Saturday, 23 August 2008

Tough day - but getting better

I am definately feeling better than I was earlier, but still a bit shaky - thanks especially to Andy, Hannah, Rob and of course Hans for all doing their bit to cheer me up!

Andy sent me an email that was very thoughtful and right on the button with lot of the points he made, Rob reminded me that people back home want me to do as well as I can, and poor Hannah has had me waffling at her on msn just about all day! Thanks guys!!!

Hans came home from training, read my blog post and gave me a call on Skype. Then being his usual sweet and calming self, he proceeded to cheer me up! He reminded me that I would "kick myself up the arse forever" if I gave in now, without even starting my course, and that of course it feels like forever because I am at the wrong end of it. He said if I still felt this bad after a few weeks, then we could talk again about coming home, but I know he beleives in me and knows I'll work really hard and hopefully time will start to pass more quickly. I made a calendar type thing, so I can cross off the days until until I finish here and see him again! I have put it up by my bed and I'll cross off a day every night :-) It might seem something small but it made me feel a little better. After today, 118 days to go.

My homemade calendar above my bed!

I also offered to do some free graphci design for a couple of friends who have started their own business;


(There you go mate, extra advertising!) I thought it would help to keep me busy anyway, and my mind occupied , give me something to focus on until I settle into a routine. Also, it's always nice to help out friends!

The girl I met yesterday messaged me on MSN earlier, we chatted a bit more and weather permitting we will meet tomorrow afternoon in town and take a walk up to the 'Fløibanen' which is just a place at the top of one of the mountains surrounding Bergen, and when you get there you get AMAZING views apparantly. Apparantly there are also alot of trails and tracks leading up to it and it's quite a good walk, so hopefully we can go together (I'll take my camera) and then afterwards we can grab something to eat. I have a bad feeling she'll cancel on me, but maybe not - maybe I'm still being paranoid and feeling sorry for myself!

Apart from that I haven't done much else today - just spent the afternoon and evening pulling myself out of the gutter (where I wasfeeling so miserable)

I was so excited about this trip a few weeks ago - excited and nervous, when will I start enjoying it???



I'm panicking a bit right now.

I don't know if I can do this for 4 months - I KNOW people keep saying it's not a long time, I'm sick of hearing that to be honest, but I really miss Hans. It really does feel like there is somethng missing, i can't settle. It IS a long time to be apart from someone you live with and spend so much time with, if you don't think it is just try it >:-[

I have been wondering how hard it would be to just come home. I mean, I haven't registered for anything on the course yet. The place is beautiful, and they school looks great, it feels like everything is going on behind thick glass and i can see it but not be a part of it. I would be loving this so much if Hans was here, just how it was earlier in the week. I feel I have alot to lose either way. If I stay I face being miserable and 4 months feeling like 400 years, and if I go back I have wasted time and money, and I might never forgive myself - I have never given up on anything before.

I don't know what to do.

The welcome party at Klubb Fantoft...

Well, this is my fist weekend of not having much in particular to do... if I was home I would be watching tv with a coffee right now, and getting ready to go to Hans' MMA class.

The party was ok ish last night, I got there at 10:30pm and most people had been drinking since 9:00pm, so people were pretty hammered. Only about 4 other exchange students showed up, and they were all on the same course and had spent to day together, and after a short while all dissapeared to one of their rooms as the klubb got packed... they asked me if I wanted to go but I took the number and said I might go later, I really don't fancy sitting in someones room when I am supposed to be meeting people!

Anyway, I got talking to a local girl, her name was Ida. We got talking and had a drink and then she introduced me to some other Norwegians, so at least I know a couple of people now. The only problem was everyone was drunk and you know how it is trying to have conversations with drunk people... either that or everyone around here is just a bit odd. Who knows? Anyway, we got talking about training and stuff and she asked me how i kept so svelte (i liked that bit!) and i told her about martial arts, etc etc. I have not decided yet wether I am going to join the gym, or the thai boxing gym, I can't do both it'll be too expensive - so I invited her to come and watch a thai boxing class with me next Tuesday and if it looks good, maybe we'll both give it a go.

So, anyway she added me to msn last night and I emailed her today to see if she was still up for it (as the things you want to do when sober are totally different to the the things you want to do when hammered!) so we'll just see what happens.

