Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 28th-29th- Spa night and a movie

Monday, Anita had heard of a great deal downtown about the fancy hotel's spa was celebrating its one year anniversary and for only 100KR we could experience the spa. So after work, Bente and I picked up Kristin and Anita and headed for the spa.

So beautiful the colors and music, smells and overall design. There were cold tubs, regular tubs, warm (not hot) tubs. The warm one had a dome ceiling with "stars" to look at. There were 3 different kinds of saunas. One had smells, one was classic "Nordic" (way too HOT!), and the last was a mist sprayed in the room that smelt like Vicks Vapor Rub. Essentially, it was a room to clear sinuses. We all got the giggles in that one because we couldn't see each other anymore.

The Meditation Room: padded floors (like gymnastics) and then hanging from the ceiling was 5 cocoon beds. Seriously, it was like we were caterpillars and just hung all scrunched up with tropical music playing in the background. Every time I opened my eyes, Kristin was doing something silly.

At 9, spas are not to relax but to play! She had a blast I think. There were foot baths and they were perfect "Kristin sized" pools. haha.

Great girl night.

Tuesday after work I decided to go for a walk because the weather was actually summerish! (not close to a Midwest summer, but great for them!) Anita told me there was a great lake to walk around nearby. 1.5 hours later I was tired and a little sweaty. It was a great lake though. When I got home Peder asked if I wanted to go to a movie. Yeah! I haven't watched a movie since I got here! Wait, haven't watched a movie in English since I got here. We decided on A-Team. Couldn't get much more American then that movie (which I kinda needed). We loved it. So funny! Great action. Whole thing great. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. Good movie, go see it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 25th-27th- Weekend on the coast

Longest blog ever guys, sorry. Don't read if you dont want to. I even know to not write too much....but I want to this time.

Friday: left around 5. Short trip to the ferry boat. We got to the ferry site and everyone else seemed to have the same idea as we did. The line to the ferry was long. When a ferry comes every 20 mins we still had to wait over an hour. On the ferry I tried traditional "ferry food" - svele. Really yummy. After the ferry came a little over an hour drive on the island of Lysoa.

Their place is fantastic. The ocean is only about 100 feet away from the house. The place is what we think of Norway: the wood, the rosemaling, the old style beds. I loved it. That night we waited for Bente's best friend Ingeborg and her family (Leidulf, Ingrid, and Lars) to arrive while making dinner. One late dinner and chatting later it was after one. I had no clue with the sun never setting!

Saturday morning: time to meet my maker- the freezing ocean water. I promised to "jump" in the water with the others. After breakfast, Martin, Bente, Ingeborg, and me suited up and the whole crew was there to hear and see our reactions. Sioux Falls Ploar Plunge has nothing on this. The air temp was only 10 C (50 F) and the water only 8 C (46F) but it felt like my inner organs were freezing. We went in up to our necks and back twice!!! Hot shower wasn't enough for my shaking legs.

Saturday afternoon we went out on the boat. George Lake has nothing on the Atlantic. The waves, the fjords= amazing. We docked the boat and went grocery shopping for the evening meal. Afterward we boated back over to the mainland and docked at the farm of Ingeborg's friend. We were served carrot cake and coffee. Then we visited the cow farm that they and 2 other families run. I have seen my cow farms before, so nothing too new for me there. Their "large" cow farm run by 3 families is about the same amount of cows for one cow farm family at home. Back to the boat and to the cottage for grilling! I was recruited to make "American hamburgers" again and enjoyed doing that. I swear these people don't know a good hamburger! All you have to do is make the patties yourself. They think hamburgers come from frozen patties: no no I say. Fried onions of mine were a hit as well. We had potatoes, salad, pork, and fruit. We thought for sure we would have enough food for two meals: WE ATE ALL OF IT. We even ate a whole bag of marshmallows (roasted of course) for dessert. After dinner was a game of Gin Rummy, lots of wine (ohh boy), and music.

Sunday morning late fried egg and bacon sandwich breakfast. I guess this is a truly typical Sunday breakfast. Off for a new adventure. I can not put into adequate paragraphs, sentences, or words the beauty and magical feelings of Adsen. We docked and set off for the top of the island where a lighthouse is located. The view reminds me of the tourist magazines- perfect shots. The fjords, skaer (tiny islands), and ocean sounds. We then set off to visit the other side of the island....I rock hiked people. The island is a giant rock essentially covered in thick grasses, wildflowers, and moss. I felt like the end of the Sound of Music where they climb over the Alps. Great feeling. The other side of the island somehow (i have no idea how) had an even better view. The others just laid down and began to chat. I went to sit by myself and enjoy my private view and sounds of the ocean, contemplate the vastness of the world and God's wonderful gift of nature the human population clearly doesn't deserve a majority of the time. This was the perfect Norwegian moment I was looking/hoping/praying to have while here. I can go home in peace after that island experience. Great people to share the experience with as well. Picture one shows the island: the lighthouse we climbed to, the fjords, the bottom of the island. Picture two is Bente and me!

After getting back from the island it was time to close up the cottage. Process pretty much like closing our cabin for the weekend. The way home was a bit different. We decided to take a smaller ferry located on the other side of the island. The ride was prettier- the fjords, the villages.

