17 September, 2010

the getaway

and i found myself standing, gazing, just below the bright night sky, rediscovering for the thousandth time the marvels a clear night can hold. and how i wish you could have been there with me.

last week's weekend took me outside of bergen for the first time, the occasion: my taking a step forward in making the best out of these five months and joining the university's men's choir Mannskoret Arme Riddere. there was an introductory weekend with cheesy initiation rites, wholehearted singing and avid drinking. sometimes even fifty cases of beer can be insufficient.

this weekend is visitation time and i look forward to dear claire arriving on friday (with hands and bags full of booze hopefully). we plan to be hitting the clubs, diskjokke at electric cafe, more specifically, looks particularly enticing. any of you bergen kids game?

as for my mental health: i keep recognizing faces of once familiar persons in the streets. though impossible to actually meet justin from burbank, wa here in norway, my brain keeps playing these tricks on me. what gives?

no do's and dont's this time, but rather a link to a very readable blog of a friend of mine. julia is blogging about her life in berlin as a young mother and general slacker: my post-it diary

word of the day: paraply (regenschirm)

02 September, 2010

study hard, party harder...

and suddenly it was autumn in bergen. ten degree temperature drop quasi overnight and a sudden increase in umbrellas spotted around the city. but for the vanlig student the end of summer also means the beginning of a new semester. and that in turn means but one thing: fadderuken!

mentor week is the culmination of every freshman's party desires: free entry to lots of venues, extra cheap beer (only 39kr) and general exuberance pretty much sum this last week up. luux and kvarteret have proven themselves worthy of wasting one's studentlån and have defeated my hopes of getting to bed a bit earlier, at least during the workweek.

after all the fun however, studying is serious business in norway and the administration spends sizable amounts of money to ensure a profound education for all students. this agenda manifests itself most strikingly in the a-grade condition of the university's assets and equipment. the studentsamskipnaden, bergen's student welfare organization, for example, has 7 kindergartens as well as state-funded psychologists.

DO #4: study in bergen! i don't want to sound too fanboyish, but this city is most definitely one of the finest places to study in europe. make sure to apply for a nice inner-city appartement in time, although these are far more expensive than the suburban monstrosities fantoft and hatleberg. these monuments of 1970s concrete abundance do, on the other hand, have the advantage of providing a colorful student life and, not to forget, the weekly friday kitchen parties.

i am going to go as far as saying that regardless of the where, an exchange semester is an experience that no student should miss out on. do it and do it early on!

DON'T #4: come unprepared, though. don't make the mistake i made with the decision that there would still be enough time to learn norwegian once arrived; learn the basics at least. while norwegians are inherently friendly and polite, it's hard to really get through to them and not speaking the language at all surely doesn't make things easier.

more pictures on jules' picasa page.

word of the day: bursdag (geburtstag)

15 August, 2010


shopping is great in bergen. no, really. and it's not even as expensive as one would be inclined to assume. especially now, during one of the many salg periods, the clothing prices easily undercut berlin's. there are quite a few boutiques around the city center that will offer fantastic deals, more than one h&m and, of course, everyone's favorite weekday.
new shirt, new haircut.

the two largest shopping centers in and around bergen are åsane storsenter and lagunen storsenter. while i haven't yet made it to the latter, the former merely embodies your generic western european mall, if it weren't for the aforementioned ikea, which still doesn't carry door stoppers.

DO #3: check out the little innvandrerbutikkene by the central bus station. for some reason these little immigrant stores are all in one place and, less surprisingly, offer essentially the same things: food from all over the non-western world. it's comparatively cheap, even stacked up to berlin prices, and best of all: they have ayran!

DON'T #3: waste your time by going to the fish market. well do it, but only once. it's noisy, expensive, full of tourists and it reeks. admittedly, the fish on display is quite impressive, so take some pictures and get out of there. i mean, 14 euros for a small fisk salat, who are you kidding?

i am in a little trouble since i saw this beautiful bike at den grønne sykkel yesterday. the place is a rundown warehouse, filled with second hand bikes. prices start at 900kr, which includes a thorough overhaul and even a warranty. do i buy it? will i even be able to ride it? how am i gonna get it home?

jules updated his photo gallery. check out some pictures of two white boys in shorts.

word of the day: solbrenthet (sonnenbrand)

08 August, 2010

i think i'm falling for you

bergen, you've treated me well so far. no major disturbances, not even slight hiccups, instead some quite authentic awe for your sights and scenery. it's not ye olde touristy attractions like bryggen or the fløibanen that i am drawn to, it's rather your subtle charm and natural beauty that gets me.

little corridor-like alleys winding up and down the many hills on grass-covered cobblestone, sporting wooden fairytale houses with low ceilings and tiny doorsteps, looking like they've sprung straight from tolkien's tales. well, a little bit of exaggeration here and there should be ok, i hope. i'm really quite impressed.
the rebellion is near!

DO #2: visit nordnes sjøbad. situated on the tip of nordnes parken, it's essentially berlin's badeschiff without the excitement and hipness. plus the spree and our pretty treptowers just don't scale up to the actual sea on one side and a steep coastline on the other.

DON'T #2: go into the north end of nygårdsparken. bergen's drug problem becomes painfully apparent in this part of an otherwise very beautiful inner city park. imagine a peaceful, quiet retreat with young families having picnics vs. the gathering of the entire junkie and dealer scene who are not too secretive about their activities. do a google image search for further impressions.

more news from the poor student front: yes, there is an ikea, and as expected it offers not only cheap furniture, but also mediocre fast-food and wailing babies. we went twice last week.

jules is taking more pictures, check them out on his picasa page.

word of the day: rullekebap (döner dürüm)

06 August, 2010

when it rains, it pours

...figuratively speaking that is. although it is literally pouring outside my window at the moment, most of the raining had stopped by the time we arrived in bergen yesterday. since for a little while there, i had feared of never arriving here at all, thanks to missing my plane to oslo (i love you, ryan air) and then some.

i always dreaded the moment when my "getting going one minute too late but still somehow making it" would turn into "getting going one minute too late, as usual, but this time disastrously not making it", and there it was tuesday afternoon, manifesting itself as a locked door at sxf.

what followed was what must have been the longest ride home and the realization that my mother is there for me, in case something actually bad ever happens. good to know.

looking dorky on the way to bergen
yet here we are, thanks to norwegian's crafty airspace operators and their well functioning website.

DO #1: if you plan on going to bergen, take the train from oslo. it traverses the entire country, offering some quite spectacular views; plus it costs a mere 25 euros if you manage to buy the ticket a few weeks ahead of time.

DON'T #1: take that train at night. you won't see anything.

the further run of events was rather smooth, collecting dorm keys, finding out everything is incredibly expensive, realizing my bed spans a luxurious 75 cm. i should be able to deal with all of that.

word of the day: unnskyld (entschuldigung)