She introduced me to 2 of her friends; one was a guy from her course (can't remember his name) and I kind of stayed away from him, I got a bad impression of him and he came across as a bit of an idiot, and the other was this other guy called Atle, who was really nice but odd as well. (everyone is so odd here) But he comes from this tiny island in the far north of Norway so I doubt he has had much social contact before, so i'll let him off for being a bit strange... all he talked about to me was they sky... oh we did have a good conversation about dialects...

After I had a glass of wine (which was only £3.50 - the cheapest have seen by far!) I relaxed a bit, and I listed to Ida and her friend talking and picked up most of what they were saying, which surprised me - and surprised Ida when I repeated the conversation. Maybe it's like Hans says, I just need to relax and listen - not focus too hard and get all worked up by trying to understand every single little word... we'll see. I am starting to doubt that 4 months here will make much of a difference at all.

I also saw the guy I originally shared a room with, so it was good to say hi again, but I had to convince him he didn't scare me off and that I just wanted a single apartment! I think he understands really why I didn't want to share a room with a guy!

Anyway, it's only 11:00 am and just about everyone will be in bed with hangovers. I am going to go to the laundry and figure it out, and I will take my Norwegain course with me!

Bye for now


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!)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Pictures of my apartment (now I have cleaned it!)

This is what I look at when I'm working - pictures of my Hans, cards, other photos;
Hans put them up for me too - thank you angel!!!

One of the views from outside my window

Kitchen - really cosy now I cleaned it!!!

Work area!

Random chairs, etc...

My bed, it was much nicer when Hans snuggled up in it with me though :-(

There are a few more on facebook.


Keeping busy

Last night was ok... well actually bits of it were ok, most of it was horrible! I miss Hans so much, but I'll get by. Right now I just want to come home, but I'll stick at it. I would really dissapoint myself if I didn't - plus Hans bought me loads of stuff for my room so it would be a waste of money!

I felt poorly last night, I think it was just the stress (my gums are all sore today!!!) so I went to bed - pretty late - and was up at 7:00 (well, 6:00 to you guys!) cleaning the fridge out - it's like new now! So I just went to the shop, (my first shop alone) to by some stuff to put in it (and more milk as the milk from yesterday went off!) So I have been up 3 hours and just drinking my first coffee now!

I know it sounds pathetic, but the shop made me sad again - because I was just in there yesterday with Hans and he was giving me hints and tips and telling me what everything was... I wish he was here :-( oh well, guess I have to snap out of it. It's weird because I'm not nervous, being in a new place doesn't bother and the city is beautiful, and being on my own isn't a problem, I can keep myself occupied and find things to do - it literally is just missing Hans. He is my other half, and it really feels like something is missing

Oh well, like Hans said yesterday - this will be so good for us. I think we'll miss each other so much and Chrsitmas will just be amazing! I think he is going to try and visit me at least once, but I know it'll be difficult so I'm not going to get my hopes up over it. We'll see.

I found the laundry earlier so later will try my luck at a wash, just bought all of the detergent stuff. I saw a girl in the shop with her dad that I had seen before - I think she moved in the day after us - we saw her in reception and we overheard her dad speaking and he was English, Hans suggested if I see her again I try and talk to her so at least I know one person. So when I saw her in the shop that's what I did! I said hi, and we had a little chat and it turns out she is going to the same art school as me (to do fine art though, not graphic design) so I suggested we meet tomorrow at reception and go to the welcome meeting together. So that'll be a bit less scary for both of us I think! I'm jealous though, her dad is staying with her until Monday - wish Hans was :-( I'm proud of myself for just walking up to someone, but it's what I'll need to do to to make friends. Maybe she just thought I was a desperate weirdo!!!

Anyway, thanks to Ruth and Jo for keeping me talking on msn last night and really taking my mind off things, and to Hannah and Andy for your kind words, and also to everyone who has emailed me! I really needed to not think about stuff last night and it really helped. I guess this blog helps too in a way...

Bye for now!


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Arriving and Settlng in Bergen - the first few days

Well, to carry on from the post before my last really sad one!

After we crashed out the first day we arrived, we woke up feeling knackered and with really bad headaches. Both of us were a little uneasy, as we came to realise over night that as well as sharing with a bloke, he also knew the 2 guys in the room opposite and they left the front door open all the time - never locked. They were back and forth between rooms and basically it was like sharing a small flat with 3 guys!