Great weekend, wish the temperature was a bit warmer but still overall wonderful! :)

Things I learned: I'm old (told by two 13 and a 15 year old.) Seriously, at 22?
There are public boat docking spots
The Jack, Queen, and King in a deck of cards has different
letters in the corners
There are many fjords with only one structure on them
(who wants to live all alone?)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thought about yesterday

So I went to city center because the town was having a market. (Like Old Fashion Fall Festival or the Sioux Falls 'whatever') I was hoping for full on Norwegian goodness in every booth. What was the most popular stuff there?: gross, tacky, American stuff. I mean the stuff Americans wont even wear. There are baseball hats with the Ford logo or $ signs. Ick. T-shirts with our celebrities on them and those rapper necklaces with a symbol for something. I didnt manage to find booths selling Norwegian crafts and foods as well. I bought a pack of potato lesfa....super excited to eat that.

Anyway I am leaving for Bente's family summer cottage....which is on an the Atlantic Ocean. How AWESOME is that?!?!? I will be without internet all weekend so I will tell you all about this adventure late Sunday or Monday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 23rd- The Midnight Sun: a Norwegian summer!

So the sun never really sets. Or at least its never really dark. Here is some facts and personal experiences with this event.

Wikipedia (amazing tool):
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous 24 hours, mostly north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. The number of days per year with potential midnight sun increases the farther poleward one goes.

So when my mom and I got to Bergen we had great weather. Due to that, even in southern Norway had light nights. In Oslo, the nights overall had less light but still very different from a Midwest summer night. In Trondheim, even though it rains quite often here, the nights require extra help to sleep.

Tips for sleeping with the lights on- buy a good eye mask. I'm so glad Mom thought to pack 2! No matter the amount of light, its all darkness for me to sleep! Also diffusing the light can be attempted, but masks work best.

Yesterday was the summer solstice. I woke up at 2:30 am on the 23rd and it could have been 3 in the afternoon it was so bright. PEOPLE: I WORE SUNGLASSES YESTERDAY. The sun was out, no clouds, warm (ok, like in the 60s, but still). It was awesome. After work I lounged in the backyard. You know when you havent seen the sun in a while and you start to feel depressed? Well yesterday I got my medicine and feel all better.

Anita got home from work and we picked up Kristin and headed to Neils mother's summer cottage. On the fjord (picture) and had a picnic. I had read that people really celebrate the summer solstice, but they told me this is just for the good weather. Bonfire, beautiful sights, grilled food, and NO BUGS. They just dont get bugs close to the water like we do. In the forests, yes, but not by the water. Nils met us there for dinner and a bunch of his family was there.

Cutest part of the night: I taught 3 little boys (2-4 yrs old) how to roast marshmallows. They couldnt understand my words so I was just demonstrating. One of their moms came over and started translating for me. Great night. Awesome to relax in warmth by the water, have a bonfire, and try new foods again.

The second picture was taken by me from my bedroom at 11:56....yes people no setting sun.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 22nd- A big meeting and new housing

So the day started out with my big 2 hour meeting. I presented my thoughts on their current website, asked them questions regarding thought processes on certain things and presented guidance and reasons for a new layout and image structure for Sim Optima. I also taught them about the various social medias (youtube, twitter, company blogging) and how and why to use each. I explained that each are going to have their own goals and objectives for their use. Can I just say, I thought Petter (70 years old) was just off in his own world while I was talking about Twitter. Turns out he said later that he hadnt learned so much in 2 hours for a very long time. I also showed the company my ideas for their future image and packaging their products. Really good, productive meeting. Lots of positive feedback. :)

After lunch had a few new things to research and think about for them before we left to bring Ellen to the bus stop. When I got home I had to pack. Holy cow you stay at a place for over a week and you totally have to re-pack EVERYTHING. Ahh....Around 9 we left for Bente's niece Anita's house. (Anita and Bente are only 8 years apart) Anita and Neils got out treats and coffee for us to get to know each other. Their house is beautiful, Anita is a great decorator. The view....I will get pictures by tomorrow. Indescribable. My room is nice, little more girly then the soccer posters and stuffed animals. ;) Their boys came home later. Close to the same ages as my sister and I. Sondre is 22 and home for the summer. Peder just turned 19 and just out of high school. Both are very nice, respectful, mature guys. Sondre is studying law at the University in Lillehammer. Anita has a closet full of shoes.....Paris runway sort of shoes. I get giddy just looking at them. I hope they are in my size!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 21- A misadventure? followed by nice dinner

Interesting day. Ellen, Bente, and I got up to meet Petter (the leader of the Lillehammer games who I met in Jan 08 in Lillehammer) who was one of the founding members of Sim Optima. He remembered our class this 2.5 years later! Nice older guy.

They had a meeting and I did final prep for my presentation. That afternoon I left early to go meet up with a neighbor of Bente's who invited me to this picture taking type club. Can I just say....GO ME. I try everything people bring up for me to try, to eat, activities, etc. Ok, back to the topic. Luckily this lady started talking to me at the bus stop that this bus stop is on summer hours now and not in service. She got me to the right bus station. After meeting Jonathon (the neighbor boy) downtown we met up with this group.

