All posts by katiejurek

Console generation eight

So here’s a brief interlude to focus on what’s been happening the last few days with E3 and the eighth generation of video game consoles. The Wii U has already been released, the Xbox One is coming in November, and PlayStation 4 will be also be arriving sometime around Christmas.

My opinion? Firstly, I’d stick with the PS4 or Wii U; getting an Xbox One is like paying half a thousand bucks to a spy (i.e. Microsoft) to listen in on the politically unimportant goings-on in your home. You can turn the Kinect on when it’s “off” by saying “Kinect on”…which means it’s never really off at all, and is always listening. I’ll make sure no one I ever visit has one, and if they do, I’ll be asking them to unplug the system before I come over. 😛

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Norway’s National Day – May 17

I mentioned in my last post that May 17th was approaching. The day recently passed, and for Norway, this date is known by a variety of names: Norway’s National Day, syttende mai, Nasjonaldagen, and Grunnlovsdagen, to name a few. It is the anniversary of the day in 1814 when the Norwegian constitution was signed in Eidsvoll and declared Norway to be an independent nation after the Napoleonic wars. It’s also the day when crazy stuff happens, though all of it is pretty non-militaristic. Children’s parades are common and buildings are decorated all around with Norwegian flags. The longest such parade is in Oslo where some 100,000 travel to take part in it! These parades are often televised and huge numbers of Norwegians participate. I participated myself this year:

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How I’m legally able to keep going to Europe – The Schengen Agreement

I’ve been to and lived in Europe for a total of six months now (three total in the Netherlands, three in Norway) and am about to do so again for another three. At the beginning, though, I had no idea how I’d go about doing this, or if it was even possible without painstakingly acquiring several visas. The answer for going to the majority of European countries is “yes”…depending on which country you’re from!

The Schengen Agreement (named after the town in Luxembourg in which it was signed) is a treaty signed in 1985 that abolishes the internal border controls of as well as gives a common visa policy to the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is like a single state for international travel purposes: it has external border controls for travelers entering and exiting the area, but lacks internal border controls, allowing free and painless passage between its member countries.

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Guest post: Sindre from Norway in Florida

Hello everyone! Today I have a guest post written by Sindre Hauge Larsen, the Norwegian thatI’ve lived with in Norway and recently came to live with me here in Orlando, Florida. He’s going to tell us a little about what it was like for a Norwegian like him to live in Florida for two-and-a-half weeks!


Katie recently wrote about her experiences as a Floridian moving to and living in Norway over several months. She was not on vacation and she didn’t get caught in tourist traps; she lived with me and experienced what daily life is like here. In February we switched roles, and it was time for me to visit her in Florida!

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Once more on my way to Norway!

It’s been an eventful return to the US these past two months. My Norwegian friend came to live with me for 2-and-a-half weeks, we made a winning jam game, and I’ve been doing more web stuff and programming myself while also in another semester at my uni. But it looks like things are about to get spruced up even more! I will be returning to Norway again and re-experiencing the amazing cultural differences Norway has to provide. This will likely be from around the second week of May until the first week of August, so another three months! The kind Norwegian family that took me in last time will be getting another visit from me, and I’m very excited! I wonder if when I get back this time I’ll experience reverse culture shock again? Who knows, but I’m eager to find out!

GMC Jam #9: 1st place!

The last weekend of January was the Game Maker Community’s Jam #9 competition. The GMC Jam is a tri-monthly competition with an average of over 50 entries (79 this time around!) on this large programming forum I frequent; each entry has to be made within the 72 hours from the late Friday to the late Monday during which it’s held. I met the Norwegian friend with whom I’m staying because of the GMC, so we’re both programmers and decided to team up and make a game. Our game came in 1st out of 79 entries! Download a copy of “That Doggone Cat” by clicking “Games” on the top bar, or by clicking here.

Here are the trophies:

1st place trophy1st place handicap trophy1st place presentation trophy

Japanese hiragana

Here are some mnemonics to help with learning Japanese hiragana – which is a good place (just before katakana) to start learning written Japanese (Check out this hiragana chart, and this one, too!):

  • あ – a: Looks like a man with a snake wrapped around him screaming “AAAA!”
  • い – i: Looks like a pair of legs, perhaps kicking something that goes “IIII!”
  • う – u: Looks like a child pointing out a toy he wants to his mother and going “UUUU!”
  • え – e: Looks like a woman putting her hand up and walking away from a man she’s not interested in and going “Eh…”
  • お – o: Looks like a man rowing a boat with his “O”ar.
  • か – ka: Looks like a man doing a backflip! It’s amazing that he “K”an do that!
  • き – ki: Looks like a skeleton “KI”y!
  • く – ku: Looks like a bird’s beak that is “KU-KU”ing!
  • け – ke: Looks like one person carrying something, and another person asking to help. Alternatively, looks like a “KE”g.
  • こ – ko: Looks like a “KO”iled spring.
  • さ – sa: Looks like a guy with a big, “SA”gging belly!
  • し – shi: “SHI” has long hair!
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My 2012 in pictures

2012 was simultaneously long and short, but either way, it was a very, very eventful year for me:

The Netherlands Part I

A windmill in Leiden, the Netherlands

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.

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Reverse culture shock

Atop Stoltzekleiven in Bergen

Hello everyone! I’d like to take this post to discuss a phenomenon I’ve always wished to experience (and now finally have): reverse culture shock.

It’s easy to find stories of culture shock; people go to new places and see new things and meet new people and start new activities and it’s completely understandable given that they’re not used to these new ways of doing things. While it’s indeed an interesting phenomenon in and of itself, I feel it pales in comparison to the psychology behind reverse culture shock; that is, coming back to your country of birth and feeling as if it’s a foreign country.

Coming back from the mountains of Norway, I experienced this. I set foot in the Orlando, Florida airport and was immediately struck by the large amount of Disney advertising everywhere. Yeah, sure, Disney and theme parks, a common thing to advertise and see in Orlando. But it went much further than that: I stepped outside, and it was hot. In actuality, it was only about 23 C (74 F), but the air was wet and heavy, something some people call “muggy”, the kind of weather that makes warm weather feel hot and cool weather feel cold. I felt damp to my core, dunked underwater by some unseen force – this was a marked difference from Norway! Norway doesn’t have nearly as much humidity as Florida, despite it having ample water surrounding it all the same. Norway’s winter was relatively dry compared to those of Florida (if Florida can even be considered to have a true “winter” :P). As I went on through the week following that initial airport landing, I noticed more things, like a thick loaf of bread half my height that cost a mere $1.59. After being away for three months, I couldn’t help but think upon my return: is this really the country I’ve been living in all these years? Here are some of my observations:

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