Monday, August 28, 2006

Into this Tunnel of Love…I think I am already there

Tunnel of Love
Bruce Springsteen

My mom introduced me to this song on a trip back from the Lake. It’s the title song from Bruce Springsteen’s album Tunnel of Love, the album he wrote after going through a very public divorce with his first wife. The album also features Brilliant Disguise, one of our family’s favorite Springsteen song. So far it is one of the songs I have listened to at least once a day here in Norway.

Fat man sitting on a little stool
Takes the money from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you
Hands me the ticket smiles and whispers good luck
Cuddle up angel cuddle up my little dove
We’ll ride down baby into this tunnel of love

I can feel the soft silk of your blouse
And them soft thrills in our little fun house
Then the lights go out and its just the three of us
You me and all that stuff were so scared of
Gotta ride down baby, into this tunnel of love

The line “you me and all the stuff we’re so scared of” is my favorite. It makes me think of my relationship with my Kristen. What we’re thinking, what our expectations of each other are, what are our hopes, and how things can scare us in our relationship and make us question what we may think is fact. For example, this whole thing of me being in Norway.

Theres a crazy mirror showing us both in 5-d
Im laughing at you you’re laughing at me
There’s a room of shadows that gets so dark brother
Its easy for two people to lose each other in this tunnel of love

Everyone has baggage and things that they are not proud of. Even the happiest person on the planet, or the happiest couple has baggage or something hidden. This is what I assume needs to be risen above later in the song. What he is referring to is how people can get caught up in this chaos that is love and lose each other. I don’t want this to happen with the KU and me. The darkness for Kristen and I, IMO, is me being in Norway and the uncertainty if Kristen is going to come and visit me, who I am meeting, things that I am doing, when we have always done a lot of things together. I think this will be good for us both (of course I say that now), because I can’t say “This is going to ruin us”…because it isn’t, Kristen and I are strong enough to handle this, and if she comes and visits me here we will be that much stronger.

It ought to be easy ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you’ve got to learn to live with what you cant rise above if you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love

Also that line in bold, the “you got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above”. The never-ending issue of compromises, negotiations, and sacrifices that people make when they’re in love. For example this summer, Kristen wanted me to spend a couple of days down at a lake cabin that her Dad had rented for the weekend, just a couple of days before I left for Norway. This entire summer I had spent almost every weekend at the lake doing projects with my family (see previous posts), so I was tired of going to cabins, and didn’t really want to go Dassel and then be rushed back to go to Oslo.

So, I pitched a fit and was able to make a compromise between Kristen and I that the last weekend I had, the two of us would have the lake to ourselves. It worked, we had a great weekend together alone, and got a chance to talk about what the rest of the next 3 months would be like.

Kristen has started looking into flights for October. I am going to Bergen soon with some people in my group for some hiking and site seeing then flying back (which I still need to book my tickets for YIKES). I was thinking the KU and I could tour around areas of Oslo I know and explore some of Norway, then go to Sweden or Denmark and see if those could be places to possibly settle down later in life. Ideally for the two of us would be Germany for our backgrounds are more German than Scandinavia, but who knows what will happen.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The People you meet while doing…Laundry

The Laundry mat, or the laundry facilities of a dormitory or student living community such as the one at Sogn Studentby can be one of the best places to meet other people for love or friendship. In our society, no one walks around nude, so we all must wear clothes and no one likes their clothes being constantly dirty so they must be washed. I met Kristen at the laundry facilities in Middlebrook Hall at the University of Minnesota, and had my first conversation with her and her best friend and roommate Meghan Halverson.
After that first meeting, I spent the next six months chasing her until we became a couple and the rest is still in progress :-D

Friday morning, I woke up around 10:00 AM and went down to start some laundry from the week’s activities. When I first walked down, I met a guy named Pablo who helped me figure out how to use the machines that were slightly different considering all the directions were in Norwegian and all of the temperature settings were in degrees Celsius. After figuring that out, I purchased some laundry detergent at the REMA 1000 Supermarket at Sogn, however, couldn’t find any dryer sheets! Puzzled, I talked to the store clerk as I was checking out, and he said that he had never heard of them and that they didn’t stock them. Let’s just say, it made it interesting folding clothes after coming out of the dryer without the dryer sheets, although Frank explained to me that more likely they use Fabric Softener during the wash cycle rather than the dry as we do in America.

