Since I could not be home for thanksgiving this year I decided to make a thanksgiving dinner for some of my Norwegian friends who have been especially hospitable to me while I've been here. We still had classes on Thursday so I had the dinner on Saturday. All the baking and cooking took quite a lot of time and energy...not to mention finding all the ingredients needed. Luckily my friend Daniel was kind enough to drive to the stores and back home so I didn't have to carry all those groceries up the hill! I was stoked to find fresh cranberries at the store Meny (the more expensive store). I thought that I'd have to use lingonberries with the meal, but I was able to make a cranberry sauce from scratch. My friend Tina made the turkey and Hanna baked some delicious potato rolls. Tina was so sweet to host the dinner at her house, arrange getting extra chairs and tables in addition to baking the turkey all day. The rest of the meal I made was all from scratch. I bought bread a week before, cubed it, and dried it out for the stuffing. So in addition to Tina's turkey and Hannah's rolls I made garlic mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, gravy, candied yams, green bean casserole, and buttered carrots with fresh parsley. There is no pumpkin here, and only one store sold pecans so I made Ina Gartens pecan bar recipe for dessert. I hadn't realized before the meal that most Norwegians haven't tried stuffing, green bean casserole or cranberry sauce. It was fun getting to share our American tradition with everyone. It all turned out great. The only thing I would change if I could would have been to have had more time to chat with everyone who came and less time in the kitchen. I for sure respect people, like my mom, who often are the ones in charge of the dinner. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I look forward to celebrating it with friends and family in America next year....pumpkin pie and all.
The past couple weeks I have spent a lot of time at the bunad shop. I finally decided which style of bunad to get, øst telemarks bunad. Since this is a dress I will wear the rest of my life I want it to be as perfect as possible. Luckily, I have had tons of help from one of their employees names Tove. She has been incredibly patient with me and has spent hours helping me pick out patterns, designs, colors, etc. I appreciate her more than she probably knows. I am always welcomed with a smile and hug from her.
Now that I have finished planning the dress, the only part left is the blouse. I picked out the two styles that I was drawn to first. The blouses all have a design on the collar, cuffs and on the front of the blouse about half way down. Sadly it Turns out I am like my mother and have expensive taste. The two I chose are the most expensive styles! The more expensive of the two is a geometric design with cross stitching and would cost almost $400 ( it's the same collar that the queen of Norway has) . The second is an embroidered and closer to around $260 extra. I still liked them both very much but figured I'd go for the cheaper of the two. Tove made me a couple black and white photocopies to take home and color in so I could figure which color order o wanted. So sweet of her!!!.
Still, I was a bit discouraged about the other design I liked best but when I got home I remembered she had mentioned that I could maybe make that collar myself. I went back two days later with the color s in copy and asked her about making the other collar myself. She gave me copies of the two collar patterns I liked best, the cotton embroidery thread that I had picked out and the two different gauges of cloth that the stitching is done on. Sorry I am so poor at explaining this, I am not fluent with this genre of lingo. Anyways, I rushed home and started practicing the stitching. The pattern I like the best is the one that is done on the very tiny woven cloth. You have to count the threads for each stitch so when it is smaller it is A LOT harder to be exact.
*I started writing this blog post last week and since then I have made some progress on the stitching. The last two days I've started on the harder pattern. All the work I've done so far has taken me probably a total of 6 hours to do, much longer than the other easier one.
Here is the progress I made. You can see on the left where I miss counted and messed up a bit. Since this is just for practice I decided not to undo 20-some stitches and to just continue. Altogether this has maybe taken me about 4 or 5 hours to. Let me emphasize again how hard it is to be EXACT on the counting. Sometime the threads in the cloth appear almost invisible so it is easy to miss them.
Yup. So I will continue to practice and hopefully figure out soon which pattern and what colors I want to use. The colors I picked out look much different when actually stitched/embroidered.
Since the time I had started writing this blog entry I have gone back again to Alamankås (the bunad shop) to make the downpayment so they could start on my bunad. It takes a long time to make, but we are going to try and have it complete by time I leave in June. Tove had to ask me a couple of questions for color placement, since I had moved around and switched some of the colors in the embroidery on the bunad, so we went back to the work table to figure it out. During this time I expressed that I was not 100% stoked about the shades of the colors of the wool for the embroidery. The wool colors they use are the traditional colors, but I had seen other telemark bunads with brighter colors.
