“I’m not sure what I’ll do, but – well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I said previously that I would chronicle my upcoming exchange to Oslo, Norway on this blog, and, as that exchange has just begun, I figure it’s about time to post an update about that for a change. So here I find myself writing in my new dorm room at Sogn Studentby in Oslo, Norway, which was one giant feat to get to.
My last two days in California were filled with all of my favorite people; I had breakfast on Sunday with my close friend group, followed by seeing another friend for her birthday in the afternoon, and my closest cousins met my parents and I at the airport to say goodbye.
Now, like goodbyes, I have come to find that no matter how many times I have to condense and pack up my life, it never gets easier, which is how I found myself taking one large suitcase, one large duffel bag, a carry-on, and a purse on the flight, all of which collectively weighed about as much as I do (~160lbs). Yes, I was freaking out about what to do with it when I got to Oslo, but I was out of time and had to go.
The flight was great. It lasted about 10 hours and was in a fancy new plane with tvs and tinted windows, and I sat next to a lovely Norwegian woman and her teenage son. She gave me her card at the end of the flight, in case I need anything, which I found very endearing from a woman who warned me of how shy Norwegians can be.
Once I got off the plane, I was very confused by this country which did not ask me why I am here at customs. Nothing. I didn’t even have to fill out a customs declaration card. All I had to do was walk up to a lady in a booth, hand her my passport, and walk away when she stamped it. I don’t even get off that easy entering the US from Canada, and I’m American.
After getting my luggage, all I knew of getting to where I needed to pick up my keys was that a taxi would cost $175, and I had poorly written down instructions taking a shuttle (turned out to be a train) and the subway, so I went with that. With my heavy luggage. There were multiple occasions of getting lost and my luggage falling down an escalator, and by the time I got on the subway one of the wheels on my new big suitcase had melted somewhat, and the handlebars were breaking from the weight of the duffel I had strapped to it.
Special thanks to the family in central station who helped me pick up my bag after it fell, to the girl in central station who helped me when my suitcase fell down an escalator towards a man, to the man who was very nice to see me lost on campus and make sure I had directions to where I needed to go, to the older man who brought his cart to me to wheel my luggage uphill since he saw me struggle, to the girl who assured me one man was in the housing office even though it was after hours, and waited until he came out before leaving me, and, when I had gotten my keys and directions to my dorm, but all of my heaviest luggage had broken and it took me half an hour to walk half a mile with it, the girl and two men who stopped and called a cab for me, since I don’t have a Norwegian phone yet, and waited until the cab arrived. Thank you all so incredibly much. You are the reason I didn’t stop and give up.
That cab brought me to my current place, where I slept for about 13 hours before taking a stroll to discover the place. I have to say, despite all of the struggling, the muggy weather right now, and the intimidating Norwegian I hear everywhere, my dorm is perfectly charming, and Oslo is beautiful. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my exchange has in store for me.