Anyway, while competing for machines I met Thomas and Tamara, both students from Germany who were doing laundry at the same time as me. Both of them have great English and were able to carry a conversation. Seeing that it was a nice day, I asked them what they were up to the rest of the day and if they would be up for venturing to Sognsvann, the Lake close to Sogn and Kringsja.

Myself, Tamara and Thomas at Sognsvann

The three of us headed out to Sognsvann and did some swimming. Man, was that a cold lake!! I have been in cold lakes before in Minnesota, but even this was beyond cold. It was very refreshing. The water was surprisingly clean as well and very fresh. There were a lot of people in and around the lake enjoying the day.

The Lake at Sognsvann0

From the Lake, Thomas went to join his law school buddies, and Tamara and I walked to campus and met up with her “buddy group”. We walked up this real tall hill entering campus and I convinced Tamara to take a few pictures. I got a great profile shot of her looking out over the hill, while the one with me isn’t that good. But oh well, that is photography. There were a number of “buddy groups” and students that had occupied the top of the hill and both Tamara and I agreed that we should try to drag our “buddy group” over to the hill. I though the hill would be perfect to roll down and make a video with, and it looked like others had rolled down smaller parts.

We got to campus, and met up with the buddy group. However, it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it was going to be. Trying to make the best of it and not make a stink I participated. We started out by going around a circle and introducing ourselves and what had brought us to Norway or something. I dived right in. I told everyone that I was from the USA, specifically Minnesota (the best kept secret in the US ;) and that from coming to Norway, it really reminded me of home and Northern Minnesota because of the trees and clear blue sky. I told the group that I understood why Europeans settled where they did, they settled in places that reminded them of home. Everyone else went around, and then there was the awkward silence that comes from a leader that doesn’t know what one is doing or doesn’t necessarily care. Attempting to capitalize on that lack of activity, Tamara and I suggested we all go to the hill and roll around and play instead of just sitting. The buddy leader didn’t like the idea. I also suggested we all play duck, duck, greyduck which then I explained how the game was played, but no one seemed to be in the mood for running around. Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the leader, and should have rolled down with Tamara while it was sunny.

Saturday, there were plans for all of the international students to go to the picnic on one of the islands. We were all going to meet at 11:30 at the Oslo Central Station and catch a bus to the ferry. However, Saturday morning it poured rain. So instead of going to the island, I hung out with Tamara and her friends. A bunch of us went over to building 8 and ate a pasta lunch with a bunch of international students and ate till we couldn’t eat anymore.

Sunday, I and all the other SUST group members had dinner together. We made chicken fajitas with chicken, and peppers provided and cooked by Andrea while I provided the Tortillas, cheese, salsa, and onions. It was nice of all to eat together and hopefully this will inspire other meals together to continue a group identity of our own and possibly strengthen friendships that are still in their infant stages, in my opinion.

Now it is Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll continue to keep this blog updated and continue to take more pictures :-D

until next time,


Friday, August 18, 2006

Great End to a Very Long Week

I guess I am not doing as great a job of keeping this blog updated and keeping everyone informed as I hoped. You’ll have to forgive me, of course, with the whole fiasco of not having bags arrive on time and the reflections that come with it. Some of these reflections include but are not limited to:

• Maybe I should have stayed in Detroit for the night. I could have gotten full nights sleep and had all of my stuff when I arrived in Oslo. However, that is not entirely a guarantee considering the horror stories I have heard about Amsterdam and people’s luggage going missing.
• Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea going through one of the airports in London. Well at least it wasn’t Hethro, which was the worst to be flying out of. Plus, it made the trip more of an adventure and in a way prepared me for all of the pitfalls someone in the Amazing Race would face.
• It is too bad that I wasn’t able to make my connection in Prague and then onto Oslo. Oh well, I’ll have to see “The Golden City” some other time in my travels.