Ok weird. First off, these people only knew each other online and were meeting for the first time. Second, in the 2 or so hours I spent with them I was a model, held reflectors, and overall felt like not-a-norwegian-youth. This one guy kept trying to touch me-creeper! And the other 3 people were all just a bit off you know? Anyway I did get some good pictures and left them to do a project I have been waiting for decent weather to do. Bente later asked if I regretted accepting his offer to tag along: I dont think so. I always appreciate new experiences, but this one could have been better.

The doors in Trondheim are world famous. They are all over 200 years old and have varying bright colors and designs on them. I had to start getting pictures of them. They are just amazing. There are certain streets I didnt have time to walk down, so this project of mine will continue. Serious- google Trondheim doors look at images

So at 7 I was to meet up with the Sim Optima group for a nice dinner. Great conversations, great tappas (lots of little courses for us to try new things), great people. I tried EVERYTHING- including anchovies, Italian spicy sausage, chicken cooked in rosemary with paprika and sweet onion (my favorite dish), tomatoes with special stuff, oysters, lots of weird tasting cheese, and hard liquor ice cream for dessert. My.... after 2 huge glasses on wine and then liquor ice cream.....Ill just leave it at that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 19-20th - I love weekends

Saturday was shopping day. Side note: pouring all day. all day. Rain, Rain, go away, come again....later. SO sick of RAIN. We all got up slowly and ate slowly. I love that. Then Mortin, Bente, and I did errands all over the city. Favorite experience from shopping day: IKEA...totally fell in love. I'm moving into a new apartment in August so that is all I was thinking about. Also went grocery shopping because they are having a dinner party on Sunday. Then Bente and Mortin were off to another bday party so and I ended up having the house to myself a bit. I watched the Crown Princess of Sweden get married (live) and the whole royal wedding thing is fun. All the ballgowns, crowns and tiaras, the bows and hoopla. When Messay came back he fried some chicken and rice for the two of us. When Kristin came home from her bday party we all had ice cream.

In Norway, you throw yourself birthday parties. So the past two nights, Bente and Mortin has had friends throwing themselves a huge 50th birthday party. The guests are supposed to say speeches or sing songs to the birthday person. The one with the birthday chooses the location, style of dress, and even who will sit where. Interesting.

Sunday again slow to get up. Breakfast and getting ready for the dinner party. Cleaning and organizing. We all helped. Bente taught me how to make Norwegian waffle mix. I love them! Fun to learn a secret recipe. I really must find a Norwegian waffle maker in the states.

So dinner party:
Norwegian family
1 American (thats me)
1 Canadian
1 Swiss
1 Ethiopian

Yep thats 5 very distinct, and different cultures and thought processes together in one room. I don't think I will ever forget that experience. We had lamb and couscous (both of which I dont think I have had before) and for dessert, the waffles. So yummy all of it. In terms of conversation, I will never forget parts of it. I was explained the Euro thought process of the Nobel Peace prize. Obama winning to the general American public seemed too early, he hadnt done anything yet. Bente explained to me that she knows how Americans think having lived and studied there. She explained that we prove ourselves by our actions. We are rewarded not by what we say, but what we do. Europeans are so dependent on America that because of the HOPE he provided it was enough to earn the prize. Just the words are good enough for Europeans and now they hold him to their prize. Interesting to look at it from another perspective. The Canadian seemed to think that we were completely different as people. I laughed at that. We looked and, for the most part, sounded alike. We also fought the most.

After dinner we picked up Ellen from the ferry and chatted before going to bed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 17th-18th America and Strategic Planning

At lunch on Thursday, the one conversation I knew I would have eventually but dreaded happened: American politics. I hate politics. Then as an American I always have this need to explain....I don't know why we do some things we do. One thing I learned: we just think differently. I left early (ready for this next presentation as I'm ever going to be) and came home to a dog and cat quite eager to see me. Troya just wants attention and love and Ambo just begs for food all the time. I have been here a week and they already expect so much from me! haha.

Bente came home from London!! We went to the store because I was making dinner: American style burgers (or at least Lussenden style). I mixed the meat, fried onions, and everyone loved them! "This is the best part of America"- Martin (age 13) haha

After dinner before cleaning up I told them about lunch, and then started the topic again. Now however, both have lived in the US. So they have a greater understanding of how we think. Bente spent a year of high school in US and took US history so she really understood. Interesting discussion into how we each think- and how we are programmed to think.

Friday Bente and I were at the office and I finished up a little side project while she was in a meeting. Then we left to pick up Messay a new Ethiopian immigrant to Norway. They met through a mutual friend: their kids are from Ethiopia so it made since for them to meet. He is 29, super nice, and knows 3 languages and learning Norwegian. Came back to the office and I got to show Bente what I have been working on for them: their new social media strategy and thoughts on their website, image, and future growth. She liked it alot! We are preparing for a communication strategy meeting that is Monday and Tuesday.

