, Denmark for about a month and a half. The past few months have been a whirlwind of preparation for the semester and now that I’ve finally settled into my new home I’m happy to say I truly love it here. My semester will be spent in Copenhagen, Denmark where I study at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). I have been lucky enough to come to Europe with my best friend, Lauren Oldani, and on August 1 we said goodbye to family and friends for the trip of a lifetime. Initially I was very wary of such a long journey to Copenhagen but was pleasantly surprised to find the eighteen hours fly by without too much trouble. In fact, an Ol’Ag Class of 1964 sat behind us on our international flight. Before we knew it our time in Europe had begun! The profound idea that I had left my friends, family, dogs, routine, and comfortable life full of familiarity for a semester of unknowns was mind blowing to me. Just the thought that I would not set foot back in the US and be surrounded by everything I have always known was initially hard wrap my mind around. Even though I have been lucky enough to experience very little homesickness there at moments in which I still can’t believe that I am living in Europe, navigating my way through this once in a lifetime experience.
Something that Lauren I have said since we decided to study abroad was that we wanted to travel as much as possible this semester. In doing so we planned to arrive in Europe four weeks before CBS required and did a short backpacking trip. After a quick night in Copenhagen, Denmark we started our first journey by flying to down to Barcelona, Spain. This literally being within the first forty-eight hours of leaving home so both of us were a little slow to start our explorations. I had relatively little jet lag but was still very unfamiliar with such new surrounds. Immediately after arriving in Copenhagen and then Spain we were surrounded by unfamiliar faces, different languages, new smells, seemingly a different world which I have been able to assimilate into pretty well. After a few days in Spain we moved onto Italy where we traveled to Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Florence. If I could pick my favorite destination of these two weeks it would have to be Cinque Terre, an area along the Mediterranean Sea full of picturesque views and endless hiking trails. Sadly, the vacation had to eventually come to a close but the sadness was nothing compared to the excitement I felt as we were finally making the transition of moving to our new home away from home.
If I had to summarize Copenhagen Business School in two words it would have to be both HELPFUL and ORGANIZED. This school has such a phenomenal exchange program! A very large portion of the school is full of exchange students and the majority of Danish students have already done an exchange or plan to do so in the future. From the moment I arrived back into Copenhagen I was met at the airport with my Danish buddy who attends CBS and was there to show Lauren and I the way to our dorm, which would have been a disaster otherwise. I think the buddy program is such a wonderful element of CBS exchange because this gives an instant connection to the Danish community. For example, not only was Emelie able to help with any initial questions I may have had but also gave me tour of the city and even cooked us dinner amongst many other things. CBS did a wonderful job of organizing two weeks full of activities and helpful orientations for all the exchange students. The first week was optional as many had not even arrived to school yet but for those who were here like me I attended a Danish crash course packaged with many social events. The Danish language is not one you can pick up easily, it is so very different than the English language that even with the crash course I am still having trouble reading signs, directions, etc. Luckily the people of Denmark can almost all speak perfect English so even as it may be a bit unnerving to not always understand what is going on around me I can usually find someone who can help me. This week was also full of nightly social events such as a trivia night, bingo night where I was able to meet tons of new friends, some of which I have continues to stay close with since that very first week. When preparing for this semester I was told that the first two weeks after your arrival are the most important as this is the time when you will be the people whom will becomes your niche for the semester and in reality that has been very true for me. My advice for this is to stay open minded and meet as many people as possible. After having such an amazing first week in Copenhagen I was happy to began the official introduction week at CBS full of daily orientations about classes, exams, info about the campuses, and more social events in the evenings that led to meeting even more students. This week was spent learning everything about CBS and at night attending meet’n’mingles, an international buffet, a lake party with our buddies, and a Mardi Gras party to close the week. I believe that the amount I learned and the number of people I met during my first two weeks in Copenhagen is an ideal first representation of how great the CBS exchange program is.
While staying in Copenhagen I live in a dorm called Kathrine Kollegiet or as we lovingly refer to as KK. Housing in this city is a premium, it is both very hard to find housing and extremely extremely expensive to live here. In fact its one of the most expensive cities in Europe budgeting on necessities has become something I’m slowly learning to cope with. Luckily Lauren and I were able to find our way into a dorm about 10 minutes from campus where we share a room that is surprisingly spacious. Our dorm is diverse and has students from literally all around the world. I feel like I have definitely found a great group of friends in this building as we are all having these new experiences together which has brought us all together very quickly and I have grown close to some already. Something I do recommend to anyone planning to study abroad is to live in some type of student housing, it is such a great way to meet other students and really gives a sense of community in a new and unfamiliar place.
School has been in session for almost a month now at CBS and it sure has been a new experience for as it is quite different than at Texas A&M. Classes generally only meet once a week for almost three hours at a time, many of classes are actually only run for half a semester. CBS works on a quarter system so classes generally run from September-mid October, mid October- December, or the whole semester. For instance I currently have three classes that go the whole semester and one that will begins in the middle of October. One of the largest differences in school life here is no attendance policy, quizzes, homework, or even routine tests; your ending grade in the class is based upon the final exam. Personally one of my biggest stressors of this trip has had to cope with the idea that one assignment will determine my outcome of each class no matter how many classes I attended. Hopefully as long as I keep up with the endless amounts of readings and attend each class this won’t be a problem I have to face.
As I stated earlier, one of the biggest goals of this semester is to travel and experience as much as I can in these few months. Only having class Monday afternoon, Wednesday, and Thursday I have already have had many opportunities to restart my European travels! Since school began I have journeyed to:
– Malmo, Sweden
– London, England
– Dublin, Ireland
– A weekend trip around Denmark sponsored by CBS
– Prague, Czech Republic
– Munich, Germany
Travel is something I have always loved and each new place I see opens my eyes to newfound cultures, people, and endless other things.
When my weekends aren’t spent traveling I find myself wondering the city of Copenhagen. I can already tell that once my time comes to an end here I will have fallen in love with this city. The city is beautiful as it boasts such a European feel from the buildings to the people you find on the streets. Danes are very warm and inviting people in this well run city. You can get to anywhere in the city by either taking the metro or biking. This is a very efficient and environmentally friendly city where the majority of people bike to work, school, seemingly anywhere. You are probably more likely to be hit by a bicyclist than a car, they are very aggressive and wont’ hesitate to let their frustrations be known. At this point I have not purchased a bike as many of my friends have as I have become quite accustomed to using the metro that runs 24/7 and can get me anywhere I need to go.
My short time in Europe has already been filled with traveling, new friends, new experiences, and so much more that I’m overly excited to keep the semester going and discover what the next few months have in store for me. Even now I can’t believe how fast time has flown past my very eyes and before I know it the semester will almost be half over. These past two months have already let me experience a different world than I formerly knew in Texas and I can’t wait to form new memories that will last me a lifetime.
Until next time!
Days in Europe: 61
Countries visited: 8
Aggies met in Europe: 3