I don't think either of us were comfortable with it; Hans didn't like the idea of me living with 3 guys, particularly as they kept the doors unlocked which was a security hazard, and I didn't feel comfortable sharing a shower with them to be honest. When we went down to the reception to get my internet account sorted, I mentioned it to the receptionist and she was really concerned and really helpful and moved me to a different room - so now I have a single person apartment all to myself! Admittedly, I am going to have to do a bit more cleaning right off the bat - especially in the kitchen. Whoever was here before obviously did nothing but fry stuff, there are little grease blobs everywhere and the kitchen smells really stale. I have been armed with plenty cleaning materials so I shall probably have fun cleaning it. The flat itself is more compact, but cosier - there is more storage and there is alot of wood around which I like - the last room was new and really clinical. As soon as I find my camera charger I'll take some pics and post them...

We went into town (sentrum) after we had sorted the room, I felt a bit sick (and nearly passed out on the bus) as we hadn't really eaten properly the whole day before, and had been running around like mad all morning on an empty stomach too. We got into the town and sat and shared a sandwich on the beautiful park in the centre of the centre! Bergen is basically nestled around a port (which flows in to a fjord) and is completely surrounded by mountains (which Hans explained is why it is such a rainy city)

The mountain view from the park...

After we ate, we took a really lovely walk up to the port, checking out different shops as we went as there were still quite a few bits I needed to buy. Hans suggested we go to the Akvariet (the aquarium) so we started making our way there. The weather every day so far has been amazing - really sunny and warm which apparantly is very lucky for Bergen!

Hans by the port...

Anyway we had a really nice time at the aquarium, they had loads of crocodiles (some huge!) and we watched a funny little show with the sealions while we had coffee and ice cream :-)

Then we took a slow walk back, picked up some bits for the room and started to make our way back to the hostel. (Hans found an 'Outlander' shop - like Games Workshop / Forbidden planet, so got a bit sidetracked and bought some minatures!) The we decided while we were in the centre that we would get food in town - we went to TGI Fridays (I have never been before) yummy burgers!

We got back and Hans set up my internet and webcam and everything, and I set to work on the hob and surrounding area. It was baked on more than I thought so it took me AGES of scrubbing and washing :-( I forgot to buy gloves aswell so my nails pretty much fell off! Had to cut off what was left of them anyway. Hans saw how stressed I was getting with it, and took it upon himself to blitz the shower and toilet and the kitchen floor - it was such a help! Thank you angel!!!

That was pretty much it for that day - we were tired again so just went to sleep.

Hans' last day :-(
Today was Hans' last day here. I couldn't get it off my mind, and got upset whenever I thought about it - I couldn't talk about it to Hans!

We did necessary bits and bobs around the student place, found my post box, bought more cleaning stuff - then we went into town again pretty early. As mentioned in my sad post Hans brought his luggage along with him as he planned to make sure I was sorted in town and then get a taxi to the airport. Anyway, I have told the story before, we ended up coming back here, but we managed to get a few more bits sorted in town and had another nice coffee! Oh, and a nice sandwich at the park again! We tried to register me at the police station but it was only open til 1:00 and we got there a bit after, so i will need to go there later in the week - you need to register if you're staying in the country more than 3 months and get an ID number and everything.

Anyway, you know what happens next - we came back and Hans had to go. I went into it enough earlier I can't go into it again. I was really upset earlier - I am better than I was but I feel exhausted from the strain of it. Really shaky.

I have finished unpacking so now waiting to hear from Hans again before I go to bed, he texted me when he got off the plane and when he got on the train to Derby. So I know he's ok!

I miss you so much sweety!!!



I will update properly later, I really can't now...

Hans just left about 20 minutes ago, it's killing me and I can't stop crying. I love him so much and I miss him like crazy. He is the biggest part of my life, we do everything together and we are both the happiest we have ever been just being next to each other. This is so hard! :-(

I don't know why I'm doing this right now, it feels like a waste of time. It feels stupid and I just want to be with him, and I want to be going home so much. I am so angry at myself for ever thinking this was a good idea, It's been great to have Hans with me, we got buses together and got to know the town so at least I am not scared to go into the city alone now, and I have some wonderful memories of things we did here. But I feel so lonely, I don't know a single person yet, and I miss Hans - I don't think I've ever been so sad. So many things here are reminding me of him - in a good way but still it's so so sad - he has been amazing, doing so much over the last few days to make sure I am comfortable and ok - even down to buying me little plants to make my room cosier and buying me huge bags of pasta so I don't starve. I feel bad in a way because he is spoiling me but I know it makes him feel better too, he cares for me so much. I'm so lucky.

