Saturday, 30 August 2008

Sending letters and Improving Language

Its been an ok couple of days - After feeling ill Thursday I felt bad again Friday - I wasn't well all day and because of that I missed the Graphic Design welcome party last night. Its not the end of the world I guess, but it would have given me a chance to mingle JUST with people on my course - all of the people I met last week are first years so even though we got on I wont be actually working with them.

I am really nervous now because Monday morning I am walking into a class full of people I have not met!!! And the first week is when I'll be studying 'Design Metodikk' - and that is the one that is all lectures and theory in Norwegian only!!! I am betting that I'll be pretty damn stressed by Wednesday! Oh, well I'm not even going to think about it right now!

I began writing my letters yesterday - I have a big list of people I am going to write to and I managed 4 yesterday! My hand was killing afterwards, it just goes to show how used I am to typing! I sent one to Hans too, even though we speak every day! But I bought 25 envelopes for a couple of quid which wasn't too bad, but the 10 stamps cost me almost £10!!! Some things are just amazingly expensive here - but I KNEW it would be so didn't I?

I met Line today - the girl who contacted me through the 'Buddy Bergen' program. I was really glad I met her - she was one of the nicest people I have met so far, very bubble and friendly! She showed me a little cafe which I had completely missed up until now, and we had a couple of cups of coffee..

She was really good with talking to me generally; she asked if I would prefer her to speak in Norwegian or English so I told her Norwegian (but slowly please, thanks!) So she did! I was really happy actually, we managed to have almost the whole conversation in Norwegian, and if I didn't understand something I just said. It is exactly what I need to do - the more I hear it the more I relax with the language and begin to understand more. As Hans says, I need to relax and focus on the words i DO understand rather than fret about not understanding every part of a sentence. I did that tonight and I am doing it more and more as time goes on here. I am also getting more and more confident to speak to others in norwegian too, which is always good - I know that alot of the time my grammer is off and i use the wrong tenses and endings on words - but most people just 'let me off' as they know I am only learning. As Line said today, as long as I am speaking the language that is good - the grammar will follow. It will be something that improves naturally as I get better - I was thinking about it, even when children are learning their own native tongue the grammar is awful for years and it gets taught in school so it's nothing unusual I think. Technically I should be more aware of grammar because I know the English rules (or I am supposed to!) but that is going to be the bit that falls into place almost last I think... that and dialects. When I was speaking actually, Line said she could hear the East Dialect in my voice (as in Oslo!) and I explained that MOST of the voices on my Norwegian Course are native Oslo speakers - speaking bokmål.

Anyway, she was lovely and I'm so glad I met her - we may be meeting again next week. She did invite me out later this evening to a concert with her and some friends but by the time I had gotten home and eaten food it was pretty late - also even though I feel better I am still a bit tired from feeling ill before.

Anyway, I am going to go now. I am a bit sad - poor Hans is feeling really poorly today, so I won't be able to speak to him tonight. He has gone to bed feeling sick and with a migraine. I really worry when he is sick if I am not there to look after him (yes I know he is a fully grown man, able to take care of himself) but still, wish I was there too tuck him in and bring him tea and just keep a watchful eye on him. I know it's not my fault but I feel guilty for not being there, especially now.

I still miss him so much. That is one part of this 'adventure' that wont be getting any easier. I know it.

How I keep occupied...

I have been watching a few things on you tube lately, in particular something Hans discovered that we have gotten really into: if you have never see Flight of The Conchords I highly recommend you give thema listen and / or watch. These are links to some of (my personal favourite songs) which are generally parodies of different music styles but with clever and hilarious lyrics (Rob it's the guys on the disc that wouldn't play so see if you like them!);

Sorry - random! an insight into my humour! ;-)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Bad belly, boxing and looking forward to the weekend...

