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The Very Last Moment

June 10, 2010

It’s 7:30 in the morning on Thursday the 10 of June, 2010. I’m finished cleaning and packing and got absolutely no sleep last night, due to the way my brain is working at this point. Maybe that’s good, get me back into the swing of MN time! WHOA. Even saying that I get nervous excited anxious–all of the above!

I can’t believe it’s actually coming to an end. I’ve had such an amazing semester here, I don’t ever want to leave-but at the same time, I am dying to get back home and I cannot WAIT to see my loved ones.

This is just a short post, letting everyone know I’m on my way home TODAY. My parents are picking me up in Minneapolis at 5:55 p.m, and 3 of my besties are going to be there as well. :)  I fly Trondheim, to Oslo, to Iceland, to Minnapolis (cheapest route). Ingri is bringing me to the airport, and I’ve already said bye to all my other friends wahhhhh :(((

I cannot even express in words how much I have loved every second of my time here. I’ve been crying nonstop and I doubt that will stop when I get home or any time soon!  I’m leaving behind a lot of things in Norway; clothes, curtains, old food, shoes, books, etc. But mostly, I’m leaving behind half my heart.  This place has truly changed me and become even more a part of who I am than I could have ever imagined. <3

Okay, that’s all for now. Time to pack up the PC, put my boots on (heaviest shoes lol), load Ingri’s car up, and hope for the best!!

I’ll be writing more when I get back home, both on the two visit trips I had while here, as well as being back home and adjusting to ‘normal’ American life again.

Wish me luck with my flights!! I plan on sleeping as much as possible to get ready for a big weekend of welcoming home and a party just for me on Saturday :)

xoxo For the last time from Trondheim, Norway,

Klem fra Emma Kristin Volstad

Things

June 6, 2010

I’m 100% sure there are millions and millions of more things for each of these lists, but I’ve just been thinking the past couple days about all this so here’s the short version :)

Things I’m looking forward to being back in the good ole’ US of A:

cheap beer and liquor, driving a car, peanut butter, country music, my blackberry, being able to wear a sweatshirt and not feel like a slob, sunsets before midnight, small talk with strangers, not so much coffee to spare my teeth their whiteness, hardcore conservatives to argue over politics with instead of always agreeing with pretty much everyone, target, baseball/softball, kissing my boyfriend goodnight, trucks and other vehicles bigger than a mini cooper, my guitar and piano, never being nervous that i won’t understand a conversation, no school for 3 months, going to the races every friday night, other people who don’t really care too much about soccer or the world cup (sorry haha), making money instead of spending it, subway, rootbeer, and finally, most importantly, being with my friends and family and people i love all the time! Being HOME.

Things I’m going to miss after I leave the most wonderful place in the world, Norway:

brown cheese, healthy/fit people everywhere you turn, amazing public transportation, hearing norwegian being spoken around me at all times in all places, norwegian rap music, eurovision songs, extreme environmental awareness-everyone recyling everything, endless hours of daylight, all the blondes and red heads :), clothing style–aka, scarfs, skinny jeans, heel boots/flats and stripes, feeling at home in a foreign country i’m not a citizen of, jarlsberg, solo citron, mountains and the ocean, crazy norwegian reality TV shows like “Swedish Hollywood Wives” and “Paradise Hotel”, melkesjokolade/daim/all Norwegian chocolate bc it’s so much better than American chocolate, the independence i’ve found in myself from being here, and most importantly, the amazing friends i’ve made and people i love and have no clue when i’ll see again. THANK YOU FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE SEMESTER!

Tatovering :)

June 5, 2010

Okay everybody. So I finally did it. I got a tattoo! :) I actually got it about a month ago when I started to write this post but never ended up sending it out because I forgot after I’d uploaded the pictures. I’m pretty excited about it still!