Came home early...Bente and Mortin have a friend's bday party to go to, so we are going to make homemade pizza for dinner. Messay had never made homemade pizza before and was really excited to learn. So we made bbq chicken pizza, really good! Then we went for a walk, followed by a great skype, and relaxation. Looking forward to a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 15-16th Beauty of nature and public transit

Tuesday got to work, eventually. haha ohh lets just say timing is everything. Left a little early to go have a look in the city center for a coat that can handle rain and wind. Everyone around here has the same brand of a coat- Bergens. Adorable patterns, looks super comfortable while blocks all the wind, rain, etc. Well I got looking for one of these coats thinking it would really be nice to not be cold and wet all the time. These coats are........AT LEAST $200 US dollars! No joke. At least....some upwards of $400. Needless to say, I borrowed a raincoat from Lisbeth. I guess $60 for a coat in the US doesnt seem so crazy now.

Last night the guys were watching the World Cup and Hannah Montana and various other Disney type voices could be heard from Kristin and her friends. So I went for a walk with Troya. I had done the path around the lake with Bente before and had forgotten my camera for the beauty of that walk. So this time I was prepared. It was nice having a companion to walk with, even if she stopped to sniff every plant, animal dropping, and other dogs along the path. Once I got home I had cramps in both caffs (spelling?)! Must have been a good walk.

Today made it to work no problem. :) Getting the hang of public transit is awesome. I like to blend in with everyone else going about their daily routine. Only female in the office again today as Lisbeth is now away on business. After work I relaxed and once the kids got home I was in charge for the night.

Things I have noticed

Ok the picture: This was the street the Oslo office was located on--any other Harry Potter geeks notice the Tom Riddle/Voldemort tie together! haha I'm a totally HP freak.

Only been here 2.5 weeks but here are some things I have noticed about the land of Norsk.

Fashion trend: females are all wearing a white to off-white shirt with navy horizontal strips. Ellen thinks that will never go out of style. Norway is so connected to their navy heritage. I have a shirt like this, I should have brought it!

Burger King:
not only are the prices at least 3X then America, but the places have two floors! Laura, Eva, and I sat on the 2nd floor where the kids play place was along with lots of tables.

Toilet seats:
they are skinnier then American ones. I have finally gotten used to that feeling. Before I always thought I was going to fall in! haha.

Not important to most Norwegians because (I have asked) the government runs the church. There is no personal relationship, no community feeling of a church family. The feeling they get when they go to church is more governmental, if that makes sense. I find that so sad.

Amount of food: I swear I eat a third of the calories I eat in the US on a given day. I haven't been "full" since I got here. I get hungry almost every two hours! Sometimes I buy an ice cream or chocolate bar just for more calories. They eat so healthy! Going grocery shopping: all produce, dairy, and grains. I doubt anything was processed. Update: I'm getting used to not eating as much. Not as hungry as often anymore which is nice. I still sometimes go buy something fun though!

Steps into/out of rooms:
To get into any room in a house or business you have to step into the room and step out of the room. Very annoying. I'm finally not stubbing my toes anymore!

Nature lovers:
Norwegians culture is to be in nature as much as possible. The kids are walking on their own or riding a bike at a very young age. You are never the only one on a walk in the forest or streets. Weekend activities for the communities are set up to get the family active and outdoors. They exercise (outside) at least once a day with some activity. To get home from work, some change into exercise gear and run/ride home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13-14th Futbal mania and the great bike ride

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. Love them. Got up slowly, ate late. Bente was off for her trip and Mortin drove me around town showing me how I was to get to and from work. Also saw the town's cathedral (main touristy thing) and learned the history of the city. Sunday afternoon I just watched some American tv on the internet. Nice to hear English for a bit! Then Martin was off to his soccer game and we went to watch Kristin's game. Seriously I feel like a soccer aunt? guest? big sister? I watched Martin's game on Saturday and Sunday I watched Kristin's. I have never watched a whole soccer game in my life so this is all interesting. Can I just say the world here is Futbal crazy!!! World cup being watched and talked about all the time, posters on the walls, etc. Ohh and one interesting difference. The kids teams are through area athletic clubs, not associated with schools.

Monday morning meant a bike ride to work. All the way down a mountain. And it was only like 40 F yesterday morning. I was so cold. The bike killed my favorite pair of jeans. Holes right through them. I have decided the nickname Mortin has given me fits: "prairie girl" I am so not used to these hills!

Got to the office in one piece and noticed--all men. Other than Lisbeth, Bente (who wasnt here), and me all men! I got my assignments for the week and got to work. Lunch time: I wish I could have taped this experience. The team takes turns on who is in charge of lunch. So there is food covering this table and everyone just digs in. The men just throw the cheese and meat across the room to pass the food! Craziness.

The reason I rode the bike at all to get to work was that Lisbeth wanted to take me around the area and introduce me to her family. "Its only a 8K" THAT IS LIKE 5 MILES! All uphill. So anyway not only I'm I used to any kind of hills, this mountain did my asthma in. So needless to say, I'm glad I dont have to ride bike anytime soon. Lisbeth's family was very nice and we had dinner together. One of her daughters was throwing a surprise party for her dad because he coached her soccer team. The daughter Marin, made up the best reason ever to get him to come down for the surprise. It's so good I'm not telling in case I want to throw a surprise party someday.