I didn't go to the airport with him in the end, I think both of us realised the goodbye would be too hard. We went into town earlier and Hans was going to get a taxi to the airport from there, but I was getting so upset, I knew I would make an idiot of myself in the street. I was worrying about it alot so we came back here. Poor Hans carried his luggage around town for hours for no reason :-(

I'm not going to do anythig today, I will stay in my room and unpack and clean and try and keep busy. I don't want to go out. If I feel up to it in a couple of hours I will write my blog properly about the last couple of days, because they have been wonderful. It might upset me, but at the same time I don't want to forget anything.

Hans, I love you so much. Thank you for being the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm sorry I have gone away. I'm sure it was for all good reasons, but I am struggling to remember them right now. I really appreciate so much everything you have done the last few days, please please please set up your webcam fast so I can see you again! :-( :-( :-(

I have to go now, I can't see the screen :-(

All my love forever angel eyes


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sunday & Monday - 17th & 18th August - Kirkenær and Bergen!!!

Well I didn’t manage to write at all for the last couple of days - I haven’t studied Norwegian for a few days either, just been so busy!

Sunday was nice - the day itself was quite slow, but I didn’t mind - it was our last day in Kirkenær and I wanted it to last for ages. I just did some washing up for Hans mum, and Hans sorted some old comics of his in the barn, then helped his mum to mow the grass - I was going to say lawn but that doesn’t do it justice - it’s more like a small field! It took about 3 hours I think! That night we stopped off to say goodbye to Hans’ Aunt Britt, which was brief, and then went on our way to Lill & Finns for tacos (nom nom nom) made with moose!! We sat and watched some Olympics, had some coffee and cakes and then went on our way - it was a nice goodbye though, they all wished me luck and a good journey, and made me promise to write! Hans mum is going to visit me at some point in September, and possibly his Aunt Britt if she can make it. Then we got home and had to pack, we needed to get up at 5:30 the following morning!

Monday was a long day - we got up at 5:30 and left the house at 6:15, and Hans mum drove us to Kongsvinger. It was pretty uneventful, and we caught the plane to Bergen on time. It was sad and really scary, and I wished so much that I was on the plane going home with Hans - I had really begun to miss my bed at home, and got pretty scared on the plane. It was only a 40 minute flight, and as we got closer to Bergen the views were amazing, suddenly I could see so much white out of the window, and I realised it was the tops of mountains covered in snow, at the same time it was sunny and a really clear day and it looked so beautiful. We started to descend and then the mountains and fjords became clearer, and I could see all of the little towns nestled in the valleys, then the towns got bigger and bigger until I realised we were over the city of Bergen.

We landed and got a taxi from the airport to Fantoft - which is the place I am staying. I was still scared though, but there is no denying that it is astoundingly beautiful here. It took us a while to get seen and get to my room; they had no spaces left for me to share with any girls, so I am sharing a kitchen and bathroom with an English guy! My room is a decent size, with a single bed, desk and cupboards and it’s very clean. I have not really met my ‘room mate’ properly yet so I can’t say much about him - when we first came to the room no-one was here and there were loads of pots in the kitchen and my heart sank a bit - as most people who know me know I am a bit of a tidy freak and like to have a clean house, and I think he must eat a lot of chips as the kitchen stinks of oil! We then caught the bus and went to look around Bergen (and when we did come back later he had washed up!)

Bergen was beautiful, the main centre (sentrum) is only 10 minutes by bus. We had a walk around, and Hans bought me some bedding for my room (cleverly picking colours that matched the curtains and walls in here - but it was an accident I think!) we walked around for a bit more and then went for some pizza, which was delicious, and then came back again. There is a supermarket here so we picked up some snacks (and air freshener!) and came back.

We were both exhausted and had headaches, which we both still have today, so we came home, unpacked a bit, and then lay down on the bed together and listened to some Eddie Izzard on my laptop - we both eventually drifted off to sleep and here we are - today!

Tuesday 19th August 2008

It’s almost 10:00. We are going into Bergen again shortly, I have a few more things I need to buy, and I am going to take my camera so I can get some photos, it’s really beautiful. Hans is leaving tomorrow night, and I can barely even think about it, so I want to spend as much time with him as possible. It’s really sad for both of us I think, he feels like he looks after me, particularly when I stress out or panic over things - and he really does, it seems like he is the only one who makes me feel better and knows me completely, and he feels bad that I’ll be on my own. I have told him that I will be ok, I will be! I tried to explain to him that I don’t feel like I had a lot of choice with this exchange trip - it feels like it’s something I am meant to do - just the next part of my life. He understands I think. I will miss him so much, but just because we are not together doesn’t mean that we’ll be completely apart. I will miss him and he will miss me, but it’s 4 months now and hopefully it’ll go faster then we both think and when we see each other at Christmas it’ll be amazing.