I asked if I could maybe buy wool somewhere and bring it for them to use. After I asked about that she went and grabbed a box from the back full of miscellaneous wool yarn of all sorts of colors. This is how wonderful this woman is, she constantly goes out of her way for me. I feel so blessed. I am glad that I spoke up because in the box I found vibrant light and dark green wool that I loved! There was also some violet and i light robins egg blue/turquoise color. We reworked the color scheme of the pattern again. When I left the shop I felt relieved and this time truly excited about my bunad. I am excited to share my progress with everyone!
Here are some pictures from Halloween. In Bø there are not costumes for adults, nor are there 2nd hand/thrift shops to buy costume fixings. So, I decided to make my costume accessories by hand. This year I dressed up as poison ivy, from the Batman series. I already had green tights and a vintage green swimsuit to wear, but I needed foliage. There was no live foliage around town that I could pick to use. When I went into the hardware store I saw the paint sample section and got the idea to glue the paint samples together and cut them into various ivy shapes. I bought some green wire (kinda like the kind used for twist ties) that was green and used that to string my leaves together and to make a crown. I think it turned out pretty well! All I had to buy was wire and a glue stick for less than $10! On Halloween night we started with a cord (preparty) as is custom and then I walked with two of my Norwegian friends, Maja and Guril, down to a gathering we had been invited to. It was lots of fun being surrounded by only Norwegians because I was able to practice speaking more and be forced out of my comfort zone.
Unfortunately while at that party my mom told me that our oldest dog Henry died, which of course broke my heart. Fighting back tears didn't work so I tried to escape into the stairwell to cry in private, but instead I ended up making some more new friends who were very sweet and comforted me. Everyone at that party went to Kroa for the "actual" party. There were lots of costumes, loud music, dancing and tons of fun to be had.
*Warning-didn't proof read yet, so sorry for poor grammar or spelling errors.
Last week I took a trip to Ireland with two other girls. Luckily I had a couple classes canceled so I did not feel guilty missing a couple lectures. I have always wanted to go to Ireland and was excited to finally get the chance to do so! Since the cost to fly from the west coast of the USA to Europe is quite high, I am taking advantage of the lower traveling prices. As I have mentioned before, Norway is very expensive. A roundtrip ticket on the train from Bø to Oslo alone costs about $80 USD (and that is the student price). My roundtrip ticket to Ireland cost $52. Ridiculous, right? We flew out of Oslo-Rygge airport on Tuesday night and arrived at the Dublin Airport where we took a 2.75 hour bus ride to Galway. Arriving late, we decided to find a grocery store before going to our hostel. We were able to just ask people on the street where to find a store. Everyone was so friendly and outgoing, a welcomed change of pace. Finally we found the store and it was heaven. All of a sudden everything was affordable. There was hummus, soy-yogurt, quinoa, vegetarian spring rolls, tofu, etc.. (foods that are regular staples in my diet at home in WA but can't really get in Bø). Exploring the store ended up being a fun trip in itself. On our way out of the store we stopped to ask the guard if he could direct us toward our hostel. He replied, "No I can't do that." So we just figured, OK, thats fine. We all took him at his word but then he quickly said that he was just joking and of course he could help. At this moment I realized something...I'd forgotten about sarcasm. In Norway, for the most part, people (strangers) are direct and matter of fact. I've gotten so used to blunt replies that I didn't even notice the guard joking. I felt silly. We made our way back to our hostel, settled in and went to bed.
DAY 2: Cliffs of Moher tour. Cliffs of Moher= Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride.
We decided to do a tour to get the most out of seeing the landscape of western Ireland. The tour bus picked us up at our hostel and on board we met a lovely couple from Arizona, Jim and Jolene. They were super sweet and fun to chat with. Our bus driver was also a hoot. One of my favorite quotes, "In Ireland you know a man is gay when he prefers a woman over Guinness." Unfortunately, the tour company ended up putting the 7 of us that were on that bus onto another bus...which became full once we were added. It was very crowded and not so comfortable. If it would have been a smaller bus or less people I think the tour would have been a lot better. The weather was also not on our side. Rain poured and the skies were gray, making it hard to see the landmarks our tour guide/bus driver pointed out while driving. On the way to the Cliffs of Moher we stopped by a church ruin, an ancient tomb and the fishing town of Doolin for a lunch break. Finally we made our way to the famous Cliffs of Moher. The weather cleared up a bit for us, but even with the fog it was an amazing sight to see. No picture could capture the experience.