Picture 1- Kristin and Martin being silly
Picture 2- Ellen and me, I stayed with her in Oslo

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 11-12th- Onto Trondheim!

Friday morning I got up slowly and finished packing. Then I went into the office and did one last look over my presentation and ideas. Then I gave the presentation, and everything went really well. They liked my ideas and how they can customize the presentation per client. Then it was back to Ellen's to grab my stuff for my flight.

Bente couldn't make it so I made the journey on my own. One 50 min bus ride, followed by a 50 min flight, followed by another 30 minute bus ride and I was there. Bente and her son Martin picked me up at the bus station and we went and grabbed the pizza they ordered for dinner. The city center is so cute. I love the wooden colorful buildings and and view of the fjord.

Right away I felt completely welcome by the family and their house is so nice. It has wood covering the walls, like some of the cabins around my lake back home. Martin is kind enough to lend me his room so I have my own room and bathroom.

Family: Morten and Bente and their two kids, Martin (13) and Kristin (9, "almost 10")

After pizza Bente and I took their dog, Troya (not sure on spelling) for a walk around a lake their house is near. The view of the lake and forest is just amazing. Next time I must bring my camera. After the walk the family was just hanging out and I taught Martin a card game and he taught me the Norwegian numbers 1-10.

Saturday morning I woke around 8. Geez sleeping in is never going to be my thing. After a cup of coffee, Bente and I took Troya for another walk. A longer walk. Holy cow I'm still out of shape walk. People: I jogged. No joke. Bit for a bit but still. I know....I'm still shocked. The view again was just amazing and I'm not allowed to leave the house without a camera. Ok funniest thing I have ever seen. Sheep. All over. In the summer, their owners let them out. They roam on their own. Their were families of sheep out for strolls on the public paths like the rest of us! Too funny. Bente says they just go back home in the fall. Amazing. Troya is bred to be a herder so she was really excited the few times we saw the sheep on the paths.

Errands came after breakfast. Looking for new chairs, curtains, few cloths for Kristin. We also saw Bente's office where I will be working and went to half of Martin's soccer game. Great to experience a town from that angle. Through all that I got a transportation pass, a map of the city for when I inevitably get lost, and some more cash. Productive day!

We then had to get ready for Mortin's concert! He is in a choir group that was having their 10 year anniversary and had a special concert with costumes, acting, little dancing. We all got dressed up (felt good to curl my hair again) and left for the concert. It was so fun! Such animated faces! They had a soloist on My Funny Valentine and ohh man she was fantastic. Such emotion.

After the concert was the choir party which Bente and I got to attend. That is another great way to experience a country. haha It was fun and everyone was so happy their concert went well. Great food and drinks!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 10th- Work and botanical garden

Today started with a meeting with Hanna at 8 followed by working solidly on my presentation until 2:30. I just set up a place to work, put in the headphones, and go go go! I knew I wanted to see the botanical gardens before I left town so I'm glad I finished the presentation in time for me to get back to Ellen's, get my stuff together and go. A tried taking the "short way" ended up getting lost a bit, but eventually made it there no problem. I should learn to just take the way I KNOW to go! haha.

Its beautiful! I felt a little silly walking around by myself so I took a friend along- Pounder. Pounder was a perfect gift given to me before I left. The pictures are my creative way of taking pictures without me being in them. As least I think they are cute. They had so many kinds of plants. They had a tropical greenhouses, rock gardens, scent walk, for those who may not be able to see, but smell. Amazing colors, sizes, variety. So peaceful. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I been walking with someone just to chat with and comment together on the plants. But Pounder and I still had a good time. :)

I made us dinner of pasta and meat sauce. The hamburger is a little different here. In texture or something. Still good, just something is a little different.

Tonight is prepping for the presentation tomorrow, and packing. I fly to Trondheim tomorrow!! This will be a brand new city, experiences, etc. Super excited to see the city, experience the Midnight Sun, and learn about 2 new families! Ohh yeah, new jobs to do too!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My walk today

In Norway, breaks mean go take a long walk in the fresh air. I had two today

My first was to go back to the cell phone place and of course the second I got there everything magically worked. Of course.

Second walk: Decided to try a new part of town. Remember Sim Optima's location? Well I'm surrounded by the "rich" part of town. The exteriors of buildings are just incredible (of course I forgot my camera) and the shops hold the most beautiful, astronomically prized clothing and accessories. Fun to look anyway. Then I got to all the Embassys. I have been to the US embassy on my last trip here. The rest look NOTHING like ours. Ours is a black fortress close to the royal palace. It screams "don't come it, dont even look at us." Well, it also feels super safe once inside.

Walking down a nice neighborhood, I find that China is neighbors to Italy who is neighbors with Korea. Chile's across the street. These mansions are fun and gorgeous with lots of character. I saw some Chinese diplomat talking on the phone in the front yard.

Folk costumes: The lady described the use of folk clothing unlike any other country. Their was a few centuries in which Norway was extremely aware of how they dressed. The embroidery meant something, how to wear the pieces, which pieces of accessories to wear, etc. Today the costumers find a time and place to wear them. Baptizing, confirmations, weddings, but mostly May 17th (their Independence Day). Ellen has a picture of her niece in the room I'm in from her confirmation in the traditional dress. You can come into this shop and pick the fabrics, the ribbon, the thread, etc. The ladies will measure and custom fit the dress. Sometimes people bring in a old pillow or something with a nice embroidery and they are able to use the pattern into the newer dress. Isn't it fascinating!?

