So here’s a post I wrote back in 2010 about my four-month Norwegian experience in 2009. If you’re privy to my Facebook page, you’ve probably read this before (having posted it as a “Note”, before knowing blogs existed). I thought it would be nice to share again, and having re-read my initial text, I have edited some of the text, because I’ve matured and so has my English (why didn’t anyone warn me? I used words like “u, bare, coz, OMD” and phrases such as “so totally” – who did I think I was? Not cool.)
Below I have written a summary of my time in Norway, because a lot of people have asked me what Norway was like. So I hope I have answered any questions you had. I started writing this summary on the plane when I was coming back and just had time to really finish it. I hope you like it. 🙂
Here I am on an SAS flight back home – as crappy as their services are I thank God for it. Lets just say the delay was for my benefit even if it was for a free drink (I was thirsty, no money, one little prayer, delayed plane and free drink later, I’m on my way home).
So yeah I’m on my way home to England, I don’t think I’ve been so anxious or excited in my life!! FOUR MONTHS!!!!! Well allow me to break down these months to you.
“OH MY GOSH WHAT AM I DOING???” Was what I thought prior coming/going to Norway, all I could see in my imagination was a Sound of Music setting. The university would probably teach me International Economics through milking cows, and skirts long enough to clean a room or two… (8)”the hills are alive”(8)……LOL! BUT WAS I WRONG!! Lesson one stereotyping will either make you expect too much or too little only to be proven wrong!
Myself and my Dad landed in Oslo and we were hungry and tired you don’t even want to know what SAS did to us at Heathrow, let’s just say I’ve put them in prayer!
Oslo was strange to me, when I was expecting to see heaps of snow all I could feel was heat and TOO much of it. We changed our pennies and pounds for Norwegian Kroners and it would take me two days to master the conversion rates. I bought a sim card – rip off to the max, well only when I discovered Lebara World, I bought some iPod earphones one with the speakers a further rip off but I kinda needed it because I had people who I needed to Skype.
Yeah I saw the White people, Blond hair and blue eyes – I was supposed to see them – but then, through my purple spectacles, I saw Black people, many of East African origin – LOADS of them! I wasn’t expecting this at all!
Before we knew it, my Dad and I, had picked up my apartment keys, found my apartment and found my university. We did this all by foot – never again – I can’t keep up with my Dad. I had managed to get all my student details and my ID card and other important things done – let’s just say A LOT WAS ACCOMPLISHED THAT DAY. I don’t think we had been there for 6 hours and we already knew what TRIKK [tram] I needed to take to get to university. They really don’t call my Dad a human A-Z for nothing!!
Well August was pleasant, meeting the other international students was nice – I soon discovered that I was the only black girl from England enrolled in the faculty (I wasn’t the only black person in some of my classes though – but living in Kent for how many years now, you get use to it).
August was information overload month, one day my head actually hurt from the information – useful? Very! Too much? YES!!
In August, it felt good and it felt right to be in Oslo, God knew I needed to be away from England, even though prior to Oslo I was in America, nevertheless God knew!!!
This month I was just so happy, no particular reason, I guess I was happy with my life and the fact that, daily I was getting closer to God (as I had prayed before I going to Norway – favour was just following me, as God confirmed through my Dad couple weeks before my venture).
September the month I missed my best friend so much – hadn’t seen her since July (we went to America together but I came back before her). Oh September the month we found how useful Facebook Inboxes really are!!
In this month, however, it dawned on me that Norsk is definitely a DIFFERENT LANGUAGE – although I did question my teacher’s teaching ability I kept my thoughts to myself.
Some of my lecturers were unnaturally boring so I doodled.
Check them out here.
Towards the end of month that’s when one of my many “enemies” found it’s way into my life again – and here comes worry, stage left, spotlight annnnnnnnnnnd action. Two years at university, I already knew the monologue, but it was the old script. The new one was titled “God’s favour in Oslo – the Matthew 6!!” I had to remind God daily of what he said he would do for me. Come to think of it, actually it was Him reminding me of what he said he would do for me! Let’s just say this reminder was needed more or less everyday!!
