Today’s blog will take the form of a dos/donts list. Because, well, its fun to mix things up and i really really like a list. Anyway, many amazing things happened while i was in Oslo but a few mistakes were made too. So, just in case theres anyone out there attempting a similar trip, here are my top tips (as well as how i’m going to try and apply them to my everyday life once i leave Oslo….)
- Skimp on food- Yes Norway is expensive but i learnt the hard way that you wont enjoy any activities you had planned and paid for if youre hungry. One night i went out with a girl from Bergen and was so starving the whole night, after trying to survive only off pasta and rice cakes all afternoon, that the drinks i bought and club entry were a waste. The next morning i vowed to eat properly for the rest of the trip and if anything have been too full each day since! Food makes me happy and cooking and sharing a meal with someone be it family, an old friend or a new friend does too. Two days after this night the same friend invited me round for lunch and we sat and ate and drank coffee and chatted at her kitchen table. Another reminder that food is so linked to socialising, relationships and contentment for me.
- Judge a hostel by its cover- My hostel in Oslo seemed very empty and clinical, and i was worried i would be lonely there but actually it was great. It was very clean, the beds were comfy and my room had an ensuite. There was a great atmosphere in the evenings, people chatting or watching films in the lounge and i met a lovely Canadian whom i ate breakfast each morning with (oh yeah the hostel had a free breakfast but not just white tile like bread and limp cereals, proper cooked eggs and beans and bacon everyday as well as fresh fruit and coffee, amazing!) ALSO don’t judge a city on first glance either. The first day i explored it, Oslo was cloudy and rainy. I thought the city was so ugly compared to the rest of Norway, especially Bergen, as a lot of it was under construction and the buildings were more modern. However, i then stumbled across the Nobel Peace museum (more on that later!!!) and was so inspired. For the other two days the sun was blazing. The city was celebrating a 10k run and getting ready for May Day. Everyone seemed excited that summer was here and the long winter was over. A friend took me to one of the islands off Oslo’s main harbour and it was so peaceful i forgot we were so close to a capital city. We sat and drank cider and watched people bbqing on the beach. I also enjoyed one afternoon lazing amongst the statues in Vigeland park and another exploring the Grunerlokka area with its art and Sunday market. I could go on, but basically yeah, after a few days i realised my preconceptions were false and the city had so much going for it. I think i can apply this more to the rest of my life. I should try to stop pre judging people and situations and assuming that something is always going to go wrong. There are pros and cons to everything, i just needed to be open minded and look for the positives.
- Get public transport- Oslo is very small and can easily be explored by foot. This saves money and also gives you the chance to do things and see things you wouldn’t have done otherwise. I used an old school paper map from the hostel and allowed myself to get a feel of the city by foot and to get lost. Of course i was there for four days so could afford to take it slow and relax but i would recommend this to anyone if they have time to do the same. I got to see the wider city and houses i wouldn’t have done otherwise and felt more local. Its good to do your own thing sometimes.
- Visit the Nobel Peace Museum- its only 650 kr (6.50 pounds) for students (they didn’t check ID haha) and its so inspiring. Currently they have a very poignant exhibition on the Syrian refugees. It really made me stop and think about how i would feel if everything i knew, my whole country and sense of identity were gone. Many people interviewed for the exhibit seemed positive that one day they would be able to return to their homeland while others were unsure. It focussed on the individual stories and people affected rather than just blindly seeing everyone involved as an immigrant, a problem. Upstairs was an exhibition on the last winner of the Peace Prize, the Colombian President, who has not ceased in his attempts to try and end the civil war of the last 20 or so years. I did not even realise Colombia was in the middle of a civil war which i felt ashamed of, so became engrossed in this exhibit. I then read about all the previous winners of the prizes and the history of the prize. I left the museum even more determined to spend my life helping others and to try and do as much for other people as those honoured by the prize had. Next door to the museum is the City Hall where the prize is given out annually. I was blown away by the size of the main room and the beautiful murals by local artists on the wall. I couldn’t believe i was in the same room that all the amazing people from the museum had been to receive their prize. Definitely a trip highlight and something i wont be forgetting for a long time.
- Accept invitations from friends- My Spanish friend from Bergen invited me out to a club on Friday and then to lunch on Sunday. Although Friday night was a bit iffy due to my lacking of eating that day, the place she took me was super cool and i’m still glad i got to experience the local nightlife. As already mentioned lunch was lovely too and her friend Marcos who ate with us and also works in Oslo offered to take me out to the island once were had finished eating. Again, it was great to see the city from a locals point of view and hear his stories. I have been surprised by people’s generosity to me again and again on this trip. People i have just met have inviting me into their homes or taking me on tours. Its so nice. Maybe this is more of a European thing or perhaps i just got lucky and met the most welcoming people in Norway. Either way i will try to adopt this once I’m back home. New friends mean new stories and new perspectives (and more fun!)
- Call a friend if you’re down- After the ‘hunger night’ as one friend subsequently dubbed it, i spent the next day doubting myself and the whole trip. What was i doing? I was going to run out of money! Why did i choose Scandinavia? Im so lonely…etc. But after i spoke to one friend that afternoon and facetimed another in the evening i felt lots better. I reminded myself that theres always someone to speak to if i need to and that a problem shared is a problem halved. I have such amazing friends i just need to make sure i use them more!!
Woah okay sorry this has been a long one but theres so much i wanted to say. Norway was a great start to my trip and i already feel like im learning so much about the world and myself. It was sad to leave Oslo but I have a good feeling about Sweden. Orebro is 19 degrees and sunny today. Its the cutest little city and although ive been alone for the past few days i have enjoyed just relaxing in ‘One of Europe’s Most Beautiful Parks’ (can confirm) and admiring the perfectly restored Renaissance castle. Oh and i can see two hot blonde guys with no tops on cooking in the building opposite my hostel. Yep, its going to be a great few weeks…