April 24, 2009

Jeg savner Norge

Ever since the day I'd left for college I would get homesick. Then when I moved to Norway I had a few moments - read months - of terminal homesickness. If anyone has ever been lived abroad you will probably understand. Lately I've been getting homesick for Norway, what I call my 2nd country and home. Jeg savner Norge veldig, veldig masse. This little land of fjords has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because it was a much simpler time. My schedule was:
  • Wake up
  • Clean the house
  • Get out (to thaw) whatever I was cooking for dinner that night
  • Watch the tele or go to my Eastern Religion class at the University of Oslo or hang out with one of my fellow au pair friends
  • Pick up Ingeborg from school
  • Make Erlend and Ingeborg a snack
  • Take Ingeborg to violen lessons and sometimes Erlend to guitar lessons
  • Make dinner
  • Then go out and have fun at the clubs or at another au pair's house or go to my Norwegian language class or go on an adventure
  • The weekends were totally for ME

I only had to work 5 hours max during the day and didn't have to worry about rent or utilities or groceries. Life was good and to this day my year in Norway has been the best. I'm very thankful and proud of that time. It was fabulous (said in a Tim Gunn voice).

Anyway that is the past and I have moved on from it but every now and then I get homesick and every now and then I long for Norway. So here are some photos to share of my year overseas. There are some many more but these are the ones I chose:

A view from the farmhouse in central Norway; near Trondheim. Hans Christansen are you out there?

Erlend in front of the farmhouse. I loved coming to the farmhouse, it was peaceful and surrounded by nothing but nature. You could hear sheep and their bells in the morning. Pave your own cross country ski path. Walk on the road and not worry about getting hit by a car. If one could picture the world before the Industrial Age, this place would be the perfect image. The town was hardly a town. It was absolutely perfect and my favorite hiding place when I got tired of the city life in Oslo. I just felt so nurtured in this house.
My favorite place in the farmhouse. The books that I bought and received for gifts still reside there. Cool thing is that there are books from the 1800's read by royalty in the farmhouse. My host mother's family would rent out rooms to people and the royal family when they went fishing. I can still smell the books.

I was fortunate enough to have an old high school/soccer friend, Medusa, visit. This is us sitting on the sidelines of the national Norwegian soccer stadium. VG is a norwegian newspaper, the most circulated in the country. I remember on the grocery store runs I would pick up a heap load of periodicals for my host mother and VG and Aftenposten were her main reads.
Medusa striking a pose with one of the many statues at Vigelandsparken. During the spring and summer this park, aka Frognerparken, people frequent to picnic and laze around in the sun. This is where I had my 23rd birthday party picnic. Anyway I was so happy to have an old friend to visit and show around, I felt very special. This is my Brasilian friend Thalita and me on a ferry ride to one of the islands in the Oslo bay area. She and I were inseparable when I first arrived to Norway. We met during my first week at an au pair meeting in a nearby town's library. I went back the next week to see if I could meet any other au pairs. They were all Swedish and had their click and wanted nothing to do with an American girl. My first and last time being rejected for being an American. This was a bit funny after I made a few amazing Swedish friends; they're so sweet and very fun to hang out with. Anyway, Thalita and I went out every weekend and would wait for the late night bus to take us home from the city. Her bus always came before mine and I always had to wait 30-45 minutes longer but I was very thankful that I could go out, have fun, and not worry about having to drive. Anysnooze, this was a really great day, we went to Vigelandsparken and had our own little photo shoot with her friend, Daniella and Patricia, then went on this ferry ride.
This is still one of my favorite days to date. It was a beautiful day, the snow was melting away which is usually an ugly site but it was majestic, the sun was out so it was the perfect amount of warm and cold. The children and I spontaneously decided to go outside, walk around and just play; get dirty. It was so much fun photographing them. They were so happy to be outside and to be photographed. I might get a chance to see them this summer. Fingers crossed! I miss them dearly.

During my time in Norway my best friend came to London to visit her brother who was studying at the LSE before her trip to South Africa. So of course I hopped on the next jet and spent a week with my bestie. It was a week of spontaneity, dancing, and cultural enrichment. This is us standing next to one of the well-known British guards. Right before the photo was taken my bestie had just asked the guard if he was tickelish. I was starting to laugh when our own guide/friend Sol said, "Cheese!" You can't tell but I almost bursted into chuckles.

