Sunday, February 21, 2010

Worship and pizza inhalation.....

Hei Hei

Shelby here to chronicle the events of this lovely Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway.

To back up a bit, last week I was enlisted to attend a meeting of the on-campus theatre/improvisation group SpHilop. The name is a play on words, as each on-campus group must have the school's acronym, Hil, in it, and spill op means play up in Norwegian. This group normally works on improvisation, but this weekend they were to create a dramatisation of a biblical text for a special student service as a part of Uka. Uka means week in Norwegian, but in this case it refers to a special student week at Hil complete with tons of concerts, exhibitions, and events.

The theme of the church service was fordømmer (which means to condemn), so the biblical text was John 8:1-11 in which an adulteress is brought before Jesus to stone, and he tells those ready to stone that the one of them without sin may throw the first stone. Long story short, because I don't speak Norwegian, am a female, and was willing, I was cast as the adulteress. One of my flat-mates, Andrew, who has taken a few years of Norwegian at Luther, was cast as Jesus. It was his first theatrical experience, and I think he did pretty well.

This past week we rehearsed our 5 minute skit 4 times or so, and it went very well within the service. The service was a wonderful compilation of various talented musicians in all different genres, including organ (a standard Mozart piece and then a very cool piece called Litanies by Jehan Alain), opera, flute and piano duet (by our lovely Abby and Julia), and even a lovely rendition of Neil Young's Ohio with just guitar and voice. It was a very cool service, even if I could not always understand what was being spoken about. There was a big turnout and I think it was a wonderful way for me to start out the "Uka" events.

Directly afterward we headed to a club downtown called "Bingo'N" to watch the Grandiosa pizza eating contest (also an Uka event). Grandiosa is the one and only cheap pizza brand in Norway- a college standard! They are pretty good for cheap pizza and usually have a unique blend of toppings (my favorite so far has been the canadian bacon and red pepper pizza).

Anyways, it was free to enter in the contest, so there were three people from the American contingent that entered. Andrew and Mitch representing the guys and Bryn for the ladies. They did the contest in groups of 4 or 5, putting a whole pizza in front of them (although hold your gasps people...these are not American- sized pizzas...each one was about 8 small slices on a thin crust) and seeing who can finish it first. The person of each gender that had the best time would get a prize and the top winner would get an all expense-paid trip to Oslo for the next phase in Grandiosa-Eating competition. I was very proud for those three competitors, they all did a great job, but nothing could prepare us for Andrew's victory! He beat everyone, eating his pizza in 6 minutes, 17 seconds. He not only won the Oslo trip (although it occurs in that might not happen), he also won a bright yellow Grandiosa t-shirt, lunchbox, and a box of 10 Grandiosa pizzas!

It was a pretty exciting evening and we will be enjoying the benefits from it for many days to come. With our hearts warmed and freezer filled, we can tackle what this "Uka"has to offer!

Enjoy these photos....

Here is a photo of from left to right, Bryn (from Concordia), Victoria (one of the Norwegian buddies), and Ester (from Spain) competing in the pizza contest. What you can't see is that Ester was the unfortunate recipient of a burnt she was at a bit of a disadvantage!
Here's the acting troupe. Left to right: Me, Andrew (Jesus and Pizza champion), Ina, Ingrid (also Norwegian), and Linda (Latvia).
Lillehammer Kirke (pronounced kinda like "shirka"), where the service was held.

I hope to continue meeting with the improv group and Ina (the leader and my new Norwegian friend) tells me that we might have an improv exhibition before the semester is over.

Monday night we have tickets to see "Donkeyboy," which is a huge band here in Norway. We are pretty darn excited about it.

Please look forward to hearing from Kjerstin about our other adventures this week :)

Ha det bra!

Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo Update...As Promised

Hei Hei!

Shelby again.... Here are my photo-graphical additions to the stories of this week, but I am sure Kjerstin will add more when she gets the chance :) And bear with me, because I am still working out the kinks of the blogger site, so these pictures are not really in the order I had intended. But we will make do!

