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ISSUE 117 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/17/2003

News from Norway

By Mary Coffey
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 17, 2003

The celebrated study abroad programs, offered by St. Olaf College each year, allow students to expand their horizons by going out into the world and soaking up the unknown. With programs in places as diverse as Perth, Dakar or Galway, the options are virtually unlimited. For those left behind on campus this fall, Mary Coffey ‘06 has offered up a snapshot of what her life overseas this semester has been like thus far. Coffey is an interdisciplinary fine arts (IDFA) major who is studying in Telemark, Norway. Here is a peak into her life abroad:


I arrived in Oslo at noon on Saturday, having lost about nine hours of sleep, and managed to get my luggage and find a bus. The next morning I got up and went for a run, whereby I discovered that flat ground doesn’t really exist in my new Norwegian surroundings. I ran up and down a bunch of hills, and discovered that raspberries grow all over here! They line the roads! With this newfound knowledge I cut my run short to stuff myself with raspberries.

Later that night our guides took us out to party. Unlike St. Olaf, where people drink behind closed doors, the people here bring all of their furniture outside and sit in front of their houses, drifting back and forth from house to house as they drink. This is what Americans would call “pre-partying.”

Later, most of the students headed down to KROA, the campus’s student hangout, where a disco was being held. I stayed behind to meet another guy in my house, Lars, and talked about compulsory military service with him and until he wanted to go dancing and I wanted to go to sleep. And that’s just what I did – that is, until the returning revelers came home from the disco to carry on the party.

That brings us to today, when I nearly overslept, but made it to our first lecture at 8:30, only to discover that by 8:30, they actually meant 9:00. We were given a summary of Norway’s prehistoric eras for an hour.


Hooray for fall break! I’m out of school for a week, and am spending it traveling! On Friday I boarded an evening train to Oslo and then a night train to Trondheim, arriving 7 a.m. Saturday morning just as the sun was rising over the hills.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – a balmy fall, or snowstorms and polar bears – but I was met with chilly weather. I had a map of the city with my hostel on it, but since it was 7 a.m. and I knew the reception desk would be closed, I wasn’t in any hurry. I meandered along the docks watching the sun come up and eating Nutella (a delicious chocolate, peanut-butter-like spread) and jam on Wasa crackers.

Later, I found myself in the downtown area just as the shops were beginning to open, so I happily lost myself in the various kitchen shops, bunad/knitting stores, the fish market, a mall-like place and a makeup store where I was “prettied up” for free.

I also saw an excellent mime (he blew me a kiss when I gave him change) and a one-man band playing Bob Marley songs.

I went to Our Lady Church and listened to a free mini-concert that was so beautiful I don’t have words to describe it. After all that, my feet were whimpering with pain, so I hiked back up the hostel hill and dined on some pasta and fish salads from the market as I met other students of various nationalities who all spoke English together (I could actually listen in on conversations.)

Sunday was overcast and rainy. I set out for church at the Nidarosdomen – a huge and beautiful cathedral in which my great grandmother was confirmed. Four babies were baptized between the stanzas of a hymn. After the water was poured over each baby’s head, the parents put white bonnets on their newly baptized offspring.

After church I went to the museum of applied art and to the library where I spent the afternoon lost in books. Later, alone in my room, I washed my socks in the sink (I’m a cheap traveler) and had a breakfast consisting of Mueslix with yogurt, toast with jam and brown goat cheese, hard boiled eggs, cheese, salami, fish in tomato sauce and pickled herring. I really tried to eat the fish, but I could only manage a bite. As much as I like fish, it’s just not a breakfast food to me. I do like the brown goat cheese, however, so that makes me a true Norwegian, right? Now I’m back in the library – who knows what will happen next.

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