Sunday, April 29, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel

Wow. It's been a whole month since I've posted. I apologize but the way classes operate here in Norway are way different. As one of my instructors said, you get used to coming to class once or twice a week for lectures, doing some readings but when the end of April / early May arrive and you have papers, presentations and finals to take you get worried you won't have time to finish it all!

We've gone through some changes here in Bø as spring starts to set in and the birds are starting to chirp at 3am as it starts to get light around 4:30-5:00 am.

I have been busy as a beaver, of the MSU variety, doing presentations about a local entrepreneurial business, a term paper focusing on atomic tourism, and writing term papers about the importance of "Friluftsliv" and two other term papers on Telemark culture and innovative entrepreneurs.

 I was able to get away from school work for a while during our Easter/Spring break. Over a ten day trip, I traveled to five major European cities and had an awesome time seeing and experiencing different countries. My favorite was Rhodos (Rhodes), a small island that is now part of Greece but is much closer to the coast of Turkey. The part of Rhodos that makes it unique is old town, the oldest city that has been continually inhabited in Europe.

Rhodos, Greece
Pisa was the last stop before heading back to Oslo. There isn't much to do in Pisa except see the leaning tower and a few other things. Had to great pizza and gelato.

Not your average Pisa Leaning Tower picture..

I'm working on plans to get a group of us to go to Oslo for Syttende Mai (May 17), to see the parades and all the different national costumes from across the country. Also currently being planned is taking a trip to the Lofoten Islands right after my last term paper is due (May 18). I will be taking many pictures along my travels across these other parts of Norway and look forward to sharing them here!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time for an update

I've been learning many new helpful phrases and language lessons from my Introduction to Norwegian class, we recently covered how to tell time and describe what time it is. It's really quite different than how we explain the time in English, for example "Fifteen until three" would be 2:45. We don't often refer until the next hour until the current one is half past, example: "Half past three" would be 3:30. However, in Norwegian they only refer to the current hour for the first twenty minutes, or should I say "tjuer minutter", pronouced "shooer min-et-ter". If the current time is 1:15, I would say "kvart over en" and at 1:20 it changes to "ti på halv to" or "ten until half two" in English. A little different to get used to be I'm having a fun time practicing.

I found this helpful text clock that shows the current time anywhere in the world and it has versions in English and Norwegian along with other languages. This is extremely helpful to understand and remember how to explain the current time in Norwegian. Word Clock In Norwegian.

We also have been learning about the seasons and describing the weather. Det er veldig behagelig her i Bø. We listened to this song by a Norwegian band called deLillos, they were more known in the 1990s but their music is very easy to understand if you are just learning Norwegian. Below is their song Vår, which is the word for Spring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's snowing again

It has been snowing in Bø for about 24 hours now. Nothing too unusual although it was quite slushy out earlier. It is sticking to all the trees and ledges and I have quite an amazing view out my window right now and while I should be sleeping I can't help but stay up a bit longer to look at the beautifully covered trees out my window. Enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Business Innovation

One of my courses here at Telemark University College (TUC) is Business Innovation and Culture, we have been talking about separates innovative companies from their competitors who are not considered innovative. I have been reading more about entrepreneurship and innovation lately and found a really interesting article with five tips to inspire creativity in a small business, my favorite tip from the list was

"5. Get behind your idea. Don't be like Kodak, sitting on your digital camera invention until competitors eat your lunch. Once you've got an innovative idea, put it out there and promote it with all you've got."

 as I always seem to come up with new ideas myself but find it difficult to decide which ones to promote. Here's the complete list at

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Warm weather ahead

Update - the forecast is now showing 11 C for the high tomorrow and 12C for the high Wednesday. That's fine by me!