This photo is of Kjerstin, one of the Norwegian buddies named Ina (in the middle), and on the left, Janneke (from the Netherlands) looking out their cabin window at Austlid. Moments earlier I had thrown a snowball at Kjerstin....and I actually got her! But we won't talk about that :)

Here is another cabin photo, I think this is my cabin :)

This was one of the beautiful views from Austlid.

Here is a photo of the shirt that I got for FREE at the Lillehammer Launch Party. As I explained the shirt means that I am maks local and min dull. The slogan on the bottom loosely translates: Choose your own experience.

This was the glorious view we had from atop the very large hill we had to walk up AFTER our cross country skiing adventure in order to catch the bus.

Here is the one of the older school buildings that we view on our walk down to class. Pretty huh?This is the Storhove Studentjem where we live. Our apartments are the charcoal colored ones behind the red on the left.

Like I said, there will be more photos coming, but this will satiate you for now :)

Vi Ses! (We will see you!)

Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Folk schools, launch parties, and a cabin in the mountains!

Hyggelig å se deg!

Shelby here to recount the latest of Kjerstin and my adventures in the lovely country of Norway.

This week we have three notable experiences to talk about: our visit and class at the Nansen Academy, the Lillehammer "Launch" Party, and a weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains.

The Nansen Academy or Nansenskolen Norsk Humanistisk Akademi as it is called in Norway is a "folk high school" in Lillehammer. Students ages 18-70 can enroll for a year's worth of courses in art, literature, or Idea, Culture, and Society. There are no exams, and you don't get "certified" or leave with a diploma, it's more about the learning process. Folk schools are a very Norwegian tradition, but the director of the school told us that she and the rest of her colleagues are working to make the folk school experience something to be shared with all cultures and ethnicities within Norway, and in other areas of Europe as well. There are about 70 students, most of whom are in 19-21, but there are a handful that are adults. It seems like a really unique and historic place. Lots of learning with no tests? Sounds like a great educational option to me!

The school's website describes it well.
There is also a link to the wikipedia entry for Nansenskolen, which has a fantastic panoramic view of the "campus."

We were there to meet and begin our classes with Steinar Bryn. He is a very cool guy that looks a little like Hagrid from Harry Potter, a tall and wide shouldered man with a big scruffy black beard and long black hair. But Dr. Steinar Bryn is also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for 2009 for his work with the Nansen Dialogue Network, which uses dialogue as a peacekeeping tool in the Balkans. He is a very good speaker, and his methods are very original. He also has a lot of experience with Americans, as he has studied both in Green Bay and at the U of M Twin Cities. He will be speaking to us about once a week about dialogue, globalization, and the Americanization of Norway. I think we will really enjoy our classes with him.

Here's another link if you would like to read more about him.

Now, to talk about the launch party. Lillehammer's Chamber of Commerce/Tourism Board (or the Norwegian equivalent) have spent much time, money, and energy creating a new advertising campaign for Lillehammer, and to debut it they had a free party for the public at one of the dancing clubs, Breneriet. As one of our Norwegian buddies, Ina, is a tourism major at Hil, she thought it would be fun and invited us along. It was a very neat experience, acting like a local and sharing a room with the who's who of Lillehammer :) However, the only downfall was that we had to stand through the speeches and presentations leading up to the release, which were in Norwegian of I was a little lost for most of it. But I did understand their new ad campaign, which is all about choosing your own experience. The graphic is the Lillehammer logo and a slider system, where you can choose how much of something you want. For example, we got free t-shirts that had the slider all the way to the maks (maximum) for the Norwegian word Døl ( which is one of the names of the locals in Lillehammer) and the other slider all the way to the min for the word Døll (which means dull). So that graphic would mean that we are very local but not boring! I will include a picture of the tshirt so that it makes more sense.

The new logo and "slider" campaign are on the city's website:

After that we drank free varm toddies (some kind of berry cider) outside the club and then went to a nearby pub to hang out a bit before heading home. It was a neat experience!