Nothing too exciting with work stuff today. But after work Ellen took me to a resturant by the Castle (Fortress) and met her networking group. Nice ladies. Tomorrow is a big work day (I get to play a bit as well) so I had better get ready!

The pictures: The royal palaces ponds have sooo many ducks. Mallards are my dad's favorite. This pics for you dad! The second is a picture of the office I work at this week.

Let me know if there is anything you want to know about my trip, Norway, etc. I'm totally open. I have lots of free time to answer questions!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8th- half day work/half play

Off to work this morning and I finished getting my thoughts together and presentation ready. By 9 Hannah and Ellen were listening to my plan for their future presentation.

It went well! They were very impressed and used my "new" eyes to work on their concept further. I'm really happy they liked it, I feel it will be a good model for their customized presentation. Now my job is to prepare the models in the powerpoints, make sure the English sounds correct, and prepare a more marketing type version for the internet. This is all by Friday.

Both Hannah and Ellen had meetings all afternoon and when Ellen heard I had not been to the National Gallery yet, so told me to take the afternoon off and see the art. It was really nice...I walked myself back to the apartment, figured out how to get there and walked there no problem. In the museum there are guards everywhere, sensors if you get too close (really loud!), and ropes so you don't walk to close to the art. Other then that, I love art and it felt amazing to see art you know have been looked at, some for hundreds of years! The most famous painting, Munch's "Scream" was in a Munch room full of his art. The painting is just incredible. There is nothing like seeing a painting in see the watermarks, the damage from over the years, how he originally painted it. The canvas was nailed to a wood background so the paint goes off the edges unto that. The museum kept the wooden frame around one side so we could all see that. The rest of the art was great too, but that one...there is a reason Munch is so famous.

After the museum it was nice to just walk slowly through that area of town, looking in stores, just wandering. Got back to the apartment and talked on Skype. Then went and got myself a pizza (weird peperoni!) Now time for a glass of wine with Ellen and get work stuff ready for tomorrow! Great day!

Here are a few pictures of Ellen's apartment. My bed which is shorter then I am! and her super cute dining room.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 6-7: Relaxing and first day of Internship!

Yesterday I got a day of sitting! Sitting was so nice after walking so much all week. Laura and Eva (German roommates) checked out and I sat in the tv room and was on the computer almost all day. Got some reading done, skyping, etc. Really nice to just relax for a bit.

Ellen came around 5:00 and took me back to her apartment. She is a nice, hardworking 60(?) year old woman. I have my own room and we share the bathroom. The living areas are really quaint! Super cute. Ellen then took me out to dinner and grocery shopping. I got to do a load of laundry! (This will be a whole post later I think). We chatted and when she heard I had ancestors my family was looking for she got out a program on her computer. We found my great grandma Clara! And my mom's cousin Tim. otherwise no such luck. I gave her a bottle of wine from Morgan, MN and she was really happy. Then I got ready for bed.

6:45 is early when you haven't had to do that for a long time! Walked to work and the location of Sim Optima is a great story itself. Just behind the Royal Palace, directly across the street from the Prime Minister's house and the King's guest house lies on the second floor- Sim Optima. Along with like 7 other small companies. Its really cute, they all seem to be the same company- their own floor work culture. We unloaded the floors dishwasher, and made coffee before the others got there. Hannah shares the office with Ellen and she is really nice as well. She works for a company called Soulutions (yes I spelt Solutions the way she likes it spelt).

My job (in oslo): Create an engaging, interactive presentation for a new management training concept in a collaborative venture between Sim Optima and Soulutions. After learning about Sim Optima and all their practices I had a meeting with Hannah and Ellen about my project and they explained their concept to me. I got it right away. I think they were both surprised. It made total since to me! Anyway now I'm creating a Power Point presentation to be given to 40-50 year old, highly educated managers of various companies.

(everyone was interested in the American in the building....I got introduced to everyone!)

After work Ellen got a call that 2 dear friends of hers was having supper and asked if I wanted to go! Duh. Her friends are really nice and one was Norway's National Alpine Ski Champion for 3 years in the 70s! haha she is still so embarrassed that she gets recognized sometimes.

After I finish this post I have to get my presentation ready for work tomorrow!

The picture is from a few days ago, but I wanted to highlight the always entertaining street performers!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Info on Oslo

Wiki Info on Oslo

Oslo (Norwegian pronunciation: [ùʃlu] ( listen) or [ùslu]) is the capital and largest city in Norway. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by a fire in 1624. The Danish–Norwegian king Christian IV rebuilt the city as Christiania (briefly also spelt Kristiania). In 1925 the city reclaimed its original Norwegian name; Oslo. The diocese of Oslo is one of the five original dioceses in Norway, which originated around the year 1070.

Oslo is the cultural, scientific, economic and governmental centre of Norway. The city is also a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping. It is also an important centre for maritime industries and maritime trade in Europe. The city is home to many companies within the maritime sector, some of them are amongst the world's largest shipping companies, shipbrokers and maritime insurance brokers.