Eventually all my bags arrived and I was semi settled in my room H0407 in building 28 in Sogn Studentby. The first bag arrived Saturday evening, even though it was the bag with winter clothes and such, I was still happy to finally have a bag and fresh clothes after being in the same shirt and jeans for close to 48 hours! Happy that the first bag had arrived, I and the other members of my program went on a night on the town lead by a local Norwegian named Ketile living in the same building as Andrea Larson. He took us to an older part of Oslo along the river and we did a major bar crawl. Having pre-partied before hand with red whine and whiskey, I got drunk pretty quickly and was ready to go home around 2:30 AM when a big local Norwegian guy asked me if I wanted to fight!!!! After that, I ran into the bar and grabbed my friends and we found a taxi back to Sogn.

Sunday August 13, 2006, was productive. That morning I ventured into the heart of Oslo once again and purchased my student public transport pass that is good until the end of August when I must purchase another. From downtown I took the T-Bane or the Metro from the Jernbanetorget station to the Blindern station that is down the hill from the University of Oslo campus. I toured around in the rain until finally locating the building in which the International Summer School or ISS has its office and where our group would be meeting Monday through Thursday. I was a little upset that I couldn’t hang out with the other members of the SUST program, however, I had to wait by the phone for information about my final piece of luggage that arrived and was later delivered around 8:30 PM. Immediately I unpacked everything and found my toiletries bag and took a well-needed hot Shower.

Monday, our Scandinavian Urban Studies Term SUST had its first class, which was more of an orientation of sorts and another round of getting to knows. We also discussed the guidelines that members of the program should all adhere to. The contract ends with the words “Be Pumped. Totally”, or as our program director Tim phrases it “Be Pumped Full stop (meaning period), Totally” which was of high comedy for all of us. For lunch, all of us in the cafeteria of the student Union which has a daily special for 39 Kroner. I think the rest of that day, we spent shopping in downtown Oslo going to a variety of shops with Mark and I just looking while the girls did most of the buying. I think potentially over the weekend I will make another trip in to maybe pick up a "hoody" or a warmer zippy as the cold weather is rapidly approaching.

Tuesday, Tim got the majority of us registered with the University of Oslo and the other members of the group took their placement exams for the Norwegian Language class. That afternoon, all of us participated in a large welcoming ceremony for international students from students and faculty from the University of Oslo. We were all broken up into “buddy groups” who then toured us around the campus and had scheduled other activities throughout the week. However, since SUST started early, most other students start class this coming Tuesday or Monday, we have missed out on those other activities.

Wednesday, I had my meeting with Tim. We discussed my Independent Study Project ISP that will focus on the Public Transport systems in Norway and how they are planned, funded, operated, maintained, and how they relate to the overall development patterns in Oslo. We also had to discuss our first readings from the SUST Compendium or reading packet, which we all purchased on Monday. In the afternoon, we had a meeting with the International Student Advisor for SUST Ted Essebaggers, who also informed us of the special events that were available to international students during their stay in Norway including guided tours, film nights, coffee hours, and hiking tours, which I attended this evening. Also, I finally signed my housing contract and got a laundry card plus got a NEW FREAKING ROOM!!! I had applied for a room transfer earlier in the week, and finally something opened up. However, this room is on a building on the top of the hill, but on the plus side is very large and has Internet!! On top of all that, Heather and I made our run to IKEA and bought some things to better our lives here at Sogn, with most of the things I plan on donating to the SUST students that come next time, kind of like a small subsidy and leaving my mark, although I may have to take the Duvet cover back with me even if it is Twin Size, we could use it at the Lake :-D

Finally today, we had a great guest lecturer from the Folk High school program in Scandinavia who gave us a brief history of the origins and the importance of the Folk High schools and their roles as centers of enlightenment. To top things off the weather cleared and it was a warm beautiful day in Oslo and around campus. The nice weather, inspired me to whip out my camera and do some mad photography, which hopefully will be posted on both my flickr page and my Facebook page tomorrow at the earliest. A bunch of my group members talked about going to the lake, however, ran out of time when I had to attend a meeting on one of the special events: Hiking in Norway. Hopefully there are still some spaces available because from the descriptions this would be an opportunity of a lifetime.

