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: http://www.birkebeiner.no/English/Birkebeiner-history/
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)