Saturday, 4 October 2008

Perfect Beauty

Just an example of some of the perfect beauty that Norway has to offer. I love it!

On Norway... (17 days!)

I am going to visit my friend Maria again tonight, I am really looking forward to it - as I promised before I shall take my camera as she lives with her family in the most gorgeous house, and in a lovely garden with an amazing view and also some very handsome cats!

I like to be there, there is always good food and good conversation - with good people. It reminds me a little of visiting Hans family as it's always so warm and welcoming. Both are perfect examples of Norwegian social gatherings and hospitality, so I think some photos and a post about it tomorrow will be in order, it's definately something I want to capture; for myself when I go home and for others to read...maybe in particular those who don't know much about Norway, I hope for those people it will enlighten you somewhat. Now I am by no means an expert, but my general observations and opinions are as follows...

For a start, some people don't know anything about Norway, for example SO many people have said things like; "so Becky, when are you moving to Sweden?", or "are you going back to Sweden for Christmas then, Hans?" (but that's actually pretty funny, if only to see the look on his face) I don't blame people - of course if you don't know much about something, then by default you will be somewhat ignorant on the subject. People just need to learn that every scandinavian is not Swedish by default

The only thing that does annoy me is small mindedness that people stubbornly refuse to solve in themselves, like when people cry
"why on EARTH do you want to live in Norway - it's freezing all the time and they don't have the sun there"
"actually Norway is pretty huge and has a vastly diverse climate, i think it only really gets like that in the north"
"I saw it on a documentary though..."
"yes, but I have BEEN there, and trust me - it's pretty much the same weather as England in the south" (except probably slightly better)
They just look at me all troubled as if to say, 'why are you lying?'

The worst I have had is stupid statements like 'Norway is depressing - everyone kills themselves' - that just doesn't even justify my efforts to argue with them, I just wait and hope that Darwins Law does the world a favour.

The second thing (and Norwegians are the first to admit this) is the infamous repuatation for being reserved and difficult to get to know - obviously it doesn't go for everyone, but in my opinion that has some truth to it; Hans was (sorry angel!) extremely hard work to get to know, as are many people that I do meet - BUT once you do get to know them they are the warmest, most welcoming and loyal people you could ever meet (as is Hans to me - the best friend I have ever had and the most genuine and warm person)

And this is what I am getting at (finally!) after considering this quite alot and after discussions with various people, I decided on this as actually being one of the things I love about Norway and not a bad thing at all - I myself am quite reserved, and particularly when I first meet people I am very shy. I have never been a fan of gushing out compliments for the sake of it and getting to know someone fast on the basis of falseness, so it suits me perfectly. After all, in any situation anywhere what relationships are more worth having? what will you get the most out of? someone you have taken the time to get to know, and of whom you are sure about their intentions and loyalty - of course! for me anyway... some people thrive on having hundreds of fickle relationships, but lets not get into that.

Everbody is different and unique personally, each culture and country has their own traits which make them who they are - and I wouldn't change it for the world... well, it is the world!

Just as an end note to my post which somehow turned into a mini rant, I had a similar conversation with my friend Yvonne, who is Finnish. We were talking of the (very general) scandinavian inability to give and receive compliments well, and she said 'oh yes, it's a character trait - it's the 'Jantelagen' or in English, 'Jante Law' and as Yvonne put it, a 'must know' for people visiting scandinavia!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Work for Spans Stitches

The last couple of days (on top of everything else) I have been working on some 'emergency' business cards for my friend Hannah; she has not long set up shop, selling her wares on - as I have mentioned before she makes really beautiful handmade accessories such as bags, doorstops, stress heat pack things (?) I don't know what they're called!

Anyway, she had the opportunity to send some business cards and samples to London I think, and as she has only just set up she didn't have cards, or even a logo really - so I helped her out;

This is the logo, and the business cards which I think work really well for what she needs; an accessible, warm and handmade look.

I found a really excellent tutorial which gave me some great ideas for the stitch effect on the logo too, so all in all I was please with how a full days work turned out - and more to the point, Hannah is chuffed to bits :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Lost contact! Oh no...

