Integration Across Different Worlds

So much has happened since I moved to Hanoi last summer, so much that I find it hard to believe it was only 5 months ago. The last months have given me experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life, as I have had the opportunity to travel both to the northern and southern parts of Vietnam. I seldom see such beautiful nature, which seem to be found in every corner of this green and mountainous country with an extraordinary coast-line. Also, it has definitely been the longest summer of my life, with warm temperatures until the end of November. At the end I actually ended up longing for warm sweaters and something else than shorts, but as a Norwegian, such complaints don't feel quite right. I am living something I will describe as a cultural journey where I started out in complete confusion, moved slowly from frustration towards comprehension, and ended up with acceptance and respect.

If I had to describe Vietnamese values in a nutshell, I'd have to point out three things; family, hard work and pride. The Vietnamese culture values family more than anything else, and they have a very traditional understanding of the family. Almost every young girl dreams of getting married and they do say their vows at a quite young age. The Vietnamese are also extremely hard working. Most of the street-food restaurants I eat at are run by families in their own downstairs living room, where the whole family helps out with cooking, cleaning and serving guests. They put their pride in their cooking of course, but also in their culture and history. The Vietnamese people have shown so many times in history that they wont surrender when facing adversity. Understanding these values have helped me relate to the Vietnamese people and made me see past the differences. I meet with these more or less significant differences every day. For example during lunch at my favorite place, where they screen the same soap-opera every day. I have now gotten quite used to trying to pretend what's going on during one dramatic scene after another. However, even though I can't relate to their favorite entertainment show or communicate with the owners due to language barriers, eating in their living room still gives me a feeling of inclusion.

When you live in a country where all your cultural references are gone with the wind, it naturally takes some time to start feeling like you have anything there to do at all. I have been walking down the same streets, passed the same people on my way to work, tried to observe and analyze their daily lives. However, feeling like a part of this city has proven challenging at times. I am a part of it in my own way, but physical and cultural differences are to severe for me to blend in. However, one day some weeks back, an old woman's gesture made me come as close to feeling integrated as I am likely to do. This woman sits at the porch in my street and has probably been sitting there for quite some years, maybe decades. She probably lived in Hanoi during the Christmas bombings of the city 40 years ago during the Vietnam war. She probably knows the neighborhood like her own pocket. As she sat there one afternoon, watching over what is more than anythingherstreet, she nodded at me when I passed by. Nodded! Believe me, she never nodded before.

Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Speaking of Normality

It's funny how fast you end up adapting to a new environment. Everything that felt like taken out of a movie from another world just two weeks ago has started to feel normal. At least I don't feel like dropping my jaw every time I turn a corner. And that feels good! There are still a lot of new impressions out there, but the city in itself feels pretty safe and friendly, even though I am very aware of the fact that most vietnamese people treat me like a complete alien. I'll give you some examples of what I've come to consider as "normal".

1) The currency. After having adapted completely to the euro, I found it close to insane to withdraw two million vietnamese dollars, which equals approximately 67 euros. Paying 100'000 in a restaurant seemed pretty far out. And 40'000 for a taxi ride? It was impossible to talk about money without sounding nonchalant. Another issue here is that the Vietnamese only use notes. So imagine the size of that wallet when you fill it up with notes of 1000, 5000, 10'000, 20'000 etc... I didn't feel too smart when trying to pay for a drinklooking like a 5 year old handling money for the first time in her life... But now? Being a millionaire has never felt more natural.

2) The traffic. The perception of the circulation went from exhausting in the beginning, to annoying after a little while. At the time being, I consider it a brilliant way to having the pavement to myself. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean getting to enjoy a comfortable stroll looking at whatever interesting sight catches your eyes. Your eyes must ALWAYS be on the road; to the left, then right, back left, a head of you and then over your shoulder. The result; I've gotten pretty used to sharpen my brain before the morning coffee!

3) Lacking the necessary language. In the beginning, having to interact with people not understanding even the most simple questions, like "Where is the nearest supermarket?", which turned into "Supermarket??", made me feel both desperate (I was very hungry) and frustrated. After all, I'm staying here for 6 months. However, after a while I understood that words are overrated. And Google maps is not. Besides, when I from time to time meet a Vietnamese person speaking English, I feel like a proud mother hearing her child speak his first meaningful sentence. Gratefulness has got a whole new meaning.

4) The vibrating nightlife. I'm not talking about the clubbing, but rather the nightlife taking place in the streets. Families of three generations having dinner on the sidewalk, a place they seem to consider as their more or less private porch. Half naked children running around shouting "hello! hello!" when I pass them, random chickens searching the concrete for leftovers, elderly bent over enormous pots of steaming food, men with rolled up tank tops flashing their stomachs, the sound of a singing woman on a stage competing with the sound of the motorbikes rushing by. Nothing is more ordinary.

As you can see, my everyday life has become quite normal...

Hanoi - The City On Wheels

It's been one week since I moved to Hanoi to start as a trainee at the Norwegian Embassy for 6 months, and the city has already managed to take a huge grip around my heart. The trip over here was the most exhausting one in my life. After 30 hours travels, including one foot massage, lots of chocolate and long waiting hours, I finally arrived safely in the capital of Vietnam. The airport seemed overcrowded, the heat and humidity were just as expected and kids were staring. The culture and climate chock was a fact. I was relieved to see two people from the Norwegian Embassy waiting for me at the exit, driving me to my hotel. At this stage all I could think of was the heat (being a Norwegian, I'm quite confused when the temperature passes 35 degrees after 11pm), the new smells and the people trying to cool down in the streets.

My first challenge was to find a place to live, and even though I felt just a bit too safe and comfortable in my hotel room (read: air conditioning), the time was up to get out there and soak in the spirit of a city where everything seems to happen on wheels; either on the road or on the sidewalks. People drive, sleep and eat on those vehicles. People seems to be humble, strong and pensive. There are so many things I'd like to know about them, but sadly few of them speaks English (That's why it took me three days to find a supermarket). I noticed that I need to slow down my walking rhythm, because of two reasons; it is way too hot, and it is way too dangerous! As I am one of the few people that tend to cross the city by foot, I need to look everywhere twice in order to survive. Point positive: I am forced to lead a stress free life!

I was glad to find out that after having posted a message on a Hanoi community page for foreigners on Facebook, messages started to run in from agents who wanted to find me a place to live - for free! I got contacted by an adorable young Vietnamese woman that drove me around on her motorbike that seems to be the one thing a person living in Hanoi cannot live without. And as to mention the poorly developed infrastructure, I see the point. She showed me a great number of lakes that gives the city a beautiful atmosphere and a fresher look, and she was more than happy to share her life with me. She told me that she works long hours the whole week only to see her daughter in the weekends, who is 2 and of poor health. She even took me to a motorbike store so that I could buy a helmet of good quality. I was very glad to discover that on my third day here, she took me to the right apartment only 5 minutes walking distance from the Embassy. I was finally able to unpack!

When it comes to socializing, that has not been a problem so far; here are heaps of expats around. I started out by contacting the Swedish Embassy to get in contact with likeminded trainees, and a girl there took me out to meet her friends. We ended up drinking beer that was almost for free in a big hall full of life, before going to two different bars. People are really easy to talk to, they all seem to be keen on getting to know other vagabonds. To my great relieve, half of them were french. I think I'm gonna make it just fine here!

My first week at the Embassy was very interesting and l was happy to discover that my coworkers welcomed me with open arms. I have a lot of things to learn, but that's why I'm here. As I am the only trainee, I can choose how to occupy myself according to my field of interest. I'm especially drawn towards UN related matters, dealing with development aid and human rights. One of the highlights of my work week was assisting an ambassadors' meeting at the UN. I also got to cover a press conference with the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. As Vietnam is a socialist one party system where all power lies in the hands of the communist party, freedom of expression is limited and there is no room for political competition. The press conference clearly reflected this, as the journalists were asking for information rather than criticizing or asking for explanations.

I have to say that am very eager to get a grip around the beating heart of a country so full of soul and to the brink of history. I want to understand what thoughts lie behind the eyes of the taxi driver, the street food cook, the young people hanging out next to the railway tracks. Not to mention the old lady carrying her baskets of fruits in the middle of the soaring traffic. She is to me the perfect symbol of a country that seems to be evolving into modernity with a tight grasp on tradition.