I am writing this post right after returning from our Norwegian cabin adventure. The buddies organized a trip for all of the international students to cabins at Austlid Skeikampen, which is about an hours' drive from Lillehammer. We were told to pack warm clothes and snacks, and that was about it, so we weren't sure what to expect. We arrived at lunchtime on Friday to Austlid, after a lovely bus ride through the snow covered mountains and forests. We were fed some big cheesy hamburgers, then told to bundle up and meet up outside.

Austlid is a ski-resort, but we were not there to ski. We were there to sled, play in snow, and enjoy each others' company. We started out sledding down a perfect sledding hill on plastic garbage bags filled with snow (very cheap, but effective sledding option that I will definitely use again), and then were put into teams for a relay. What a relay it was! Each team-member had to run up the sledding hill with our snow gear and our bag full of snow, sled down, spin around a pop bottle on the group 10 times, carry an egg on a spoon, and gunny sack race to the finish. After finishing this relay, we were all too aware at how lazy and unathletic most of us Americans were in comparison to most of the Europeans. After that we played some fun versions of tag and attempted to teach them all to play red rover (although it was definitely more painful and dangerous than playing with small children).

The weather was perfect, and when we eventually went in, it was because we were exhausted, not because we were cold. Kjerstin and I, along with Ina and friends decided to play cards in one of the cabins. The American contingent at the table taught our European friends how to play Spoons, and I must say that it was a hit! Neither Kjerstin nor I ever missed a spoon, probably because the others were not quite as cutthroat about the game yet :)

For supper we had another purely Norwegian experience : reindeer meatballs. They were a little gamey perhaps, but definitely edible as long as no one mentioned the name Rudolph! After dinner we hung out, played cards, and drank a few beers while we tried to decide whether we wanted to stay awake to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony. (They came on 3 am we were a little torn). Kjerstin decided to go to bed, but caught most in the re-broadcast the next day) while Julia, one of the girls from Luther, and I decided to go to bed around midnight and be woken up at 3 so we could watch. The plan worked fairly well.....except that I was only able to make it until 4:30 or so before I could not fight to stay awake anymore. I am glad that I made the effort however, because when else in your life do you get to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony with a group that represents 6 countries! At our viewing party we had Clement (France), Girts (Latvia), Steffi (Germany), Ester (Spain), and Emily (resident Canadian...from British Colombia too!). We got to cheer for all of our countries, and all of the Scandinavian ones as well.

This morning we woke up around 9 , ate breakfast, and left around noon. Before we left we were able to catch a few minutes of the children's ski competition that was occurring at the resort. Such cute little skiers!

The bus ride home was pretty quiet and we are all pretty tired. But it was a very fun way to get to know some more international students and see the beautiful landscape at Austlid. Both Kjerstin and I got some great photos that I am sure we will share with you once we get the chance to upload them!

But for now, Happy Valentine's weekend and Olympic Opener!

Ha det bra!

Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Norwegian Poem for You :)

Hyggelig å se deg (Nice to see you.....well not literally...but you know what I mean!)

Shelby Here!

Over the weekend Birger assigned us a cute little Norwegian poem to memorize for class on Monday. We worked pretty hard, and the hard work paid off because I was one of the lucky students who had to recite it in front of the class....but I think I did pretty well if I do say so myself :)

Here is the poem for your reading pleasure:

En liten mus
Kryper ut av sitt hus
Den ser etter mat
I kopp og på fat
En liten bit her
Og en liten bit der
Er nok for meg
Som liten er

And here is the translation of the poem according to Google Translate with some changes by me:

A little mouse
Crawls out of his house
It looks for food
In the cup and the barrel
A little bit here
And a little bit there
Is enough for me
As I am little

God Natt :)
Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Eventyrene fra Helgen fotos

Tired skiers

Norske vaffler!

Ski bunnies

Beautiful Norwegian countryside

The ski trail

Skiing! (Birger's in the red)

Home sweet home :)

So, I can't figure out how to post pictures within the text without screwing things up, so here they are until I magically become computer savvy....

