Friday, 22 August 2008

Welcome meetings and stave churches!

The welcome meeting went ok this morning, all of the other exchange students seemed really nice - they were from everywhere! germany, switzerland, estonia, austria, poland, denmark - amongst many others! There is a 'welcome party' tonight at the Klubb here (Fantoft) so I'm meeting all of the other exchange students there at 9:00pm - fingers crossed it goes well! It was a little awkward at first going with the girl I spoke to yesterday, but it worked out. She seemed really nice!

Also, as I kept telling everyone before I left, I do want to get to know Norwegians too so I can try and get better at the language. To be honest I don't think I will get much better at speaking and understanding Norwegian by just living here without making Norwegian friends - everyone speaks English! I can listen to the radio and everything but I can do that at home, it's not the same as interacting with others...

...ANYWAY, I saw a poster this morning advertising a scheme called 'buddy bergen' and I have just signed up for it; You basically put a bit about yourself (name, age, course and a few interests) and it matches you up with a Bergen 'native' student - and they become your buddy, take you places, show you around, etc. I thought that was a great idea so I signed up straight away, I hope it doesn't take too long to get sorted... You HAD to put interests down though, and pick from a huge list, it will get you a better match if you have things in common but it might also really narrow it down - I wonder how many people there are in Bergen who like boxing, walking, cafes, gyms, and Languages??? lol, there must be someone! Maybe I should have picked boozing, that's all students seem to want to do... (no offence students)

The school and course structure is so weird - completely different to what I am used to; I am meeting with my personal tutor next week and we will discuss how I will plan my semester. Basically, there are loads of different courses and projects running throughout the term, and they all have limited places available (ranging from day courses to 2 weeks!) You have to apply and register online throughout the term for the different courses you are interested in, as long as it has some relevance to what you are studying. At the end of the term, you meet with your lecturer and an external teacher and discuss your work; see how well you stuck to your plan, and if you didn't then you have to defend your reasons. Then and only then they decide if you get either all the credits or none at all! It's really strange, and I'm not sure I understand it yet, but I think I am meeting my tutor next week and they will help me put a plan together...

I went to the police station after to try and register myself as being in the country (which you have to do if you're staying longer than 3 months) and after queueing for ages (how the hell do you spell queueing, is that right??!) the guy at the counter told me to fill out a form and then take it so this meeting thing next week and it will be collected. I'm not sure what he meant, so I'll just take it everywhere with me! I asked him everything in Norweian though, which I was pleased about :-)

I took a walk this afternoon to the local stav kirke (stave church) and also asked directions in Norwegian so I was all pleased with myself then too! The woman was a way in front of me though so I had to shout 'unnskyld!' at the top of my voice, she turned around really fast and looked a bit shocked... 'ja?' 'twas funny :0)

The walk was lovely and the church was beautiful, (another gorgeous warm and sunny day here - what's going on?) The church was one of the ones burnt down in the 1990's by the satanist black metaller 'the Count' from 'Burzum' (quite a famous crime, I already knew of it) he burnt down loads of stave churches and stabbed 2 people! They don't have the death penalty here, and the guy at the entrance was saying that he wished they did have it - apparantly all Norwegians want this guy shot! Then he went off the track a bit and started saying something about needing to be shot if you listened to death metal in general, lol... Anyway, it has been rebuilt, and it's gorgeous. Some parts are original, like most of the entrance gate, the cast iron door handles, a mystical stone brought from israel (that looks like a doorbell!), the jesus figure on the crucifix and the stone cross outside. I originally thought the cross was a grave, but apparantly it is a really old 'meeting stone' which was used like a church before the churches were around - people met there to worship, marry, be sentenced to death, you know - all the normal stuff :-)

The stav kirke

Inside the stav kirke

The stone cross

The original door handle

Burnt and blistered wood :-(

It was nice to go on my own and didn't bother me too much, but still I think it's better with someone to natter with! Also, I know that Hans worries about me as he says he doesn't want me to be (quote) "waffling around on my own"... I was alone, Hans - but it was in the afternoon and it was a tourist attraction - lots of folk about. I wont waffle around alone when it gets dark! promise! OH! nearly forgot sweety - I did exactly what you told me not to do today - I missed my stop and had to get off a stop later! and it's not like missing a stop in Derby - NOT AT ALL - a 15 minute walk back to my apartment! that'll teach me! got a couple of nice pics though :-)

Still really missing you, I will everyday... it was really nice to talk last night though (Hans sorted Skype for me and I also have a webcam on my laptop) so we could see and talk to each other for free - knowing we can do that when we need to makes it a little easier.

Anyway, I'm going to go and have a shower and get ready for the welcome party - I don't have any other plans for the weekend (because I don't know anyone yet!) I might check out the gym and do some laundry. Uncle Andy (ha ha) has sent me some comics to read on my laptop which I haven't looked at yet, so I'll get all that sorted at the weekend too!

Bye bye xxx (love you Hans!)
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