If You Never Try You'll Never Know

I am so happy to be able to be writing, after such a long time, while sitting in the kitchen of my old student shareflat in Oslo. This is thanks to my good friend Sigurd who always lets me borrow his room during the holidays! I came yesterday, feeling nostalgique straight away. I have so many memories from this place; parties, dinners and shared moments with my flatmates from when I studied in Oslo. How come that feels like a decade ago?? Anyway, I'm very happy to be back for yet another week before I'm leaving back to Paris and far too many exams. As I'm sitting here, Saturday night and not yet ready to go to bed, I wanted to write some words about 2012, and about the last months in particular. This is the year that I've been creating a close relationship to France, on both good and bad terms. The year I've found out that sometimes you need to be hard on the outside and say "fuck it, I'm good enough", maybe twice to make sure you believe it.Sometimes people you don't care about will try to make life tough for you, and you just have to look the other way, in order to find confort and smiles elsewhere. And not least, I've found out that nomatter how much I try, I always get tipsy after only one glass of wine.. France didn't changethat.

Life in Paris is in every way so different to the one I had in Montpellier, where I almost forgot how it was to be stressed. I actually remember complaining about not having enough to do at some point (what a foolish thing to do!). However, my current life couldn't be more different. After 3 month as a student at Panthon Assas, I've learnt things about myself that I were not really aware of. I've been more aware of my scandinavian values, about the importance of respect. I've experienced classroom situations where seminarleaders seem to enjoy making a fool of some students and I have the impression that they want us to feel like shit. This way of "encouraging" improvement is something I find very strange, but I had to learn how to deal with it. I had to tell myself every now and then that I should be proud of myself, even though sometimes I wonderned what the hell I was doing there. How will I ever meet their standards? How could I imaging being able to succede? I still think like that, but I also know myself well enough to say that I'd never quite something I've started. I'm too stubborn. And the feeling when you achieve personal improvements, even though they're small, always makes you think that all the struggle was worth it :))

So I can definitely say that I've become tougher the last months, but more importantly that I've understood that the values of my own society are actually not to be found everywhere. In France, being in a position of authority seems to give you the power to treat other people as you want.I might have fallen a little bit out of love with France, even though there are heaps of things I appreciate a lot, like the respect for people that are older than you, the appreciation of good food and the outgoing spirit of french people. Even though I might not want to settle down in France, I know that I'm not in a hurry leaving this country. I've always been a realist, and this is my final words for tonight, and for 2012; nothing is perfect, noone and nowhere. And to make a relationship strong, you need to see past the places where the sun always shines.

A Different Shade of Beautiful

The Parisian summer was warm and beautiful, and I did get to enjoy it in between my search for a place to live. It's been a bit more than a month now since I moved into my new home; a small, but cosy one room appartment in "le Marais", which is the most popular area for "young and hopefull" people in Paris. Definitely not the worst environement to live in. I was very lucky to get a contract through a small agency that found me trustworthy - being a foreigner looking for an appartment turn out to be slightly more difficult in Paris than in Montpellier. However, as my dad always says, "everything works out fine for nice girls". I love the atmosphere of the small streets, which are filled with typical french restaurants, cheese and fruit shops, not to mention clothing boutiques. Every second person passing on the street is a fashion inspiration and I just want to spend my time reading a book in a caf or discovering new corners of the city, new shops and new bars.

However, after starting university, reality hit me and gave me a taste of a different Paris. Summer turned to fall, and the rain replaced the sun. Starting university was quite a shock (and still can be). First of all, the french university method turned out to be very different from what I'm used to from Norway and Australia. I will be taking seven subjects, all in all 28 hours of classes every week. My first reaction was "how the hell am I going to have time to read and prepare myself?!". First wave of modest panic. Then I understood that in France, the students bring their macbooks to class and then note down everything (and then I mean everything) that the professors are saying and that's supposed to be enough. However, this practice didn't reassure me at all, given that I'm incapable of copying word by word in french. Second wave of panic; almost half of my master consists of law courses. I never ever read a legal text in my life, so the law professors could as well been speaking in chinese and it wouldn't matter. However, giving up has never been an option for me, so I started to get down to business. I begun to note down every legal expression I didn't understand and then search them up on the internet when I came home. Asking descreatly the person next to me in class for explanations also turned out to be very helpfull. An extra bonus is that I have a french friend who studies law that will help me with the basics - thank you Chlo! I guess that's how I'll learn, little by little.

So life in Paris is not only "la vie en rose". Before it always surprised me to see people returning from work by metro at 8pm. Now I'm one of them! But even though Paris is more than caflife, cheese and wine, I have to say that those things were far from the reason why I wanted to move here. I wanted to be close to so many people that I care about. Today I spent the evening with a very good french frend of mine that I met in Oslo 4 years ago and that I've stayed in touch with since then. Now we live a 20 minute walk away from eachother. Not to mention my group of french friends from Australia. They all live in Paris. And last, but not least, my new and challenging life would seem a lot more difficult if it was not for Alexandre. You are always so supporting, even though you also spend tough days at uni. And even though I feel lost sometimes you always make me feel safe. So after all, life is not bad at all. Today it was raining all day long. But I guess it's just a different shade of beautiful.

Under the Parisian Sun

There it is; I have finally moved to Paris. To the city where street artists fill the air with nostalgic music that reminds you of one of those films you've seen where the girl gets the man she wants in the end. To the city where nothing is baught more regularly than the baguette. To the city of love. The city of exquisite cuisine. The city of macarones, Galerie La Fayette and the Louvre museum. I could've kept on mentioning many clichs about Paris, and they are all very far from what I surround myself with one week after my arrival in the French capital. Except the baguette (impossible to avoid). I'm still waiting to start my new life, as I have not yet found a place to live. However, the search of a studio or a shared appartment is far more difficult than I had imagined. Luckily I don't start my university courses before the 1 October, so I have still some time. But it is to be said that especially for a foreigner, it's not easy to gain the trust of the property owners. "Your parents are not french?? how can I then make sure they will support you?" I see. At least I'm not alone with my house-hunting. Alex is in the same situation as me, and we're doing the visits together. I have no idea how we would've managed without his iphone! (I would rather not be alone with a map..) We already went on plenty of visits, sometimes lining up with 30-40 others, all of us eager to get our hands on a fresh contract. At least it's easy to keep in shape these days, as all the appartments are situated on the sixth floor without elevator.

The most memorable experience took place in a street hosting 6 prostitutes. So there we were, lining up, the whole group more or less uncomfortable with the fact that this could be their new home street. But we all stood there waiting. Actually I just wanted to get inside, before the breasts of the oldest prostitute would fall out.. As we started to mount the staircases, I was very happy that I didn't wear the heels of the girl next to me. Appartment first, fashion later! Everytime someone left the available studio, their face revealed either disapointment or astonishment. When people even laughed on their way out, saying that we were all waisting our time, I wanted to stay just to satisfy my curiousity. The "studio" looked like a prison cell, with a dirty frameless bed, no decoration what so ever and the cold floor made me think of an institution from a horror movie. Even Alex, who always point out at least one positive thing about each place we visit, was speechless. At least we had a good laugh. Even though I have to say that my unspoken dream of living in an appartment where I'll be able to wake up to the view of the Eiffel tower died a little. But the hunt continues! And don't get me wrong; I love Paris and all its clichs. I'm just not yet able to enjoy them.

Flying from the distance

I guess it's not always true what people say, that love hits you in the face when you least expect it. Sometimes it comes flying from the distance like an unknown bird;you have a vague feeling about something beautiful approaching you, yet you can't get yourself to put it into words. It's shape and colours are yet blurry, and it appears like a creature you don't yet trust.

At that point you don't know if it will fly towards you or if it will just be giving you a vague glimps of itself between the clouds.And even though it is heading your way, you're most likely not to be aware of it's true beauty at once. It might seem ordinary and familiar instead of breathtaking.

The fact that it has been flying towards you for a long time might not be obvious, because you've most likely been looking away from time to time.Yet when it arrives, it will change the way you look at the world.Not because of the way it looks, but because of how the melody of it's twittering hits you in the heart and gets trapped within it.

It makes you doubt that you've ever heard real music before, since all other tones suddenly seem fake and without conviction.This particular bird enriches the world around you and makes it shine in a new and brighter light.

Its precence gives you peace of mind and its melodies become vital. Without them, you feel incomplete. Without them, you're starting to doubt the beauty of things around you.You know that this particular bird can't sing for you alone, and yet you're hoping with all your heart that it will save the finest melody for you. That it will choose to fly home to you for rest and comfort.

