I have arrived!

Trip Start Aug 14, 2006
Trip End Dec 11, 2006

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hello Everyone!
So here is my first blog of my trip. I've been in Norway for almost two weeks now and I can't believe how fast it has gone by. Once I hit 2 and a half weeks, it will be the longest I have ever stayed in Europe.
Where do I begin! I have so many stories and different things to say. Overall, my impression of Norway is great. It is really different then other European countries that I have been to. Its really laid back and Oslo wasn't as big of a city to be the capital. But it is and it really works out well. I had a blast.
I think I'll start from the beginning of my trip.
Sunday Morning was a little hectic for my family and me. Due to the terrorist plot in Heathrow/London Airport, the delays led to the cancellation of my flight to Europe. But, after a few hours, my Dad was able to get me a flight through continental and I was on my way! We left early Monday morning and my flight left about an hour after I got through security, which was pretty fast considering. My flight went through Newark, New Jersey where I switched planes to head to Oslo. The flight in total from Newark to Oslo was a little under 8 hours. We arrived with no problems and I waited and waited for my bags and when they finally came, I met Marie outside of baggage claim.
I was really glad that Marie met up with me at the airport, it made the early day way better then it could've been. We stayed in Grønland, which is the immigrant district of Oslo. It was nice, we just hung out the rest of Tuesday, I took a nap while Marie and Jo watched a movie on the computer. We went out to dinner and walked around. At dinner, we had shrimp pizza. Who would've thought that shrimp would be so good on pizza!! But it was.
The next day, we left for Hotel Munch. We took the subway with all of our luggage (we so looked like tourists!) Then we walked the rest of the way to the hotel. After we checked in, we were heading out and actually ran into Claudia, our program director. She had just gotten back from the airport with Christy and Lauren. We left a little bit later to explore Oslo! That was lots of fun. Our first stop was the Resistance Museum of Norway near the Akershus Castle. It was a great museum and really interesting. After that, Marie and I went into Akershus Castle, which wasn't bad. We saw the tombs of the royal family, as well as the dining hall, which they still use as a reception hall.
This was the start of our 2 and a half-day orientation in Oslo for the program. We did quite a bit of walking and sightseeing.
Wednesday we just had dinner and then we had free time to walk around and see Oslo nightlife. We didn't do a whole lot of wandering because we were all pretty tired. Thursday was really fun. We went to the Norwegian Folk Museum. It was a great museum! Outdoors and it was a beautiful day! They had a lot of the traditional homes, barns, and really the way of life that was typical for Norway in the 18th century. A few of my pictures are of this museum. I'll have a few houses, the church, and a few others.
After that, we went to the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon Tiki Museum and the Fram. The Viking Ship Museum was amazing. It has three fully preserved Viking Ships on display. There are balconies at the corners of each room so you can look into the ships and there was a lot of information about them as you walked along. They also had smaller rooms in the back of the museum with artifacts that the Viking Kings were buried with and it explained why they were buried with them. The Kon Tiki Museum was next. It was really interesting. They had the actual reed boats that were built and used to find the Easter Islands and the surrounding area. They had two reed boats and for one, you could go downstairs and see what the bottom looked like in a mock ocean. They had little fish and sharks too. I'll look into this museum a little more, it is really interesting and I should really remember more. We went to the Fram next. This museum was actually built around the ship, which isn't too far from the shore. It had a lot of information around it, explaining where it had gone, what'd the crew had seen, any problems that it experience. One cool thing was that it actually ported in Seattle for repairs. You also had a chance to walk onto the ship and look on deck as well as below deck at all the living quarters, engine rooms, and pretty much everywhere else. It was pretty cool.
After all of those museums, we met back up and took a ferry back to downtown Oslo, had a few hours of free time, which I think we spent looking around the Marina at the shopping center, looking in a few stores, and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant and I had Phad Thai. It was really good.
Friday was full of events too. We met for breakfast; made our Matpakke (sandwiches wrapped in paper, very popular in Norway) we had a meeting at the Cultural Museum in the immigrant district. That was really interesting, the tour we were given really just explained about how many immigrants actually come to Norway, how many from different regions, and what makes an immigrant carry the name of a Norwegian. It had a really interesting setup as well. They created a family and followed the family around through different generations and explained each generation and how it could tie with being a true Norwegian. Next, we went to the Munch museum, which was a gallery display of Edvard Munch. I had never really seen any of his paintings, but they were...interesting. He had a rough life, so we say. He had a lot of beautiful paintings and then there were some that were very deceiving or were not what you'd expect it to be. The Scream is one of Munchs most famous paintings. The original Scream was actually stolen about 2 years ago from this museum, so security was very tight while we were there. After that, we had free time. We had to make a two-minute speech about what our first impressions of Norway were and what had changed in the last 3 days. I can't remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines that Oslo was very different then I had pictured it to be. The Norwegians themselves were very interesting and their way of life was so different then our own in the States. I also commented on the fact that Norway was a poor country once and that they were very humble about it and even now with them being one of the richest countries, they don't talk about it. One thing we all said, or thought, was that Norwegians did drink a lot, and that was a very cultural thing, but really just because they like their beer.
We met for dinner, showed out videos to each other and then Nat, Lauren, Christy and I went to Frogner Park. This was a great park; it was lined with human statues all made by Gustav Vigeland. We had a little too much fun here, but we got to see the sunset from the top of the park and we walked around and enjoyed people watching and seeing all the different statues. I think after that we wandered down the main drag and went into a cafe and had some coffee before heading back to the hotel.
Saturday, we packed up our bags, ate breakfast and we met in the lobby. We all piled into a Maxi Taxi (a small bus) and headed to the train station. We bought some drinks to go with our lunch and headed down to our train. When it arrived, we got on and we were off! Funny thing, Nat, Marie, Marit and I boarded at the very end of the train just in case we couldn't find room to get on. We found room in the very back and after we put our bags away, we sat down at the table. We had just started to eat our lunch, when the ticket puncher came through. Once he punched our tickets, he started rattling off, in Norwegian that we were sitting in the first class car and needed to pay an extra 75 Kroner to stay there. Once we figured that out, we just moved to the front of the train and ate there. It worked out really well. The train ride from Oslo to Hamar takes about an hour and 35 minutes. It was a nice train ride and we were all really excited to finally be getting to our new home! I think I'm going to stop here for now. I'll keep you updated and write about Orientation week next! Until then, Ha det!
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