An American in Oslo – Week 1

Hello. My name is Elizabeth Stang and welcome to my account of what it’s like to be an American studying in Norway. I am a Norwegian major and Film Studies concentrator currently taking NORW296 through St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN – a program which involves around a dozen students, including yours truly, interning at a variety of non-profit organizations in Oslo while also attending reflection seminars and book discussions throughout the month of January. The Norway-America Association (NORAM) was kind enough to let me intern with them as part of this class, and they have been uniformly lovely and helpful during the time I’ve been here. If you don’t already know what they do, basic information about their organization and scholarships can be found in the links provided.

The First Week

All course participants were expected to be in Oslo by January 3rd, six days before our internships started. This gave us about a week to overcome jetlag and explore the city a bit – one of which I was able to do in the allotted time. Most of the exploration involved finding the fastest way to get to our internships; some students were close enough to walk while others, like me, needed to take the T-Bane or bus to get to work. This was a daunting task in theory, but rather simple in practice; Oslo is fairly easy to navigate with Google Maps or a little bit of research beforehand. However, there were distractions, including a detour into Karl Johans Gate to pick up a book for class that ended with us meeting these charming, arboreal gentlemen.

The capstone of the week was a trip to the Oslo Fjord Sauna, one of many arctic-based facilities floating in the water outside of the Oslo Opera House. If you’ve ever done a Polar Plunge, just add a sauna to the mix and you’ll have a pretty good idea what this activity entails: you put on a swimsuit, sit in the sauna until you find your courage, and then jump into the fjord while carefully avoiding panes of ice and one rouge swan named Gordon who stalks the perimeter of the sauna waiting for unsuspecting St. Olaf students. It’s a fun group activity and apparently the contrast of the warm sauna and cold water significantly softens the blow of each.

That’s all for Week One! Next week is the beginning of the internship phase of our Oslo experience, so check back here for updates on that front.