This particular bird makes you completely powerless, yet stronger than iron. Powerless because you know that you're more depending on it than you would like to be in order to see the true beauty of the world.Stronger than iron because you know that you would do anything you could to protect it.

Yes, sometimes love comes flying from the distance like an unknown bird. You can try to look away, but if its melody is meant for you, it will always find you and colour your world.

The End is Only a New Beginning

Suddenly I'm standing there at the railway station. My belongings from the last 9 months are packed down in two heavy suitcases standing next to me. I remember how everything seemed so strange and unreal when I arrived. How I felt like when I arrived in a city where noone knew me or understood me. It's not before now that I realise that I'm leaving. Not before I'm stepping on to the train alone, looking at Alexandre and Amlie standing at the platform. The goodbye kisses were too short. My face changed from joyful to serious in some minutes. Right there, I wish I could live everything over again. I wish I could have just one more week, at least one more day with them. Nothing extraordinary, just to share another laugh, another meal. Just being able to say "see you tomorrow!"

A week ago I was busy enjoying the suddenly arrived summer. At the same time I was trying to prepare for the big last exam which would give me a diploma proving that my french is good enough for university studies. Mostly busy enjoying the heat, and starting to empty my appartment. I slowly started to think that I should bring out my suitcase soon, as my things seemed to have doubled. (I blame Zara for that one) However, my mind was mostly focused on all the things I wanted to do one last time. I wanted to eat crpes with the Goebel's one more time at my balcony. I wanted to watch one more Norwegian movie with them. Then I wanted to go out dansing salsa one more time and go to the redigulously cheap vodka bar. Eat nutella, drink ros vin and buy a fresh baguette. However, I was never sad doing all those things one last time, cause they felt so natural. So ordinary, but yet so pleasant.

After my last exam, I was exhausted, but happy. I'd accomplished what I came to do in Montpellier. On the other hand, I didn't feel like I was done. I couldn't believe that I was supposed to leave only two days later. Even though I thought about it, I wasn't upset. I just wanted to spend my last time in the best company. As I was emptying out my appartment, I tought about that I would miss my cat (and for sure my balcony), but apart from that, I was ok. After all, it's only walls and furniture.

Saturday was perfect. I was still waiting for the rush of sad feelings, but they left me alone. Luckily. As the sun was (not surprisingly) shining from a clear sky, we finally got to try out the new tramway to the beach. Happiness! Alexandre, Amlie and I spend the afternoon doing what we do best; chatting, tanning and talking about funny/rude people around us. (How did those american tourists dare to say that french people are weird? Or listen to rap-music in public??) I convinced them that the water was actually not too cold (I'm Norwegian - the Mediterranean can never be cold) and we didn't even get sunburned. Chill.

"La soire" was spent on my balcony. Amlie had made crpes (delicious!!) which was accompanied with strayberries and wine. "Le cerise sur le gateau quoi!" As I really wanted to let them know how much I appreciate them as neigbours and friends, I gave them a photo album with pictures from all the things we've done together. After all, without their patience and interest in my learning prosess, I would never have reached my current level of french. The sight of their excitement about it was priceless. Definitely the best gift I've ever given. The night was so warm - summer had definitely arrived. How can I leave tomorrow? How can I leave now?

My legs feels weird, as they had walked on to the train automaticaly. Now they are just standing there, because they had too. I thought I would be more excited about going home. More lighthearted. How many times had I not taken the train in excitement towards a new destination. But this time, I don't have a return ticket. I have to find my seat. My heart feels so big, as it suddenly becomes the host of frustration, sadness and love. Love for the city and for the people I've met. For the people that made my France. But mostly, for my two good friends that are waving at me from the other side of the window.

Pieces of the Whole

It feels so good to be back on track, after five long days staying at home. Thank you Alexandre for stepping by to check on me every day - you're the best. Now the flu is gone, I'm back at the gym, school started again and I'm surrounded by great people! Life is good. I was wearing a big smile the whole Monday. It didn't matter that we had long hours of grammar lessons, or that it was unbelievable cold for the season. I still felt like it was my day! Something that deffinitely contributed to my cheerful mood was the phonecall I had with my boss in Oslo. She told me I'll be needed to work 5 weeks this summer. I'm so releived! Now I am looking forward to another summer in my previous student city, with some of the best people I know. I now know that I have a place to go to in 5 weeks, which makes it much easier for me to enjoy my last weeks here in Montpellier. I found peace with the fact that I'm leaving, even though it's going to be difficult to pack up my things and walk down to the trainstation for the last time. After all, I love the easygoing life here. However, while I was ill, I felt like a mess of feelings of nostalgia. I missed my time in Oslo so badly; my old university, the long hours I spent there with my friends. All the ordinary things we used to do together. I suddenly felt so far away from everything, and I had a sudden urge to text my friends in Oslo, getting the latest update, hear what they were doing, how they had planned their summer. Those messages of replies made my days.

My friends always give me a warm welcome when I come back (I always end up in Oslo) and I hope they know how much that means to me. They actually give me the confidence to change my life for a while. Because I know that what really matters will stay the same. However, some days ago I got caught by fear that some day when we'll all be spread around in different cities, I'll regret that I didn't stay longer in the same place. Which again got me thinking; what am I gonna be doing the next years, and where am I doing it? That choice is bigger than I first though. I know that I have to spend some more time in France to really get the language under my skinn. I don't think it's possible to leave France thinking that you'll never come back to stay longer. I just don't know when I'll return. In any case, I just wanted to let you guys know that whatever I do abroad, I wish I could share it with you. I would love to invite you all over to my place to eat cake and talk all night. I realise that the result of settling down in different places means leaving parts of yourself behind when you leave. Parts that you will always be missing and longing for, but that you can never get back. In return they help you build a new perspective on life into your conscience that will forever be a part of who you are. But in order to grow, nothing is more important than your roots. And I know perfectly well where I can find mine. See you soon Oslo.



Travelling through Central Europe!

As I'm writing this I'm more or less isolated at home with my faithful Tiga, on my fifth day of having the flu. I'll give it two more days, can't waste time like this! Besides, it's a mystery how this good climate has effected my health - this is the 4th time I'm having the flu since I arrived in September.. Hm, however, there will again be sunny days, and in the meantime I'll write you guys an update on my travels! I was lucky to be perfectly in shape the whole time while I was travelling through Central Europe, so I'll stop complaining. Here you go!

Prague (6th-9th of April)

What was the greatest thing about Prague? That I was greeted at the airport by my friend Alna, who I met in Australia almost two years ago! Amazing how it feels like when you've stayed in touch with someone that makes a difference to you, and then you're suddently able to create memories together at another side of the world. She showed me that Prague is not only for people in love, as we visited the Easter market, trying local food and absorbing the atmosphere. Although full of tourists, I could sense the charming spirit of the Prague castle and the bridge, slightly overcrowded as they were. I felt so well taken care of, and Alna always made sure that I took enough pictures;) And even though it ended up snowing (..) and I got a fine on the tramway (..) the weekend was spent in a good mood. Thanks to chzech beer, memorizing about Australia, charming streets and a funny language lesson. zasny! (Awesome!)

Vienna (9th-13th of April)

Next cith on my travelling route; Vienna! The best part here was definitely that I met up with my bestfriend Mitra, who was in the area at the same time! What a happy coincident - we ended up having a great night eating schnitzel and having fun at the hostelbar. The place didn't really matter, as long as we could chat, laugh and drink until the early morning. We even made some french friends, right Mitra?? When she left the next day, I was spending a whole day walking around the city half asleep, taking in as much I could of the Austrian culture. Ok, I didn't find it at Starbucks, but a chai tea latte helped my wellbeing. I also met some cool Americans who made the touristy things more enjoyable. We went to the Opera to see a ballet show and had a picnic in the gardens of Schnnbrun Palace. We also made sure the dancefloor in the hostelbar was moving. Thanks for a great time Kevin, Mary and Justin!

Budapest (13th-16th of April)

At this point, my feet were really starting to hurt after all the city sightsing, but I was still excited to see yet two other friends. This time kos and Gbor, two Erasmus students that I met in Oslo one year ago. kos, you were a great host! Even updating me on the national history and of the history of the city. Really profitable, especially when it was combined with Hungarian wine (which I didn't know existed), goulash stew and walks around the city. I also (literaly) reach the highlight of my trip at the hill of the statue of Liberty, having an amazing panorama view over the city at night. It made me speechless. I also got to learn that Hungarians start clubbing at 8pm after having been drinking homemade Palinka (It makes so much sense!). Memorable. Would do it again anytime. Thanks guys, I'll miss you both!

