Saturday, June 9, 2012

17th of May and Norwegian Summer

Everything has been pretty busy during final exams from the middle to the end of May, but I was able to have a wonderful time in Oslo with my cousin Unni for the Norwegian Independence Day on the 17th of May.  I of course forgot my camera, but the crowds look like this:


This is around the palace, where the parades of school children end up to wave at the King, Queens, Crown Prince and Princess, etc., who stand between the pillers up there.  I saw them through a mass of people on the lawn.  After the parade we had a nice late lunch with many of the traditional foods people eat on the 17th of May, like salmon and scrambled eggs.  Actually I don't know how traditional that is, but it tastes great!

A bit about the history of the 17 of May: Norway was under Denmark's rule from the 1300s until 1814 when the Norwegian constitution was written, and they became "independent" but they were tied to Sweden for almost 100 years after that.  I always get confused about this, but according to wikipedia: "In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitutionSweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish kingRising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence."  

So maybe this explains the high level of national pride here.  I joined in and thoroughly enjoyed waving my little flag around all day.  

It was very summery during the end of May too, but now it's cooled off again and I'm wishing for those hot days back.  I don't know if it will get "hot" here again.  Interestingly, there is no separate word for hot--they say "varm" for both warm and hot.  And the clothes come off starting at 50 degrees F (10 C). It's understandable considering the long winter they have.  

Last weekend was a big music festival all day in Oslo, and I went with some friends to the farmer's market and ate a deer meat burger with beer.  It was one of the best tasting burgers I've ever had, no exaggeration:


We listened to alternative rock on the stage and had a BBQ where I ate even more delicious food and drank more beer, and eventually we went to another stage closer to the main train station.  There they played Latin music, and we danced to a lot of it.  It was almost 11 PM (and still light out, it is always a bit light out now) and we heard sirens.  The music stopped and I turned around and there was an apartment building with its roof on fire.  Here's a link to the story--I couldn't find it in English: Aftenposten.  No one was hurt or killed, but they don't know the cause and are still working on fixing it  so that there's no risk of falling debris.  It was a pretty crazy end to a really fun day.  I'm really glad no one was hurt.  A lot of people were blocking traffic gawking and taking video of it though, which I guess is to be expected.

We have a really nice pond on campus, aptly named the "duck pond", with a little gnome hut in the middle that gets repainted every so often.  Most of the time it is red and white striped, after the colors of the main fraternity on campus called the "Hankatter" or "Tom Cats".  And the main sorority is called the "Hunkatter"--did you know the term for a female cat is a Queen?  So, the "Queen Cats."  Anyway, the Tom Cats think they own that little house but other groups challenge their dominance often by repainting the house.  I don't really get it, but it reminds me of the story of the eagle statues at Hamline, which was before my time there.


There's ducklings in the duck pond now, and it's so cute to watch them waddle over lily pads since they're so light.


Yesterday I went to Oslo to see some friends and eat dinner together, but before I met up with them I took a walk in one of the oldest parks in Oslo I'd been meaning to visit.  I was confronted immediately with this Canadian goose look-alike:


called a barnacle goose.  This is the first time I've seen them, so I don't think they are as numerous as the Canadian geese.  This group seemed to have the same habits as the other.


Next I went to see the ruins of on of the oldest churches, called the Maria Church.  It was originally built in 1000, expanded in 1300, and was falling apart by mid-1500.  It was a stave church, with the really tall tower, or stave.


I tried to take a picture of the new Oslo rising out of the ruins:


I don't know what it is about city parks, that they are free or what, but they always seem to be trashy and marked up by graffiti, and you can see next to the sign about the church.  And even in really nice nature areas I've seen a lot of trash, especially these one-time use grills, also found on the ruins:


No matter where you go there's always trashy people.  There's a trash can not 10 meters from this spot.  If wishes were fishes...we'd never run out of cod.

I'm taking a Swahili course now, to confuse myself and because I'm going to Tanzania for my Master's thesis fieldwork.  The first two months there I will be part of a course at a sister University to my own, and then the next 2.5 to 3 months I will be interviewing people about a new addition to a nature reserve called Amani Nature Reserve.  I have a lot to do until then but I will try to update more details about it before I leave.  For now, here's a map of Tanzania--I will be in Morogoro the first part (west of Dar es Salaam) and then Amani is near Tanga, to the north of Dar es Salaam.



  1. Those geese look pretty odd, but I guess ours would look odd to Norwegians, too. I don't think I saw any of them around in December, but I remember that pond with the little house on it. It looks a bit more hospitable this time of year.

    Tanzania looks hot. The latitude number looks way too small. Zero latitude is the equator. Bring sun screen.

    Pretty photos.

  2. Ah, summer in Norway. I remember it well.

    Tousan has a good point about the sun thing -- especially coming from Norway where the sun angle is pretty oblique, even in the summer.

  3. how can you take 2 languages at one time i would be sooooo confused, i can barley understand English sometimes