Category Archives: 2002 London and Norway

Summer school abroad

fjord swimming

Sunday

Apparently the amazingly perfect weather is an anomaly. Usually in summer, they say, there is always clouds or rain, and you never even see colors. This summer the beauty of the sunny days is obscuring the fact that there is a drought, and they are a little afraid that the well might dry up. Some of the other families on the island have had to drill deeper this year… they haven’t had a summer like this since the 1930s.

We take the two small girls down to the river for a swim where the fresh water collides with the salt fjord. The water is cold, but nothing a mountain boy can’t handle. You can see the different layers of water, I think the salt water is under the fresh, and they refract light differently… at least that is my theory. Dry off in the sun, and head back, finding some skogsbær and playing fetch with the dog on the way.

Saturday – Utopia for a Day

Slept like a rock, though the silence could have been deafening. Wake up at breakfast time, and sit with the family and have homemade bread and muesli with fresh yogurt and berries.

Went for a walk with the oldest daughter of Per, a child, the American, and a dog. We collect wild blåbær blueberries and munch on wild jordbær strawberries (you were right, Ingmar B, they are quite nice) and raspberries. Skip rocks in a stream and marvel at the natural beauty of the whole thing.

Played banjo for the family, and they seemed to enjoy it immensely. I promise a Centipede’s Shoestrings CD as soon as we get around to recording it.

They harvest power from waterfalls here, and you don’t have to worry about swallowing water if you go swimming, and the fish are OK to eat. As I type this it is 10:30pm the setting sun still lights the mountain on the other side of the fjord (that is right out my window). Norway has problems of course, and the utopia is somewhat propped up by oil; but at least for a day I have felt it.

Friday – Lucky Mistakes, Lucky Solutions

I hoppe on a sykkle and ride to the station to figure out which bus to take. They tell me the 4pm one, but they must have thought I wanted Hjelset, because the one to Hendset does not leave until 4:10. I learned this at 4, so I’m glad it didn’t leave at 3:50. So I get on the bus and sleep a little, but the bus is in the middle of nowhere when I am supposed to be getting off and catching a ferry. I worry a little bit, but what can I do?

So it’s the end of the line, but we are in Aure, which is not where I am supposed to be. Another passenger must have made the same mistake from the way she is stamping her foot and talking into her cell phone to her mother. “You are in Aure. Henset is here,” emotes the busdriver in response to my incredulity to the end of the line situation.

So the bus driver (bless his soul) calls a cab on the company tab for the girl and I, and we talk for a little while waiting. Turns out she works for NRK radio, and NRK is the national broadcaster in Norway of which we have learned so much. So we exchange info and make plans to meet and I am going to get a tour of the station sometime next week. Won’t Hap be proud.

Turns out the Taxi driver knows my host (small island).

Per is waiting at the ferje ferry stop, and I am late so I feel bad. I get Katrina to tell Per the story and say see you soon to her. Per and I head up the hill and we reestablish our relationship as being friend of distant cousin. Apparently another distant cousin is also staying here this week.

I am amazed at the scenery, and the stille silence of the area.

They have a typical Norwegian-simplicity designed house on the homestead, which overlooks a fjord. There are lots of family and/or farmhands around (I have not quite sorted out who is who), and there is a small evening meal before we sit around and talk until midnight or so. It still looks dusky, but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble falling asleep tonight.

Thursday

Class, then everybody buggered off to either Oslo or Stockholm. I am going to Arasvika tomorrow to visit the friend’s friends that have a farm and turn cows into salami. I am packed and ready to go for that, so I wonder around looking for something to do. I play my banjo in this little garden next to a bridge, and get some curious looks from passers-by. Banjo (aka banyo) is not too well known here,,, imagine that. I come back to Moholt student housing and hang out with two of the kids I met on Saturday. Learn two reasons Norway is not perfect: that the Christian party taxes beer like crazy and that the state healthcare sucks.

Watch Yellow Submarine with the commentary on, just for fun.

Wednesday

Had class in the morning, then set off to tour Deadline Productions, which supplies TV2 with news clips. The office is trendy, an old converted attic with sufficient newsroom bustle feel to it. We learned about the moral dilemmas that sometimes face newsmen, like making something seem bad that really isn’t, or should local industry not be exposed because it provides local jobs… And we also learned more about why America sucks.