I’m attaching some pictures, but it’s the word in Norwegian that means “love” (the noun, not the verb) and that’s “kjærlighet” (roughly pronounced “shar-lee-het”).  I chose this because when we were younger, my family always had weekly Family Meetings.  It was all real official-like, of course.  My dad would draw up an agenda that everyone could put a topic on, which usually included things like “We should be able to eat toast in the basement when we watch TV” or “Why don’t we just sell Lizzy??” (my dog that jumped on Tom every time she could haha.), and “Kids need to get up 5 minutes earlier so the bus doesn’t have to wait.”  We’d also usually do something like, tell the person to your right something you love about them. The last item on the agenda was always “Love and Respect.”  My parents would tell us about how you always need to treat each other with love and respect-not just our family but everyone you meet. This all may sound a little corny and kind of silly, but I’m truly thankful my parents cared so much about us and that we were raised to treat everyone we met the same, no matter what.  No matter a person’s age, gender, race, religion, etc., even if you don’t agree with someone’s political views, life choices, or whatever, just treat everyone with love and respect and not only will you have a better chance of being treated that way in return, but the world will be a better place.

Anyways, love has always been a  huge part of my life philosophy, I mean, who doesn’t love love, right? :)  So that’s why I chose that word. And I chose to get it in Norwegian as well as here in Trondheim because of the huge impact this place has had and always will have on my life.  I’m really glad I’ll always have it to remind me of my love for this place and the time I spent here!

My Mom isn’t the biggest fan of tattos, and my boyfriend likes to joke that he thinks now that I’ve got one I’m going to go all crazy and end up like that girl Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock with, buuuuttttt they both decided it’s pretty sweet too. I’m pretty sure my mom used the phrase “far out solid and groovy, for a tattoo.” :)

I got it done at Flaming Heart Tattoos here in Trondheim, which is actually owned by an American guy.  It was reccommened by my friend, Inger Beate, who is Ingri’s close friend (and from Snåsa!) and has gotten a couple tattoos from there before.  It didn’t actually hurt all that much! It just sort of stung, actually washing it off was more painful because of the whole soap on an open-wound thing haha.  It took all of 10 minutes to do the actual tattooing part.  So, here are some pictures, and sorry if you saw this on Facebook like a month ago haha.

LOVE, Emma :)

Long time no post…T – 1 week

June 3, 2010

Hello blog and friends,

It’s been a while, and I promise I didn’t forget you–I just got very busy (and am still busy now!).  I officially have only 1 week left here in Norway…whoa. Where did the time go?  I leave next Thursday, June 10 at 10:40 a.m. from Trondheim. Fly to Oslo, then to Iceland, then to Minneapolis where my beloved parents and a couple amazing friends will be waiting to welcome me back to the states!  I can hardly believe it.

I have a few posts that are half-finished and sitting in my drafts, and I probably won’t get around to finishing them until after I leave seeing as I’m pretty busy right now.  They include one about a tatoo I got while here :D, the visit I had in March from my boyfriend and his mother, as well as the 10-day trip around Norway visiting family I took in the middle of May with 6 family members/friend.  Needless to say, it’s been amazing, and I have a lot to write about, I just have been neglecting my duties (which is something I promised I wouldn’t do, so I’m sorry!).  It’ll be fun for me to have something to do to reflect back on my time here however when I get home.

Right now I’m studying for finals. I’ve already taken one, have one tomorrow, and my last one on Monday.  Finals are quite different here in Norway; grading is completely different from what I’m used to.  In my sociology class, which is my test tomorrow, my final exam is literally worth 100% of my grade.  The exam I took for my political science course on Tuesday was worth 1/3 of my grade while a 20 page paper I wrote is the entire other 2/3, and lastly for my Norwegian literature course, my grade is 1/2 a paper I wrote and 1/2 the oral exam (all in Norwegian) on Monday.  So basically, there is very little wiggle room; no daily assignments, no midterms, no extra credit assignments, etc.etc. which I’m used to at St. Olaf.  Here’s it’s just very comprehensive and a big one shot or nothing haha.  We’ll see how my grades are affected because of this!! I’m not too worried though.  I figure whatever experiences I’ve taken away from this semester are far more valuable to me in my life than a few more good grades–so if I don’t fare well in the grades department, so be it.

Anyways, sorry this is not a very exciting post, I was just thinking about you and decided I should give a quick shout out!  I’ve been very bipolar recently. One second I’m jumping for joy and can’t stop smiling thinking about seeing all my friends and family when I get home, and the next I’m laying in bed bawling into my pillow talking out loud to myself about how I never want to leave here haha. I know, sorry, I promise I’m not a crazy person, it’s just quite overwhelming right now so I’m going kind of nuts! Not to mention I literally get ZERO real sleep these days because of the constant light outside haha. I just don’t have the right shades! But considering sunset is somewhere around midnight and sunrise somewhere around 3 a.m….well, there’s just not a lot of night-time to be had.