BIGGEST GRIN ON MY FACE…My MOTHER was coming to Oslo!
It was actually funny the way I was excited about this. I had it all planned! We were going to do this, see that, be here, be there! Well Proverbs 16 – the last verse definitely occurred and made sense. We didn’t leave my room much. Well a little bit of window shopping was done and then the mission to find yam in Oslo begun and boy did we complete it! MI5 has nothing on us. When she came it was actually very nice and relaxing, we cooked (actually she cooked, I watched), we watched numerous amounts of Nigerian films, she brought a batch, plus YouTube; it was actually the one!! I actually enjoyed that weekend, sad to see her go but we had a nice time.
October was also the month of coursework. Getting groups sorted, topic question, endless group meetings. By now they were getting a bit tedious to say the least.
In this month I had become accustomed to the reality of having to do my own monthly shopping at Kiwi Norway’s (expensive) version of ASDA.
By now I had also become accustomed to the weekly ‘excursions’ to various sites in Oslo.
The Torchlight Walk, Akershus Fortress (YAY!), the National Art Exhibition (talk about D.I.S.S.A.P.O.I.N.T.M.E.N.T! – I saw better art in the city street on the same day for free…*SIGH*) & NRK (Norway biggest broadcasting station – it was cool. I bought a pen as memorabilia. You know, the tourist thing).
And then it hit me…I HAD A LOT WORK TO DO!! (As organised as I thought I was).
OH WOW! – First Sunday of the month and the first Sunday in a long time I went to Church! You’ll never guess where…
The ROYAL CHAPEL in the actual palace. It was in English, not bad at all. The hymns sung were actually amazing (“bad man tunes bruv!”), sermon topic: Blessed are the peacemakers. Then inevitably we headed to the Nobel Peace Prize Centre after service. One of, if not, the only useful excursion I had been on since being in Oslo. Coincidently it was a couple weeks or days since Obama was announced as the winner of the Peace Prize and also the exhibition had been called “Fra King til Obama” (From King to Obama)…(this was also set up before he was announced as the winner). It was a moving and an inspirational exhibition (this is where I getting emotional as if I was an American – some emotional people). I was one of the last people from my group to leave the centre, because we could stay as long as we wanted. I learnt about the history of the Peace Prize, learnt about past winners, watched films, looked at pictures, took pictures. The experience wasn’t bad at all.
Memorabilia for the day: A comic book about racism, Exhibition magazine and Obama mints – mints that cost the equivalent of £5. Yes it’s crazy!
November had ‘a week of productivity’ – well ermmmmmm yeah (let’s leave it at that) and another thing hit me. PLACEMENT! I still hadn’t found one at this time – let the countdown begin!
My Aunty came to Norway to see me the weekend before my Norwegian exam– good times. More Nigerian films, no cooking done – junk food all day. First hour in Norway and my Aunty bought me my first Mcd’s in a long time – two Big Mac meals came to about £16!!
OH MY…My Norwegian exam –Oral and written – I passed – maybe not as great as I could have but got all the credits the class actually gives. “Vi takker Gud!” (We thank God).
Before I knew it, it was almost ‘home-time’!!
Three exams to go, two months of rent to pay and my bags were already packed. OHHHHHHHHHH I was happy, overjoyed more like it, except the whole exam ‘thingy’ had become a thorn in my excitement anytime I got excited I reminded myself exams don’t write themselves.
Exam #1 – International Economics, four months of this (first time in two/three years) and a week before this exam I didn’t know ‘nada’…not a thing…I read, I prayed and prayed and read, read and prayed some more, crammed a little, prayed more and then I had it, ooooo I had it down. I was sure I could answer some questions confidently. Day of the exam I prayed in the morning, read my notes, prayed on the bus, prayed in the exam room, looked at the paper, smiled (some big grin) prayed again. I thought to myself ‘yeah baby this is me!’…Until I actually started writing, I couldn’t remember much, bits and pieces here and there, “its coming to me, yeah I have it….oh oh oh, just lost it.” That exam was actually so fun [strange I know], I’ve never been blank in an exam…rather than pretend to know, and force the answer out of my head till it hurt, I got up and left at 12:30, an hour early, AND I FELT GOOD! I was confident [in God] even though I didn’t answer much – I was ok with it.
