Monday, November 26, 2012

tusen takk

[Oops - meant to hit publish a few days ago on this one]

"A Thousand Thanks"

After complaining a little bit in my last post about language training, I now turn my focus to how unbelievably fortunate I am. When I look back at all the amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful opportunities I've been granted, and think about all my loving friends and family, I can hardly believe how awesome my life is. And now I am embarking on what might be the most amazing job in the world (in my book anyways), so it just keeps getting better.

My progression from a wide-eyed and idealist college kid to AmeriCorps volunteer to less wide-eyed but no less idealist Masters student to Peace Corps volunteer to DC bureaucrat to foreign service officer has been quite the ride. I've had a few bumps along the way, but from where I sit, things couldn't have turned out more perfectly.

On Thanksgiving day I ate turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and pie (oh...the pie....) with old friends and new one acquaintances, enjoying the meal and company immensely. Next year in Oslo I get to start up my old tradition of Thanksgivings abroad again, which originates partially from my first adventure in Scandinavia that ended in a fish and chip Thanksgiving dinner at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

So in addition to great friends and family and general life happiness, I am thankful for many things big and small. Here is a sample:

* my little basement apartment that is so cozy and fits me so perfectly.
* a snuggly cat to greet me when I get home everyday
* the ability to cook (not too shabbily) decent meals for myself
* tons of fun restaurants and bars within walking or metro distance (for when the cooking just isn't going to happen)
* the National Zoo within throwing distance and the sounds of lions begging for dinner in the evenings
* a beautiful historic neighborhood to walk through everyday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

veggen (the wall)

It turns out that despite having studied Norwegian for 5 semesters in college, I am still subject to the well-known "language-learning wall." After my first evaluation I was feeling pretty confident, but the last couple of weeks have exhausted me. I know I am progressing, but the number of words I feel that I should be learning is increasing exponentially and my ability to remember these words seems to be decreasing. I'm sure it's in my head, but I've definitely upped the time I spend on vocab and reading.

My final test isn't until the end of February, but the thought of speaking nearly fluently has me a little stressed. I can understand so much of what I hear and read, but getting words out of my mouth correctly and smoothly is still sometimes a struggle. I'm thankful for the week-long immersion trip we have coming up in December which I need much more than I had expected when I started this course. It is definitely a privilege to be learning a language full-time, but it certainly isn't easy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

progress and ponies

a peaceful sunset with the Assateague ponies

After surviving hurricane Sandy and missing 3 days of class, life quickly moved on from there. Coming back to school with the holidays fast approaching has me in a bit of panic about getting up to where I need to be by the end of February. While I did perfectly well on my evaluation, I know that getting to the point of comfortably speaking is going to take some work (so why am I not studying right now??). But I'm getting there. I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of events at the Norwegian embassy here in DC, and I was surprisingly comfortable speaking and understanding (the wine certainly helped).

Oh, and we had an election! Being all diplomatic and such is difficult when your life is so closely entangled with the outcome of the elections, but I am very happy and relieved that the election is over and we can all get back to work. Almost all of the Norwegians I've talked to are extremely happy about the reelection of our President. After all, this is the country that awarded President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize less than a year after he was a elected. They love him, which should make my job a little easier.

Other than learning and elections, it's been nice to get out of town and experience the slow waning of autumn. This weekend it was a day-trip out to Assateague National Seashore to see the ocean and the ponies. The weather was warm but crisp, and the sunset on the beach was perfect. Next up - reporting for potential jury duty, Thanksgiving, and less than a month until an immersion trip to Oslo!

ponies enjoying some beach shrub

An empty beach on the east coast 

fisherman try their luck

a beautiful sunset

pony silhouette