Oslo is considered a global city and ranked "Beta World City" in studies performed by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network in 2008.[1] For several years, Oslo has been listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world along with such other global capitals as Copenhagen, Paris, and Tokyo.[2] In 2009, however, Oslo regained its status as the world's most expensive city.[3][4] Oslo is a pilot city of the Council of Europe and the European Commission intercultural cities program.

As of 2009, the metropolitan area of Oslo has a population of 1.4 million of whom 876,391[5] lives in the contiguous conurbation. The population currently increases at a record rate of over 2% annually, making it the fastest growing capital in Europe. A large portion of this growth stems from immigration increasingly changing Oslo into a cosmopolitan city. The immigrant share of the population in the city proper now counts more than 25%.[6]

June 5th- Mom goes home, hanging with the roomies

Yesterday was another big day in Oslo.

Ate breakfast at the hostel and got Mom packed up. We took the T-bane (subway) to the Central Station and found our way to the flytoget Express airport train. Gave Mom and few hugs and watched the train leave. Thanks for coming with me mom!! I love you!

Now I was on my own for a bit. I bought a snack and walked around before getting back on the t-bane to meet my German roommates for our afternoon plans.

We went back up the mountain to go to the ski museum. This is the future site of the 2011 World Skiing Championship. There is construction everywhere trying to get ready for the event. The museum is the oldest ski museum in the world. The ski lovers in my life would have just gone crazy here. So I took lots of pictures for them. They had skis dated 600 AD. That is nuts! The best part was they had a ski simulator. I got to pretend I was a skier in the Torino 2006 Olympics. First was the Ski Jump. Amazing. it is so quick. When you watch on tv, it seems they are in the air much longer. You felt your feet leave the ground off the jump and then they hit the floor again when he landed. Crazy cool. Next was the downhill. I thought I was going to be sick by the end. They are going so fast! I could barely see, your feet really feel like when you are skiing: pressure on one foot, then the other. You flew when they flew, you landed when they landed. I had to close my eyes for awhile because the movement with the visual was too much. I seriously was nauseous for like 45 mins after that.

Because of all the construction, we got lost trying to find the bus stop. Lots more hills and walking. We then heard of a music festival that was going on in a city park so we went and sat with half of Norway! Soooo many people there! We mostly went because Eva loves the tv show, Euro song contest. The Norwegian in the contest was singing there. He sang Everything by Michael Buble. Ok, it was horrible compared to Michael. Eva didnt agree with me. haha.

They REALLY wanted to eat at Burger King for dinner. At that point I was too tired to care where we ate. So one hamburger, fries, pop was 43 Kr. That is 3X or more what I spend in the states.

Back to the hostel and we played card games. We taught each other our card games. Interesting. I think I will describe then in another post.

Before bed we got on the topic of 9/11. interesting to discuss with Europeans.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4th- More Oslo sites

Anyone getting sick of me yet?

Today we used the great Oslo Pass. Mom and I think we haven't paid for anything except food during our time in Oslo! In Oslo = get the 72 hr Oslo pass!

The four of us (Laura and Eva) went to the harbor this morning to use a free cruise we get on the Oslo pass. It is an genuine old wooden sailing rig boat. It started at city hall, went to their Opera House (see picture), and around some of the close fjords, to the museum island and back. Our roommates got off for the museums but mom and I stayed on for the whole thing.

Then we went to the highest point in Oslo (using metro and bus lines). It was devaju from 2.5 years ago--if Lisa, Kelly, or Jackie are reading this---it was the shop we rented our sleds at!! (Those of you who are uninformed: when the hill is closed due to ice, don't try to go sledding anyway) So Mom and I did the 10 min hike down to Frognerseteren. Guess what my International Public Relations class buddies: in the summer the view is even better! Mom and I grabbed lunch there and ate outside with the entire view of Norway to look at. We both had fish of some kind.

Once down again we went to the Royal Palace. The guide book says tours in June- late June people. So no tour but we could walk the grounds. Beautiful fountains and huge trees, plus guards watching you all the time! hehe. We then got really lost.

By the time we got back to City Hall our feet, ankles, hips, etc all just killed. We think we have walked at least 4 miles a day since getting to Norway. City Hall was interesting, weird art on the walls I must say. Then we just sat at the harbor and watched street performers and people digging in the garbage for bottles and cans. I mean multiple people!

The Oslo Peace Prize Center is across the street from where we are sitting so we decide to go. Its free with the pass! I had been there before so I could show Mom to the better places inside.

We decided to eat at TGI Fridays. I know, its American, but we are tired and hurt so don't pick on us too bad. We got a 20% discount there with the pass! To be fair the "American food" didn't really taste or look American. We shared a couple of appetizers and made the trek back to the hostel.