After having such a good day yesterday, the evening ended on a pretty miserable note, but I wont go into it! I went to bed pretty early though - tried to study my Norwegian for a while but was too sad and just fell asleep :-(

Anyway, not much to report today, I went to a presentation thing at the uni this morning and then had to come home about 11 as I had REALLY bad stomach ache... I went back to bed for a bid but didn't sleep, just had some painkillers and felt all sorry for myself all cuddled up! wished I had a water bottle or something :-( Anyway, I started to feel a little better so sat on the laptop and carried on working on the design stuff I am doing for my friends. I have nearly finished a few mockups so once they have seen them I shall put them up on the blog. Might as well get a bit of work up there!

I did meet Ida to go and check out the Thai Boxing, my stomach still hurt but I cancelled meeting her on Tuesday and didn't want to cancel again - it actually looks quite good. I spent a while talking to one of the girls who has trained there for the longest - she has also had a couple of Thai fights over in England so we had something in common! She was really nice and very friendly and we had a good chat; I am going again on Tuesday for a free session. If I take it up I will hopefully train straight boxing twice a week, and Thai Boxing 3-4 times. It's actually pretty cheap (especially for Norway) If you are a student you pay 350kr (approx £35) per month and you can train as much as you like (thats the same as I used to pay in Derby, before you had to sell a kidney to be able to afford to train there!) I'm hoping the class goes well, as I would really like to take it up again and hopefully I can get another fight in when I come home. I would have trained to fight here but a) I probably wont be here long enough and b) you can't fight in Norway - it's illegal! So I'll be there Tuesday, and Ida is coming along - I hope she likes it.

Well thats about all I have for today - I probably wont post again until the weeken as I'm not doing anything special tomorrow in the day, and then tomorrow evening I am going to a welcome party for the Graphic Design students. I spoke to Hans briefly today, he has gone to visit Uncle Andy - but hopefully we can chat qickly to say goodnight again later...

Oh, I did get a reply from the 'buddy Bergen' program thing that I signed up for; a girl called Line Elise. She is younger than me (only 18) but we chatted for a bit on MSN and she sounded really lovely - very bubbly and friendly! I may meet her for a coffee on Saturday so if I do I'll post about how it goes. I am going to take my profile off the other things I registered on now though - a couple of websites for 'guides' and 'friends' but they seem kind of dodgy! I had a few emails and comments from really random people (not even in Norway...or even England!) requesting to be my 'friend', but I didn't even bother answering them. I think I was probably just being a bit naive about the majority of people actually signed up to 'meet new friends' websites!

Oh well, lesson learned!


Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Apparantly the EU haven't released the funds to my university yet, but as soon as they do I will have the grant released to me... hope it doesn't take too long! I will soon be getting an invoice for 2 months rent (August and September) so I need it!!!

And Sushi tomorrow is no longer happening! No!!! Ida hasn't had time to buy the fish, but we are still meeting up and going to check out the Thai Boxing class that we should have checked out yesterday.

Oh, and now the weather is as promised - Bergen Rain! Yayyyy.... think I have been really lucky up to now with the weather!



Today has been ok so far, it's still pretty early though! I am really missing Hans!!! (I know I say that every day lol) but I really am. The days are beginning to go alot faster in one sense, but even though it's only a week today since Hans left it feel like years... really really miss you sweety!

I had to be at uni for 9:00 again this morning (actually missing the 10:00 starts in Derby!) It means I have to get up pretty early, especially if I want to wash my hair! Today we (as in me!) had to join the first year BA students (for Visual Communication) in the main design building - the 2nd and 3rd years students had planned a 'fun' introductory day for the first year students, and being new I tagged along. It was really awkward when I first got there - I wasn't that nervous I just really wasn't sure what I was doing! But nearly straight away people started to talk to me and make me feel welcome so it was really nice.

It was quite a fun day and I made a few friends - although everybody there seems pleasant! I asked the people I did meet today to write their names down for me! I am going to write them in my blog too, as anyone who knows me will know how terrible I am with names! So far I have met, Jakob, Martin, Eldbjørg(!?), Gudrun, Birgit and Ingar - I'll have no problem remembering that one, Hans ;-> hee hee

I met a few more people of course but didn't catch their names - anyway - all of the above were really nice! They were all asking me tons of questions and being really friendly, and the best bit is that they asked me in Norwegian (sometimes took 2 or 3 times for me to understand) and better still I answered them all in Norwegian (but again, sometimes took me 2 or 3 times due to my pronunciation!!!)