More photos from Blue Lagoon

Hei Hei, Shelby here !
I just found some more photos from the Blue Lagoon that I thought I would share :)

Here we are at the entrance of the Blue Lagoon.

They had these awesome mud masks that you could put on the your face that was consistency and color of cottage kind of burned, but we all had nice soft skin afterwards.

And here is what the majority of the Lagoon looked and steamy!

We have a few more posts that are in the works, so stay tuned for some more Norway updates!

Ha det bra!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Norway Kviss : True or False

Norway Kviss : True or False
Hyggelig å se deg!

Sunday night the whole group of us had dinner with Uwe and Birger, and Birger came with a little surprise. He had created a kviss (quiz) about Norwegians for us to take. I am going to put the true or false questions here and put the answers on the bottom of the post. Keep track of your answers on a sheet of paper and scroll down to see how you did!

No peeking! See if you can beat my score (a whopping 16/32).

Hint: Don't be too nice and remember that the questions were written by a crazy and sarcastic old Norwegian man.

Birger's Norway and the Norwegian's Statements and Allegations Quizz

1. About 1900 Norway was the second poorest nation in Europe

2. We are world famous in Norway (and by we I think he means Norwegians....not sure about that one)

3. A small and insignificant country in the world

4. We bear the sole responsibility for the English being such mess

5. Envy is stronger than sex

6. All norwegians are born with skiis on their legs

7. The distance measured to your neighbor is a stone's throw

8. We are skeptical by nature

9. The best kept secret in Europe

10. We prefer to live in splendid solitude

11. The blessing of the christian civilization has never descended upon this nation

12. We are naive, gullible and nature bound

13. An American, Boyard Taylor, after a trip to this country wrote a book about Norway in 1857. He wrote that, "Norwegians are primative, ugly, illiterate, dirty, drunkards, underdeveloped and dishonest. Apart from Africa, I have never seen such ugly women." Did he write it?

14. We love and hate the Americans

15. Many Norwegians, about 1 million, left the country from 1825 and onwards, ending up in your country (the U.S.)

16. Due to the climate, Norway in unfit for a human being

17. We are phlegmatic and down-to-earth people

18. We are rude and impolite

19. We are full of preconceived ideas

20. We are arrogant, greedy and provincial conformists.

21. We get fatter and richer and more selfish

22. All Norwegians are keen skiers

23. We have the most beautiful girls and men in the world

24. We have three extra letters in our alphabet: å , ø, and æ

25. 94.9 percent of the population has blue eyes and blond hair

26. The crown princess of Norway had an illegitimate child before she married the crown prince

27. 3 percent of the land in Norway is cultivated

28. Oslo is the capital of Sweden

29. We have a president in Norway

30. Many Norwegian politicians have stepped down because of sex scandals

31. Norwegians discovered Americans

32. Norwegians sleep with their windows open

Anwers according to Birger, (and explanation if I can give one)

1. True Norway has only been the richest country in the world for the last 70 years or so thanks to OIL!
2. True
3. True
4. True
5. True
6. False Believe it or not, there are some Norwegians that don't ski....GASP! But those that do are really good at it!
7. True
8. True
9. True
10. True
11. False Birger tried to trick us with this one. Most Norwegians are not practicing Christians, so it almost seems like this would be true....but it's not.
12. True
13. True Hard to believe but true
15. True
16. True
17. True
18. True People are not Minnesota nice here in Norway, they have to warm up to you first
19. True
20. True See why I told you to not be too nice.... :)
21. True Because they are such a rich country, they are starting to act like Americans...watching tv and eating a they are starting to get fat supposedly
22. False
23. False Birger said " No, that would be Sweden, we have to give the poor devils something!"
24. True
25. False There are really not that many natural blonds here, maybe a few more than Minnesota, but not nearly as many as expected.
26. True However, not nearly as big of a deal in Norway as it would be in the U.S.
27. True
28. False If you got this one wrong, I am ashamed of you!
29. True They have a president of the parliament, who serves under the prime minister, who serves under the King and Queen (although they are figureheads). 30. False It's not that the politicians are better behaved, but Norwegians have more of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about scandal.
31. True At least most of us that have learned about Vikings seem to think so....but I suppose it is debatable :)
32. True

Hope you did well on the quizz! It sure was a fun little activity for us :)

Ha det bra!

