Category Archives: Norway

Asian adventures

Whew. The past year has been a whirlwind of travel craziness, even moreso if you stretch it a bit further and count summer 2014. I’ve headed from the US to Norway, to England, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and back to Norway before flying back to the US, whereupon I took a detour to Puerto Rico over the winter, returned to Miami for spring break, and went to New York for the first time. Then, after moving three times since returning from Europe to the US and finishing my Bachelor’s in Computer Science in spring 2015 – along with meeting a whole lot of fun and interesting new people along the way – I sold or gave away most of my possessions, said “Bye” to the country I’ve lived in for ~22 years, and purchased a one-way ticket to Norway, but not before popping over to Colombia to see South America at least once before leaving the western hemisphere.

After spending only a week in Norway, I hopped over to the Netherlands where I had an absolute blast with old and new friends for about a month before going for my first time to Belgium. From Belgium, I bought a ticket to South Korea and commenced my teaching job here, learning a lot of Korean and about the country’s culture from one of its very own, small cities.

And now, in approximately one-and-a-half months, I’ll be on the move again. Where to this time? Well, first I will go around Korea to the places I haven’t seen yet but want to before I leave, such as Jeju Island, Daejeon, more of Seoul, the Demilitarized Zone (between North and South Korea), Gangwon province, Daegu, and more of Busan. After that, I will close out my apartment here in Gochang, say “See ya later!” to the friends I’ve made here, and head to…

Japan!

And I can say I’m quite excited! The destination is not so much of a surprise if you’re somewhat familiar with Asia’s geography, but it will be the first time I’ve set foot in a place where so much of the media I’ve watched and played over the years originates from, and I have to say I’m pretty happy. Both to see Japan, and to leave Korea as Korea has been kind of a drag. More on that in another article, but to sum it up, the job and benefits are great, but the country, people, and largely the food do not suit me. But I’m satisfied: I’ve met plenty of great people here and learned a lot about myself. I’m just happy to be getting to the relative beauty and politeness of Japan, and see some friends that I’ve had there for awhile.

The rest of my plans thus far are pretty tentative, but the current plan goes somewhat like this: I’ll spend three or so months in Japan, going to at least Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo (if not more), then head to Taiwan, Hong Kong, maybe Vietnam (if I bother to get a visa for it, which is a somewhat annoying requirement), maybe Laos or Cambodia, but then definitely Thailand and down to Singapore.

After that, the current plan is to head back to the place where I’ve decided I want to get a residence permit and branch off from there in the future. I’ll espouse more on which country that is in another article! For now, I wonder: can you guess?

Stereotypes of countries around the world

Keep in mind these are tidbits and/or very generalizing and playful stereotypes I’ve come up with by going to these countries and meeting people from them.

Americans:
– Blunt as a knife.
– Describe distances in driving time.
– Describe time in numbers (5:50 is most times “five fifty”, not “ten to six” or “five after quarter to six”).
– Devout (comparatively to other [especially European] countries).
– Friendly.
– Loud.
– Main exports are obesity and friendliness.
– Mediocre drivers due to medium-priced driver’s tests and licenses.
– Notable music genres include rock and jazz.
– Out of shape.
– Patriotic.
– Slogan: Add sugar to everything!
– Tip most everyone.
– Use big adjectives generously (“Wow!” “That’s great!” “That sounds awesome!”).
– Use the imperial measuring system, often leading to confusion with the metric system.

The British:
– Clever.
– Crazy about gardens, just like the Dutch.
– Cynical.
– Pessimistic.
– Sarcastic.
– Sardonic.
– Tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

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Going to the UK, Poland, and Czech Republic

So the UK is a place I’ve heard about for all of my life, and I’ve seen a number of movies that took place inside of it. Finally, it won’t be just a place I’ve heard of anymore!

I’ll be arriving in the Stansted airport of London tomorrow, June 11th, and staying with a friend until June 22nd. I’ll be spending most of this time in London, with perhaps a short trip up to Cambridge. I have a couple of things I definitely want to do or see, but I’m also in no rush to catch them all in one go, partly because I’m fairly certain I’ll be back – there are many reasons to go to London! Besides that, I’m more of a stay-in-one-country-for-a-long-time person, and even though this trip will be rather short, not seeing too many tourist attractions wouldn’t bother me all that much. Wait, though, there’s more in store for me yet! On June 22nd, I’ll then be heading to Poland, where I’ll see a few separate cities before likely visiting the Czech Republic. I’ll return to Bergen in Norway on the 2nd of July.

There is so much exploration to be done and so many new experiences to be had! This will be my first multi-country hop (not including those times I just hopped airports), and also my first time taking Ryanair (from Oslo to London and London to Katowice), the budget airline known for its extra fees. From what I’ve seen so far, though, as long as you’re fine with no extras whatsoever, such as no checked bag, no choosing your seat, and also having to print your boarding pass yourself, then they don’t add anything to your fee. I actually am excited to have my first experience where all I can bring is one backpack; it’ll test my ability to know what I use and what I need on my travels. A bit of mind-stretching is never a bad thing. 🙂

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My Norwegian resources

Here’s the Norwegian equivalent for my Swedish resources and my Korean resources:

  • Sons of Norway – Norwegian in 5 Minutes a Month: Used from the very beginning. It teaches you useful vocabulary and starting phrases, as well as covers the Norwegian alphabet. Give it a go! =)
  • LingQ: Used to start learning words. This can be used from the very beginning! LingQ is a fantastic site that allows you to hover your cursor over words in their different language lessons and stories and see the meaning. When you feel comfortable with a word, you mark it as known and move on. This is also the tool that gives me those nifty, auto-updated language badges on the right sidebar.
  • Google translate: Used all-the-freaking-time to define single words. Here’s how it normally works for me: I see a word in LingQ or hear a word in a podcast (also coming up), and then look it up via Google translate if I know how it’s spelled. I hardly ever use Google translate for translating phrases, because if you give it more than one word, it often messes up. For best results, translate FROM your target language INTO English, as Google translate tends to have a better grasp on English than some of the other languages. It’s also decent enough to use vice-versa, but I don’t trust its English-to-Norwegian, etc. translations as much as the reverse. Remember, in the beginning, when translating something in Google translate, don’t use ambiguous sentences that can be translated in multiple different ways; try to stick to simple sentences until you can tell when Google translate is wrong, at which point you can feed it more complex things.

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Bjørgvin Marknad

This summer I went to Bjørgvin Marknad, a viking market that takes place in Bergen (Bjørgvin is the old name for Bergen) in Norway at the end of May/beginning of June every year. Despite the extremely characteristic Scandinavian fog, Sindre and I enjoyed ourselves and didn’t get too cold, even though I had been silly enough to not bring a jacket due to the past couple of days actually being warm (a shocker for early June! :O). We saw a viking ship as well as people dressed as all kinds of citizens of a Lord of the Rings kind of era: rangers, elves, warriors, and the like. Some people were also testing out the archery range with handmade bows and arrows that were sold at one of the larger stalls. Here are some pictures, though you can find more in the gallery folder):


A viking puppet show!

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Roadtrip across southwest Norway

My incredible Norwegian family was kind enough to take me on a roadtrip across some notable areas in southwestern Norway one sunny Sunday. We took quite a few ferries to visit Odda (where my Norwegian family used to live) and saw tons of waterfalls along the way (because they’re my favorite and the people here know this by now, hehe). Here are some pictures (by the way, slow Internet users, there are a decent number of them) of the gorgeous scenery we came across (you can find many more in the gallery folder); really, it speaks for itself, so I didn’t really bother with captions:

2013-05-19 10.23.10

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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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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!