That was definitely 10 enjoyable days - it feels like I've been away much longer. I guess it's good to go a bit further than France once in a while. That can't hurt, even for a francophile like me..^^


"Take a look around before looking ahead"

Time to be a bit nostalgic. From time to time I get these rushes of memories hitting me in the stomac, reminding me of something that once was. Like the summer before I left Norway to move to France. That summer when I was working fulltime, just waiting for the sunny days to pass buy, so that autumn could arrive fast and I could board my flight to Paris. I wanted the days there to go fast too, so that I could take the train to Montpellier and start my new life. Remembering all that very clearly, in one way it seems like last week. Or it could as likely be 2 years ago. Change confuses time, but one thing is for sure; time flies! When I read in a norwegian newspaper here the other day that the studentlife at the University of Oslo was in full bloom encouraged by the lovely (and early) spring weather, it brought me right back. I could almost smell the library and my most vivid memories about the lunch breaks with my best friends. Ha, funny how some things stick better than others. Now when I think back, I spent some pretty awesome moments there, spending everyday life surrounded by my favourite co-students.

Now, after almost 7 months in Montpellier, I started to take things for granted. The tramway, the small and lovely "petites rues" in the city centre, my local grocery shop, the polite way french people talk in and the relaxed southern spirit. Things I do and see everyday have melted into my conscience of normality. Not to mention the people I see every week, my friends and classmates. I've getten so comfortably used to the whole picture. To be honest, I hadn't thought about actually leaving before a friend of mine suddenly burst out ; "hey, you know what? We've only got about two months left here!" And oh dear, he's right. How time really flies. But he kind of put things in perspective, cause what he said made me realise that I don't want to take everything for granted these two last months. I don't want them to be just a transition periode before I turn the page to the next chapter in my life, like I did last summer in Oslo. I'll start valuing small events and random meetings with people more. Because in a bit more than two months it will all be a part of my past. Wow, that sounded very melodramatic, but it's true. So I'll make damn sure that I make the most out of the time I've got left here!

No use in waiting. This Saturday I'm going to Avignon with Alexandre, a beautiful and old city not so far from Montpellier. And next week-end, three good friends of mine are coming visiting!! So excited about that. However, in between going to uni and enjoying these warm days of spring, I also had to continue planning the future. Last weekend I progressed a lot with my research for masters in Paris, and all in all I found three different universities which offer something that interests me. And thanks to Amlie, a good friend of mine, I finished my "dossier" for one of the masters I've chosen to apply for, just in time. The deadline was today! I'm more hopeful now than before, because I have several options in the same city. Can't say anyting else than that I hope the wind blows me north. But not too far;)

Some pictures from a daytrip to Carcassonne from last weekend. Enjoy!

Peaceful sunset from my balcony :)

Have a great weekend everyone,


What's next?

Another birthday, another year has passed! This time I got to celebrate it in France, enjoying dinner with three of the people that are the most important to me here. Eventually, I ended up having the flu this week, still doing my best to recover from it, but last night turned out to be exactly what I needed; warm and intimate. Thanks to you, Alexandre, Amlie and Mary. And it got me thinking. Another birthday also means another year ahead! As long as I live it with curiousity, passion and courage, it will make me happy. I'll be focusing on enjoying the ride and not worrying about what's next. I think people in general tend to have a need to plan their lives, which is probably a part of human nature. But honestly, I'm so glad that I don't know where I'll be in 2 years, or 5 or ten. Ok I would like to know where I'll be after this summer, but I'll find it out sooner or later. I know people are very different at this point, but I'm just so grateful of my unpredictable life. I know mum, you don't understand where I get it from, because you've always appreaciated stability and safety. I can't explain it either, but maybe you and dad, by creating a safe space for me to grow up, even though it was separately, gave me a ticket to go out there? That you gave me this spirit by insisting on that I can manage whatever I want? That's what I think, and I appreaciate it a lot.

But sure, some planning is good. For example, I do have to start planning what I'll do when this semester is over. Which is a pretty important choice! Yes, Paris is an easy first option, but the tricky part is to come up with all the back-up plans. First I was thinking "it could be anywhere - I can do my master anywhere". In theory yes, probably. But it is difficult to find a reason to leave France when I'm getting used to the lifestyle, and especially when I speak the language, more or less. Oslo is an option, only becaue I could be reunited with those I love the most, in a city where I created a lot of great memories. But on the other hand, I kind of feel like I would be taking a step backwords. I guess I'll just have to bring all the options on the table, and then, in some months, I'll see where the wind blows.. In the meantime, I'll have to get better soon, cause spring is here!! I don't know how it works down here, if the temperature can change back, but seeing a guy in shorts today can't be anything but a good sign^^

Then Winter Came Along

I have now experienced that no place is free of winter, not even the south of France. I had started to believe that spring had come early, after having experienced a week in January measuring 15 degres. Then winter came along! I've been slightly confused, since the temperatures only have been down to a couple of minus degres, but hell it's cold. The raw climate and the wind makes it quite fresh, to put it "mildly". And I have to mention the snow! By snow, I am refering to those two times last week when the snow was falling for approximately two hours. Oh how fun it was to see the panic. I seemed to be the only one thinking "it will be ok". Yet, to the disappointment of most of the other Norwegians in my class, it was gone almost before it started.

However, what is now bothering me more it that I seem to be living in a freezer. Not joking. I'm living in an old building, and I would guess it's about 10 degrees in my studio!! So far I've been wearing about 5 layers at all times (even to bed). I guess that's the big advantage of winter in Norway - it's always warm inside! However, there is better times ahead - I'm guessing this coldwave wont hang on much longer. At least I've decided to believe that. In the meantime, my mum kindly agreed on sending me a storage of whool socks and whool underwear, as the french don't seem to distribute those kind of necessities. Thank you mum<3

However, something else made Montpellier much warmer this week-end. I was lucky to have Mitra, one of my bestfriends, visiting!! We had a lot of fun, which included partying, sightsing, talking, eating and a visit to a jazzbar. So nice to have you here! Sorry for making you believe that spring had arrived, but I hope and think that you had fun anyway, my little sunshine!

This crpe night was also warming a lot :)

Amlie making crpes for 6 people

Alex eating for two..;)



Botanical garden

Reading from the tree of wishes

Arc de triomphe

Eating french food with french clich looking waiters

Glad you enjoyed your crme brule ^^

Place de la comedie

Clubbing at Villa Rouge

A cold, but great week-end!


Culturecrash, yes please!

As I'm sitting home, sipping to a glass of my new favourite wine, I thought it was a good occation to write some positive thoughts. And for the record, I just decided that it's completely ok to be drinking alone, if it's to avoid the sin of wasting any leftovers after the week-end. French spirit for sure. Anyway, I started to think of my reasons to smile right now, January 2012. The phenomen of smiling in France is much related to having a reason for it, whish maybe seems fair enough, but it also includes that smiling to a stranger just because you feel like it can seem a bit odd. At least so I've read. So, here are my reasons! Some more important than others, but they're all contributing;

  1. I just started my second semester of french studies, realising that I now have no problems of following the classes.
  2. Two of my french friends from Australia just moved into an appartment 3 min walk from my place.
  3. I finally learned to feel good spending some time alone without being restless.
  4. I've booked tickets to visit a friend in Lyon for a weekend!
  5. This so-called winter in Montpellier hasn't offered any minus degrees so far.
  6. My bestfriend Mitra is coming to visit me next weekend!!
  7. My favourite wine, muscat de Rivesaltes, only costs 4 euro.
  8. I've extended my workout program, doing 4 fitness classes a week. Gives positive energy!
  9. My weekends start on Thursday.
  10. I've dreams and goals for the future.

Voil, ca y est! Sometimes it's easy to think of the things that are missing in life, but reflecting and focusing on the positive aspects will make your everyday life much more fulfilling. So, actually, I really don't see a reason why I shouldn't smile to a stranger if I feel like it. After all, some culture"crashes" are easier to deal with than others.


Some Merry Christmas Reflections..

