2012 was simultaneously long and short, but either way, it was a very, very eventful year for me:
The Netherlands Part I
I started the year off still in Dutchville on my December 10th – January 7th trip to the Netherlands. This was the first time I had ever left my own country at all, much less gone to Europe. I watched bikes regularly come within centimeters of cars, witnessed just how liberal Amsterdam is, and participated in and saw the aftermath of New Year’s fireworks as well as an awesome example of the extreme efficiency of public transportation. I ate a ton of new food and had the best, barely-modified meat I’d ever had. I learned a lot about water control and saw many times over how the Dutch control water levels very intimately (the Dutch will regularly live barely a few inches above canals!) and I fell in love with the environmentally-friendly and effective way in which the entire country operates (not only do you bag your own groceries, but stores don’t even offer plastic bags, only reusable! If you don’t bring one to the store, you have to pay a quarter or so to get one). I went to the store a bajillion times a week like the Dutch and got a lot of practice in listening to the language. I felt the Netherlands become my second home. I watched Eurovision for the first time. And I experienced a friend group much like the ones I have in Florida and felt completely at ease in my new surroundings.
A new semester at university
When I got back to Florida, I started a new semester at my university, taking Calculus III, Computer Science II, and French I. In February, the friend I’d been staying with in the Netherlands came to visit me for three months until early May. My friend and I were mixing our American and Dutch cuisine together; some of it rocked, some of it didn’t! In the middle of the month I bought a new computer due to power supply and general graphical issues with my older one, using only its hard drive and one of its disk drives in the new PC. I still have the older one and it works perfectly…at least it would if it had a hard drive!
The Netherlands Part II
When my classes were over, I headed once more to the Netherlands, this time for two months instead of one! From May 8th – July 4th, I was Dutch again, living and breathing the clean Netherlands air and lifestyle. At this point, I was growing more and more interested every day in moving to Europe after university.
Deciding on Norway
Soon after returning to the US, I went to Epcot – especially to the Norwegian section, as I was developing a special interest in Norway. Having many Norwegian friends from the Game Maker Community, I viewed the Scandinavian country as my next stop. My original plan was to stay for one month, but then housing issues and the like occurred. A sweet friend of mine told me that he thought I’d like Norway and he’d love to show me around, and I took him up on his offer. This was confirmed in August when I bought my ticket to live for three months in Norway. Between August and the time I left for Norway in early October, I went to an anime convention and one of my siblings had a baby!
And last but certainly and absolutely not least, I lived in Norway from October 4th – January 1st! This was by far the absolute highlight of my year, though everything else was fantastic, too! I fell head over heels in love with how different it is from the US, the large degree of physical fitness present everywhere, the mountains, the public transportation efficiency, walking or taking the bus almost everywhere, the housing, and of course, the people! I had a pet tortoise and a person next to me the whole time with a personality I’ll never come by again in this world due to its extreme selflessness, modesty, and kindness. I found new housing for when I would return to Florida, learned fantastic eating habits, got a ton of exercise, participated in GMC’s 8th community game jam and won second place with “The Little Tornado that Couldn’t”, went to a wedding reception, and officially made Norway the place I consider to be my home. After all, home is where the heart is, and my heart is definitely with Norway. Climbing up Stoltzekleiven, crunching in the snow and making terrible snowmen/things, going to REMA 1000, hiking up to the dam, going to vorspiels with Norwegian friends, and spending the holidays with my Norwegian family (not biological) – including decorating Christmas cookies with and getting presents from all of them – were some of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had to date.
So here’s to many more, and to an equally fantastic 2013!