Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This entry is a bit “scatterbrained, but if you’re reading this blog, then you most likely know me, and know that I can tend to possess that quality from time to time. So please, fasten your safety belt and bare with me.
I made a little journal before I came here, so I would remember what I thought before I came. I was defiantly wrong about a lot of things. I wondered about TV and movies. I was defiantly surprised by the fact that most of the media that influences the Norwegian culture is from America. They watch shows in the dorms like “The Simpsons”, “Gossip Girl”, “South Park”, “King of Queens” and others. They watch almost all of the same movies, although there are Norwegian and Swedish films as well. There is quite an American music influence over here, but the music that is liked and accepted over here is a bit different. (a lot of Techno and a lot of Pop music.) I am a fan of Old Rock and Roll and Real Rap—not poppy hip-hop, and I don’t seem to share the connection with too many of the students here…well the Norwegian ones anyway. There are quite a few kids that go to school here that were at some point foreign exchange students in the U.S. Their states have ranged from Oklahoma and Kansas to Seattle and even Grand Forks!
Everything here is quite expensive. To be honest I don’t think I’ve run into anything that is cheaper here than at home. Norwegians pay quite a bit in taxes on their goods—anywhere from 10 to 25 percent depending on what is being purchased. Because of this, Norwegians, especially the lower class, big families, and students tend to drive to Sweden to buy certain things like meats, cheese, tobacco, alcohol and candy. They also tend to buy their expensive technologies (like computers, ipods and what not) in the Untied States, because even after duty and taxes it’s still cheaper. Another result of the high prices, is that they rarely tip at a restaurant or bar—not a thing. In the U.S. 10% is stingy, here it’s greatly appreciated.
I could go on and on about the difference in shopping for food. I have a video to accompany this, but I have been shocked at what I’ve found in the meat section in the grocery store. They don’t have refrigerated turkey or chicken, they only serve frozen chicken breasts, and in larger bags (pretty much in bulk). They have red meats, but not like at home. There’s little selection as to what kind of hamburger, steak and pork, and they’re slim pickings. I expected to see a lot of fish, especially cheaper and that’s not the case. They have a selection comparable to a nice Rainbow or Kowalski’s in the states, roughly priced the same. They don’t have much for white lunch meat (meaning turkey and chicken)
They don’t sell milk in anything bigger than a 1.5 liter carton, mainly because Norwegians don’t drink nearly as much milk as we do. Grocery shopping has been an event to say the least. To use a cart, you need to insert a 10 kroner coin (worth almost $2.00) so it will unlock.
Another thing you have to pay for that I was astounded by is the bathroom! At train stations, in the mall and in other certain places it costs almost a dollar to use the bathroom! Ridiculous! I was waiting for a train and after eating at the station I had 5 kroner left on me…that’s it. I spent it on a little piece of chocolate…which turned out to be disgusting! (In my opinion it was gross… because it had coconut filling. However, Norwegian chocolate is UNREAL—So good. World famous actually, behind the swiss of course.) Anywhoo… I spent the 5 kroner on a nasty candy, and 10 min later needed to “take a leak”. I asked the cashier for the bathroom, and she informed me I had to pay 5 kroner! (6 kroner is roughly $1.oo) Needless to say I had to wait until I got on the train where it was free.
The little things in America you take for granted!
To add to that, I take for granted being able to talk to anyone around. Especially in Minnesota, everyone is willing to help out for the most part, lend a hand or pass the time in conversation with. Well it’s VERY hard to do that when I know little Norwegian (although I’m learning in class). But also, Norwegians are known for being reserved people, not talking to those around them. AND not looking someone in the eye when you pass them on the sidewalk! Outrageous! I give out smiles like it’s my day job and I am consistently Shut Down.
AND ON I CONTINUE…Please post questions and comments below—I’d love to answer them.
I’m very surprised at how much the Norwegians chew chewing tobacco. They do I quite a lot, but they chew the “pouched” or what they call “portioned” SNUS. Students do it in class, before and after. They don’t spit, and usually place it in their top lip between the first and second and front teeth, in the upper gums of course. Many of the girls here do it just as do the guys. From my standpoint it is extremely unattractive… a girl smiles and there’s a brown little thing in her front grill.
Being here is great. I AM loving it and recommend it to anyone considering it. I DO miss home, but I miss the things and people from home. As the famous historian Joeseph Dirte’ once said, “Home is where you make it.” And that is true, it’s where the heart is. I miss my family, friends, and way of life (DRIVING A CAR!). Here they only drive when needed, because gas is more than 4x as expensive as it is back home. So next time you’re mad at the prices, think of me chipping in over here for those who will drive me from time to time.
Things I miss most about home besides what I just mentioned….
1. 1. Cheez-it’s (nothing compares)
2. 2. DILL PICKLES (They only have the sweet pickles here….Ish..)
3. 3.Ritz bitz with cheese (I hardly even like those back home.)
4. 4. More clothes than what I brought
5. 5. My pillow
6. 6. My hockey equipment (I could skate nearly everyday if I had it.)
7. 7. Flaming hot cheetos (again, I hardly like them at home.)