Another Christmas and another holiday is (soon) over, and this one has left an extra strong impression on me. There is of course something wonderful with indulging to the Christmas spirit every year, maybe because along with it comes a feeling of appreciation. You start to value what you have, and especially the people you are glad to have around you. However, I can't remember to have felt so strongly about this before this year. Cause this year was different; I was home for 1 month, and then I had to go back to my current city, Montpellier. After having experienced another perspective of life, how it can be without those close friends that will back you up whenever it's needed, I've had an incredible holiday in the best company. After having spent the previous months with up's and down's related to different events and challenge, it was just so amazing to come home to all that is stable, real and predictable. I've always valued my friends highly, and being around them again made me feel extremely happy and full of appreciation. Isn't that the best feeling in the world?

I spent my days moving from one caf to another, and doing dinners and gatherings in the evenings. Talking about things that matters with those I know will be there in the future. Loved every second of it, even though I was a bit tired in the end. I guess I was afraid of losing any time, so I was not really seeking any time for myself. Well, I'll fit that in later. Oh and also; the climate was reasonable. We had a perfect amount of snow, and I could still feel my legs when I left the house. Every year I try not to exaggerate my complaining about how minus degrees below 10 makes me grumpy. I also try to hide how ennoying I think it is to see how every second norwegian mean the opposite, sitting on the subway with their new pair of skis. Nah, this year it was ok. After all, they had to wait until january.

But I wont try to look past another reason why I had such a good time. It was also because I was not afraid of leaving again. This time I knew that I had something and someone to come back to in France. And I know that I'm not done with that life yet. I came back yesterday, home to a lovesick cat. Starting to get ready for my second semester with french, and I'm curious of what it will bring along. The one thing I know will be awesome is that two of my french friends from Australia will be living in Montpellier. And honestly, I can't think of a better start!

Wishing you all a good start of the new year, and who knows, maybe this year you'll go after your dream? You decide.


New Year's Eve

Oslo under the snow


Time has been going so fast lately! It feels like ages ago that I arrived in France, and yet it hasen't been more than about 3 months. Bizarre. When that is said, I've been feeling a bit strange lately, regarding the weather and the approaching Christmastime. Last week was sunny and surprisingly warm - 18 degrees! As the lownmower at the university's campus was constantly in use, the familiar smell of cut grass made me think of anything except Christmas. Even though there is a massive christmas three in the centre, so far that doesn't help much. But one thing is for sure. When I'm having a Christmas "workshop" with my two "vikings" the 1th of December, there will be a christmas spirit forced upon us. That's decided.

However, what actually did get me in the right mood to start the Christmas preparations was my trip to Paris. I have to write some lines about my week-end in the capital. It's funny, because I never get tired of visiting that city, and each time I go, I discover something new, something different. And of course, I never get tired of visiting my friends. Although this time was rather different. I didn't speak any English!! Being able to speak with my french friends for the first time in their own language was nothing but a happiness boost. And as I was writing down words and expressions the whole week-end in my "carry-around-notebook", I am sure I learned much more than after a week at school! I feel home in Paris. Much because of my friends who welcome me every time, but also because I feel that I fit into the whole picture. Hard to explain, but that's how it is. Hopefully I'll be living in Paris next year.. Oh and about the christmas spirit! It was definitely present in the streets and the cafs, and not to mention in all the shops. And it worked! It got to me for a while. Now I just have to wait for it to reach the south.

Right now, I'm looking forward to;

  • Visiting my good friend Alice in Lille this week-end!!
  • Watching two of my friends performing a play at school
  • Building a ginger bread house with Simon and Martin
  • Being done with my exams, which start next week

Have a good week - with or without a proper christmas feeling xx

Nomatter where you are, it's your friends who make your world

Since last time I wrote, I would say that I've reached a turning point of my stay. And I've also gotten to understand much more about myself. To start with, I have to say that even though I might seem to be that kind of girl that moves around without roots or without boundaries (at least that's how I used to see myself), the last month I've realised something. Yes, it's really fulfilling to change my habits and throw myself into new challenging situations, cause that's my way of reminding myself that I'm living and that I'm capable of taking lifechanging desitions if I want to. At first, when I had some troubles with the basic necessity of finding a place to stay in Montpellier, I guess everything else was put on hold. Finding somewhere to live was without doubt a timeconsuming project, which gave me some worries. However, it was after all a materialistic issue.

In the weeks that followed, I was occupied with trying to make some stable friends, friends that I could rely on and not just friends who could get me in a partymood. I realised that since the majority of foreign students down here are looking for an Erasmus experience, they were not at all matching my needs. That's why, some weeks ago, I was feeling homesick for the first time in France. I was not homesick when I arrived, not even when I was struggling to settle down. But when I felt that I was lacking a network, I would've done anything for a day back home with my closest friends. I felt like the days just went by without meaning, and that I didn't have anyone I could call if I needed someone to talk to or to keep me with company after a tough day.

However, after confronting myself with all these feelings, and before I tell you about the turning point, I realised something very important. I don't miss Norway at all, but I miss my friends. I miss my family. And it means the whole world to me to know that they're still ready to stand by my side, even if we're not sharing the same country code at the moment. And it gives me strength to know that I have people in my life that I would do anything for. Because that's what's important. I know, I'm living my dream, but dreams are not given to you for free. You have to sacrifice something. In my case, I had to start rebuilding my everyday life, but luckily not from scratch. I've been scared, but what's kept me going is my old friends and family. I guess what I've learned the last weeks are that nomatter where I am, it's my friends who make my world.

And so to the turning point! First of all, I now know who I can call friends down here, who I can have fun with, but also who I can trust and who I can turn to if I need support. You know who you are - thank you for making my days! And secondly, I finally met my neighbours!! After living in my studio for one and a half month, I've hardly seen anyone in the starecases. But this weekend when I got home Friday night, there was a party, and I was invited in! THAT's my turning point, and my first step to integration^^

So I guess the point I am trying to make goes like this; you don't have to take the same path as your friends, as long as the paths cross eachother! And since I'm in France, I allow myself to add a tiny clich; with close friends in your heart, you'll never be walking alone;)

That's all from my corner - have a good week!

bientt xx

Bordeaux - A Westside (Wine)Story

Since last time I wrote, the weather has gotten slightly different, and I have to admit that the "winter" is on it's way. So far, that means rain, and I guess it's fair enough, since it hasen't been raining at all the last 2 months. But no reason to put life on hold for that matter! Since this week-end was combined with two days of holidays, I went to Bordeaux, the wine capital of France in the west. I've been wanting to travel there for a long time, and finally I got the oportunity. Together with one norwegian friend and two friends of he's, we took the train and where ready to act as tourists again. First impression of the city; it was like a mini Paris! However, the city was much bigger than I'd expected, but it had the familiar parisian architecture of Haussmann. Great buildings everywhere, no funny french accent, not over-crowded but still alive. Bordeaux has my vote! Apart from wandering around in the city and profiting from the nightlife, my favourite experience was to visit two wine castles. We got to learn about wine production, see the wineries, and taste of the production in a real wine cellar. Oh what a life, living of wineproduction.

Some winefacts;

- The wineproduction started when the grape plant was introduced by the romans, 2000 years ago.

- In France, wine can be called wine when each bottle contains a maximum of 2 gr. sugar.

- The grape plants are considered to be contributing to top quality wine when they are between 25 and 35 years old.

- Ros wine is made when the skin of the grape is removed early in the production (and is not, as I thought, a mix of red and white wine..beginner mistake!)

All in all, I was very happy to spend some time in a new beautiful french city, the fifht largest in France. And what about everyday life in Montpellier? Even though I enjoy my life here, I realise that it's difficult to build close relationships with people when my policy has been to only speak in french and try to avoid the use of my mothertongue. I do have french friends here who I appreaciate a lot, but I also realise how I miss the people that really know me, back home and around in France. Therefore, I desided to do some travelling in order to see them! I'll go to Paris in two weeks to visit my great friends from Australia. Now I'm finally able to speak french with them - such a fantastic thought! And my dear friend Alice, who I met in Oslo three years ago, she'll get a visit in the beginning of December. I will probably be busy studying for my exams soon, but the great thing is that I'll be practicing french. It's a win-win situation between studies and leasure!^^

Here are some pictures from Bordeaux;

The cathedral

Archacon, costal town close to Bordeaux

Sushi - our favourite!


Chteau Rousselle

This was my second glass, I promise!

Chteau Falfas

Ok, I stole some grapes, but it was off season..

That's all for now from my corner, have a great afternoon! xx

Chez moi!!

