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Norway

Filed in Blog, Norway, United Kingdom by on June 18, 2014

Norway was number one on my list of places outside of the U.K. that I wanted to visit and my other top choice for study abroad, so it was with no small amount of anticipation that I left Lancaster to go there last week. I flew up with my Australian friend Maja and we met up with our Norwegian friend Anna, who was also on exchange at Lancaster this semester but had already gone home for the summer. She’s from Oslo, which is where we started and ended the trip, but goes to university in Bergen, which is across the country and is where we spent most of our time, so she showed us around both places. Hanging out with her and a few of her Norwegian friends and seeing their homes and getting to cook and laugh with them was 100 percent the reason the trip was so wonderful and satisfying; they were the nicest, most hospitable people, and a joy to be around and learn from. 

Besides being with friends, some amazing things we got to do included:

  • Seeing contemporary Scandinavian architecture in all its modern, sleek and geometrical glory.
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    The view of the aptly nicknamed “barcode” block of office buildings in Oslo that greets arrivees at the train station

  • Taking a seven-hour train ride straight across the lower half of Norway. This train ride, from Oslo to Bergen, is famous for its epic scenery.
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    Changing landscapes on a train ride across Norway

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    Ice blocks in June

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    Even larger ice blocks in June

  • Taking a road trip to some fjords near Bergen. One benefit of having local friends is getting to drive instead of take public transportation, which in this case was both cheaper and far more personal and enjoyable. Plus, you may get to listen to some cool new music, such as a Norwegian band called Tuba Tuba (not a band of tubists, contrary to all expectation).
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    Hundreds of spectacular waterfalls lined the roads near Bergen.

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    Aurlandsfjord

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    Aurlandsfjord

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    Aurlandsfjord

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    Aurlandsfjord

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    Nærøyfjord

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    Gudvangen, on Nærøyfjord

  • A side note: If you have a car, you also have the option of visiting tiny towns like Undredal, which has four times as many goats as people. And if the thought of visiting tiny, goat-dominated towns doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.
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    Undredal

  • One of the most memorable parts of being in Norway was the lack of nighttime. Well, it got “dark” for about four hours a day, but even that was blue-dark, not black-dark. Thus, we were able to do things like start hikes at 9 p.m., and still get in two or three hours of walking before having to head home. I thought this would be really weird for our circadian rhythms, but it was actually very easy to get used to.
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    The beginnings of a sunset in Bergen, about 11 p.m.

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    Evening hiking at Mount Fløyen

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    Sunset from Mount Fløyen

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    Trolls in the woods near nightfall

  • More hiking! Mount Ulriken is the highest of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. In some respects, the landscape reminded me a bit of the Lake District, but things such as these fluffy cotton grasses set it apart.
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    Hiking at Mount Ulriken

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    Hiking at Mount Ulriken

In a lot of ways, the trip to Norway was culmination of the best parts of studying abroad: being with new friends, seeing a bit of life through their eyes, and exploring new and beautiful places. I have a bit over a week left in Lancaster, and then it will be time to go home. Like most departures, it will be bittersweet. Thank goodness for random signs imbuing comfort in the form of wise, well-timed and florescent words.

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Bergen, you always know just what to say.

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