The conversation over lunch was something along the lines of;

"so, where are you from?"
"England - near Nottingham"
"How much Norwegian can you speak?"
"Just a little, I can understand basic conversation but not technical stuff..."
"thats great! would you prefer it if we speak to you in English or Norwegian?"
"Well one of the reasons I am here is to get better at the language, so Norwegian please! - I'll ask in English if I struggle" (lots of nods of approval!)
"So are you staying for a year or...?"
"No, just 1 semester, but I'm not going home until after Christmas"
"why? are you staying in Bergen?"
"No my fiance is Norwegian, so we'll stay with his family"
"Oh your fiance is Norwegian? so what is his name?"
"where does he live? in England?"
"yeah, we met there"
"oh..... so are you going to visit each other?"
"i don't think so - hopefully if he gets time, he has a very busy job"
"Do you live together? and you are here on your own? that must be hard! I think it's really courageous to study in another country and in a foreign language"
"Yeah it's pretty tough..."
"Where in Norway is he from? Kirkenæ, no never heard of it... near where? Kongsvinger, yeah I know that... "

So on and on it went, following similar themes - it was really fun! At that point, Birgit (who had been really quiet) piped up that she knew the place Hans was from as she comes from Kongsvinger! It was really sweet actually as she had been really shy up to that point and didn't know anybody else either, and she looked so relieved to find someone who knew where she was from. She looked kind of scared too, so I forgot all about my own nerves and tried to talk to her a bit more, and it turns out she has only been here 3 days and was missing Kongsvinger; the poor girl was really homesick! I told her about how bad I was last weekend and wanting to go home on Saturday, and she looked really relieved - i think it must have been nice for her to not feel like the only one!

Anyway, I got on with her really well and after lunch we had a break and went and got a coffee together. While we were getting the coffee I asked her if she spoke English and she said no - then I realised just how much I had been speaking Norwegian - she didn't speak my language yet we had managed to understand each other pretty well! It works out well as she said she will only speak the dialiect they speak in Oslo (which is what I have been learning) so she is alot easier for me understand than the native Bergen Norwegians! Anyway, there is a party at the uni Friday night for all the Visual Communication students, so we are going to meet up for a chat again then.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! They have started to renovate the room next door to mine! All I can hear is drilling and banging and smashing! Hans, when you send me the disk can can post the ear plugs too? They are in the kitchen drawer... lol

There were 3 opportunities throughout the day to win a bottle of red wine - and I didn't win one! :-( first we played Bingo (which was an experience! I am glad I know my norwegian numbers!) Then we had to make paper aeroplanes and the one that flew the furthest won (if you got a prize for shortest I would have won) and finally we had our names drawn in a raffle - no such luck. Humph. We also had to draw huge pirates on the floor, but that is a blog in itself so I'll not go into it! All you need to know is that is was funny ;-) You know what students are like, there were penises being drawn everywhere lol

Anyway, I guess thats enough waffle for today. I need to go pick up my laundry from the laundry room, tidy up, email Derby Uni about my Erasmus grant (which I haven't got yet - I am starting to worry!) If that doesn't come through soon I will be requesting food donations guys!!! I also need to fill out my student permit registration form (if you are in the country more than 3 months you have to register with the police and get an ID number... without it you cant work, get a bank account, etc etc)

Just wanted to thank everybody again for reading the blog, and your comments and all of your emails! Its nice to hear from everybody and it feels good to keep the link with home so strong. By the way, I have changed the setting on my blog so you can post a comment now without having to register - which I know was an issue for some of you lazier guys (mentioning no names Mr Johansen)


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A plan of action!

