Tusen Takk, Thank you Norway

When Queen’s University first nominated me to go abroad to Oslo, Norway, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll be honest, at the time, I didn’t really know a lot about the country. The few facts I knew offhand were: It’s a Scandinavian country, the movie Frozen is based off of a small town within Norway, and it’s extremely expensive. Thus, my knowledge was very limited and I was excited to immerse myself in a completely new culture and country. Unfortunately, I had to take an early leave on my exchange due to COVID-19; however, I wanted to reflect on this beautiful place that made such an impact upon myself in a short period of time. During my exchange, I gained a vast amount of knowledge not just from Norwegians, but people of many other nationalities as well. The knowledge we acquire and lessons we learn from different lifestyles from far corners of the globe can still be universally applied to our present day lives. Here is what I learned, and continue to follow in my daily life, during my time aborad. 

Talk to Strangers Often

Reach out to people as much as possible. Get to know the people who are around you. Talk to the people in your community, the person who you stand beside at the bus stop, the peers you sit with in classes, and every other space. These are the people you can learn from, and in turn grow from. Life becomes a lot more joyful when you are constantly learning and engaging with others, so why not do it often?

Everyone has a unique and diverse background, sit down, have a coffee and talk about it. While you’re waiting at the same bus stop as someone, why not say hello and ask how their day is going so far? You could meet your new best friend. I started a conversation with a girl at the Oslo airport when I was flying home, solely from spotting her Canadian passport. We then travelled together from 6 am till 9 pm and let me tell you, the day was way better spent with great company than by myself. 

Julian Gentilezza Iwohlg2

Live a Life Without Judgement or Care

To put it lightly, WOW it is refreshing to live in a place where people aren’t constantly judging or comparing themselves to each other. Let’s begin to dissipate the pressure we put on ourselves, and for some individuals, onto other people. People should be given the space to do and be who they want to be. For example, often when people share their undergraduate program, it’s evaluated with how easily they will obtain a job after graduation or how large their income will be. Why do people do this? Why don’t people say that’s amazing! Good for you, for pursuing what you're passionate about! Why not ask what’s the most interesting piece of knowledge the person has learned thus far? What made them want to pursue their program in the first place? What has been the most challenging? Let’s lift people up and support them more often! People deserve to not be frequently judged for being themselves and following what is true to them.

three women with face masks

Early Bird Gets the Worm

Wake up early and Carpe Diem! During the time of my stay in Oslo, the sun would begin to set around 3:30 pm. Meaning, if you slept in, you were sleeping away most of your day! I learned quite quickly that early mornings, whether you have commitments or not, would become the norm. However, in the end, I really appreciated being awake and bushy tailed with the whole day waiting to unfold at my fingertips. I was able to appreciate the sunrise and the crisp feel of the morning air. There’s also the ability to accomplish a great deal more in a day when you have additional hours to work with. Try setting your alarm an hour earlier than normal and see the positive impact it will have!

person standing on field facing a sunset

Nature is a Beautiful Escape

Reconnect with nature, and see how it instantly rejuvenates your mind, body and soul. Be surrounded by trees! Take a breath of fresh air! Hear the birds sing! Being among nature is a refreshing way to reconnect and reflect on what’s happening in your life. It’s even a way to restore and take a break from stress that could be arising in your life. Watch and see the wonders that can happen from just feeling the sun rays upon your face. We shouldn’t always be expected to be constantly on and alert to social media, school work, social events, etc. Take your needed time in nature. Go on a hike in nearby trails or even simply a walk. Throw a frisbee around with friends, or even try more low-intensity activities such as reading, journaling or drawing. There are so many ways for you to enjoy nature, go out there and try em’!

Colorado travel hiking mountains trees nature backpack trail high

Norwegian Waffles Are Truly the Best 

Point blank, Norwegian waffles are amazing! As someone who didn’t really enjoy waffles beforehand, my thoughts were completely changed after being abroad in Oslo. Waffles are basically a Norwegian replacement for a cookie with your coffee. I volunteered at a café while in Norway, and I saw firsthand how crazy people go for waffles during their morning journey to class. Some simply have them for lunch, perhaps a snack, seconds, maybe even thirds;  waffles are good any time, or for any event. You top it with jam or with brunost (caramelized cheese) and you’re good to dig on in! It’s delicious and warm, and the aroma will continue to pull you back in for more. My favourite place to buy waffles was Ice Crime! They made fresh waffles and topped it with ice cream and different flavours of syrup--delicious!

If you’re wanting to make your own Norwegian Vaflers, click here for a recipe!

Breakfast food

Metro Systems are the Best Transportation

I LOVE USING THE METRO AS TRANSPORTATION. It’s so simple and easy to use, once you understand where you’re beginning and ending your journey. You’re constantly taking the metro with people, thus you’re not alone, and are given the opportunity to meet someone new each day. You can also use the metro as an opportunity to have some alone time into your day too. Throw on your headphones, look out the window, and pretend you’re in a music video. Finally open a book that you normally never have time for, or even simply sip your coffee and enjoy the ride. 

Admittedly, I also learned that I am slightly directionally challenged during my time abroad. You literally just hop on and hop off, except it’s apparently quite easy to mess with this process - at least for me. I once took the metro around 5 times when it was only supposed to be once. Thus, I now use getting lost on the metro as a metaphor. It doesn’t matter how many times you get ‘lost’, just hopefully you make it to the airport before the plane leaves, you’ll eventually end up where you’re supposed to be. Always remember to keep trying and continue hopping back on the metro, even when it seems impossible to keep doing so.

Cooking Brings People Together

Simply put, people really enjoy food. People also enjoy trying new foods. Thus, bonding over food is a way to strengthen your friendships with friends. You learn so much about another person when you’re cooking with each other or for each other. It can simply be personality traits, such as being meticulous about if the pasta can go in before the water is boiling or wait till after. People tend to have strong emotional connections, such as nostalgia, to food as well. What someone decides to cook, could be from a traditional food that is made on holidays. Or a meal that a parent makes when someone is feeling sick, possibly a favourite dessert that makes someone happy on a sad day. Many different experiences, traditions, and culture itself, is connected to food. Begin having a weekly dinner date and alternating who cooks for everyone! Or cook all together and pick a different person each week who chooses the meal you all make! Bound with people over food, you could learn and taste so many new things.

pasta

Just Do It

Literally, Just do it. Life is too short to not live how you want to live. Not to mention, the time to live is now. Life shouldn’t only be adventurous when you go away to another place. Each and every day is the chance for a new adventure. Whether it’s getting to know your home location a little more or trying something new that day! The world is your oyster. You’re in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer, so take advantage often. Furthermore, try not to overthink things too much. If you want to do something, then do it! Don’t live with regrets and have ‘shoulda, would’ couldas’. The time to live is in the present. Get out there and live!

person standing wide toward mountains

Despite the short time I lived in Norway, it has greatly impacted my life and given me memories I will cherish for a lifetime. There are no words to express how truly thankful I am to have met the people I did and gone on the many adventures I experienced. So I end this with Tusen Takk, Thank You Norway. This is not a goodbye, simply a see you later.