I was just going to go into a big spiel about my friends here and everything but I’ve decided that since it’s quite late, I have an exam tomorrow, and I don’t feel like having a big emotional outburst at the moment, I’ll leave that to the next post (which I promise will be within a week) :)

Peace, love and happiness! Hope everyone is enjoying their summers.

xoxo Emma K

P.S. I’ve added a couple random photos!

SURPRISE: Videos!

April 25, 2010

OKAY. So, this is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and it’s post these videos, woo! So here are two very different videos and a little explaination on each.

The first one is my very first video blog! Just watch it- it’s pretty self explanitory.  Sorry the quality is so poor, but you can hear me talking still so that’s all that matters I guess. Plus, it was made with love from me for you :).

The second one is a video I made for my final project in Norsk253 last semester  where we could literally make a video about anything in the world as long as we incorprated sound, our voice, and pictures/video, and I chose my family.  The Norwegian is pretty basic and it’s by no means perfect, but I think because of the cognates and the pictures you’ll get the general idea even if you don’t know the language. It’s basically a little diddy about each member of my family and I talk about how even though we’re all so different I love them all more than anything else.

So thanks for reading/watching, and I hope you enjoy! :)

xoxo-Emma K

Stereotypes and Such-Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2010

If I’ve learned something while living in this wonderful place, it’s that a lot of stereotypes are truly based in reality, while others of course are not.  Here are a few random thoughts on the subject!

*Since it’s Earth month and today was Earth Day (woohoo, hug a tree!) I’ve been thinking about all this quite a lot lately and how it fits in with the stereotype or norsks being out-doorsy-nature-lovin’-folk.  The thing is, Norwegians really are close with nature, at least the ones I know.  Everyone I know has a cabin (or two sometimes haha) that they like to hike to in the winters or summers to spend time skiing or swimming or reading a book or whatever. A lot of people think it’s almost “cheating” or not as real to have a cabin with all the fixins-TV, internet, etc.  People just seem to care more about the environment.  Trondheim is a city of roughly 150,000 people, and the streets are nearly as clean as Northfield’s.  People just don’t seem to litter; I mean, people litter, obviously, but not on the scale that people do it in the US where we have to have the “Adopt a Highway” program to keep our lands clean.

Another thing that’s really cute, is in a lot of bathrooms (mostly at the school, but I’ve seen it elsewhere) there are these little cartoon signs telling you that ONE paper towel is ENOUGH! And it shows you how to do it; ya know, wash your hands, then SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE them off, then just grab one haha. It’s pretty cute, something I could totally see people putting up around campus at Olaf.  People don’t like to buy a new water bottle every day either.  I’ve joined in and I literally have had the same bottle for at least 2 weeks. Eventually they get grungy and you throw them away, but mostly you just use the same one until it’s worn down.  And everyone recycles.  Like everything. It’s like you don’t realize how much can truly be recycled until living in a place like this where they really don’t just throw away barely anything because everything gets recycled-it’s wonderful!

*On a different note, there really are a lot of blonde hair blue eye tall thin people, as well as a lot of St. Olaf look-a-likes. I swear I’ve seen half the St. Olaf population since I’ve been in Norway…this is not, of course, the only type of person :).  Trondheim is a bit farther north, a bit less settled with immigrants, and to me maybe a bit more what people back home think of as “stereotypical” Norway.  I chose to study in Trondheim instead of Oslo because of those reasons.  However, at this time Norway has around 500,000 immigrants or children born to immigrant parents, which is roughly 10 percent of the population, so it is by no means homogeneous.  People come in all shapes in sizes everywhere in the world; it’s just more diverse in some areas than others.