I really miss my hamsters too! And I miss everybody back in England already - keep in touch!


Saturday 16th August 2008 - Kirkenær

Wow I really waffled yesterday!

We had a really lovely day today! We got our main Christmas present from Hans mum (our present from last year!) It was for a ‘badelunsj’ for 2 at a really nice health centre place. I have been to the area before, it’s called Finnskogen, and the Health Centre was at Finnskogtoppen (basically at the top of this mountain overlooking the lake - the views were amazing) The ‘badelunsj’ itself consisted of Hans and I going to this really lovely wooden building at the top of the mountain, and when we got there we had access all morning to a really lovely swimming pool overlooking the views of the lake and trees, a Jacuzzi, and a sauna. It really was amazing though unfortunately I couldn’t get photos of the pool room - we swam for about half an hour (and mesed about a bit with some underwater sparring!) then we sat in the Jacuzzi for 10 minutes (I had never been in one before - I loved it, but I had no idea the bubbles were so fast!!!) Then we went back into the pool again, swam for a bit more, did some standing arm-bars (!?) and back-flips in the water, then went in the Jacuzzi again for one last time before we went to the changing rooms - there was also a little walkway in the pool room, you walked through one side of freezing, ice cold water that was thigh high, and then back the other side through really hot water! It’s really good for your circulation apparently! So that was the ‘bade’ part finished!

Finnskogtoppen Helsetun...

After we had finished in the pool room, spending about an hour and a half in there, we went back to the changing room - this is where the sauna was. We had a healthy lunch (the lunsj part) waiting for us, so as always after swimming we were really hungry, and it was really nice to to stall a little bit as we had something to look forward to - pleasure delaying! I tried the Sauna, but as with the Jacuzzi I have never been in one before - and as it was in the changing room I was alone and it took me a while to figure out how to use it! I finally got it working, and stayed in there for a while. It was ok, I don’t like being hot so it wasn’t really my thing… but again I took advantage as it’s the first time I had been in one, and I know it’s supposed to be good for you.

Then we met up and went to our ‘healthy lunch’ which was lovely. A really nice selection of food, including chilli, fish, loads of vegetables and potatoes - and free tea and coffee too! It was so nice and relaxing!

After the lunch, we went for a walk around the building and to take a closer look at the amazing views - we managed to get a few nice pictures too!

One of the amazing views from the Spa...

Hans got a nice pic of us...

Then Inger picked us up again, and on the was home we stopped off at a really quiet spot by the lake. She had brought some coffee and biscuits with her so we just sat in the peace and quiet, and Hans tried to teach me to skim stones but I couldn’t manage it! I think one of the things I love about this place is that it’s not just me getting all excited about the views and the outdoors in general - everybody here loves it too - they go walking and bathing and are generally so proud of their land.

Where we sat and had coffee at the lake...

Later was just relaxing, we got back home and sat down for a while, then Hans and I went to his uncles to walk the dog, Fia, as they were all at a party. Fia really didn’t want to walk though, she was really dawdling and lying down in the road - she was really funny! It was really warm, and so quiet - we bought ice cream on the way back! So now we are just chilling out on the sofa, we have eaten loads of spaghetti Bolognese and ice cream, and I have just brewed a pot of coffee… I am trying my hardest to relax, and have a great time tomorrow which is our last day in Kirkenær, and not think about Bergen at all!


Friday 15th August - Kirkenær

My favourite picture from a walk we went on today...

More dreams last night! I am not going into them though as the last one was bizarre enough, but I didn’t sleep so well and now feel tired!

Yesterday was again a nice relaxing day - the weather was on and off so we didn’t go for a walk, but I think we will this afternoon. I did manage to get a great picture yesterday though; it started to rain pretty heavily, and at the same time it was really sunny so I took my camera outside in the hope of seeing a rainbow - I did see one, and after a second realised that it was right in front of me and in Inger’s garden!

Rainbow in the garden...

