Sunday, April 22, 2012

A very belated update


If I’ve learned one thing from writing this blog this semester, it’s that I’m not good at writing blogs. To clarify, I think I’m probably not a bad writer, but I am terrible at writing without deadlines. That’s what I told my dear friend, Erin earlier this week, and so she took it upon herself to give me an ultimatum: I must post by Sunday...or else. It’s currently raining outside, so I don’t even have anything to entice me outdoors away from my computer. So, here it is, at long last:
Surprisingly little has happened since my last entry over, um, two months ago. (Yes, I am rather embarrassed it has taken me so long to update.) I’ve traveled to Oslo, Malta, and Ireland—adventures I will address shortly—but first I must talk about my feelings, because I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve type of girl.
Between minimal obligations in or outside of school, the dissolution of my almost two-year relationship, and an arsenal of unhealthy habits, I’ve found myself stewing in a mild depression for much of the past several months. I go to parties and drink too much on weekends and then feel bad about it in the morning. (I imagine that a majority of twenty-somethings have experienced these periods of guilt and listlessness at some point in the decade of life so commonly devoted to discovering ourselves.) I think a lot about what it is I am lacking in my life, and usually conclude that it’s either a sense of purpose or emotional intimacy.
I assure you, however, that my life is far from a hollow void; there are plenty of spots filled with love and sunshine. Tiffany, Nora and I make vegetarian dinners together and laugh until we’re clutching our sides and gasping for air. Lilja, my sister, mails me colorful handmade cards filled with wry anecdotes written in her loopy script. My neighbor, Kim, and I gently rib one another about our daily hang-ups and he never fails to offer me coffee. I have lunch with Kari on a weekday afternoon peppered with sun-showers and prattle with her little granddaughter in a mixture of Norwegian and English. Women at choir practice, with motherly smiles, pat my arm and whisper, “så fint at du er her!” And, I think, it is nice to be here.
Through all of this, I’m really impressed with myself for still feeling like myself. That’s how I truly know everything is okay.
And now that I have disclosed some rather personal reflections on the internet, let me show you an abbreviated version of what I’ve been up to in Norway and abroad through a montage of pictures:
On March 24th, Nora, Tiffany and I took a 14-hour day trip to Oslo to explore the city. My favorite part of the day was our very first stop and probably Oslo’s most famous attraction, Vigelands Parken. 





 Afterward, we went in this really cool cathedral in the center of the city.


And we went to the national art gallery, but couldn't take photos. Next we saw the palace, and I was disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations of grandeur. I just think it's such an unremarkable building for the seat of the monarchy! Det er typisk norsk.


And here's a view of the harbor:


Lastly, we went back to Vigelands Parken and explored the Vigeland museum. It has sculptures that are not displayed in the park as well as plaster models of those that are, and also some biographic information on the artist.




Between March 30th and April 7th, I was in Malta visiting my Luther roommate, Hannah Strack. Malta is probably the most visually interesting place I've ever been. It's so vibrant and old with small, tangled streets, narrow buildings with no space in between, and breathtaking landscapes. This is Sliema, the neighborhood the Luther group is living in:




As beautiful as Malta is, I was intrigued by how there's junk lying around everywhere. Like this:


And I stumbled upon a cat park in the middle of the city. I'm kind of a cat freak, so this was exciting for me.


This is along the coast, obviously. The cliffs are one of Malta's most popular tourist attractions, but I went along with the class for an environmental field trip.

 One of the most amazing things I saw in Malta were the catacombs below St. Agathe's Cathedral. We couldn't take pictures inside, but Hannah posed with some artifacts in the museum before the tour :)


Malta is extremely catholic, and as I was on the island during holy week, I got to see some pretty impressive religious displays. I accompanied the class to a Good Friday procession that lasted almost two hours. Very different from Easter time in the United States!


On my last day, we went to the beach. This is to prove I've been in the Mediterranean Sea! 


From April 8th (Easter Sunday) through April 10th, I took a side trip to Dublin. Those were probably three of the most exciting days of my life. Initially, I was very nervous about being a solo traveler, but everyone was so friendly and I was amazed by how easy it was to meet people. And Dublin was beautiful.

 This is Christ Church:

Trinity College, located only a block away from my hostel:

One person I met in Dublin was a Québécois girl named Lyne. We got along like old friends and had a marvelous day together. Here we are on the obligatory Guinness factory tour, Dublin's most popular attraction:


The view from the top room of the storehouse was ridiculous.


...and this is a park. I don't remember what it's called.


On my last day in Ireland, I elected to go on a day tour of the West Coast that included a traditional Irish farm visit. Very quaint.


This was the best cheesecake I've tasted in my life. Totally made from scratch.


And I got to hold a baby lamb. That was pretty special :)


The highlight of the day was exploring the Cliffs of Moher. Epic.





And then there was a castle. But I don't remember what it was called. I thought this image captured the spirit of Ireland particularly well.



And that was my Easter holiday in a nutshell! As incredibly fun as the trip was, I was surprised by the wave of relief that washed over me as the plane broke through the clouds and we descended into Oslo. Norway may not feel quite like home yet, but now I know it holds some element of warm familiarity for me. 

I have finals coming up this month, so I'll probably be a bit more productive than I have been lately. Nora and I will be traveling to Bergen to enjoy the festivities on Syttende Mai, the national holiday, so hopefully I will make another post before then. 

With love,

Ellen