Oh la la, it has been quite a start of my stay in France, not really figuring out where to settle down. For those of you that didn't know it already, I can be pretty indecisive. I can be scared by big decisions like finding a proper flat, although the thought of moving to France didn't scare me notably. However, even though I can be ambivalent, I like the fact about myself that I don't settle with a decision I don't like. I would rather change it and make imporvements in my life, even though it takes more effort. And this time I managed. I am now living in a really cute, but old studio, and I'm almost done with redecorating, after visiting IKEA several times (Thank you Sweden, once again!). I feel really good about it. Oh, and not to mention because of my cat, Tiga - I already love him! He's practicaly following in my footsteps all the time, and he even slept in my arms the first night. Not hard to imagine that he has stolen my heart^^

And how am I doing with adapting to the french lifestyle? Hm what can I say. I miss "brunost" (which is soon arriving by mail - thanks mum!) and my best friends (when are you coming to visit me??) Nothing else so far actually. When that is said, life down here has made me appreciate cheese (I had to surrender sooner or later!), three course lunches, good wine to 4 euros (I'm careful not to drink TOO often) and the climate is everything that I've dreamt of. Today it was 33 degrees, unbelievable! Things I appreciate less; owercrowded tramways in the morning (especially when people don't move into the middleparts!) and strikes (highly valued, frequently used). Nowhere is perfect of course, even not France;) However, I'm looking forward to discovering more!

Here are some pictures;

Everything moved up to the third floor - check!

Tiga getting used to me..

..and he's not finding it too hard!

Me starting constructing IKEA furniture on my own.. I managed to finish the drawers! (Note; men are useful)

Et voil!! My livingroom/bedroom ^^

Dining "room" and a small kitchen

Roof terrance

The view is not bad!

Me trying to take a nice picture, but in stead it turned out..well..funny:P

The carousel is the symbol of the city centre

Me with a friend from class, Lien

Place de la comedie - the heart of the old city

That was a peak into my everyday life - wishing you all a great weekend!


I'm Getting There

I thought it was about time to write a little something about my new life down here in Montpellier, as it's almost a month since I left Oslo and all my safety lines back home. I know I should've written something sooner, but things haven't really been into order, and I've been busy trying to make myself confortable here.

Well, where to start? I can say that I started my journey in Paris, living with Maxime, a good friend of mine, in a suburb with his family. They were all adorable, and I experienced how it is to eat a 4 course meal for lunch, finishing it off with chamgagne..! Can't remember being so stuffed. Their hospitality was fantastic, so it was tough to go on the train heading south, alone with my superheavy suitcases. Although on my way, three french guys offered to help me = I love France!

Arriving in Montpellier. It's HOT and I feel like I arrived in Australia. The humidity was overwhelming! It was pretty tiring having to switch between different hostels and youth hostels in my search for a place to live, and sometimes I just felt like giving up. Spending three long days in a row at McDonalds using the free wifi, heading back and forth with buses (sometimes the wrong ones!), trying to drink enough water and figure out what all the labels in the supermarket mean. Trying to buy a phone with an abonnement, being told that I need a bank account first. Going to the bank, being told that first I need a french address. Well, it seemed like I had to deal with everything at once, which was actually the case. BUT nevertheless, I was never in doubt that I just had to handle it, I had no choice, cause this is what I want to do. And I'm glad I met some really nice people in the youth hostel, who were all going through the same as me. A shared burden is less heavy, right?

Eventually I ended up in a flat right next to the city centre, 4 tramstops away from my university. I'm renting a room in the flat of a french professional man, together with a girl from New Zealand. I though it could work out well, but however, I am not feeling like I'm living at my place, but rather at his. Which is also the case. So.. I didn't really give up on the flathunting. I wanted to live with french students, but I realised that it was difficult to find a place that pleased all my three criterias; centraly located, nice, and with people that had the same lifestyle as me. I had to give up on one of them.. And today I took a big decision; I am moving into my own flat, for the first time in my life. And I'll have a cat..! The owner is moving overseas, but wanted to keep the cat in France, and why not! I have some love to give^^ Yes I'm scared, as my biggest fear in life is to feel lonely. But I guess everyone has to live by themselves at some point in life, and now it's my turn. In two weeks. Wish me luck!

Oh and also, I started my french classes! Three words about that; difficult, interesting and exhausting. I'm basically tired all the time, even though I sleep enough. I guess making an effort with speaking and understanding French is taking a lot of energy. I hope it will feel different after a while, I'll do my best:)

Here are some of the few pictures I've taken so far;

Over the rooftops, from the top of a church

Place de la Comedie, centre ville.

Marie, my cute french friend!^^

Know that I'm thinking of you guys, my friends, back home. I love you!

Have a good week,


Moving on

These past two weeks has been full of emotions, and I've felt trapped between feelings of incomprehensibility and anger. Sorrow and compassion. Confusion and maybe most of all solidarity. As you all know, Norway has for the first time since the war been the victim of a terrorist attack. Oslo was on the 22.07.11 in shock seeing it's own government building blown up by a bomb. "Unbelievable" was my first thought. I was just arriving home after work when I got the news, and I was sure it was not an accident. How could it be? But sadly, this was just the beginning of what will forever be remembered as the day one blonde norwegian right-wing extremist, brough up in the rich part of town, carried out a massacre. His victims - bright, young politicians who were camping on an island close to Oslo for the labour party's youth organisation's annual meeting. They believed in solidarity, equality and multiculturalism. The terrorist (I wont bother writing his name..) was determent to fight against multiculturalism, and perticularly islamisation of Europe, by using the worst type of violence.

After the horrible killings of 77 people, I am just so happy to see that the outcome of these actions has been the total opposite of what they were wanted to be by the terrorist himself. The actions was inspired by intollerance and hate - the rest of the Norwegian citizens responded with love. Love for eachother, love for the ones affected and love for our nation. This was particularly evident when 200 000 people in Oslo gathered downtown, holding up roses, making an ocean of compassion. Never before have I felt more as part of a unity. And I have never been more proud of my country. As I read in the newspaper today, when people were asked what they like the most about Norway, one person's response was;

"The fact that after a terrorist attac, people buy flowers, not weapons"

Naive, some might say. However, I think this is something unique and symbolic. It's a way of showing ourselves, evil forces and the world that bad wont outsourse good. Not if the rest of us stick together. I want to give my full gratitude to Jens Stoltenberg, for excelent leadership and courage, but also for being such a warm person. It will be remembered.

Everyone in Norway, and also foreigners, has been affected. I'm just so extremely greatful for not having lost anyone I know, for not having suffered more. After what happened, I've been more aware of how nothing can be taken for granted. We're all so fragile. All the people that brightens my life, all the people I love suddenly become even more appreaciated. I feel lucky. I have so many people in my life that makes a difference to me, people that makes me a better person, people that makes me whole. After 22.07.11 I love them even more.

My deepest compassion goes to those suffering after the loss of their loved ones. But let me quote the young leader of AUF (Labour Youth Assosiation) ;

"He took away some of our greatest roses, but he can never prevent the spring"

Take care xx

Here are some pictures of the amount of flowers, cards and candles that were put down outside the main church in Oslo, and arround the city.

Parliament building

A housewife - without the house and the husband

I've been realizing something peculiar about myself the last year, and I thought why not share it with you. As my friends know, I'm a quite restless person, always up to something. Whether it is catching up with some friends, gym, studies or work. Doing nothing is on the edge of being impossible for me. I'm also of the adventurous type, often planning ahead what my next move will be and to where. There are just so many things to do, and I've been realizing that time goes by FAST. In other words, no time to lose, and if I want to do something, there is no point of putting it on the "we'll see what happens"- list. I quote Nice; just do it!

Anyway; as the excitement-seeking girl I am, it surprises me that the last year, I've noticed a development of what I will call the "housewife-gen". Yep, that's right. I've long been enjoying cooking, but when it turns out that I'm always the person who insist on bringing a cake or decorated cupcakes to a party or inviting friends to dinner, I realize that I feel 10 years older. But the fact is; I love to make people happy with food! And I do more than willingly spend some freetime blending, stiring and beating eggs. It's actually relaxing. God, I even wish I had more time for it. So in a way I feel torn between two female rolemodels; the independent and strong woman who listen to noone but herself, and the one who is pleased by the simple act of serving someone her food. Well, there you have it; I'm a housewife without the house and the husband.

Success tarte - grandmother's recepe

Oreo cupcakes - pirate party theme!

