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.