Saturday, February 13, 2010

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)

1 comment:

  1. Did you meet Will at the Nansen Academy?

    Fine bilder! :-)