After returning from the tour and running some errands we went out to a pub for some live music. The musicians had mentioned to shout out requests if we had any, but instead I got a pen and started to compile a list of my favorite irish songs to choose which to request. To my surprise, the guitarist/singer just grabbed the list from our table (we were sitting right beside them). He didn't know all of them but played a few: Whiskey in the Jar, Wild Rover, and Galway Girl...very appropriate since we were in Galway.
Thursday morning was a bit more exploring then Hannah and I took the bus back to Dublin city.
This is my favorite story of the entire trip:
We arrived in Dublin at the last bus stop and as I was getting off the bus I asked the driver if he could direct me towards the Mountjoy neighborhood. He asked why I needed to get there and I shared that thats where our hostel was. After a quick glance back the driver asked if the one remaining passenger on the bus was with me, I said no and pointed to Hannah who had already jumped off the bus. To my surprise, the driver said, "Get your friend, I'll take ya there." Still in disbelief I called Hannah over and soon enough we were on the bus, Hannah sitting down beside the driver locating our hostel on a map to show him exactly where we needed to go. I asked if he had any recommendations in Dublin, and boy did he! It felt like having our own personal tour guide. The hostel was not close to the bus station, driving it took at least 10-15 minutes. I just could not believe he went out of his way at the end of his shift to do this amazing favor for us girls. We got dropped off not even a block away from the hostel. I am so disappointed I did not catch his name, but without a doubt I will never forget him.
After checking in Hannah and I walked up to our room which was huge! Tall ceilings, hardwood floors and a cute window-seat-thing with a table and two chairs, looking out over the street. The best part was that we had it all to ourselves the 1st night (which was a relief since the last two nights were not great experiences with our hostel roomies). We headed off shortly after to the Guinness distillery for a tour. The tour was mostly self guided with a "how to drink Guinness" tasting, followed by a free pint. All in all it was a fun thing to do. We made our way back to the hostel and ended up calling it a night. Got to watch some awesome Justin Timberlake videos while eating chèvre and crackers and be in bed by 9:30pm. Couldn't have been better for us exhausted ladies.
The next day we went to the Book of Kells at Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral and saw a bunch of other fancy sights. Before reuniting with the girls again at 1pm I got to wander around by myself. During that time I found some cool vintage shops, met a nice chap at The Quays Bar, found some people dressed as elephants and wandered through many colorful alleyways. I've come to realize that I rather enjoy wandering around on my own.
One of my favorite parts of Friday was when we accidentally stumbled into what I like to refer to as Dublin's black market. While on the hunt for a grocery store that a local woman gave us directions to we found ourselves in a part of the town that was not on any of the tourists maps...perhaps close to the big blank area that just says "antique stores" (tho earlier the tourist lady informed me there are in fact no antique stores over there...). Suddenly knock off bargain bins and side alley open shops that resembled local markets in Guatemala were appearing, but with the soundtrack of brash Irish people instead. It was sketchy and I loved it. Got some good cheap finds at charity shops too!
While planning this trip I had wanted to go to the Jameson Distillery. Unfortunately, the other girls were not very interested in doing the tour. Not really wanting to go alone and being plagued by indecision I figured I would forego the experience. As we made our way to the other side of town closer to our hostel I still couldn't settle on completely not doing the tour. Wishing I had someone to make the decision for me I imagined if I was talking to David, my go-to advice giver, and realized he would just tell me to go and do it. So I did it, and it was fantastic! I had doubts because it wasn't as heavily advertised as the Guinness one, but it was in my opinion much better. From the personal experience, to the building and information, it was for sure something I would have regretted not doing. On the tour I was picked as one of the volunteers that got to do a whiskey comparison tasting, and I also met another woman from California who was there alone so we got to pal-around the tour together and talk a bit. And to continue my good luck, on my way back from the tour I ended up meeting another cool dude who directed me to a store where I was able to buy goat cheese, crackers and vegetarian spring rolls to bring back to Norway! It was very rewarding to learn that I could have fun on my own. Alas, I still love my travel ladies and returned with a bottle of wine to the hostel to share. We made the trek back to the city center for dinner with one pitstop on the way. Hannah had to return some tights she had bought earlier, so while waiting for her Clare and I goofed around and tried on ugly Christmas sweaters and accessories. Luckily, we were in Ireland so we didn't look as crazy as we would have if we did that in Norway. Dinner was delicious, the vibe of the city was great and we made it back to our hostel in time to schedule the airport shuttle to pick us up at 4am.