Spent another weary day today getting tons of info in Norwegian! I was surprised how much of it I got to be honest - not enough to understand everything but enought to get the gist of what was being spoken about, so I could ask questions afterwards! The downside of speaking a little bit of a language is that as soon as people know they start rabbiting on and I get all flustered - but it's not a problem really. They see my eyes widen i think, and then repeat everything in english. Most people are really nice though, and I have noticed that in shops and when you are dealing with people, they tend to be a bit off when you speak in English, but as soon as you try and say something in their language (even if it's just thanks for your help!) most people really brighten up! The other down side to understanding only bits is that you sometimes think you know a fact - I listened to where I had to go next and thought, ok - I'll just go and get my student bus card sorted and then I'll go to the meeting! So I did all that and went to the meeting, and after 10 mintues realised I was actually sitting in furniture design! Duhhh!!!! So then I had to go to a different building and walk into my actual class 15 minutes late!

I went to my school and classroom today - it's pretty small! In the the whole art school there are only 300 pupils - in all years (including masters) so it's not as scary as it could have been I guess! Like I said before I am the only exchange student on my the Visual Communication course, so in a way it will throw me in the deep end, but that will be good for me I think. There are also only 1 or 2 other girls in my class!

Anyway, I spent a little time with two of my tutors afterwards, and we went through the courses I could register on, and I have decided on the following so far;

  • 1 week course in Design Metodikk (design methodoligy) I just need to confirm this with the tutor as it is a week of lectures and tutorials ONLY in Norwegian (and although I don't mind) I would need an english summary!
  • 2 week project in Rom (room or space): studying form, colour and function (and working in collaboration with the furniture and interior designers)
  • 4 week project in Bevegelig Graffik - vignett (motion graphics) - using after effects I think. Should be very intersting. I think we make a 15 minute vignette which will be broadcast... scary
  • 2 week project in Typografi - bokdesign (a Typography project studying book design) I'm really looking forward to this one, I like typography (I'll be designing boker, Hans! ha ha ha!!!)
  • 5 week project in Redaksjonell Design (Editorial design) This again will be really good as I haven't studied this area before and it'll really benefit my work beack home. The forst 3 weeks will be studying the print side of it, and the last 2 weeks studying web.
There is also another 2 week part in the middle called Fellesfaglige prosekter (inter- disciplinary weeks) during which we can register for ANY course on ANY programme (art and design related!) so that will be really interesting and something I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise. There are no half terms either to my knowledge, so this is a really intensive semester compared to what I am used to!

All in all, today has been ok - one of the best days I have had emotionally since Hans left - I woke up a bit sad again, but not long into the day I got a text from Hans and then later on another one and they cheered me up loads, and I'm really looking forward to speaking to him tonight! Also, Ida - the girl I went to the mountains with on Sunday - has invited me to her house for tea on Thursday which is nice - she is making home made sushi (she loves the stuff, talks about it as much as I talk about coffee)

Oh, COFFEE!!!! I haven't had one since I got in, been writing my blog and talking to my brother Rob (he bought a webcam now YAY!!! I saw Rob and Lorna and 2 of my gorgeous neices!)

Anyway, I am going to get a coffee and wait for Hans to call! Hopefully getting an early night tonight as I am exhausted!



Monday, 25 August 2008

'First' day at school...

Well it was my first day at the new school today, but it technically isn't because I wont be working this week - it's like an introductory meeting week; there is so much information to take in, I don't know what I am doing right now! It is really exhausting just sitting and listening (expecially when 90% of it is in another language!) I really notice such a uge difference listening to students and teachers from Oslo - or English people that could speak Norwegian - they were far easier to understand. I just happen to be in a place with a difficult dialect, but if by the end of 4 months I can scrape by in 'Bergansk', I should be able to manage fine otherwise!

As I said in a previous post, the way the course works is completely different to what I am used to with picking your own courses and everything. On top of that, I was told today I would be working alongside the 3rd year students (which freaked me out a bit as I am a 2nd years student, but then at the same time I thought maybe I would learn loads...) It has it's ups and downs.

Basically, we just met other students and teachers today. I introduced myself (in Norwegian) to a class full of students and teachers, I said (again in Norwegian) that I spoke a little of the language, but badly! That was met with a murmur of disagreement which was really nice, they all seemed to be pretty impressed that I could speak a little anyway!