*Minnesotans may have inherited a lot of speech cadences and long vowels from the norsk, but “Minnesota-nice” is clearly not a ‘true’ Scandinavian trait.  We like to make small talk with the person next to us on the bus, talk about the weather with the grocery store clerk, gossip in small-towns with people you meet on the street, and lend a hand to complete strangers if they look lost or confused.  Norwegians are much more self-reliant than us haha.  I mentioned this before, but on last weeks episode of “Alt for Norge” (the reality show that sent Norwegian-Americans over to Norway to discover their roots!) the contestants were faced with the task of buying a few items in the city of Stavanger with just a sheet of paper with the name on it.  They had no clue what these things were really or where to get them.  Of course they’re standing around looking up and all around, and start attempting to stop random passersby and ask for directions to a store or where they can find a certain item.  The thing is, they got little to no help, and when they did, people were pretty reluctant. 

Now I can’t speak for all you Oles, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walking on campus and a passing car has pulled over and asked “Can you tell me where the soccer fields are?” or “Do you know how to get to this Skogland Center?” and I smile and point out the way to take down the only road through campus.  It’s not that Norwegians are cold or don’t want to help others, they are just more reserved and become so much more independent as such a young age; many students move out of their parents’ homes at age 16 to go to a larger city to attend a specific high school.  When I was 16 my mom was still making my breakfast and supper every day and I can’t remember ever doing something on my own like calling the doctor or shopping for groceries.  My point is, I think that part of the reason the norsk seem less-willing to help out a stranger, is that they’ve been figuring stuff out on their own for many years longer than a lot of Americans. I mean, I’m 21 and I’ve never filed my own taxes, payed my own phone bill, or truly lived on my own (until I came here of course :)).  I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I know not all Americans are like me either, who is lucky enough to have parents that are willing and able to support me completely in my education and want me to focus on school and not bills until I have to, but I know at least some of these things are true.  I mean, how many of you filed your own FAFSA in the few years you’ve been at college? I wouldn’t know where to begin!  The list goes on and on. Point being, even though Norwegians don’t have the Minnesota-nice, they’re pretty good people once you get to know them :).

Anyways, those are my few random thoughts right now.  I have to finish reflecting on my boyfriend and his mom’s visit so I can send out that post with lots of pictures!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Earth Day (which apparently is just an American thing, btw; I guess every day is Earth Day here, har-de-har) and that your April is wrapping up nicely.  Owe, sidenote! At this point there’s about 16 hours of daylight-today sunrise was at 5:30 a.m. and sunset around 9 p.m. and in just 2 short weeks we’ll gain another hour. Very awesome. I like living this close to the arctic circle :).

Peace, Love and Respect to everyone-xoxo Emma K

Tyholt dinner

Lecture: ‘Why DID America invade Iraq?’ and 9/11 thoughts

April 21, 2010

Random post. :)

So as you all (probably) know if you’ve been reading my posts, I’m in three courses here at NTNU.  Two are the normal credit classes, a sociology/anthropology course called “Globalization, Modernization and Development” and my course in Norwegian called “Scandanavian Literature History.”  My third class called “America in the World” is double credit and deemed “Project work” which is why I’m only in three because it counts for two classes because I have to write a 25 page paper along with the final exam.  The paper is supposed to be a proposed policy amendment to the President, and it has to do with foreign policy.  I’ll probably be writing about immigration laws, because those I believe there is a lot of information out there on it and I’m pretty interested in it (concerning FOREIGN policy, not domestic).  Anyways.  So for that class this paper is worth 2/3 of our grade and the final 1/3.

So about a month ago my professor was gone for some conference or something and we had a guest lecturer.  His name was Torbjørn Knutsen and I think he’s just a professor at the univerisity.  Anyways, we’ve been working with a bit of political theory as well as foreign relations in the class, and his lecture was on “Why did America invade Iraq” interpreted through the three separate levels of analysis (the individual, state, and international/systemic levels).  It was actually quite interesting.  I originally signed up for the course because I wanted get a European view on American politics….and then I found out my prof grew up in Alabama and graduated from Penn State. haha.  Oh well, right? It’s actually a nice class, not too much new information for me theory/history wise (mostly things I learned in my intro PoliSci courses, or history…in like 6th grade…) which is nice so I can just focus on writing the paper/proposal and not stress about learning all new information for the exam.  So I was excited to finally hear a bit of outside opinion on the matter, even if it was just one professor in a 2 hour lecture.