We went to visit Han’s aunt and uncle that evening - it was his uncles birthday celebration (although it wasn’t his birthday until today) It was really nice and we ate loads of homemade cakes and drank a lot of coffee! It was really nice to see them all again, but by the end of the evening I felt so fed up with trying to understand everything! Hans said that even he struggles with understanding everything they say, as it is in a strong dialect, and there are lots of names we wont know too, whatever the reason though I still felt really disillusioned by the time we got back.

I understand it will take time, but it’s making me look forward to Bergen even less - I wont be able to understand much right off the bat, which will be difficult in my accommodation and out and about in general - but it will be a nightmare in the classes at university! It made me feel physically tired out trying to understand everything that was said to me, and as the evening wore on it seemed to get harder and harder until it was just a blur of words. That was last night…

Today I woke up, not as refreshed as I would hope because of my stupid dreams, and apart from one misunderstanding (that could have been bad!) things have been a little better;
I was chatting in Norwegian with Hans’ mum earlier, and we were on the subject of weight - I (tried) to say that I had noticed that both she and her sister, Britt, had both lost weight. I thought her reaction was a little strange, she kind of stared at me and then said that when you get older it is harder to lose weight, and it just wont shift… later in the car, we were on the same subject and I mentioned it again, and it turned out she thought I had said both her and her sister looked a little heavier! I was mortified! I said ‘no, I would never say that to anyone!’ I also said I was glad we cleared it up!!! We might have fallen out if we hadn’t mentioned it again - I wonder if there are other really insulting things I have said to anyone? I remember last time we were here, Hans mum had cooked us a meal and I said the food was ’dårlig’ instead of ‘deilig’ - and basically I had said the food was really bad instead of delicious! I think I will end up getting beaten up in Bergen, especially (as Hans says) if I am walking around saying ‘the food is crap and you’re all fat!’

Anyway, apart from that I felt a bit better today and things seemed a little easier - I don’t know if it is simply that I am rested, but I think maybe that being immersed in a language and trying to learn it is the same as building your muscles in the gym; it’s tough and it doesn’t take long before you’re tired and you feel like you can’t do anymore, and all around you are people who have been doing it for ages and are really good at it. Then you go to bed and all you get for your efforts at first is aches and pains and you wonder if there is any point! Then you rest, and when you’re rested you go back to the gym and all of sudden it’s just that tiny bit easier, you can lift a little more or for a little longer and you realise that you are improving. That in itself is stressful as you want to be immediately huge and muscle bound like Arnie, but instead you look more like the ‘Mr Muscle’ advert man, or Willy the Wimp…

Remember Willy the Wimp, anyone? Poor, poor monkey… but he got his revenge in the end!

But it takes time and effort, and the more you put in the more you can get out - the same as getting fit I guess. I wish you could get language steroids… I would take them. I could go on and on with the metaphors, but luckily for whoever is reading this I wont!

Waffle finished for now


Thursday 14th August - Kirkenær

It was pretty uneventful yesterday. Like I said, it was just nice and relaxing - didn’t really do much. I discovered Mahjong on my laptop so that kept me quite for the morning.

Inger came back from work, we had tea and then all watched TV - CSI Miami! I’ve never see it before but it’s actually pretty cool! I wanted to go for a walk, but though the weather was amazing it was too unpredictable to risk it. You can see for miles around and in one direction it would be sunny, in another raining heavily with thunder rolling and then where the 2 met in the middle there were rainbows, it was great! I wouldn’t have minded going for a walk too much anyway, but a) I think I would have been alone and b) I would have gotten pretty wet and dirty!

Hans’ mum was making a coffee later on and called us to come and look - about 10 meters from the kitchen window there was a young deer walking around, really tentatively. Inger said she sees them often - a mother with 2 young, and they are really scared. It was nice to see one so close, just wandering around!

The only other thing notable about yesterday - well, last night actually - was my dreams! All night it seemed like I was dreaming of moving into my student accommodation! I can’t really remember much now, but the gist was that it wasn’t actually Bergen I was moving too, it was a weird hybrid of Sheffield and London (2 of my brothers live in Sheffield and London is where I stayed in the WORST EVER hostel and I think my biggest fear is going to live somewhere like that!) Anyway, the room in this big awful building I went too was so rundown and horrible, and I had to share the kitchen with 8 men! I was whinging about this and one of the guys took offence and said I was being judgemental (I accused them of never cleaning up) so I had to leave as they now didn’t want me there either. I went to see this weird women and told her I couldn’t study in these conditions and she took me to this place that would cost me an extra £50 a month, but I would live there alone and it was really cosy so I didn’t mind. The other problem was that it was an hour and a half away from the uni, but my brother Ryan was there drinking in the bar and said he would show me the best way to go (?!) We agreed a contract and then I went to get my things, and my friend Hannah came to help me move in. When I got back there the woman had moved me to a different room and it was nearly as run down as the previous place, but now I had signed a contract and couldn’t leave! Aaaarrrrggghhhh!

