Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sørlandet and Arendalsuka

Summer is almost gone! I can't quite absorb that one, it has really gone by too fast. I just got back from Arendal and Grimstad on the southern coast of Norway, where I spent the last week at a political networking event called Arendalsuka. It was five days of mingling, debates, talks, and of course after hours receptions and informal get-to-know-each other events (aka parties).

Arendalsuka brings the entire government plus think tanks, political parties, NGOs and others together in a nice little vacation town on the southern coast for a concentration of political discussion before Oslo comes back to work after the summer holiday. It was a long tiring week, but a great chance to learn and stretch my Norwegian language muscles.

Many of the political debates during Arendalsuka took place in the city's Town Hall and Culture Center. This debate was about food security and climate change. 

The city of Arendal on the south coast of Norway was taken over by political debates and tents of different parties, organizations and causes.  It was hard to turn a corner without running into a debate or Q&A about the various political topics of the day, from climate change to local road building. 

Working at Arendalsuka was not a typical week at the office, though still work none the less. I attended dozens of panel debates and discussions (all in Norwegian) and used the time in between to meet new people and reconnect with people in a more informal setting. One evening this meant a smaller dinner outside of town at a summer resort. The on and off rain rewarded us with an amazing rainbow over the sea. 

With no hotel rooms in tiny Arendal available, I ended up staying the week with a good friend from college, who as luck would have it comes from just outside of Arendal. After a long week of long days, the weekend meant I could finally spend time with good friends. His dad took us out for a boat ride through the islands along the coast, providing a much better view of the city than from the inside of a meeting hall. 

The southern coast of Norway outside of Arendal and Grimstad is dotted with red and white houses in traditional style. The water was a balmy 20 degrees celsius (68 degrees fahrenheit), so after the boat ride and lunch, a few of us took a refreshing dip in the sea.