Sidenote: in Norway, the general norm is to call your teachers and professors always by their first names…but I just can’t bring myself to do it-it just feels so disrespectful to me! Unless I am very close with a professor, like my Norwegian profs (also because that’s the norm for norsk) and a couple PoliSci ones, I just can’t do it. There’s another cultural difference for ya haha.  Usually I really really try hard to abide by the Norwegian norms, for example eating my hamburger with a fork and a knife instead of just picking it up which is so much easier, but in this case it just feels too wrong coming out of my mouth-‘I just can’t DO IT captain! I don’t have the power!’ Anyways, my point is that I’m going to call him Professor Knutsen, which I was going to start this paragraph out with, but ended up going off on yet another tangent my life seems to be built on these days.

Professor Knutsen’s lecture was very (……..insert long pause because my fingers stopped typing and I looked up at the ceiling before I could come up with the right word……..) thought-provoking. Interesting. Enlightening? No not quite. Well anyways, I enjoyed hearing his viewpoint.  I won’t go into the “boring” (for you maybe, not for me the theorist woo!) PoliSci levels of analysis mumbo-jumbo, but in my opinion he did a pretty good job of explaining the different factors and potential “why’s/causes of invation” within these levels.  I didn’t come across too much new information, just a few lesser-known names and specific dates, but mostly a lot of widely known conspiracy theory stuff.  It was pretty much a Bush-bashing session, which is fine, whatever, and Professor Knutsen stated very specifically that he was not saying GB Jr. is an idiot himself, just that because of the poor judgement and rash decisions he made, he acted inconceivably and beyond all intelligent reason.

Somewhere in the middle of the lecture he got to 9/11 (obviously).  This is actually why I’m writing this post.  I was so surprised at my own reaction; I just didn’t even know I had any of these feelings.  When he began talking about 9/11 (which, sidenote, in Norwegian is actually 11/9 because they put the month first-very confusing-so some people thing it was on November 9th, not September 11th…yeah.)–anyways–the first slide he showed just had the words “September 11, 2001″ on the header and there were two or three pictures of the WTC, Pentagon, etc.  He just began talking about what happened that day and how people, especially people on the east coast, in New York, D.C., etc., were just devestated, and rightfully so, and how everyone just kind of pulled together.  Of course, he talked about how the Bush administration used that blind patriotism as an excuse for the “War on Terror” to finally get Sadam etc.etc.etc….but before he talked about that there was just a few minutes where he was just explaining that day and the days immidiately following to us and how the country reacted.  When I saw the pictures, and heard him talking, I just had this GIGANTIC wave of emotions.  I found myself tearing up, thinking about that day, and where I was, and where everyone else was, and how fortunate I was to not have known anyone personally and to have been safe…and I just got very emotional.  9/111 is the Kennedy assasination of our time.  I think, after 9/11, we all thought about it daily.  Newspapers, etc., with constant reminders of what happened.  But now, 8 1/2 years later, we hardly think of that day.  Not on a daily basis at least, I mean those of us who weren’t directly affected, didn’t lose a loved one.  So when I DID begin to think about it, everything just came crashing over me and I had to mentally tell myself to physically CALM DOWN and breathe normal and get it together-I was in the middle of a lecture hall for gosh sake.  So I did, but I was so surprised at how deeply seeing those images and hearing him talk about that day affected me; since I wasn’t affect PERSONALLY (didn’t know anyone, don’t live on the east coast, etc.) but I was affected-like everyone else.  Some people live in places where every single day they have a fear when they walk out of their home in the morning of whether they’ll make it home alive that day or not. 

Part of my point is, we’re so quick to forget.  Obviously no one has forgotten that day or that moment, but it certainly isn’t on the forefront anymore.  It’s insane how quickly we adapt to such intense changes in our perception of reality.  The first two weeks, two months, that I was in Norway, EVERY DAY I would wake up and think, “Oh my gosh. I’m in freakin Norway.” But now I wake up and think, “I have to pee.” I still have moments almost every day where I really cherish something or try to really remember where I’m at and what I’m doing, but it’s become almost routine at this point.

So cherish the moments people.  Forgive but don’t forget.  Learn from your mistakes. Yada yada all those phrases.

We are truly blessed. xoxo Emma Kristin

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