This evening, I took it easy and relaxed around the new room. I called my girly Kristen back in the states (in fact just got off the phone with her) and caught up with the folks who are getting set to leave for the Lake and my cousin Monica’s wedding this weekend in Bemidji.
Tomorrow, I plan on catching up on some much-needed ZZZ’s and doing some well needed laundry. Hopefully I can figure out how to set up the Internet connection in my room, the student office only gave us directions for PC’s the Bastards.

So, thus ends the longest week, and we’ve only been here for 5 days!!! I am just glad that all of us made it here, with all of our stuff, especially after Tim told us today that over 20,000 bags are lost at Hethro airport every year.

Until next time, let’s hope the weather holds until Monday and that I have no problems setting up the internet :-D


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chaos…Total and utter chaos

-Note, this was the first post I wrote when I arrived in Oslo. I am working on setting up a new blog, but in the meantime enjoy this and the photos that I update soon on flickr.

Saturday August 12th, 1:09 AM (Oslo Time I think)

This would describe the past 24 hours in my excursion from Minneapolis to Oslo, Norway. Thursday morning, I awoke and quickly finished packing my carry on luggage as well as finishing up the checked luggage. I didn’t sleep very well the night before, having being drained physically and emotionally from the difficult task of saying goodbye to my Kwisten (who will be turning 21 as I am typing this!!!). I’ll admit it, I cried pretty hard when it came to the final goodbye.
As most of the world knows by now, 21 terrorists were caught by British Intelligence, and their plot of bringing liquids on airplanes for the use of liquid explosives was foiled. However, for everybody else this meant that there could be ABSOLUTY NO LIQUIDS OR GELLS of any kind brought on with carry-on luggage. This presented a hassle for many travelers who were forced to check those items. I had seen the report earlier in the day and was ready by having put those restricted items into my checked luggage.
My parents drove me to the Minneapolis Airport and saw me off at the gates, I got pretty emotional and cried because I didn’t know when I was going to talk to the two of them again. However, I was confident that everything with my existing itinerary of:
• Minneapolis to Detroit
• Detroit to Amsterdam
• Amsterdam to Oslo
…would go off without any trouble, I had followed all the rules and was more than on time.

Boy was I wrong.

For starters, the first flight Minneapolis to Detroit was delayed from 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM and then even later to 5:50 PM. After that, we all boarded the aircraft and were about to Taxi, when the captain announced over the PA that the plane needed maintenance and we would all have to exit the plane. On top of that, the weather decided it would thunderstorm with lightning to effectively close down the runways and keep baggage throwers from doing their jobs. However, at the same time Northwest and KLM had a flight from Minneapolis DIRECTLY to Amsterdam that left without a hiccup at 7:00 PM when I was stuck on the broken down plane. After the broken down plane, I still believing that I had to get to Detroit to catch my connection, which was at 9:20 PM, rushed over to the next available flight. Thinking that I was on and ready, I relaxed a little. However, I had forgotten that there is a time difference between Minnesota and Michigan and missed my connection by over an HOUR!!!! I nearly gave up in the Detroit Airport.

Being stuck in Detroit, I examined the options in front of me. Northwest and KLM offered me a hotel stay for the night with a flight to Amsterdam at 4:00 PM. The other option was to catch the flight from Detroit to London (big mistake, but more on that later) and then to figure out a way to Amsterdam and my final destination Oslo from there. Having a stigma against Detroit, and from a boost of confidence after a call to home to let the folks know I was ok, I hopped on the plane to London at 12:00 AM Friday August, 11th with the hope of catching a connecting flight to Prague and then Oslo later in the day getting me in at 3:30 PM.