Ok it doesn’t sound that bad now, but the dream was really uncomfortable at the time….

… ok … I’m going to go now.


Wednesday 13th August 2008 - Kirkenær

Well I just finished my breakfast and I’m typing up the notes I wrote in bed last night as I didn’t have my laptop with me. I couldn’t write much detail last night, as Hans was laughing at me (he put a sour sweet in my mouth right after I had brushed my teeth - without telling me it was sour - and then sat back and watched me pull all kinds of faces!) So anyway, I will expand on the bullet points I wrote to myself…

It’s so quiet and peaceful here now that I thought I would get up to date with my blog daily (so I don’t have too much to write when I finally get internet access). Hans’ mum, Inger, is at work and Hans is reading in bed - I think! He could also have fallen asleep again, possibly. I am sitting by the kitchen table with a lovely cup of coffee and a some bread and cold meat, cheese and some really juicy-sweet home grown cherry tomatoes. When I got up it was quite cloudy outside, though still warm, but by the time I had made the coffee the clouds had parted and the sun came out. I tried to eat my breakfast on the little porch outside, as it’s so lovely and warm, but possibly the worlds most aggressive wasp decided he also wanted my breakfast and was prepared to fight me for it, so I gave up and came back inside. I will venture outside again shortly, as soon as I have no food with me! (Hans just came down and I told him about the wasp - he thinks it was probably a racist attack and the wasp was saying ‘go home foreigner!’) Hope not!!!

The porch where I tried to eat breakfast...

The lovely view from the balcony...

I just realise my ‘I’ key is working fine again! Yay!

I didn’t wake up until 9:00am this morning (but I guess it would be 8:00 in England so it’s not too bad!) I wanted to get up a bit earlier, I have been so busy the last few days and from next Monday I will be busy again, and it is so relaxing here (the most taxing thing I will do is probably wash a few pots) so I want to be awake as much as I can and not miss a minute of it - really appreciate the peace and quiet and be as rested as I can. Apart from last night, the last 4 nights I hardly slept - I usually only sleep around 6 hours a night anyway, but I think I have been averaging about 4 hours. Hopefully I have caught up with myself now and can get into a good sleeping pattern for when I start at the university in Bergen - I have no idea what time I will begin the day there, or how long it will take to get there, so I want to get into a routine of waking around 6:30 to start off with.

So, anyway, a round up of what happened yesterday;

It was another early start yesterday as I needed to pack the last few bits and bobs (and last minute Larry just needed to pack, full stop). Uncle Andy (sorry Andy, that’s your name now) was coming over around 8:00ish to take us to East Midlands Airport. Thanks Uncle Andy! Everything went as smoothly as possible, all things considered - no missing passports or anything, so we arrived at EMA quite early and after we sat and had a coffee we checked in and when for a wander and some food. It went really fast actually, but we were only at the airport around 2 hours, the flight managed to get off earlier than planned and got to Oslo in under 1 hour 4o minutes, so we made really good time.

I really hate flying, but I managed to contain myself pretty well - only had 2 valerians this time! As the plane took off, and I watched Derby get smaller and smaller, everything finally hit me - I wasn’t coming back for what feels at this end of it a long time - almost half a year. I know in the grand scheme of things it’s not that long, but I couldn’t help thinking of Rob, Lorna and my nieces, and of the family I have just found, and it just all became real. I couldn’t help it but I cried a bit, I couldn’t hold it back. I thought Hans would think it was the flight upsetting me but he knows me so well - he looked at me and said ‘you’re coming back, sweety!’ and held my hand really tight. Bless him, he’s such an angel.

