Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blondes and Knitting

Norway! I am finally in Norway! I remember doing so many school projects on this country when I was little…and drawing the flag so perfectly. And now I’m here. Me—Teka Israel—who is only ¼ Norwegian is visiting my “homeland”. And… it’s cold. Not unbearably cold, although everyone says it should be. Just a constant cold. I think it’s 0 degrees Celsius aka 32 degrees Fahrenheit. AND there’s just a dusting of snow. Which means no skiing. Really just lots of ice! And I do mean a lot of ice. Everything up here by the hostel is just a sheet of ice. And it’s on a hill… you do the math.

Speaking of math, let’s do a little history lesson…Trondheim is north of Oslo on the west coast of Norway. It WAS the country’s capital until 900 or so. But it has the claim of Norway’s northernmost “city”. The more I walk around, the less it feels like a city. Haha. Everything is all decorated for Christmas. It even kind of makes me wish I hadn’t finished most of my shopping. I do enjoy the Scandinavian designs here…the classic knits and zig zags. I guess with the very little light (only like 10-4) there isn’t much to do besides knit.

The biggest difference is that there are a lot of blondes here. Seriously. And not tan California blondes…pale Norwegian ones. They are super cute! The mountains are fantastic! Reminds me of Colorado…but I don’t want to think about that because then I start to miss home. Oh, wait, I miss home. A lot. Luckily (or unluckily) I go back to the US on the 23rd which leaves me a little over two weeks left. I still have to go to Germany (where I am seeing Peter and Ute!) and London and Chicago before finally landing in Denver!! I’m SOOO excited! I can’t wait to see ALL of you!!!

I’m still hoping to catch a glimpse of those Northern lights!!!

Hei again (Hi) from Trondheim. Today was a crazy day. I met up with Bernt, his son and and his dad and we visited a couple nearby towns. This includes the town of Hell. I am not kidding. I have a picture to prove it! I saw where my grandfather’s grandfather, Erick, grew up before he immigrated to the US. It was slightly mind blowing. My grandparents visited a few years ago, but it was kind of strange nonetheless. We went up to the old farm where Arne, and his wife and daughter still live. In just few short hours I learned so much! Their family line is from one of 9 siblings of my relation. It’s super complicated. Anyways, Arne had a copy of the family tree that I was able to update for him (adding in my dad, brother and I). It is beyond strange to think that this was where 4 generations back a guy decided to go to America for work/ better his life. And now I am able to study abroad and on a slight whim go to visit where I “came from”. Super strange! The mountains and snow were great! Reminded me of Colorado and made me less homesick. I miss home though. Only 19 days! Back to the land of sour gummy worms, waffles and as many books as I can possibly read! (aka in English!) Back to faces I recognize and being able to understand 100% of everything. So fun facts of the day:
-- Norwegians have a traditional style of dress that varies in color/style/embroidery based on region/town. These are worn for special occasions such as Communion, Weddings, and National Day (May 17, I believe)
-- This is the warmest November on record (thank god!) while last November was the coldest.
-- Norwegians (or at least my family) used to make their own mattresses/furniture etc. They had about twin sized frames that pulled apart to become bigger beds! Super cool!
-- The Northern Lights are sporadic. They are only seen a couple of times a year, and are dependent on the sun. So it varies dramatically. The colors change depending on how far north you go.
-- Norway’s terrain varies a lot. Here it is low mountains, lakes/the sea, and small hills with farmland. VERY similar to Colorado, though.
-- Lefsa appears to be a tortilla. BUT it is actually a flour tortilla filled with butter, sugar and cream. Aka AMAZING! (I ate like 3!)
-- Goodbyes are a hug combined with going cheek to cheek.
-- Hei=Hi, Nein=No, Uffda=use for literally anything, Tak=Thank you, Sno=Snow God Jul=Merry Christmas (pronounced Go-Yule) A lot of Norwegian words are very similar to those in English. They are many dialects of Norwegian,
-- A majority of Norwegians know English and it is now regularly taught in school for every grade.
-- Teka is still an entirely unique name. Even here. Darn it!
-- Trondheim is small, you can walk around the entire “city” center.
-- Cars are about 3 times as expensive as the states and taxed a lot.
-- Many Viking kings came from around here (but there were many Vikings)
-- The younger kids especially celebrate St. Lucia day. If you haven’t read American Girls like I did…here’s a bit of background. St. Lucia day is celebrated December 13 every year. I learned that the oldest girl in the family dresses in a white robe with a garland with lit candles on her head and brings breakfast or something to her parents in bed. But I was told that now the younger children dress up and go sing Christmas Carols in nursing homes, etc.

Other than this, it is honestly a lot like Colorado. The people, their pace of life, outlook, professions, clothing, etc are all pretty similar. Strange. I have to say, the cliché “the more things are different the more they stay the same” is super true! Humans are inherently the same. Enough said.

My last day Tone and I ate lunch at the top of the tower. The restaurant rotates so that in an hour you get a full view of Trondheim. After some more sightseeing, the daylight expired. I did enjoy my time in Norway. Today I flew home via Copenhagen. One day of class and then I am headed to Germany to visit Peter and Ute (our German part of the Fredendall Family!)

 This is the house where my grandpa's grandpa lived and Tone is now renovating.

 The fort in Trondheim. Due to Norway's coast, it was often attacked.

 The largest gothic cathedral in northern Norway.

 A view of where the old farmhouse used to be. This is where my family lived before they immigrated to America.

Trondheim was/is a fishing harbor. Many of these have been renovated now, but they are preeeety!

Another view of the harbor (side note: this is where I finally found a bridge!)

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