Cheese cake for the National Day celebrations. Grandmother's recepe, and my favourite :)

Have a sweet Sunday xx

Sweet vacation

I have to admit that I've not priotitized writing my blog lately, cause there has just been so much going on. And maybe I've been a bit uninspired in the middle of exam stress and unsertanty about my future. But after two weeks of travelling, I really need to share some of my great experiences. But first I have to say that I love this time of year. The summer season makes me feel more appreaciative. Appreaciative of the smells, the green grass (even though I'm allergic..), sun-bleached hair and the fact that the sun only sets for 4 hours. Yes, I love this time of year! But as we all know (or at least will know from now on), the Norwegian summer can be very unpredictable. Although it has been surprisingly warm for a period, I was very happy to travel a bit further south, as a good start of my holidays. More precicly, to Barcelona!!

I seems like everyone has something to say about this exciting city that never sleeps. And I understand why. I went travelling with Daniel, a good friend of mine, and his boyfriend Jan. We were indeed such a good team! Even though we had some days with rain, we were never bored. I love you guys! And as I stayed at Kabul Hostel alone, I got to meet heaps of fun people. And sharing room with 9 guys went surprisingly well.. Also, I think I did my share of partying for a while - the consept of the hostel was to go to a new nightclub every night at 2am..! I managed to say no once, but then I realised that I was ok with 4 hours sleep per night. You only live once, right!? Apart from a cracy nightlife, the city itself was full of charming streets and hidden alleys, and it was a joy to walk around. The only ennoying thing; doesn't spanish people learn English at school? .. Daniel, your effort to speak spanish was highly appreaciated, and entertaining!

After a week of beachlife and city sightsing, it was time to move on to FRANCE. I got on a train that took me to Bezirs, in the South. I fianlly got to see my dear friend Alex again!!! I missed him a lot! Experiencing a heat that is very uncommon for me, we had a relaxing time, enjoying his country side home and eating loads of great french food. I felt like I had steped right into a french clich, with cheese, baguettes, a stonefloored citchen, outdoor meals in the yard and this beautiful french mum. In other words, I had a great time. After staying for three days, the perfect place to end my journey had to be Paris. I got to see my Aussie-mates from Down Under, and we got to catch up again. And this time, I realised that I didn't feel like a tourist at all. Yeej! One day I will have a Parisian address..

However, something that really bothered me during the trip was that I was not able to check my mail, and I was expecting to recieve an answer about what I will do next year.. It was quite stressful. So when I arrived back in Oslo on Tuesday, I was shaking of happiness when I realiced that I'm accepted for french studies in Montpellier!!! I feel so lucky, and I know this is an opportunity that I wont regret that I reached out for. I can't wait!! I'm moving in the end of August, leaving the student village in Oslo, probably for good. It feels a bit strange, but in another way I'm ready to change my life again. I am ready for France!!

The location of Kabul Hostel :)

Visiting the aquarium on a rainy day

Daniel and Jan

The famous Segrada Church that has been under construction for ages..

The house of the famous arcitect, Gaudi. Looks like in a fairytale!

Drinking mojitos on the beach

La Playa!




Weekday Wonders

Now it's for sure about time to write some words about what's been going on lately. Cause the days just pass by so quickly, and I realize that soon it's summer!! The semester is almost finished, but I still have some work to do. Actually, I only have my french exam left:D But these last weeks I've been an early bird at the library, trying (with more or less success) to be efficient. Because it has been hard to sit in the library when summer took Oslo by surprise in mid-April. The air was warm, and the sun was out, people eating ice creem and doing barbieque's at campus, having breakes every hour.. Life's not too bad, even during the exam period! Especially not when I got to meet Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, on an ordinary Thursday when he having a lecture about the growing importance of Asia and Norway and Australias role in the new power divide. I even got a picture with him, and managed to exchange some words. I don't think I ever felt so unimportant!:P

In the middle of all this, it was again time to celebrate Norway's National Day on the 17th of May (Hurray!). But this year, I was lucky not to have an exam two days after! I therefore had plenty of time and energy to just hang out with good friends and enjoy a day off. But I've never felt more like a house wife, waking up at 6am to finish a cake..(I was too excited to sleep!) Anyway, it was as usual full of people down town, everyone were happy and smiling and waving to the king. And when I saw a girl in a "bunad", our traditional costume, and a hijab, it made me so happy! I'll put up some pictures:)

And what else is going on.. Well, I'm still waiting in pure excitement about my reply from Science Po Paris. They already sent me two e-mails to confirm that my application was complete and that it was to be taken a decision SOON. Both times my heart skipped a beat, and now I'm of course checking my e-mailes ALL the time. Becaue SOON doesn't really say anything, does it? Well, I'll just have to wait. And also, I'll SOOn hear from the University in Montpellier. My patience is facing a challenge, that's for sure..

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy myself as much as possible, and thanks to my wonderful friend ANETA, that's not a problem. Thank you so much for all those hours chatting, dancing, laughing and studying together. You are amazing! Even though you're not blessed with facebook these days (...) I hope you read this;) Love you babe!

Also, today I finally spoke with my best friend Mitra on skype. Miss you so much, and it was awesome to finally catch up. See you in Oslo soooon!!<3

17th of May breakfast down town with the gang!:)

Me and my favourite british guy, James^^

Cute kids..

Karl Johans gate, the main street

Crazy lady singing about Jesus

Waiting for the king


My cheesecake^^

Very true!!

Mr Kevin Rudd :D

Well, here I'm managing to utter some words about studying in Brisbane last year.. At least he looks interested:P

Smile Kevin!


Change of season

This winter has been so long that I had almost lost faith in a new spring arriving. But now it seems like the waiting time is over. Finally!! I feel like I just woke up from a long, uncomfortable dream, just to find the wonder of spring outside my window. Now everything looks so much brighter. I figured long time ago that my mood is quite dependent on the weather. And the thought of soon being able to leave home with sandals on my feet makes me so happy!

During these 6 months of winter, I guess people have been somewhere else than in the city centre of Oslo. Because when I went there last weekend, they had suddenly all returned! I'm sure all 500 000 inhabitants of Oslo where thinking the same - to enjoy an ice cream near the harbour. Oslo feels actually like a capital now - good! And this season reminds me that I actually like living in this city (Not that it changes my dream to leave for France). I love the fact that a 5 minute ferry ride can take me to an Island in the Oslo fjord, or that the lake and the forest is a 20 minute walk away. I would love to be more outdoor these days, but unfortunately now is the time to concentrate on my exams.. At least part time.

But also, I have a french language test soon!!! If I pass it (fingers crossed!!) I'll be the happiest person on earth, because then I can go to the South of France to study french for a whole year. And finally speak french, joho!! God how much I want to do that. Of course, that will mean that I have to leave great friends in Norway. Also great friends that I got this semester, and that I never thought I would be so attached to. But this time it wont be to the ather side of the world.. Or who knows!?

Anyway, here are some pictures taken with a friend of mine that is interested in photography. They're taken near a lake close to my place. As you can see, the water is still icy! In other words, it can be 18 degrees, but winter haven't quite let go..yet!

World Ski Championship in Oslo - From Outside the Bubble

At the moment there seems to be a bubble surounding Norway. A bubble which makes all kinds of world events less important, less visible. Yes, because at the moment, the World Ski Championship happens to be arranged in Oslo. Which happens to be where I live. And my dear God, since it started last Wednesday, it seems like experiencing the National Day over and over again! Because obviously, this is a BIG deal. For Norwegians, this is of course as big as hosting the World Cup in football or something. Of course, it's cool and everything. But for the few of us that can honestly say that "No, I don't think I'll go watching normal skijump combined for women" or "actually, it's not such a big deal for me to camp in a tent in order to get the best spot watching cross-country skiing, 15 km for men..".. those people (myself included) are most likely to be confronted by friends or family who want to know exactly WHY that is the case?!? Well, how can I explain that.. Ok, to put it this way; I am as interested in watching winter sports as I am in football. No offence!

The thing is that if you don't have a Norwegian flag painted in your face these days, you're regarded as a foreigner. And even though I'm not taking part in the celebrations, I have to say that it's interesting to see how much people around me seem to care. Down town you can find a big meltingpot of traditional food, whool outlets, roaring cow bells (symbolizes the country side?) and people with their skis in the metro. Wow, if I were a foreigner I sure would have felt like I had arrived somewhere peculiar! I were in for a challenge trying to do some shopping in the middle of all of this. Squizing between ice-sculptures, being distracted by signs telling me where to buy moose burgers. I say it again - WOW!

