30 September 2009
Studying abroad really does make you grow as a person. I realized this last night when I finally realized how stressful and overwhelming everything is here! Don't get me wrong, I love being here. But learning the language, making friends, and going to activities takes up a lot of time. I feel as though I never have time to just relax. Being in a new environment is actually very difficult. I know once I learn Norwegian everything will get better, but I have quite a ways to go. I wonder how many people actually understand how difficult it is to learn another language! Learning Norwegian is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, I am sure about that. I understand a lot (when people speak slowly haha) and I can read a lot. But writing and speaking is totally different. There are three letters in Norwegian that English doesn't have: æ ø å. Also, in Molde, everyone roll's their r's with their tongue, which is very difficult for me! If anyone has tips on how to do that let me know please! Haha. Every night though my parents and I will sit down and practice Norwegian. I think this will be very helpful and I will learn Norwegian quicker. Though I feel if I could just pronounce everything correctly Norwegian would be very easy to learn. I am just very uncomfortable with speaking the language, because I dont pronounce everything right. I know its okay for me to say things with my American accent, but its still scary to do so! Today I actually read something in Norwegian to my History class. It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life! But I did it! I know it wasn't perfect, but it's a start for me. And I know every time I read Norwegian out loud, or speak Norwegian with people, it will become a lot easier. But it is soo frustrating to not understand what someone is saying, or not know how to say something back. I never realized it would be this difficult to learn another language. Though in February I am sure I will look back on this and laugh at how difficult I thought it was to learn/speak Norwegian. One of my biggest fears/worries is that I will not learn the language while I am here. I have to doubt that though because I know my parents will make sure I do, and help me in every way possible. I really do appreciate that, I could never do it without them, or without my friends at school helping me too. Tusen takk =) I am also kind of happy that Norwegian is proving difficult for me to learn. It's a challenge and I now have a goal that I would like to accomplish. This forces me to really work hard for something I want, and learn more about myself along with the way. I know my year here will change me, for the better I believe. I am looking forward to the day everything finally clicks in my brain, and Norwegian makes sense :) What a great moment that will be! Then I can actually use the language. I will be able to join in conversations at school, understand what the teacher is saying and do my homework (oh joy oh joy). I may have a lot of work, but I will finally feel like I belong here and fit in with everyone else. And who doesn't want to feel that way?
27 September 2009
Everywhere in the world things are different; the culture, environment, people and much more. I have been writing a list of the differences between Molde, Norway and Berea, Ohio. Please keep in mind that I am only comparing the cities, it is not Norway vs. USA. Also remember:
It's not good, it's not bad, it's just DIFFERENT :) Famous AFS statement which applies to everything I am about to write!
In Molde the car to the right always goes first. There aren't many stop signs, and the only time a car has to wait to go is when they want to enter a main road. As for cross walks, people can just step in front of cars at any time. The cars actually stop! People cant get their license here until they are 18 years old.
In Berea there are many many stop signs. A lot of people wish there was a law stating that if there are no other cars, then stopping at the stop sign is not required. But I highly doubt that will ever happen! Seriously though, they are stop signs everywhere. Basically at every corner. And if there isn't a stop sign, there is a street light. Going down Bagley, the main road, can be very annoying because there are so many street lights. Cross walks in Berea are a bit different. People can definitely NOT walk out in front of a car, if they did so they would be hit. We have to wait for a "walk" sign to flash on. Yet people do have the right of way. Also people in Berea can get their license at the age of 16.
In Molde you have to be 18 years old to buy beer and 20 to buy liquor.
In Berea you have to be 21 years old to buy and drink alcohol.
Molde: I feel as though people here eat a lot of food! I know that seems strange but here is what a normal eating schedule is like here. Breakfast around 7:30am, lunch at 11:30am, dinner at 4:30pm, and then a snack at 8:30pm. Sometimes there are more snacks during the day also. Very popular food here is bread! We eat bread for breakfast and lunch, and usually for a snack. It is the most bread I have ever had in my entire life haha. Breakfast is usually bread with jelly or butter. Sometimes I have cereal too. For lunch we make matpakke. It is a piece of bread with meat or nugatti, or something on it. Most people here do not make sandwiches, they are always open faced. There is also a lot of potatoes here! And one thing I would like to point out, people in Norway do not eat fish all the time! But the fish here is really good. All the food I have tasted here has been very good, especially all the famous norwegian dishes!
Berea: We usually have 3 meals a day. Breakfast at 6:30am, lunch anywhere between 10:30 and 12:30 depending on when you have lunch at school. Dinner is usually not until 6pm or later. In my family back home we eat dinner around 7 or 8pm. After school, around 3pm we usually also have a snack. For breakfast we usually eat cereal or poptarts. On occasion or on the weekends we have pancakes and bacon, with maple syrup. For lunch we get food at school, like pizza or chicken strips, or we pack a lunch. That usually includes a sandwich, fruit, chips and more. When I pack my lunch in Berea I usually have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a salami sandwich, both of which are closed. No body eats an open sandwich for lunch! So that is a big difference. In Berea we definitely don't eat a lot of bread. Sometimes we will have toast for breakfast, but very seldom, and then bread for lunch. But never for a snack, and never with just jelly on it!