So on the first day that we arrived to London my Bestie, who we'll call Bestie, asked me what I thought of Paris. My initial answer was, "They can keep it, I prefer Barcelona." Her response was, " Well I was thinking we could go to Paris tomorrow. A day in Paris, fun. But we don't have to go if you don't want to." Umm...a chance to see another Europen city? Heck yes! Now I firmly believe that one cannot fall in love at first sight but I definitely did with Paris. Paris je t'aime! I soon became obsessed or passionate about fashion and all things Paris. Everything was so beautiful, granted we had to wake up at the crack of dawn, take a 4 hour total train ride (to and fro) cram a lot things in one day, say a quick hello to her brother when we got back to London, and then have to wake up early again the next day but it was all worth it. The next time I go to Paris is when I'm with the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. I want to share the beauty of Paris with him and just him...just for the next time.

This is why we had to wake up early the next day after our trip to Paris. We took a bus tour around London we saw the changing of the guards, Big Ben, cruised on the Thames and the last destination was The Globe. If I was going to see anything in The Big Smoke it was going to be Shakespeare's Globe. Where his plays were performed. Sure it's had a little makeover and moved but it's there and he.....well I just felt at home. Though it was closed that day so that's as close as I could get but I was still satisfied.
This is my Ozzie friend Sonia and me after a day of lying under the sun at Frognerparken. We just finished getting dolled up for a night out to be filled with dancing and meeting random people of many different languages. I'm very thankful to say that she will be visiting this summer...actually I'm so excited that I could explode into a milllion little pieces. We would buy fruit and try to make smoothies which would instead turn out to be sorbet, sit in carparks and eat banans and strawberries while trying to figure out what we'll do next, but our main thing was strawberries and dark chocolate. YUM. Fond memories of tapas for her birthday, spontaneous camping trips, and other fun random adventures. "Slow down you're walking like soldiers!" she yelled after a night of music (concert on the waterfront), dancing, and having to or foolishly deciding to walk from Oslo to our friend Gesa's house outside of the city. This walk took about 3 hours perhaps due to Sonia's fatigue and frusturation with Gesa and I for walking to fast. Cheeky girl.This is another great day. The 3 of us, Sonia, me, & Gesa decided to have a mini picnic and walk around Oslo. We took a heap load of photos that day with us posing under a little canopy type thing that had lights all over it, to pretending that we were walking on water, and doing more poses in front of random trailers parked on the street.

Gesa & Sonia on the same day as above. Aren't they lovely?
This is pretty much the group. The photo was taken on Lubomira's, she's 3rd one from the right, last day our friend from Czech Republic at one of our hang outs......TGI Friday's. . I don't think I've had so much time around so much estrogen since then. Let's see Sonia, me, Franny, Gesa, Lubomira, Elena, and Jana. We've got Australia, U.S., England, 3 from Germany, and Czech Republic. We were quite the little group. Oh and I will not ever go to another TGI Friday's. I was mortified to be at an American establishment in a foreign country. I felt so....mainstream.

This was my fellow expat, Kiera, she is still an expatriate. Where in the world is Kiera now? We had plans to take over Vogue; she being the Editor-in-Chief, since she was the writer and me the Creative Director, since I took the photos. These days I can't stand Vogue but I still love to shoot so who knows where life will take me. Anyway, this photo was taken on one of my last days in Norway. We went to a concert on the waterfront where the music lasted all night and it never got dark. Remember the movie "Insomnia"? Yep, the light doesn't fade during the summers in Norway just like in Alaska. B-U-T-FUL.

This photo was taken my last day in Norway. The children and I, again spontaneously, decided to go out and have time just for the 3 of us. I was sad to be leaving them but it didn't really feel like I was. It's always surreal when leaving a place you grow to love and be comfortable in. It was another beautiful day. Just us. Walking around a park and hanging out at the beach. That night when I went out with my friend Sonia the children had a fit which made it quite difficult to leave the house. It was shocking yet sweet to see how much they were going to miss me. On my flight back to the States the next day we cried all the way to the airport. We paused while we were in public, waiting for my flight but I was a wreck on the plane from Oslo to London and from London to Seattle. The flight attendant on the Oslo to London flight asked me if I was afraid of flying or leaving someone I love. The words were barely comprehensible but she somehow understood that I was leaving "a loved one." Many loved ones. The children and their parents, my friends, and Norway.

That's my time in Norge; the short version. Best year of my life but I'm thinking Aidan's first year is going to be the most enlightening.

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