Side note: I know with magpies it’s ‘1 for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl, 4 for a boy’ but what about if there’s more? There are about 50 billion magpies outside right now (I threw a little food to a couple earlier, and I think every magpie in Norway has come to join in). Do you have to add them all together and divide them into 1, 2, 3 or 4? Or is it ‘5 for 2 girls, 6 for 2 boys’ and so on??? I hope not, I only want 1 child. Hmmm…

ANYWAY, the journey then was a mix of feelings, yes I was sad, but it was also exciting. The flight was really fast, and then as we were beginning to descend and I could see Norway outside the window I began to relax, I have tried to tell people before - I love it here. I feel so at home and even on the plane before we landed I felt better as soon as I saw the place. I knew everything would be ok, and I would be fine. It’s a given that the first couple of weeks on my own will be tough, but they would be anyway, but I’ll settle in and I will love it.

As soon as I got here I tried to start thinking in Norwegian and talking to Hans in Norwegian, it’s not easy but I need to. We got the bus from Oslo Gardermoen airport to Kongsvinger, where Inger picked us up. It was really nice to see her again, and we had a big hug, and the journey back to her home was really funny, with me trying my hardest to talk in Norwegian, and Hans and his mum falling about laughing all over the place. It’s a good job I don’t take these things to personally, as it could seriously damage my confidence. It’s just stupid grammar things that I get wrong!

We got back to Inger’s house around 6:00pm, and sat and relaxed for a while with some coffee and a bite to eat - these nice pizza ball things that Hans’ aunt Lill had made. Both aunts, Lill and Britt called to check we had arrived safely. I started talking to Inger then, mostly in Norwegian so I was being really good, and she talked back to me either in English or nice and slowly in Norwegian. I sent her a letter a few weeks back, with pictures cut out of ‘Derbyshire’ magazine, some really nice pictures of some big country houses and gardens, rolling hills and also some woodland scenes. She said she is going to buy a castle in England (and some show horses), and we can come visit whenever we want and she’ll put the kettle on and make tea! The English / tea drinking thing is a long standing source of amusement here, and it doesn’t matter what you say, you will never convince anyone that actually not everybody constantly drinks tea, and that the whole of England doesn’t look like Peak Practice! Some parts of England are still like that though, so I sent the pictures to her to show her that yes, it was how she imagined! So we chatted about those for a while, then I told her about finding my dad’s family on the internet.

She was really intrigued by it, and I showed her the picture of my dad and she said I looked like him - I also showed her a picture of Rob and she said we looked nothing alike! It’s really weird as when we were younger Rob and I looked really similar, and the older we get the more different we look. Inger then said something that I thought was really nice; she said a lot of good things have happened to me lately; finding my family, having the opportunity to study abroad, having my neices and things like that. She said I deserved it because I had worked really hard, and that I am lucky - some people just stay the same their whole lives and never take and risks and nothing ever really happens to them - and if she were younger then she would take more chances. I said that generally I try to do the things that scare me the most, because they are usually the most rewarding - it was scary giving up my job to go to university, it was scary to email strangers in the hope of finding family, scary to go and meet my cousin, scary to leave Hans for 5 months to come here alone - but because they are all scary things I know that I will gain so much from them as a person. It really put it back into perspective for me, yes this is scary and difficult but I need to get as much as I can from it. Who knows what doors thins will open or what will come out of it? No-one knows, and I certainly don’t know, and that is what makes it so exciting and something I know I will look back on and be so glad that I did it.

Finally, I’m going to finish by saying that I spoke to my mum (via text) about meeting my cousin and getting pictures of my dad. I haven’t really spoken much to her for the last 2 ½ years, for reasons I don’t need to go into, and I texted her to thank her for giving me the name of my cousin - I said I had found her and told her how it went. She texted back and asked me to forward the picture of me and my dad which I did, she said a few things that were really sad. I’m not going to go into it as it’s personal to her and this is my story, but it’s the most open she has ever been about the whole situation. I feel bad for her as I know this must bring things back for her, it was the darkest time of her life and I know it’s why she doesn’t talk about it - but this is an important time for me and Rob - for me at least it’s been hard because we could never really talk about my dad when growing up, and it has left a big part out of our lives. It made it so that whenever I did think about my dad, the only emotions I had were bad ones - tragedy and death and misery, no good memories or things I had been told. I hope to gradually get to know his family, and start to feel like I know him through them, the more I do, I think the more I will realise he is still alive: in me and in Rob, and in Rob’s children, in his brothers, my cousins - through all of them he will never be forgotten.

My mum did say though, that she had some good memories that she treasured. I said I wished I knew him, and I wished that I had some memories, and she sent me a message back saying;

“all you need to know is that you were like a little princess to him, and he loved you so much. I know he would be so proud of you, just like I am”

That meant so much to me. I’ll keep that with me forever.