The flight was long but enjoyable. I struck up some good conversations with the lady sitting next to me, who was taking her four cats from Detroit to their new home in the swinging UK just outside of Nottingham (yeah, the city in the Robin Hood Lore). Unlike me, she slept through almost the entire flight, while I watched Over the Hedge and Monsters Inc. on the on-demand video for entertainment. I tried to watch a serious movie but was far to tired, but was able to get some young British girls to say no the funky way that they do it as Frank has often joked about, I had to prove it for myself. I tried to catch some shuteye, but as usual had trouble falling and staying asleep on the plane. I believe we got into London at 12:20 PM, meaning I had missed my connection to Prague, which was scheduled at 12:05 PM, and so I began trying to find ways of getting to Amsterdam and eventually Oslo.

I rushed through Customs, and immediately went to NWA and KLM’s desk that were expecting me this time and informed me of a flight with British Airways from London to Amsterdam but that I would have to hurry and I would have to check my Backpack. Because of the incident Thursday, British authorities were not permitting any carry-on luggage of any kind except for wallets, key travel information, and passports. All other items were to be checked including carry-on bags themselves. This I didn’t have a problem with. What I did have a problem with was that they gave me the flight information at 2:20 Pm telling me that the plane would begin boarding at 3:30 PM and then leave as soon as possible. Not wanting to miss another flight, I ran as fast as I could and tried to bypass the cue by finding the nearest BA employee and asking if they could get me on the flight. Instead of booking me at getting me to the head of the line, they made me stand in line and when it was my turn they came and shouted flights to Amsterdam until they found me or I found them. Having checked my bag, I frantically located the gate and ran as fast as my legs could carry me to the gate.

Suffice to say I made it, but if this were the Amazing Race, the plane would have left without me :(
On the plane from London to Amsterdam I met four old ladies going to Amsterdam for a Holiday and coming back on Monday. I teased them that they were going to cause them nothing but trouble, and in turn they encouraged me to keep on trucking and to get to Oslo.
I arrived at the Amsterdam airport at about 6:20, and then immediately caught my connecting flight to Oslo, which I had arranged in London. When in London, I had to check my Backpack, however, the final destination was for Oslo with the backpack when it could have been Amsterdam. Being without my pack for those three hours made me feel very vulnerable due to the important things in my hands (travel information, boarding passes) and the valuables around my neck (passport, Kroner, Wallet).

I eventually made it all the way here (Yeah for Me) and met up with my program director Tim who met me at the airport after I called him from a pay phone using my debit card (maybe not such a good idea…). However, my checked luggage did not arrive with me or before me and instead will be here today in the Afternoon hopefully around 2-4 PM.
Having had the day I just had, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad staying the night in Detroit and catching the flight to Amsterdam. Then again, I wouldn’t have had the adventure of going from flight to flight like it was life or death and not having your travel pack. It was a thrill, but now I am tired and want to go to bed.

This is Andrew’s first post of many from the land of the Midnight Son Oslo Norway, I love you all and miss you very much.
Until next time,


Friday, August 04, 2006

The Countdown has begun…

I leave for Oslo, Norway late August 10th. I have six days left, but already I have taken care of a lot of things:
• Got all of my shoes purchased, 3 pair, one white pair of Adidas, a black pair of Steve Madden’s, and some sweet Men's Merrell Chameleon II Stretch hiking shoes.
• Acquired my International ID card from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center. This will make it easier to get into museums and other student events at the student rate.
• Picked up some school supplies
• etc.
There are still a lot of things that I have left to do. I hope to set up a new blog soon about my adventures in Norway and possibly purchase a Flickr Pro account for uploading digital photos that I take when I’m abroad.

But first…Kristen and I are heading to the cabin for the weekend, hopefully Saturday thru Monday, to enjoy a weekend at the lake just the two of us :-D

My dad and I, just came back from the lake having finished the siding and window project, described in the last post. We also put in the new air conditioner so that my Grandfather can enjoy the lake and not be too affected by the heat wave that Minnesota and the rest of the Nation have been experiencing.

Figured since I haven’t posted in a while, I would let the blogosphere know what’s going on in the life of the author Ain’t Nothin but a Drew thing…if anybody reads anymore ;)

Until next time,