Skype is a beautiful thing everyone. You should all have it if you are away from loved ones.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3rd- Oslo tourists

Really. We were soooo touristy today. We had maps out all the time, looked a little confused, and had our heads going in every direction. For the most part, the stress of the night before had vanished and I was excited to show Mom a city I have spent time in before. We got up and dressed and bought our Oslo Pass (72 hr) before 9:30. Then into town using the same frequent path from 2 years ago. Once to the main area, we went to the tourist information center to find a place to buy me a cell phone. Since I will be here for a few weeks, I feel it will be necessary to have one- to contact the people I will be staying with, in case I get lost, etc. I have a Euro cell phone number people! Its crazy. 4 two digit numbers.

Then we get on a ferry that took us over to an island that had the Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. The Folk museum was HUGE! Really old buidings from around the country gathered in one place. Buildings from the 1500-1900 were there to explore and see how our ancestors once lived. They has sessions on weaving and other traditional crafts. They set up the one part like a Norwegian town from the 1800(?). Too cute.

We had lunch there (really good salads) and bought ice cream. The weather was incredible today! NO HUMIDITY PEOPLE. So probably in the 80s but it sure didnt feel like it! So sunny, sky clear. You could tell it was the kind of day Norwegians live for in the summer. We walked to the Viking Ship museum so I could show mom. I had been there before so we walked through in like 10 minutes. The Oslo Pass gets you in free everywhere, free metro travel, etc. Great card.

Ferry back to the mainland and we walked over to the Castle. Much easier to walk up the cobblestone hill in the summer versus January. View great. We also went to the Norwegian Resistance Museum (the WWII Norwegian part of the war). Hitler thought that the Allies were going to use Norway for their go-between to the rest of Euro so he wanted to destroy it or control it first. What a weirdo. Anyway- every culture seems to have a sad WWII story.

After a rest in the park, we walked to the area of town I know really well. It seems we always met there, etc when I was here last. That was comforting to see an area I knew really well. We found an interesting place to eat for dinner before heading back to the hostel. (We are fine with the hostel- we are sad ALL the hotels under $900 a night were booked though)

After resting a bit, the German girls, Eva and Laura and I decided to try to see the lights come turn on at the National Theater. No light yet (never gets dark!) but we walked around the harbor and chatted. This guy from Palestine asked for a picture, couldnt really understand me, but he was studying in Spain where Laura's family lives. So yep, a Spanish, German, and American girl walking around together is a lot of languages to throw out. It was easier for me to understand his Spanish!

June 2nd- Norway in a Nutshell

Norway in a Nutshell is a way to get around the country while seeing the most important sites Norway has to offer. You use 3 methods of transportation: train, bus, and boat, ....followed by 2 more trains.

At the Bergen train station we met another mother-daughter travel team from Minnesota! Really nice- Cathy and Karrie. The train to Voss was short and really let us see the little villages/towns along the coasts/islands of Bergen. The ocean was beautiful and it was great to drink coffee and wake up a bit.

At Voss we got on a bus- probably close to the craziest transportation ride I have ever received. Drive crazy fast up this hill only to see at the top the most gorgeous view ever. Right away, however, we started going down hairpin turns seriously. From the picture you can see the valley below. Yep, we kept taking sharp left and right turns over and over to get to the bottom. All along there are beautiful things to look at all to get to the famous World Heritage Site of the Sognefjord.

We got on our boat, the Skagastol Folro, in the town Gudvangen. We dumped our luggage and found seats with our new friends. Can you even really put into words the sites? It felt so peaceful....when you werent looking at the 1,000 cameras everywhere, or the Asians throwing bread for the loud seagulls, or a little kids singing as loud as possible. But seriously, for the most part it was amazing. I can't imagine how they even built the houses at the top of the mountain with the steepest drop offs! It was a two hour boat ride. I hope you like the picture! The best part was other then the few villages, the nature is completely untouched by humans. So nice to see that once in a while. There are a zillion waterfalls. I have way too many pictures of waterfalls.

We got off the boat in Flam and ate a great soup lunch with the travel buddies. The train to Mydral was really cute and wooden. The biggest waterfall ever is called the Kjosfossen. They had this old Norwegian folk fairy woman doing her dance- funniest thing ever!

At Mydral we had like a 2 hour wait so we just saw and chatted with Cathy and Karrie. Then the train to Oslo was like 4-5 hours. That is really long.....we sat with a really old couple from Norway. Learned a few things and overall just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Once we got to Oslo, the scariest most un-fun part of travel exists. When you have no idea where you are or how to get there. I knew the Hostel we were staying at but from the location we didnt have a lot of help to find it. But thank the Lord above we met nice people and found eventually the hostel. We are sharing the room with two 21 year old's from Germany. We are getting along fine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1st- the day of walking (alot)

I guess the video didnt load. I will show everyone the video(s) when I get home in July! So we took the funicular up Mount Floyen (the o should have a line through it). A funicular is basically a train made to go straight up a mountain. Mount Floyen is the highest point of Bergen. Yep.... so then we climbed down it. Ramsey Park (in Redwood Falls) is nothing compared to what we walked today. Twisting and turning steep down is hard on the knees people! But we got to watch a lot of schools and daycares trying to keep lots of little Norwegians from falling down the steep mountain. While the language is different, little kids whining and screaming is a universal "I don't want to do this anymore" or "he's touching me!" The rest of the day we walked around town and saw a botanical garden, street musicians, and had a great supper talking with locals about America and how we are looking for our heritage.