Shelby (og Kjerstin)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Eventyrene fra Helgen (The Adventures of the Weekend)

Kjerstin here, finally checking in!

I'll start with the "Only in Norway!" Moment of last week: while sitting in Norwegian class on Thursday, Birger (our teacher) calls out, mid-sentence, "Oh look, moose!" Yep, there were three moose (looked like 2 calves and a cow) trotting across the snowy school lawn and up the hill, where they crossed the road over to our flats and beyond to the woods. Such a cool moment.

Next item on the docket: our living accommodations.

We live in flats that were originally built for the press to stay in while covering the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. They're quite nice- Shelby and I share a room and bathroom, and there's a kitchen and living room/community room in the middle of the flat that we share with three other guys (Andy, Mitch, and Reagan) from the program who have their own bed and bath. The flat is well-heated--we even have heated tile floors in the bathroom, which is super nice when you step out of the shower.

(We don't have any interior pictures to share yet, but we'll put some up soon! We're in the process of making our flat look more homey, too...)

We had a really fun and busy weekend- on Friday we didn't have school, so we went to the grocery store to stock up for the weekend because we only get meals on the weekdays. (Kiwi is the cheapest place we've found so far... and Shelby loves it because the theme is all green!) Friday night we went out to Nikkers, a pub in downtown Lillehammer, with our flatmates. We met Kevin there, a student who went on the Scan/Baltic trip last year and who has all the inside information about Lillehammer. It was a cozy place; a little spendy, but a fun atmosphere with a moose head on the wall, a blazing fireplace, and big wooden tables. They had live music, too--a long-haired Norwegian playing piano and singing American classic rock hits and Norwegian hits.

Saturday was a busy day. In the morning, we went cross country skiing with our Norwegian professor, Birger, and his two grandsons, ages 7 and 9. They completely showed us up. It's true, I think: Norwegians really are born with skis on their feet. We all improved by the end of the few hours though, and we all had fun and didn't get too many bruises. We even saw a glimpse of the elusive national bird of Norway! (The white-throated dipper, or fossekall in Norwegian). It was gorgeous back in the woods with all the snow, and the paths were really nice (and wide enough so the faster Norwegian skiers could pass us, ha ha.) We skied where the Birkebeiner cross-country ski race takes ends. Here's a cool website about the interesting history of the Birkebeiner:

After skiing, we came back to Storhove to attend a BBQ/sledging party put on by our Norwegian "buddies" for the international students. We ate burgers off the grill and drank hot cocoa, and got to chat with the Norwegian students and other international students. Then we headed over to field on a hill where we had a sledge relay race. Lots of fun. My team got second place. Running up the hill in approx. 16 inches of snow with a sledge is not an easy feat!

Saturday night we headed out to a club called Brenneriet-- we had tons of fun dancing the night away to European and American hits. (Even a club-y version of the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean!)

Sunday was a lazy day off-- we had to rest from our busy day and didn't want to move too much with our sore bodies! We did finally roll out of bed to have a flatmate breakfast with Norwegian waffles and scrambled eggs... yummy! It took a little while to convert/translate the directions on the waffle mix, but they turned out delicious. Sunday night we had a feast of pizza, veggies, cookies, and ice cream at our "Fearless Leader" Uwe's flat. Birger was there and there was much chatting and laughing and quiz taking. (quiz attached in Shelby's following post ;)) We have a dinner with everyone on the program once every weekend, which is really nice.

