Saturday, September 02, 2006

Building Community…One Kitchen at a Time

The first three weeks of the Scandinavian Urban Studies Term have passed. The common topic: Identity. The factors that create national identity, importance of identity in the future of the Welfare State, etc. All of this was very interesting, looking at how the Norwegian identity was created relatively recently due to Norway’s independence only 100 years ago.

In a way, we have all been building community and identity on our floor of building 48. A couple of nights ago, about 5 of us were all in the kitchen. We were all cooking, eating, chatting, and cleaning up together. It was great when all of a sudden the Norwegians would just start having full fledged conversations in Norsk. I would try to listen as close as I could, but still not get anything.

Anyway, after we all had finished eating and cleaning up after one another, a few of us Eliza, Mari, and myself all started talking about rearranging the kitchen into something more inviting. We also discussed the situation with the garbage can and its existing location. Right now it sits on the balcony outside of the kitchen. All of us would prefer to have a smaller one to put under the sink. That way we could take the garbage out in smaller bags, instead of one big bag that has to be dragged down the hill to the large garbage bins.

So, around midnight Mari and Eliza started rearranging the kitchen, set up a bunch of candles and turned the room into a kitchen and study room including music!! We were listening to a particular Norwegian artist, and I asked Mari if I could import the music onto my lappy. She said yes and now I have some Norwegian music on the lappy!!

Back to the title of the post, all of these interactions has helped build community in building 48 floor 2. Similar to interaction in the dorms of colleges in the state of sharing a floor, eating together, and interacting with other students on other floors of the building as well as your own. The difference between this student living community and the dormitories is that there is no cafeteria, that’s on campus, and instead everyone cooks for themselves and has their own room. In a way, this is more like Riverbend Commons and the newer student housing buildings on the University of Minnesota.

I’ll try to get some pictures of all the members of the floor together, and when the kitchen is cleaned and nicely organized (my week to do it wish me luck) I’ll snap some pictures of that too.

This is another post along the lines of the People you meet in the laundry room, another place is the kitchen, common communal places where human interaction is inevitable. So to those still loyal readers of Ain’t Nothing but a Drew Thing, send me some recipes so that I can share them with my fellow flatmates and SUST group. This goes double for family members :-D

The past three days have been beautiful weather here in Oslo, Norway. Not sure what I have planned for the rest of the day, but it will probably end with me falling in a heap as has been the case. Need to do some laundry, eat some breakfast, and possibly do some shopping, see if I can find a Norwegian flag and pick up some postcards for those in Minnesota.

Take care for now, and until next time, work on those kitchens you never know who you are going to meet or what you will make :-D



Mom said...

It is surprising how fast place can influence relationships. Proximity is the biggest factor in who we interact with. Having the opportunity to interact with someone informally creates the possibility of a relationship. I would think your exploration of Nowegian identity would also have focused on the force of land/location in influencing identity. Living somewhere gets us attached to a place and helps us think of ourself as "from that place". It becomes important to our identity. Think of how the lake gives us a sense of tribe as we visit the space that so many of our extended kin have occupied.
Now, for food. When in doubt go to - you will find a lot of recipes.

Kristen said...

I'm excited to hear more about your adventures in Norway. I hope all is well.

Franky J said...

Interesting that Norway gained its independence 100 years ago. Who did they gain independence from? Or did they just decide to do-away with the monarchy and convert to a democracy 100 years ago.

Keep writing, we're reading!

Andrew said...

To answer your question Franky J:
The Norwegians never had independence. They were first in a union of Viking Kings who were then all brought under one Kingdom by St. Olaf (like the college).
After the Buponic Plague knocked out most of the population in the late 14th Century, Norway came under the control of Denmark and was under its rule for 400 years, what Norwegians refer to as 400 years of darkness. The constituition was written in 1814 after being released from Denmark who lost the Napolianic war, and Norway was given to Sweden and spent the next couple of decades under their rule with a Swdish King but a homerule over dealings in Norway. In 1905, Norway broke away from the Swedish King and got a King from Denmark to be the new King of Norway. Norway is a relativly young Nation, but has a very convoluted history.