For 2 days now, Hans has been without internet access at home - which means I haven't spoken to him or seen him since Sunday night! I know that won't seem like a long time to some people but it's horrible for me - the highlight of every day is our little chats before I go to bed. It is so therapeutic to just tell him how my day has been, and show him the work I have done - and most importantly just talk about normal every day things and for that short amount of time I am almost sitting in our lounge and talking to him like nothing is out of the oridinary. I really miss it and I just can't relax!

On a brighter note, it is 3 weeks today (well, yesterday looking at the time) until I go home for a holiday and I am looking forward to it like you wouldn't beleive! I have decided the night I get back I am going to have a portion of 'Georges Tradition' fish and chips with mushy peas and their home-made tartar sauce (my favourite naughty treat) The Georges Tradition at Park Farm does the best chippie chips in Allestree (my favourite ever actually) so I recommend them highly... I am hoping they read this blog, recognise me from my profile picture and give me free chips forever now. Yeah right!

It will be lovely though (the visit in general, not just the fish and chips) my friends Phil and Hannah are picking me up from Gatwick, bless them - and I am really looking forward to seeing them. Then there are a few friends and family members I am planning to meet for coffees and lunches as well as spend LOTS of time with Hans, and also just some free time at home alone! I just want my home and my bed, and my shower and washing machine! Not to mention the TV... early morning dossing and Jeremy Kyle here I come!

I am also planning to take a trip to Uncle Andy's and say my farewells to little Junior. I still don't want to talk much about it because it still hasn't hit me properly (I am not sure it will until I go home and realise he's not there anymore) but by all accounts he had a nice little burial in the garden at Uncle Andys, by a holly bush. Nicely symbolic as it is an evergreen.

hmmmm, poor little guy.

Anyway - annoyingly I STILL haven't had my grant through from the Erasmus Fund - at this rate I will just be getting it as I go home! It's so annoying really I have been here almost 2 months, and within the next week or 2 I have to pay the next lot of rent and I have just had to fork out for the monthly bus card and £75 for the gym membership. I couldn't hold off any longer with that as it wouldn't have been worth buying - but now I am wondering if I did the right thing - maybe I should have just stuck to mountain walking and going for the odd run - it would certainly have been cheaper... oh we'll see - I can't talk about that anymore it's stressing me out!

I found out from some friends back home that one of our lectures is 5:00-8:00pm! I am glad I am missing that one! Actually though, I don't think they are in university at all that day previous to the late lecture so it wouldn't be so bad...

Wow, I am really waffling I must be tired!

Anyway, a few more pictures of this beautiful place to leave you with - the compositions is rubbish as I was trying to catch up with people who kept walking off when I tried to take them!

A gorgeous little church close by Fantoft - at some point I will put up pictures of the grounds around it - it really reminded me of England (in the bestest of ways!)

Just a pretty little tree - Autumn is descending fast here (my joint favourite season - can't pick between Autumn and Winter!) Everywhere is beginning to look even more beautiful!

The famous 'Bergen Rain' I kept hearing about is finally here after 6 weeks of nasty heat (or as most would say glorious weather) But, if you are going to be in the rain anywhere in the world then this is the best place - it still looks stunning - and the rain clouds feel so low down when they cover the tops of the mountains... it's really beautiful.


ps - fix the internets for Hans please someone? Google? Bill Gates? Andy? anyone?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Need to smile? (81 days)

Anyone need to smile?? this video made me smile and laugh and it makes the world seem less huge to me!

This (or something similar) is going on my 'things I HAVE to do before I die' list! what a great video! genius :)


Sunday, 28 September 2008

Learning Norwegian! how it all began...

Note: I found this unfinished post from when I first started the blog - about why I started learning Norwegian and how I went about it. I have just updated and finished it, and will post this today as I am still busy working and sad about Junior still...