Monday was a normal day-- we went to Norwegian class and had lunch. Monday night we got a wonderful treat: the campus chaplain/pastor for HiL and her husband (also a pastor, but at a church in downtown Lillehammer) hosted us at their house for a introductory lesson on religion in Norway (they'll be teaching part of our Lutheranism and Islam course), and a delicious traditional Norwegian meal. It was sooooooo good. We had baked salmon (stuffed with lemons and herbs), potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and flatbread. The salmon was delectable and prepared perfectly. Anne and Oddgeir were lovely hosts, and their three children were absolutely charming. It's always so nice to be invited into a Norwegian home. The family was very hospitable; they even lit candles and served dessert and coffee. :) It was a great introduction into the course that they'll be teaching us, and a nice end to our Monday.

That's all for now folks...

Kyss og klem! (Kisses and hugs!)

Kjerstin (and Shelby)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Settled in Lillehammer!

Hei Hei! Shelby again!

I suppose it is time to explain a little about Norway, since Iceland has only accounted for the first 48 hours of our adventure.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon in Lillehammer after a medium length flight and two hour train ride through a river valley. What a gorgeous country! Huge rolling hills, conifer covered mountains, and snowy cabins lined the train tracks.

Upon arriving at the college, we moved straight into our rooms, and met up for a unique dinner of spaghetti, hot dogs, potatoes, and carrots with our Norwegian buddies, Uwe, and Birger.

Let me just take a moment to describe Birger. He is a 'retired' Norwegian professor with a crazy sense of humor and the cutest Norwegian accent and he is teaching our Norwegian class that we take 4 times a week for the next two months. He is both extremely entertaining and mildly confusing, but I think we will really enjoy him. (He is taking us out to cross country ski this weekend...and his 7 and 9 year old grandchildren are going to help us)

Anyways, we only had the evening to settle into our flats and classes started the next day.

For the semester we are taking two classes from Lillehammer University, Norwegian Language and Norwegian Culture and Society. We take both courses with the rest of the international students at HiL (this is the abbreviation of the will make things a lot shorter), but the society course only meets twice a week with 2-3 hour long the morning. That will take a little getting used to :)

Otherwise we are also taking a religion course from various lecturers including the campus pastor at HiL, a Concordia professor who visits in the spring, and Mark Lund, the head of Luther's global ed who is taking us to Germany. And we are studying globalization and the nordic countries with Uwe and a Norwegian professor named Schteiner? (I don't know spelling....I haven't met him yet). These classes have not started yet, so I can't tell you much about them. But stay tuned...should be interesting!

Now let me spend a tiny bit o' time on meals. Point 1: Food is REALLY expensive in Norway. Especially prepared food. To demonstrate.... we went to a McDonalds today...and the Big Mac costs 12 U.S. Dollars! No joke! Point 2: We are given a meal plan at the college so that we can have two meals a day in their Kantina...however dinner ENDS at 4:30. That's right...we have to get our dinner before 4:30. That has been an adjustment. We went to the grocery store and ended up buying food mostly for breakfasts and later night dinners....we almost end up eating a second dinner every night.

So we are starting to learn that we should eat as much healthy food as possible whenever it is offered. Good life skills I think?

Kjerstin has promised that she will blog soon, perhaps to describe our living quarters and other information. I'll remind her :)

Ta Ta for Now!

Shelby (And Kjerstin)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hei Hei! Here are some of our pictures from Iceland - In no particular order....

This beautiful wedding gown was part of the fashion exhibit at the Reykjavik Art Museum.

Here is one the paintings by Johannes Kjarval at the art museum.
More fashions by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir at the art museum.
Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik.
The Leif Erickson statue stands in front of the Hallgrimskirkja Church on a mount that very much resembles a ship.
You have to the love the colors that are used in Icelandic architecture! So fun!
It was easy to forget every once and while that we were in this beautiful geographical location...but then you would turn a corner or get to the top of the hill and be reminded with a breathtaking view of the mountains and harbor surrounding the city.
Just a bunch of kids...hanging out at the mall. Two of us are missing, but one was serving as photographer and the other was stuck at the hotel...feeling sick :(
This is the view while you walk to the blue lagoon. The part that you swam in looked pretty similar but was deeper, steamier, and held together by structures.
More lagoon fun!
This is the view we got from the bus of the blue lagoon gets really steamy!