Fine, I admit it… Norway is perfect (excepting the weather of course, and that’s a big excepting).

Go to the movies with the class, and see Badly Drawn About a Boys Will Be Boys. I think the title is somewhere in there. I’m pretty sure that I am an island as well. It was crazy seeing all those images on London (the kid even lives in Islington), and walking out of the theater I was a bit discombobulated to see Trondheim.

Tuesday

The room in which we have class is hermetically sealed, but luckily the first speaker here has set the precedent of having more breaks in each day of class. The University building is amazing… It is nicer than most malls, I think. There are huge vaulted glass ceilings that can be opened when the weather is nice, and man oh man has the weather been nice. The place seems pretty abandoned in the summer, though.

Downtown there are signs that say: “Trondheim: 997-1997” … They celebrated their millenial five years ago. Wow

Monday – Flying Machine

First day of class. The best speaker yet comes in and talks about the TV system here, specifically commercials. Take everything you know about commercialism and erase it. Aaaaah, isn’t that nice? The main premise is that it is important for the consumer to know by whom they are being addressed at any particular moment in time. So you will never see an actor ask for a Pepsi, commercials are banned completely during the news, and it is illegal to advertise to children. She asked us if there were any laws like that for American children… Ha. That’s the majority of stateside TV, am I right? And giant corporations control all of our major news outlets, so exactly who is it addressing us??? Augh… It’s that old flying machine, and we are sitting in it, pushed off the cliff, and man oh man are we flying.

Just don’t look down, OK?

Sunday – Hello Trondheim

I stayed asleep for most of the morning, then it was time to explore the town with the group. I really like the simplicity of the architecture here. It seems a little boxy, I suppose, but I bet this mode is efficient. Guys walk around with their shirts off per normal, we observe, so Mike and I capitulate and do as the Romans. Norwegians. We are strategically ignored, but that is all right… we are blending in, oh yes. Maybe.

Saturday Jeg Spiller Banjo (Yay Spiller Banyo)

So after calling those folks last night I took a little tiny nap, then woke at 4:30 to get on the bus to go to the airport. Goodbye pack-and-a half-a-day air, hello socialism and pristine beauty (this is what I have heard of Norway, at least).

So we waited in Heathrow for an hour or so, then boarded… The SAS airline people told me to get on first so that I could secure a place for my banjo. Wasn’t that nice? I was asleep before the plane took off. I woke up a few times during the flight to a ten-year-old first-time-flyer girl’s yelling about how “wicked” it was (flying). She couldn’t keep me up for long, though, and I pretty much stayed asleep until she was screaming, we were landing, and I thought we were all going to die. But we didn’t.

I looked out the window of the plane and thought that I would be happy to just start walking towards the woodsy hills out there… but I didn’t. But they looked quite nice. We caught the train at three, and headed north for six hours, to Trondheim. When we got there at nine I think the sun was still not set. I stayed up with some Norwegian students that I met (“Hey yooooou… meester guy with a guitar on his back!”) and it never seemed to get darker than dusky. They say that in Finnmark, the farthest North that you can go, the sun circles around the sky for four weeks in Summer without setting.

I am exhausted, and the comforter is amazing. The dusky sky doesn’t keep me up for long at all.

Friday – Apollonia

One more exam today, now we are home free till Scandinavia. Got my grade back from yesterday’s, its reaffirms my knowledge (of Margaret Thatcher and her influence on the film and TV industry) as being satisfactory.

Go back to the flat, and pack like a rat; till my stuff is tight, in my duff le all right.

Now its time for the school-sponsored trip to Apollonia. This rowdy Greek restaurant gives you a lovely meal and plenty of plates to break and chances to scream “oppa!” I’m not too sure about that transliteration, but it does sound like “grandpa” in Dutch. The translation is somewhat different, though… I think it means something between “party!” and “hey!” or “yay!” Anyhow, we yelled that a lot and Hap did a belly dance for us and we broke a whole lot of plates. Fun times.

I called my folks and Mysha after the oppa party, and croaked some. I guess I forgot to use my diaphragm while yelling at the restaurant.