The weather has been great the past week with a few exceptions, Friday was terribly windy, thought I was back in North Dakota for a while. Today the high temp is 5 C roughly 40 F and the high for the week is 12 C or 53 F for Tuesday. I know there is a big snow storm hitting the upper midwest now so I'm going out to enjoy the nice weather we're having here in Bø!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Morgedal & Sondre Norheim - The First Ski Bum

Last Friday in the Individual, Environment and Society - Winter course, we discussed the roots of modern skiing. Sondre Norheim, or as our instructor nick-named him, "the first ski bum" was born in Morgedal, Telemark. Sondre is known as the father of modern skiing and grew up in the mountains surrounding Morgedal. Born in 1825 and spending nearly sixty years in Norway, Norheim moved left for the United States, first living in Minnesota but ultimately settling in McHenry County in North Dakota.
Sondre Norheim Statue
Minot, ND
In 1987 a statue by Norwegian sculptor Knut Skinnarland was installed at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot. One year later, an identical statue was unveiled in Morgedal by King Olav V. In 1993 the Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame Monument was added to the Scandinavian Heritage Park. For more reading on Sondre, or to see pictures where he grew up in Morgedal, go to

Our class will be taking a trip to Morgedal during the Morgedal Winter Games which last March 1-4. We will be there on Friday March 2 to enjoy Telemark skiing, learning how wooden skis and birch branch bindings are made along with other events. If you want to read more, go to Morgedal Winter Games

The second part of our class resumed after lunch and we had quite a long ski excursion into the mountains surrounding Bø. We skied on the path we previously took until we came to a trail head when we had the chance to ski towards some paths that are light at night. We used the "Herring Bone" technique to scale up the hill, using the edge of the skis and your poles for leverage you are able to walk up steep trails and slopes. 
Looking up the trail to the lighted tracks

Keeping warm
We split up into two groups, one of the groups was outdoor life and has many previous skiing excursions under their belt so they took a more difficult trail. The other group was from the outdoor life class and we took a more popular trail although it was more difficult than previous. Our group arrived to a shooting range that is literally built into the mountain side and is used for biathlons. We built a small fire, took some pictures and waited for the other group to arrive.

 Fifteen minutes or so passed and they had arrived, Tone, our instructor talked to us about how each Kommune is able to finance such lighted ski paths. Volunteers who keep them groomed and open each season play a big along with government financing. One third of the money comes from the government, often funded through the state owned gambling organization, another third comes from the local Kommune, and the last portion comes from sport clubs in the form of volunteering time and effort to setup the light poles and maintain the trails.

Our two instructors split us into groups and we did some relays where we paired up and we had to ski simealtaneously together, with ski poles like a chariot. The other relay required us to be blindfolded and follow the sound of our teams "chant" which I thought should be "quack". We ended up winning that event! It was great to have some fun in the nice clean mountain air after a long journey there but before long it seemed we had to pack up and go. We took an extremely steep trail out and it was difficult to maneuver because many people kept falling because all of the starting and stopping. Did I fall? Yes. Do I care? No. Did I get better at skiing and have a great time. Yeah!
Would a ski excursion be complete without a jumping picture?
Tone, our instructor even joined in, she in on the far right.

For those of you unfamiliar with telemark skiing techinuques, I found this helpful video.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Queue, queue, everywhere a queue.

So I haven't been feeling well. Low-grade fever for a few days, constant sinus pressure, cough, I won't go into more detail than that. So I had my first experience(s) going to the doctor(s) here in Bø at the Legesenter (medical center). My first visit to the doctor on Jan 24 he prescribed me some Nasonex to help reduce the sinus pressure. While this possibly helped with the sinus pressure I'm certain it had more negative side effects. My cough had worsened and it was difficult to sleep. I started getting several low-grade fevers that didn't seem to go away.
 I went back a week later and had an appointment with another doctor this time. He seemed more thorough and was able to determine the illness and prescribe antibiotics to help kill the sinusitis. I'm still recovering, but feel 90% better and hope to get more photos and do some traveling now that I'm feeling well.

Something I've noticed about visiting different places of service here in Norway is that there are queue systems in place in most of them. They include the bank, doctors office, pharmacy, etc. You usually see a small ticket machine when you enter the business and after pressing the button you receive a number. Depending on the business, one or several number displays exist and when the next number is up, there is a bell sound and if your ticket number is displayed you go to the counter displaying it. Simple, effective and unusual all at the same time. These systems allow for fair service to all customers and the tickets usually say when they are printed so if you complain you waited 20+ minutes the attendant could see if you were telling the truth. I hardly ever see these in the United States, although the last I remember a store using a ticket system like this would be Target in the 1990's for their guest services.

There are several different ticket systems and companies that manufacturer them. One of them is Q-Matic which offers several queue systems.

These are some examples of the queue tickets from the doctors office, left and pharmacy (apotek), right.