This is the view from the hotel....I just like how modern everything looks...and the number of compact vehicles one finds in Scandinavian countries.

Toon in next time for some news on Norway. But at present I have to go and do some homework for my Norwegian class!

God Natt :)

Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Vi er her !!! (We are here)

Hello Everyone!

Yes, we finally have a blog! It has been a crazy few days and I am glad that we have finally been able to let you know what we are up to. I (Shelby) will be writing this first post because I felt like it, but eventually Kjerstin will add her two cents as well.

So, let's recap:

We started the trip very, very sleep-deprived and here is why. We had to meet at the airport on Thursday morning at 6:30, so naturally none of us got much sleep the night before the trip. Then we started our long day of traveling...Minneapolis to Chicago O'Hare to New York JFK. We left New York at 8 pm Eastern and arrived at Keflavik Airport around 7 am Iceland time. On top of losing about 5 hours of our night due to the time change, not much sleep was had on the plane due to the smothering heat and the distraction of personal video screens with movies and tv shows to watch (..oops). So we arrived in Iceland ready to hit the sack. But alas, that is not the way to fight jet lag so off we went to begin our adventure. The group of us, 10 students total, 6 from Luther, 4 from Concordia, and our instructor/leader Uwe got on a bus to head to the Blue Lagoon.

There is absolutely no way to describe the Blue Lagoon that would give it justice, but we will just have to give you an overview :) It is a spa based around a geothermal hot spot a little ways out of Reykjavik where the hot springs heat up an entire "hot tub." But it is so much more than a hot tub. It is a huge pool built around natural volcanic rocks in a complex that includes a sauna, cave, silica mud masks, and in-pool massages (for a fee of course). It was excellent, relaxing, tremendous for the skin (bad for the hair...we are still fighting to get our hair back to its original texture), and just what we needed! I would recommend this destination to all those who have been curious in Iceland, because while the blue lagoon is not "cheap," the prices in Iceland and at the resort are very reasonable.

Once we got back to our hotel we decided to set out in search of wi-fi (to let our parents know we are safe and sound....not of course to check our facebooks...)and our search led us to the Kringlan mall. Here we sampled the fare of the food court (I had a burrito-not very Icelandic), got a few groceries, and window-shopped. The mall closed at a very early 7 pm (for a Friday...but such is the way in Scandinavia) and we caught a bus downtown to check out the nightlife. I have not quite figured out what happens in Scandinavia from about 6 to midnight, because all of the businesses close early but no one goes out for the night until about 12. We got to a fancy bar about 8:30 or so and there was NO ONE there. But we ordered our lovely drinks and enjoyed each others' company until it was finally okay for us to go to bed! And we all slept about 10 hours....although it certainly did not feel like it!

Saturday in Iceland was another exploration day, we walked to see the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is a gorgeous cathedral with rather modern architecture. It was under renovation, so we were only able to photograph the outside (hopefully we can load up the pictures soon) and head inside a cafe nearby to get warmed up! After sitting at the cafe, drinking lattes and hot cocoa, and sampling various Scandinavian pastries we were ready to do more exploring.

We visited two museums: The Reykjavik Art Museum: Kjarvalsstadir (included art by Johannes Kjarval and a fashion design exhibit by Steinunn Sigurðardótti, who is a big time designer globally) and the Reykjavik Museum of Photography (also very cool). We ended the evening at Potturin og Pannan (Pot and Pan) where we were treated by Uwe to a four course Icelandic meal: salad, bread and soup, lamb or fish, and a mini chocolate souffle (so good!!!). With our bellies full and our eyelids heavy we headed to our rooms to get some sleep before our 5 am departure the next morning.

We were going to Norway!

More catching up coming soon :)
Ha Det! (Goodbye)

Shelby (and Kjerstin)