8. 8. Mac and cheese (Theirs is white. They basically DO NOT have American cheese here (like KRAFT SINGLES). If you watch the “cribs video” (Which is a ridiculous video and I apologize for making anyone watch me act stupid in it… You see what cheese they DO have. White. It’s not mozzarella, not parmesan, it’s… um… white.)
9. 9. Good peanut butter (theirs is really dry)
1.10. Dress clothes. (Norwegians get very dressed up for evenings. Ties sometimes, dress shirts, nice slacks—girls in dresses. And then there’s me and Tarik…rockin’ the blue jeans and a zip-up hoodie.)
As you can tell I’m hungry right now, because the list is mainly food.
GET AT ME, ASK SOME QUESTIONS.....
More to come…. Plenty more to come.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
(After class of course)
The Technical difficulties are over, and my blogging begins. I’m 3 weeks into my trip and I have yet to experience much of any culture shock. I do get homesick, from missing those close to me, but the cultures are quite similar in so many ways that it’s an easy feeling.
I do feel uncomfortable at times however, when I am surrounded by Norwegian conversation and I can not understand any of what is being said. However, it was said on the first day of school that because this is the “American” College of Norway, English should be spoken, especially when there are English speaking American students present in the room, not even the same conversation. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a rule I truly appreciate, but, there are many times that this doesn’t stand up and I’m left out in the cold.
There are 70 students here at ACN. Of them, there are three from UND (Me, Tarik and Chris Johnson). There is one student from Westchester University in Pennsylvania, and one student from Beijing, China.
All of the Norwegian students that attend school here are here to transfer into the United States. Most of them plan on going to either California or somewhere on the east coast. There are others that plan on transferring to UND—as a matter of fact I plan on living with one, maybe two of them next year when they come to Grand Forks to study.
The classes are mostly the same as home as far as what is expected out of me as a student. We have tests, essays, quizzes and homework. I am currently enrolled in Norwegian 101 (the language), International Communication (Comm. 402), International Politics, (Polls 220), and Intro. to film (English 226). I’m liking all of the classes as well as the professors. Two of my professors (Emily Hill and Stephen Rhendal are from UND- here for the semester, and the other two are Norwegian citizens teaching here at ACN.)
The actual classroom and the school is much different however. Through a video to be posted shortly, I will “show” you rather than tell. There are no lecture bowls here, and as a matter of fact, all of my classes, besides Norwegian 101 are in a room comparable to the ISP (integrated studies program) room at UND. There are only a few classrooms, a few offices and a little common area for students to hang out between classes. Because the school is so small, there are never two classes going on at the same time.
I have to say I miss Squires Dining Hall quite a bit. They don’t have a dining hall here at ACN, only a cafeteria across the street shared with the Peterson Paper factory—and it’s “pay cash” as opposed to swiping my student ID or something of the sort.
The students are all great and have taken a liking to each other. Most everyone came here without knowing anyone, unlike the U.S. where students tend to pick schools where they know others are attending. They are all up on technology just as we are in the U.S. They have up to date computers, ipods, ipad’s, iphones, tv’s, Xbox’s and more. They tend to have later release dates than we do in the states on highly anticipated video games (Halo: Reach, NHL 11) and movies—both in the theaters and on video.
I have been to a movie theatre here a couple of times and they are a bit different. At these movie theaters, the purchase of “snacks” are a lot different than the U.S. Here it’s like buying snacks at a gas station. They have bottled soda on racks in coolers, candy on racks and hanging from hooks, they have popcorn buckets pre-portioned, and in warmers right next to the coolers. They also serve chips (comparable to Sun Chips) and “Bacon Crisps” (comparable to Pork Rinds).
You select your treats and pay for your movie ticket after waiting in line. You are also assigned seat numbers and rows, and go into a theatre about half the size of what I would call a regular theater in Grand Forks.
Mentioning Gas stations reminded me to mention that the convenience stores in Norway are a bit different as well. Their candy and snacks are ALL different, hardly anything is recognizable, and it’s all in Norwegian language. The most surprising thing, was that mostly every convenience store sells hot food, but more surprisingly is that it’s actually good! I’m not one for gas station hot dogs in the states, but here they’re recommended, especially the famous bacon wrapped hotdogs dogs. (For the record I tried one and loved it!) People actually enjoy stopping at a gas station to eat!
Because there are very few “fast food” restaurants here in Norway, if a person is hungry and in a hurry, it’s extremely common for them to stop into a convenience store and get a hotdog, burger, calzone, sandwich (warmed or cold) among other things.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I'm Back at it, and you can expect even more!!
I'm sorry to say that I haven't been posting for almost two weeks now. The internet was down here in the dorms for quite a while, and I didn't have a connection. I have two videos ready to be posted-- but YouTube won't let me post them because I don't have the rights to the music I added. It will be fixed soon, but just an update now that I have internet again! Thanks for following, look forward to more blogging very soon! =)
Also, feel free to ask questions-- I'm anxious to answer them.
I have pictures of my dorm, of the city, and my first trip to Copenhagen with some guys.