And the national spirit is not only present down town - at uni too. Take today for example. While sitting in the computer room, I noticed that the deeply concentrated guy sitting next to me with his headset on was watching cross-country skiing live. Trying to ignore his sudden sounds of excitement, I left for a seminar. Halfway through, the seminar leader showed us the updated number of medals obtained by each country. (Obviously to show people that Norway is on the top!) And as I'm coming home, I find my flatmate watching a program of a retired ski athlet on national tv.

So, the world which exists outside the bubble of the skijump and the slopes; see you next Sunday!!!

With the sun shining through my window

With the sun shining through my window and a clear blue sky outside, my mood rises even though the temperature is still down to -10 degrees. It still is a wonderful feeling to wake up to a shiny room and the sun in your face. A real happiness boost! Sometimes I wish I could take the time more often to appreaciate the small things in life that makes me feel good. Like the sun shining in my face. I have a tendensy to be focused on the next thing that is going to happen, something which prevents me from living right now, in the present. That's quite stupid, I know! For example, on a monday I like to have an outlook of the week ahead, and I have to admit that it makes me feel relaxed to know that something will be happening every day. In other words, boreness is what I dread the most. I'm sure I'm not the only one that remember their parents saying to them as a kid "It's healthy to be bored once in a while!" I still remember how much I disagreed. How could it be true?? Now, ten years later, I can see the point; because when do we really have time to take a break from our busy lives and just BE in the moment? Speaking for myself, that doesn't happen too often. Unfortunately.

Conclusion; I have to be better at doing nothing. So I could as well start today, right? Yep, I think Sunday is a good day for that kind of business. To do nothing. I have to start at once, cause I am going to work at 3pm. So looking at the sun, my thoughts is at the blue sky, as I'm trying hard to just be in the moment..

The sky is really blue. Soon it will be summer! At least spring. And I will be able to buy new sandals and feel the grass tickling between my toes, as I try to find the right spot for a place in the sun. And I'll be able to make a barbeque on an island in the Oslo fjord, maybe it wont even rain that day! Oh, and I have to find out what I'm doing this summer. Maybe am I going to France for language courses? I hope so. I will be done with my bachelor by then, wow, that's cool actually! Oh, when thinking of my bachelor, I have to start writing my thesis soon. About the EU and the accession prosess of Turkey...

Well.. I guess I need some practice. Now I have to go to work, a place where I definitely should be doing something. Enough of doing nothing for now!!

Have a great week!

Time management - I'm working on it!

Today was not like other Sundays. Almost, but not exactly. You see, as I'm used to go to work on Syndays, I put my alarm clock at 6.45am, as I normally do in order to avoid a stressful morning. But actually I didn't. I woke up 30 min after my phone was supposed to wake me up, and for the first time in my life I spent 10min from the moment I opened my eyes until I was waiting for the subway. Having almost no time to put on socks, I ran out of the door without contact lenses, seeing everything in a foggy frame. No need to say that I was happy it was Sunday morning, and that the possibility of meeting someone I knew was like zero. (And if I did, they would've been half drunk anyway.)

It is also worth mentioning that I had to wait 20min for the next subwayline passing, which made me realize (after 5 min running) that it was -15 degrees and bloody cold!!! I guess I should have checked the thermometre.. After going off the subway, I started on the 20min walk uphill to my work place, something which made me lose the feelings in my thighs and realise that I really should listen to my grand father. After all, he's right; "You can't dress to impress in this country". Anyway, I made it to work with only 10min delay, but oh my God what a morning. And the pensioners at work told me, that as a woman (..) I should know better. Ha! Ok I got it, put on whool tights next time. At least my thighs didn't stay red the whole day.

Anyway, this is for me a reminder of how TIME often seems to be insufficient. It so often seems to be so much to do, and so little time. But all in all, it is all about prioritizing, right? So, being a bit inspired by the tv show "This I have to do before I die", I desided to write down some of the things that I HAVE to do before I die;

1. Travel to all the continents

2. Learn how to make croissants

3. Spend a whole day in bed

4. Make a photo exhibition

5. Spend way too much money on the perfect shoes.

6. Dance in the rain

7. Propose to someone

8. Write a love letter (and post it!)

9. Sleep under an open sky (somewhere warm!)

I hope you had a restful Sunday, and that you'll have a good TIME next week. And don't waste your TIME, tomorrow might be too late;)

I'm adding some pictures that I like, some of them taken by my favourite photographers, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and Bert Hardy. Enjoy!


Hello spring??

At this time every year, I get the feeling that winter has just lasted for half an eternity. All I want is to wake up and find a non-slippery sidewalk and dripping roofs. Except last year, almost exactually one year ago, when I knew that I was escaping the winter in Australia. God that felt good! However, this year I have to endure the whole winter, and take what it brings along.

It might not be a secret that these last years I haven't felt like a true Norwegian. By that I mean that I don't get an urge to jump into my cross country skis early in November, or that I want to spend Easter in a cabin with no electricity or flushing toilets. But this winter I thought "Ok, let's give it a shot!" And I went skiing. Twice! And then it all became clear - it really isn't my cup of tea. And about the ice that HAS to decorate the streets..I fell so bad!! My knee looks like it has been to war. Only good thing was that noone was watching..(I think)

So at the moment, my skis are safe in my cupboard, and I am officially in spring mode. I know it's only February, and that winter most likely wont let go before April, but still! So now I just hope that I will keep myself busy at uni and maybe with some travelling, so that time will fly! And I don't think it will be a problem, cause this is most likely my final semester in Oslo, so plenty of things to do. I have a degree to finish! In 4 months I have a bachelor in my pocket and then I'm open for new adventures again - outside Norway.

But in the meantime, there are actually some things that can be enjoyed during winter;

- Parties with friends!!

- Indoor gym, thank God!

- Sitting in a caf, watching people trying to keep their balance outdoors. Haha

- French practice with Youna and Jeanne:D

- The feeling that it's early in the semester, which means that examsare stillfaaar away^^

So I think I'll manage to get through yet another winter. Cause it's only a matter of time before the snow has to give spring the chance to florish. HA!

Some pictures from January;

Country presentation about Norway with ESN

Out with work! and my good friend Stian in a party^^

And look what I found in my backpack!! A note from one of my seminars in Australia!!!

And something wonderful happend - I got Timtams!!! My absolute favourite snack from Australia! A friend of mine returned from Sydney with pure pleasure wrapped up, and I am determent to keep at least some of them until June. (Good luck Jeanette)

Yes I did it - and the bonfire is real!;)

Wish you all a warm February!! xx

Paris - je t'aime

Now it's clear, once and for all. I want to move to Paris. I spent four days there last week, in this city that has conquored my heart. I booked my flight some months ago, and now I finally got to see my french friends whom I met in Brisbane. I had been looking forward to seeing them for such a long time. After all, we started a new life together 6 months ago. And I have kind of been feeling that our experience together has been fading because of the distance between us. I have felt a bit isolated up here in Norway, and the fact that we all have our separate lives, makes our exchange seem almost like a dream. But instantly, when I once again met Solene, my great friend that offered to house me for those days, I felt like we had never parted. Everything was the same, except that Brisbane's skyscrapers were replaced by a Parisian sense of romantism. I was so happy to see her and the others, all togehter 7 of my Brissie-friends. We had so much fun once again, doing what we usually did together - partying, having dinner and most importantly - having FUN!

In addition to meeting old friends, what made my weekend so awesome was that I felt so welcome living with Solene and her two flatmates - Jean Baptiste and Laurent - thank you so much guys, you both rock! They, too, made me want to stay longer. And as I said, now I'm no longer in doubt, not even the slightest, about moving to Paris. In one way or another, I'll make it. I have to! It was so strange, but I felt so home there, and I just want to get more time to fully appreaciate the Parisian life, with all it's cafs, streetlife, culture and food.

I might be Norwegian, but my heart belongs to Paris.

Sorry for the clich, but it's true. I do like Norway aswell, but I figured, only in small doses;) I went cross-country skiing here the other day, which I haven't done in years. And I tell you - I've never felt so Norwegian! But also, it was as I pretended to be someone that I'm not. It's not fully me - I'm not borned with skis on my legs. Yes, it's nice, but yes; I can live without it. I guess that summes it up for now. Until next time I return to Paris, here are some pictures I took of the city during winter. Hope you'll like them!

Solne - drinking her morning tea


Ice-scating up in Tour Eiffel!

Alex and me:D



Old love never fades

Les mer i arkivet Desember 2014 August 2014 Juli 2014