I also watched a few presentations from other students work from last year - it was really interesting. The reason I like Graphic Design is that most things you do are for a purpose and there is a reason for why it is done, and you can try and think of dualities or new ways to make people think about something - but with specialised or fine art (very generally) it is about personal interpretation and sometimes the meaning can be completely lost on me! That was basically the gist of the presentations, some were really good ones that I related too like typographical exploration, photography projects (and my favourite - a metal band who had written their own song and designed and produced their own video!!!) On the other hand, after some of them I was left thinking something along the lines of; ".................................................................................. WTF???" I wont go into what they were though, as I said it's personal to everyone and each one has validity and a reason behind it. I hope so anyway. Each to his own.

Whatever though, it is a small school - 300 students in total across all of the departments, and it'll be really good to work with so many different styles and hopefully take something very different away from it. Probably one of the worst traits you can have in and art and design area is to be small minded.

I am there pretty early tomorrow too (from what I can gather) to talk to my tutor and be shown how to register for my courses etc, so this post again wont be very detailed. It's getting late, I'm tired and if possible I want to try and glance over the course before tomorrow.

I was really cheered up this evening by some friends, and also 2 of my brothers and my sister in law! It seems there is always someone there (on MSN at least!) who is ready to talk and ask how things are going...thanks guys! My brother Rob discovered how to see me on webcam (even though I couldn't see him) so I spent the night amusing them by pulling funny faces! We also figured out I could sent a voice recording, so I managed to say hi to them too.

I haven't heard from Hans today yet, apart from a text at lunch time. He's been pretty busy I think with training and seeing friends, I hope he calls before I go to bed!

Goodnight xxx

Trip to the mountains!

I met Ida (the girl from the party) in town yesterday afternoon, and she took me for a walk into the mountians... (so no, she didn't stand me up!)

I met her about 1 and we went for a coffee while we discussed which route we should take (there are loads of different trails) In the end she decided to take me the longest and toughest route to get the best views (as it was again a really lovely day!) it took us about 10 minutes to walk to the edge of town and then we started to make our way up 'Breistølen'. It didn't look too bad at first, a pretty tame trail, but then it got steeper and steeper - I couldn't take photos it would have been too dangerous to stop and fiddle around in my bag! Anyway, it took around around 50 minutes to get to the top of the mountain, and then we got some amazing photos - it was lovely.

The beginning didn't look so tough!

Amazing views from the top;

We then spent a good few hours walking across the tops of the mountains to another mountain (where again we got some good pics) and I met a troll! On the way, the walk was beautiful - and we came across many lakes at the very top! One of the lakes, called Munkebots (or as I renamed it, cleverly I thought, 'Monkey Bottom') was a beautiful clear lake, which was full of water pure enough to drink. We filled our bottles there and took more photos - I haven't drank mine yet though, I am waiting to hear from Ida today, if she is still alive I will have it!

The beautiful lake at the top - drinking water!

Me and my new best Norwegian friend...

Anyway, after spending a good few hours up the mountain we began the descent, then we stopped at a sushi bar for some noodles (and more coffee) and then I came home.

All in all it was a good day - I still miss Hans - moments like looking down from the mountain top and seeing the bench where we ate our sandwich together made me sad (how pathetic do I sound?!) I don't care though! Of course I miss him, I will the whole time but it's going to be amazing to see him again.

The bittersweet view I saw up there! :-)

It did me so much good to actual get out for the day, spend some time with someone (and she tried hard to speak sometimes in Norwegian to me - and I answered too, which was good - what I wanted!) and just the actual energy I burned really helped too, I was relaxed and tired when I got back, I haven't done any trainng (apart from walking) since I got here and it really makes you worse. I have had it when I have had injuries before - when you stop training suddenly you become depressed as you are losing all the good chemicals you get from training...

Anyway, the evening was nice too; I spoke to Hans for a while on the webcam, and saw a couple of the hamsters too! Its such a nice end to the day to be able to see and speak to Hans, I am really really please I get the chance too.

Anway - this once has been a bit rushed because I'm tired and I am a day behind! I have to write about my first meeting at the school(s) too! See if I get time tonight