It's All Coming to an End...
Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
29Trip End Dec 11, 2006
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This is it: the final week. It still hasn't sunk in yet, to be honest. Even though I've turned in my paper on Kosovo (finished product: 32 pages at 1.5 spacing), made my last visit to Nansenskolen in Lillehammer to thank the Dialogue Project for taking such good care of me during my fiend study, gave my oral presentation on my paper for my class, and taken all my pictures off my wall-- it just doesn't feel like it should be over. Not yet, anyway.
Making Connections, Making Friends
Remember how I said that I felt like I had no Norwegian friends, no one to come back to visit when I return to Norway? Though that is still partially true (the coming back and visiting part), it seems that we do have some Norwegian friends after all. :o) Last night, the five of us Americans and two of our Namibian boys went to the Bodega'n, which is the student bar for the agricultural students and their farm Blaestad aka the Farm. Bodega'n is open to the entire school in Hamar, but usually it's a pretty small crowd there. We've been maybe five times during the semester, but last night was our best night that we've had since becoming Hedmark University College students. It was the annual Christmas party at Bodega'n, "the coziest evening of the year!" as they advertised it. We showed up, and sat at the other end of the table from the Norwegian students who were there. But after we had some drinks in us (hooray for glogg!), the mixing began. Those who didn't like speaking English actually talked to us, and those of us who could speak a little Norwegian felt brave enough to use it! At Hydranten (the student pub in Hamar), dancing does not exist. At the Bodega'n, Christmas music from the U.S. and Norway was playing the entire night, including a rousing rendition of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" around the swinging tree in the middle of the dance floor! I finally learned to do Norwegian swing dancing, which is possibly my new favorite form of dancing. It's not like the swing dancing that I learned to do in middle school; instead, Norwegian swing is done to Norwegian country music, with twirls and spins and jumping around (gracefully, of course) with lots of energy. It's exhilarating to dance with all that life again-- plus, I was asked to dance by four guys (don't worry, Carl... they won't remember it at all!).
But the best part of the night? Finally feeling like we fit in here. As Lauren said today, "Man, I wish that we could have studied at the Farm for the semester!" And for being a true city girl from Seattle, that's saying alot. :o) The students at Blaestad have a much closer knit community, one that is warm and inclusive. The five of us Americans and two of the Namibians didn't have much in common with these people, but they seemed to actually enjoy us being there! At the end of the night, we were given hugs by all the "tractor boys" who wished us a Merry Christmas and said that they will miss us. To think that maybe some people will actually notice our absence starting next week is actually comforting to hear. Sometimes it feels like we are mere visitors at the school, not a part of the student body or even a part of the school. My expectations for making at least a couple of Norwegian friends were dashed within those first couple months, but now I know that maybe our presence wasn't so invisible as I originally thought. :o)
And so it goes...
I have to start packing soon. We are leaving in 36 hours, and our apartments are just as they have always been. Maybe it's some kind of denial, not wanting to accept the fact that tomorrow will be our last walk to school, the last time we have to sit in class with Inger, the last time to the pedestrian street, the last night to spend in our apartments, our last day in Hamar. And as excited as I am to return back to my family and my Carl and all of my friends who I haven't seen since May, this really is a bittersweet ending. Rather than packing and cleaning tonight, our "family" (that's what we call ourselves now) watched two episodes of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and four episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" while sipping on glogg and eating all of our leftover food in our pantries. The support system that I have found in these four other people is one that I treasure. The dynamics are certainly going to change as soon as we leave Hamar and fly out on our different flights next week, but the memories that we create everyday is something that I can't forget. This is the year that I learned how to just hang out with people with no plans, no agenda, no other obligations. To just enjoy one another's company is a gift-- It's not something that I took the time to enjoy during the past two years at PLU. There was always something else to be done, something else to prepare for, something else that I should invest my time into to keep my productivity up. But here, I've learned to relax. Heck, I was forced to learn to relax! And you know... I really do enjoy it. Every single minute. :o)
Well, I don't really have much more to say than this is my last blog post from Hamar. I'm sad-- not to the point of tears, but my heart is heavy with the sorrow of having to move on. It's been quite the experience here-- and looking back on it, this has been worth every bad day, every frustration, every moment of boredom. Hamar has grown on me, and now I feel like it really is my Norwegian hometown. For the past four months, my journeys have started and ended here. But on Saturday morning, I will leave the Hamar train station for the last time as a student. All good things must come to an end, they say, but it's still difficult to say goodbye.
With warmest greetings,