Saturday was a long long long day. Waiting forever at the airport, bus stop, bus station...cold, tired, sore back from a pack full of duty free goods and sore feet from walking everywhere. When we finally arrived in Bø via train our friend Jørgen was already at the station in his car waiting to pick us up and take us home. Not having to walk up that blasted hill in the rain carrying heavy bags was the biggest blessing. I am so lucky to have made friends like him here in Bø. While I really liked the trip and enjoyed the contrasting personalities of the Irish, I am glad to be back. It really does feel like home here and I find myself growing more fond of Norway and Norwegian every day. I'm tired and going to go to bed now. Later!
Today my Norwegian/Telemark class went to Eidsborg Stavkyrkje, Hotel Dalen and the home of Norwegian author, Tarjei Vesaas, in Vinje Telemark. The weather has gotten very cold here, and when we arrived at the Stave church I quickly found out I was underdressed for the weather. It felt as if my toes froze instantly! I found myself distracted by my coldness while sitting in the Stave church (with no heat) for a lecture/telling about the church. Luckily, as we exited the church and the speaker continued to talk about the exterior one of the professors suggested we make our way inside to the museum. That professor instantly became everyone's favorite. The Vest-Telemark museum had the normal museum stuff. After we continued on the the Hotel Dalen. This place was incredible. I suggest googling it.
Our last stop was at Tarjei Vesaas' home. It has been in their family for 19 generations. His nephew and wife now reside in the home. We got a full tour of the house and part of the barn where the wife has a loom studio where her and her lady friends get together for coffee and weaving.
The home was the original farmhouse and then had additions added on. The wife told us that they recently had to replace a roof that had been added in the 1930's due to sagging and leakage, but she said the roof over the original part of the house (which is a few hundred years old) was still 100% in tact and has not needed to be repaired. Quality lasts. The original part of the home had the traditional set up of a wood stove in one corner, a long table across the room and beds built into the corners. Here are some more pictures for you to scroll through. I have also included pictures from the Dalen Hotel and more from Vest-Telemark museum. Enjoy!
So, a lot has been happening. Went on a rad business trip with my International Marketing class, went to a festival called Dyrsku'n in Seljord, etc. etc. etc....
I have begun to realize that regardless of my good intentions, I am not going to be able to share everything that happens in my life while I am here. However, the upside is that I will have stories to share when I come home! That being said, I will continue by sharing some pictures from my two most recent excursions. I went to Bergen last weekend with Hannah and Clare. I had been before with my parents, but this time I got to explore a lot more of the city, see live music in a bar and go on a fjord tour! We stayed at the YMCA hostel right downtown near the main fish market. the night we met some American gentleman staying at our hostel and we all went out together. The next day we woke up, went to a lovely coffee shop to relax, grab a drink and eat a pastry. Afterwards we explored the city some more and then went on the fjord tour. It was AMAZING! I even got to be one of the two tourists chosen to put on a pair of those heavy duty yellow fishing trousers and jacket to gather water in a bucket from under a waterfall! Cold, but worth it.
Sorry it has taken me so long to post! This have begun to pick up here in bø.