I passed Int. Eco, got the 10 credits needed…I was happy!
Exam #2 – International Marketing. I had to change my revision tactic for this subject. I was all about memorising notes and pre-written answers to the topics I had thought would come up in the exam, and boy did I memorise. I never knew I had it in me; this exam was in the same week as the Int. Eco…see my life.
It was a good exam. I took my time with it as well. I treated it well and in return it did so for me, yet again I thank God because I passed this well enough to get the credits I needed to pass.
And to think, the night before the exam, Obama was in Oslo and I went to see him at the Grand Hotel. I stood outside for 3 hours before he came out with his wife and I saw the back of what I believed to be Will Smith’s head. Once Mr. President had waved and returned to his Peace Prize dinner I left, got my bus, and began to defrost
(if I feel the need to upload the video, you will see that I was so cold the camera was shaking).
Now all I had was the weekend to ‘start’ revising for my Strategic Analysis exam, which was on the Monday. (Exam #3 the sign of my homecoming).
I spent Friday night chilling, Saturday morning confused and worried, Saturday afternoon and evening finally realising the best way to revise the whole book was not to revise the whole book but make up questions that would allow me to get straight to the point in the answer. Sunday was a question and answer session with my pen, rough paper and the textbook.
I passed this paper the best out of all the papers I had done, I was smiling hard the day I saw my results, incisors, canines and molars on show. You would have thought I was at a dentist appointment. God’s favour all the way. Prayer is the KEY! I had to answer three questions and the exam was four hours long (like the previous two). In one and half hours I was almost done, but I knew not to rush it and I took the professor’s advice “write everything you know”…and did I!! “GBAM! Just like that!” (Naija Accent)…ALL GLORY TO GOD – ONLY GOD!
1. God is best (I already knew this, just wanted to state it again)
2. Cultural differences can become a barrier only if you allow them to. Now I can say I have a different respect for other cultures and nationalities.
3. One must take time to understand others.
4. I loved living by myself! (Although I missed my family and friends, and realised how much I needed them, loved them and appreciated them).
5. With God all things are more than possible!
Would I go to Oslo again? – Yes, no doubt about that. It a beautiful city!
Would I change anything? – Nah – except maybe actually looking for a church to attend. Saying that, I enjoyed my Sunday’s, chilling and enjoying ‘my’ time with God.
Pointers/Advice if you were to go to Oslo:
1. Best using cash than card.
2. Lebara sim card is what you need and a world top-up card.
3. 7/11 and Deli De Luca – become familiar with them.
4. Always ask if shops and restaurants give student discount, even though they’ll say NO!
5. Eco friendly shopping bags are a must, Kiwi charge about 20p per bag.
6. Acknowledge that things are expensive, breathe, then let it go and buy what you need. (You have to remember people live on these prices every day).
7. You cannot get lost in Oslo. I tried [who does that though?] and I failed. There is always a bus, tram, train or ferry that goes to the central station.
8. Visit an island (in the spring/summer), the Royal Palace, New Opera House, Nobel Peace Prize Centre and anywhere you feet lead.
9. Summer time – pack summer clothes; winter – invest in quality boots and a duvet for a coat.
10. You’ll hardly get approached by Norwegians, so take the first step [this was hard for me to do].
11. Norwegian sandwiches only have one piece of bread, not two (*sigh* some messy stuff).
12. Norwegian Frieda chocolate is actually the best thing since sliced bread – BUY SOME!!
13. Learn Norwegian, looks nice on your CV
14. Always say ‘Hello’ in your most English accent, and never ‘Hi’ otherwise fall victim to having to say, “sorry I don’t understand” or “sorry I don’t speak Norwegian.” (Hei, pronounce ‘hi’, is hello in Norwegian).
15. ALWAYS have a transport pass on you that has been stamped. Inspectors dress as normal people and show you their badge when they approach you. You risk a £90 fine for not having a pass.
Norway was an AWESOME experience, and kinda miss it. I just thank God that I accomplished what I needed to do and passed well with his help. God showed up, we spoke and He made all things NEW!