I had wanted for the last few years to take up a learning a language, I thought maybe about German as that's what I studied longest as school - I guess that's as good a reason as any!
Then when Hans and I had been together a few months I mentioned to him that I would like to learn Norwegian; the main reason being there was a reason for it, if you know what I mean! It became especially important as we both realised that this relationship was meant to be and that we are in it for the long haul; I would most certainly be meeting his family and there was a possibility of him moving back home at some point, etc... it just made sense for me to learn it! (I have to admit I also thought I would have it easy with a live-in tutor, but it didn't quite work out like that)
So it began, with me learning the Norwegian Alphabet and 1-10! I found it fascinating instantly - especially with the extra letters; æ, ø and å! I remember not having a clue where to start with it as I had decided to teach myself (try finding a Norwegian course in Derby) so I just began by really bugging Hans to tell me stuff and writing everything down in a book. I will always remember him teaching me the alphabet, and then we went together to take the recycling and as we walked I was just repeating the letters over and over! I tried to completely ignore 'R' as it was very rolled and a completely different way of using my tongue than I was used to (Note added later - I have since discovered that there are a billion and one ways to pronounce the 'r' in Norway depending on the dialect, well actually there are a billion and one ways to say everything in Norwegian depending on the dialect) but Hans was very firm and kept making me say the R - I dont have a problem with it now, for some reason the letter I have most trouble with is 'O'.

I will also always remember the first time we came to visit his family in Norway, and we were waiting at Heathrow for the flight to board and I was hounding Hans 'can we go for a coffee please just one coffee I haven't had a coffee all day I am starting to get a headache COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE please please I'll buy them I'll buy you one too dont you want one I really want one I have a sore throat coffee helps me when I am waiting c'mon sweety lets go for a coffee...' aww poor guy :-) Anyway, we were sitting there and he was teaching my to say 'jeg bor i England' (I live in England) and I just couldn't say England right - I can't even descrbe the differences in the word which are pretty subtle but so important. I think it's probably one of the best words to hear to giive you an idea of pronunciantion. Anyway this was 2 years ago and following this event I have only just realised the England is spelt the same (I thought it was spelled Englond) That right there is the danger of teaching yourself - the grammar will always be a bit sketchy if you don't have grammatical experts marking your work and making you work harder on bits you just don't get - and there is not a proper structure to what you are learning either - therefore it can be very hard to see how far I have come...

Anyway, he taught me a few random words which I think gave me an idea of pronunciation, tone and (inevitably) norwegian insults and swear words, then one day I got back from work and there waiting for me was the complete book and audio CD programme of 'Teach Yourself Norwegian' - bless him! He realised I was taking this seriously (and was getting fed up of me asking him all the time) so he bought me the book to help me on my way. I have to say it has been a brilliant book, it starts off very basic and the book is structured well, with dialogue, translated words, relelavnt grammar and then excercises at the end of each chapter.

The good thing about teaching yourself if you can do it at your own pace and go over the bits that are harder for you as often as you want.

The bad thing about teavhing youself is also that you can do at your own pace! (meaning sometimes you can be a bit lazy with it) and you also have no-one to push you.

I think that although Hans doesn't teach me as much as I would like (I had this grand idea that he would of course spend an hour a night as my Norwegian tutor - what was I thinking?!) I am lucky that I have someone to listen to me when I speak it and tell me what I am pronoucing wrong and stop any really bad habits forming.

So, all in all - for saying I have taught myself from a book I have come a long way and done really well. I often tell others (especially in Norway) that I speak really basic Norwegian and really badly, and they are usually quick to correct me and say no - we understand what you are saying, or, 'du er flink for å snakker Norsk!' I think honestly though that people are just pleased I am bothering to learn the language - almost every Norwegian has a story of an english person they know who has lived here from 5 to 20 years and still refuses to learn the language! I am determined not to be that person, and I think I am doing ok.

The biggest think is my confidence with speaking it - especially here in Bergen as the dialect is so 'special'. I shall keep it up though! Sometimes after I write an email to a friend on Norwegian or realise I have been chatting with someone for 10 minutes I realise just how far I have come - sure its not grammatically perfect but I am starting to like my own version :-) Hans and I have dubbed it 'Beckywegian'