On Saturday I made my at to Eplefesten (an apple festival) in the neighboring city of Gvarv with my friends Hannah and Clare. We decided to hitchhike there since it was the only form of transportation that didn't separate us from each other. The first 45 minutes or so of walking were looking rather dismal. No one was stopping, and the walk to Gvarv would take well over an hour. We figured we should have made a sign or something. While walking we kept an eye out for paper to write on, but then Clare found an old painting canvas with a broken frame. The back side was clear so I pulled out my bus pen and proceeded to write "Eplefest" on it. Within 5 minutes an older lady and her friend picked us up, they were going there as well. We chatted on the way and soon arrived, saying thank you and goodbye to our driver, Annelise, and made our way towards the festival. The city of Gvarv is very very small. Apart from the farmlands I'd say it is comparable to Fircrest, WA - and that's being generous. The festival was maybe altogether a city block long, with booths selling Norwegian handicrafts, food, and of course APPLES. One booth was there solely for the purpose of trying different varieties of apples! It was delicious. I found myself in a couple circumstances where my Norwegian was better than someone's English so I would get the chance to practice more. I find these encounters less terrifying now and actually look forward them. I find that I speak better and clearer with strangers, particularly those over 35, than I do with students at the school...probably because I don't get as nervous. After walking around and exploring for a while we decided to make our way home. Deciding that making a sign for hitchhiking would yield the most successful results we used another sign on our way back, this time using a paper plate. Within the first few minutes of walking we were picked up by some nice guys who drove us back to Breisås in Bø. I am sure that some reading this may be a bit concerned about
What a day! I thought I would use my telemark bus pass and took a trip to Skien to visit the Husfliden, where they sell bunads. My goal was to try on a couple different styles I like to see which one would look best on my body. The west telemark was by far the winner. However, I still think I will get it made at the bunad shop, Almankås, in Bø because they quoted me a lower price, it's an 8 minute walk vs. an hour long bus ride and the ladies in Bø were willing to let me choose different embroideries and colors while the people at the Husflid wouldn't let me change a thing. Ridiculous. After trying on the bunad I wandered through a couple shops eventually deciding to take a bus to Porsgrunn, the neighboring city to, to check out the Fretex (Salvation Army). When I got on the bus I handed the driver my card and she said something really fast in Norwegian that I didn't understand. I finally asked her if she could say it in English but that made her more upset. She told me to just sit down so I reverently found a seat. This translated to me that my card didn't work on local buses and only the express buses. So when I was done perusing at the Fretex I just started walking. I couldn't find a bus terminal anywhere. The website for the transit would list terminal names but not addresses for me to search so I could walk there. It was a bit frustrating. I decided to walk back to Skien to the bus terminal is been dropped off at earlier in the day. Walking enabled me to get some exercise and see things I would have otherwise missed. When I got back to Skien I explored some antique shops, but my tired feet soon led me back to the bus terminal where I ended up making a new friend. His name is Muhammad and he is 19. He is originally from Afghanistan but moved to Norway two years ago so my Norwegian was almost as good as his. We chatted for about 40 minutes as we waited for our bus, and since his English was not that great we got to speak mostly in Norwegian. This was so great for me! I find it much easier to talk with nonnative speakers. While we were chatting I discovered that when I present my bus card I have to show my receipt from purchasing it to show how long it's good for, which explains why the bus driver earlier was so surly. Finally the bus came and 1.4 hours later I was home, laying on my bed exhausted from the day and glad that I'd gone out and explored. On Wednesday my international marketing class is taking an overnight trip to Kvitseid and Vrådal so look forward to hearing about that! Also, if you have questions about anything here, suggestions on where to visit, or wanna see pictures of stuff please do not hesitate to ask!
On Thursday our class went to the Bø museum. The museum is located at what used to be the town center. The professor giving the lecture today, Mikkel B. Tin, spoke about tradition, specifically in relation to Norwegian art. Following the lecture we walked over to a small exhibit with some bunad and Hardanger fiddles, to a farm house from the 1700's and then to what used to be the old general store, but now has a gift shop attached. The general store was probably my favorite because I got to look at all the old packaging and advertisements for items. I could talk longer about stuff we saw, but I think sharing pictures is easier for both of us :)
Officially my fourth week in Norway. Honestly, it feels like it has been much longer than a month. In some ways I've begun to adjust to life here. From knowing which stores to shop at for what, to remembering trails and short cuts around town, Bø is slowly becoming home. Still, I've found it hard to get a rhythm down for my life here. At home it was relatively simple: school, work gym, homework and then whatever the weekly activity was for that night. I think it's taken longer to adjust because I don't have the same consistent structure of routines and foundation of friends here to rely on. But this is good for me. As I usually say, it's character building! This morning I downloaded the app for Our Daily Bread and went for a run/walk through some of the neighboring woods and farm roads then did the devotional half way through. This was a great way to start my day so I think I'll continue this habit. I mean, it threw me off a little for getting ready and I was late for class...but that won't be a regular thing.
A week ago last Sunday I went to the introduction course for the Bø Paddling group. Capsizing myself into a cold river was a nice change of pace from the usual watching Netflix in warm comfy bed. The rain did not let up, but we survived. It was lots of fun and I look forward to being a part of this group throughout the the year!
Being Sunday and not having weekly church services here, this Fridtjof Nansen quote came to my mind while out on the river, "It's better to go skiing and think of God, than go to church and think of Sport." ...but in this case, kayaking! The creation here sure is something to marvel at. It makes me think a lot about Washington and what an incredible place it is.
Below I have added pictures from the paddling as well as a couple from my morning jaunt. Enjoy!
My name is Bonney, and I am a student at Pacific Lutheran University. This year I will be studying abroad in Bø i Telemark, Norway.