School/Activites and Sports:
School in Molde is very different from what I am used to. Classes begin at 8:15am. After each class there is a 10 minute or longer break. We don't have the same classes everyday, which is really nice. There is usually 3 different classes a day and they usually last for an hour and a half. Sometimes they are only 45 minutes though, it all depends on your schedule. For lunch we all have an hour break, or longer. During lunch we are allowed to leave the school and walk to the city, home, mall or a restaurant. There is not a designated place to eat lunch, like a cafeteria. There is basically a lot of freedom here. Students and teachers move classrooms all day long. Each teacher doesn't have their own designated room. One day I could have Philosophy class in the D Block and the next day I could have it in the A Block. It is kind of confusing. Laptops are also handed out to every student in the school. They are allowed to use them during class to take notes or do work, or use the internet. Students can also wear hats during class, and have their phones out on their desks! Phones are also allowed to be used in between classes. School ends here at 2:50pm, earlier if you have a free period. Yet again, it all depends on your schedule. Most people walk home, ride their bikes, or take the public bus. Public transportation is good here and many people use it. If you are late to class it is not that big of a deal. The teacher writes it down, but after 3 times you don't get a detention or anything. If you are sick you just don't come to school, your parents do not have to call you off! It is crazy, basically they cant tell the difference between if you skipped school or were actually sick. And anytime during the day you can just leave school, you can even leave during class. There are 3 different grades here, and each grade is split into classes. For example, I am in 2A. We all have required classes that are only with the other people in our class, and we also have classes we can choose. There are no clubs or sports connected to the school, school is simply school. Gym class here is very intense compared to gym in Berea. We run around in the mountain and have a running test where we have to run for 12 minutes. Afterwards everyone can shower, either at the gym or at home. As for college here, education is free unless it is a private school, but then it only costs about 2000 dollars a semester. So it is not very expensive at all. The biggest sports here are handball and soccer. Practices are separate from school.
Berea: Classes start at 7:30am every day and end at 2:30pm. You can only have early release or late arrival if you are a senior. Between classes we have 4 minutes to go to our lockers and make it to our next class. There is no break and lunch is only 20 minutes. During lunch only seniors are allowed outside, in a designated area, to eat lunch. We can roam around the city or go home during lunch. During the entire school day we can't leave the school at all, unless our parents call the school and give a reason why we need to leave. Teachers have their own classrooms, which they personalize and have the entire year. Students move to the classrooms, teachers stay in their room the whole day. You are not allowed to have a laptop in school or in class. We have computers in the library available for us to use. The school doesn't give out laptops, and I doubt they ever will! Students can not wear hats during class, or during school, and if a cell phone is seen it is taken a way and your parents have to come to school to pick it up. After school people take the school bus home, which is free, or walk or drive. But most students have after school activities. All clubs/activities and sports are a part of the school. Practice and meetings are after school each week. Sports practices are everyday after school for a few hours. And games are after school 2 times a week usually. There is a lot of school spirit in Berea also. Every one wears our school colors and cheers for our football team. We decorate lockers, windows and hallways with writing and pictures. During the fall everyone goes to the football games on friday nights, mostly to see our marching band perform during half time. It is a lot of fun, and very social. Being late to a class during school is not a good thing, and if you are late a certain number of times you get a detention. If you are going to miss school for some reason, or are sick, your parents must call you off. Otherwise you will get in a lot of trouble! There are 4 grades: freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Gym here is also very simple compared to gym in Molde. After gym we also can't shower unless it is after swimming class. College here very very expensive. It can cost up to 50,000 dollars a year! The application for school and financial aid takes a lot of time, applying to college is a very long process. All year round you also have to apply for scholarships. Football is the biggest sport here, and we also have cheerleading, which doesn't really exist in Norway!
In Molde everyone is so nice. People are more introverted though I think. Very shy and kind of hard to get to know because of that. Everyone does speak english though which is good. Cliques here aren't very easy to see, though they do exist. Everyone talks to each other in class. People here are very pretty and take good care of themselves. They are also very fashionable, skinny jeans is a big thing here. Also during gym people tuck their pants into their socks, it makes sense, but it is the first time I have ever seen anyone do that!
In Berea the people are very outgoing and welcoming. Everyone is interested in each other and easy to get to know. Very extroverted. Not many people wear a lot of makeup, maybe a few girls. Cliques here are a lot more noticeable, though everyone gets along with each other. Looking good is not as big of a deal here.
So those are the differences I have noticed so far while I have been here. Even though a lot of things are different, I still love it here! Its very wonderful to experience a different culture. If I notice anything else I will add it to my list.