Ack! So much has happened it’s insane! I have a feeling keeping up with this blog on this tr will be significantly more difficult than last time. But I’ll do my best.
So my next stop after Oslo was Drammen, something like half an hour west from the capital city. Initially I had a bit. Of difficulty finding Liv’s (my host) place, but when I found it and rang the doorbell on the bottom floor, a voice came over the intercom with an Australian accent.
The door unlocked and I ran upstairs to meet my new hosts, drenched in sweat from being overly layered for the mild cold. Despite how much I knew I smelled, when the door opened and Liv greeted me, I gave her a huge hug.
“Thank you soooo much!”
“It’s no problem at all, how are you?”
“Soooo sweaty and smelly, sorry.”
“Oh, well, you can have a shower and just give me your laundry.”
Her roommate introduced herself a few seconds later. Her name is Anastasia and she’s from Ukraine and speaks English, Ukrainian, Russian, and Norwegian. Liv spent two years living in Australia (hence the accent) and speaks English and Norwegian. They had themselves just got back from Couchsurfing in Stockholm with someone who had surfed at their place last year.
The first thing I noticed after coming in was a ukulele othe couch.
“You have a ukulele!” I yelled.
“Yeah! Do you play?” Liv asked.
“I’ve got one too!” I went and pulled out my ukulele, and we spent the afternoon jamming and talking about languages and traveling. Apart from the fact that she also plays violin, and loves folk music (she freaked when I told her about getting to meet Árstiðir, more on that later), we also have the same taste in movies and food. And Anastasia is almost the same, but actually created an NGO in Ukraine and directs for Greenpeace, a Norwegian nonprofit that seeks to reduce waste and “non-green” energy. I hit the jackpot in terms of people, basically.
They liked me enough that they invited me to Liv’s family’s birthday bash, which was to celebrate her own birthday, and that of her nephew and her mother. Only she, Anastasia, and Liv’s brother spoke English, so this was to be an exercise of how fast I could learn another language when totally surrounded by it.
Luckily, Liv had a little three-year-old niece who was absolutely adorable and helped me learn some. I would recommend talking to someone else who is learning the language…
And then, because the party was themed for Brittney Spears, including a cake with a picture of Brittney on it, we performed “Oops, I Did it Again” for the party crowd.
Norwegian waffles are eaten with brown cheese (it’s kind of sweet? And tart? It’s amazing but difficult to describe) and jam. It. Is. Heaven. We got to take some home and I ate them with chocolate sauce instead.
Finally, at the end of the night, we had to say goodbye and the little girl said, “Everyone can go home now. But NOT HIM!” while pointing at me. It was so adorable.
Liv and Anastasia are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. They’re so happy and contagiously positive, it’s impossible to feel uncomfortable around them. We hung my laundry to dry and called it a night so they could get to work the next day.
The next day was spent hiking up a hill/mountain (if you call it a mountain, they laugh at you here). It’s a long way up, but worth the walk when you get to the too for the view over the city.
I kept going along the side a bit and found some snow to trudge through in my sweat pants, and thought it would be a good idea to film myself screaming “Let it Go” in Norwegian for a mashup video. After nearly falling over into the snow several times and having a jogger run by looking at me funny (you read that right… A jogger on the snow covered mountain trail. #Norway).
Liv gave me her key so I could get back whenever I wanted, and ended up making it back in time to go shopping with Anastasia for food that night. She had invited some of their friends over for another birthday celebration night for Liv, so I offered to make indian food. And boy, did I make a lot.
I didn’t get a picture with the guys, but several came over. Two Norwegians, one Czeck, an Australian, and a third-culture guy who was Norwegian but born in Indonesia, raised in the Philliphines, and has just now made it back to Norway to re-become Norwegian. We all clicked immediately, and I learned a ton about Norway.
Naturally, everyone thought I had a gun at home, came from a place where everyone was too lazy to cook and one of them told me a “good joke.”
When you speak three languages, you’re bilingual.
When you speak two languages, you’re bilingual.
When you speak one language, you’re American.
I thought it wa kinda funny (a little offensive of course, but whatever). He then said, “But it’s okay. Why would you learn another language when you live ithe states? It’s so huge and everyone speaks English anyway.” Which I guess was a good point. But still.
Also, in Norway, the water is totally free, as is hot water. Liv excitedly explained to me that I could take hot showers for as long as I wanted here without worrying about it. And the way that they pay back their education here is very strange; it’s a manageable stipend system where they pay month,h as part of their taxes. Or at least, that’s what I got out of it. And when k told them the story about the cocaine strippers from the other night, they all seemed really surprised. After a while we had to call it a night. They all complimented me on my Norwegian and Indian food, and then Liv and I had a heart to heart about confusing boys and I slept like a rock until two o’clock the next day.
While hiking on another side of the city…
I was finally able to get a hold of my second host in Oslo, so we made plans to meet up on Wedensday afternoon, so I’ll be there through Saturday when I leave for ICELAND!
Aaaand the rest of the day I just walked around and tried to see as much of Drammen as I could. This is such a beautiful place, and the sun sets for a really long time so everything is thrown into twilight long enough that it feels like it won’t go away.
I wish I could just take the smell of Norway and the taste of the water here back to the states to put on exhibit. It’s so pure and delicious and wonderful and warm. I will miss Drammen.