Friday, December 12, 2008


So, this is the end. I cannot believe that three months in England have come and gone, but what a great adventure it has turned into. Obviously I knew I was going to have a great time, meet lots of new people and see lots of new things, but I could have never imagined all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had here. Looking back on all I have done, I just am totally amazed by the magnitude of it all. In September I left my sleepy little town of 1800 people and went to a new country, to a city where I really knew no one and had to be completely independent. Although the first few days…ok, the first week was a bit rough, I got through it at just lived. I meet so many great people, both British & American and I learned so much from them. I visited eight countries in about two of the three months I was here and travelled around southern England and London during that time. I took loads of pictures, ate a ton of PB & Js, got very little sleep at some points and rode on very stinky buses. I had middle-aged Norwegian customs officers flirt with me, had a Scottish bus driver yell at me and Dave to get off if we wanted to see the Wallace monument in Stirling, and I cringed every time I rode in a coach, thinking we were going to hit every car we passed. I’ve eaten a baguette in France, wonderful pastries in Germany, had Guiness in Dublin and drank tea in a tea room in the Cotswolds of England. I’ve walked the beaches of Normandy, hiked with my dad in the Austrian Alps, admired the harbours of Oslo, traipsed around the UK & Ireland with the one I love and lit a candle in the quite serenity of Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. In all of these things, I have felt blessed. Blessed for the opportunity, blessed by the people, and blessed by the experiences. I could not have asked for more than what I was given in coming here and I know that I will never, ever forget my time here. Thank all of you for your prayers, encouragement and comments. I’m more than happy to recount any of my adventures at any time so feel free to ask!
One last time, Cheers from across the Pond!

Farewell Canterbury

Well, before I end my time here, thought I should update with what has gone on in my last week. I ended the last post with some of my really unique experiences in my last weekend, but Monday was a continuation of a great weekend in Canterbury. Monday night was Canterbury Christ Church University’s Candlelight Carol service at the Cathedral. My friends Gracie and Nikita when with me to the service at 8pm that night, what a wonderful night it was. It was pretty cold, but we made the walk from Parham in good time. We took the back way into the cathedral grounds since we have student i.d.s…yep, we’re special! :) I can’t even describe how beautiful the Cathedral is a night all lit up, the pictures just don’t do it justice. There was a long queue to get in, but it moved quickly and gave us time to take pictures of the outside. Inside the Nave was very festive and absolutely beautiful. Since there was so many people we had to sit off to the side of the Nave, but it was still lovely. When the service started they turned off the lights and started to light the candles, I could hardly believe I was there and when the choir started to sing from the back of the Nave I could have just about died with how thrilled I was to be there. It was so incredibly beautiful! I loved being able to sing along to the carols even though there were some that I didn’t know. We left the service so incredibly glad that we decided to get tickets. After, they had mince pies and mulled wine at the university for everyone. Mince pies are really big here, especially the little mini ones. I had yet to try one, but we all did and they were delicious (but we passed on the wine)! :) Tuesday, was spent writing my last paper and Wednesday was my two finals for British History and Modern Britain. My hand felt like it could fall off, but overall I think they went well. Wednesday night I got to have dinner with my British friend Karen and we ate and talked for quite a while. I’m really going to miss her, but hopefully she will come visit me soon! Earlier in the week, Nikita and I decided that we were going to go to London for a few hours on Thursday so she could say goodbye to her love, Big Ben and I could go to the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum-yes I am a nerd, you don’t have to remind me. We took the bus at 9am from Canterbury and got to London a little after 11. We parted ways so I could get to the museum. I really enjoyed the tour of the War Rooms and the museum. I loved that they had the rooms just as they were left when the war ended. I spent an hour there and then decided to wander up Whitehall to Downing St. before I met Nikita at 1pm. I also went partway across Westminster Bridge so I could get a good look of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings. I found a bagpiper on the bridge who wasn’t terribly good, but I enjoyed listening to him anyway. Nikita and I met back up and walked back down to the bus station…by way of Starbucks for tea and soy lattes. It was a short trip, but a very enjoyable one. Best story ever!- Once Nikita and I had gotten up to Big Ben/Parliament/Westminster area, we had to decided when we were going to meet up. I asked Nikita what time it was and she looked at her watch and said, “11:30.” I thought that we should meet back up at 1, then I realized. Here we are, right in front of the most famous clock in the world and I asked Nikita what the time it was, which she obliged and checked HER WATCH! We had a good laugh about that…epic fail! :) Thursday night I started packing and think that I’m going to get all of my crap in my bags, could be overweight, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes. Today has been a day of goodbyes. Karen stopped by to say goodbye and pick up the air bed that she had loaned me. Then I went to the university to say goodbye to one of my favorite tutors, Ken and we talked for a good hour. Then I had to go get a baguette at my favorite little shop and say goodbye to the American owners that I’ve come to know well. After strolling around Canterbury with my baguette I had to say one of the hardest goodbyes, I had to take my last walk around the Cathedral. I’ve really fallen in love with it, everything about it from the history to the architecture. I decided to light a candle at the Becket shrine, in a way as a symbol of thanks to the place for giving me such fond memories of my time there. I started to walk back to my house, but saw Beth, Laura and Katie in The Corner Café and decided to sit and talk with them for a while. We left there after they finished their lunch and we went to The Chambers Café and Coffee Bar for some warm drinks, dessert and reminiscing of our adventures here. They went to go do some last minute shopping and I took my last walk back to my house from High St. Tonight is the Christmas party and farewell to the Americans at The Jolly Sailor which most people are going to, so I will be going to say goodbye to all of my friends. I’m not going to be able to stay to long because I have to get up really early to head to the airport. The taxi is coming at 6:45 to collect us and my fight leaves at 11am. I will be back in Chicago by 2pm tomorrow. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone, but I know I’ve enjoyed it all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wonderful experiences in my last week...

Well it’s now less than a week until I’m home and I can hardly believe that my time here is almost done! Sometimes it seems as though I’ve hardly been here and at other times I look back on some of the pictures that I took at the beginning and some of my first trips and it feels like it’s been ages. I am ready to come home, but I’m really having fun and trying to make the most of my time here. This past week I spent a lot of time getting papers finished up and studying for my exams this Wednesday. Thursday night was a nice break from work and a wonderful night with friends. Shanna invited me to come with her, Nikita, Gracie and Caroline to dinner at their professor’s flat. Sanders and his wife Bahar are vegetarian and vegan respectively and were going to be making a vegan dinner for us. Nikita and I are pretty much vegan and Caroline and Gracie are both vegetarian. Shanna is the only carnivore in the group, but still enjoys some veg-friendly food now and again. The meal was absolutely delish! We had toasties with garlic for starters and then a wonderful soup Sanders made from Jerusalem artichokes and leeks. I have to get the recipe for the soup because it was fantastic. Our main course had a Scottish flair to it since we had vegan haggis. I know, I know sounds disgusting right? Wrong! It was really good, once you understood that it was nothing like really haggis…ick! We also had mashed neeps (turnips) and colcannon, a Irish mashed potato and kale creation that was wonderful, especially Bahar’s addition of garlic to the mix. We finished off the night with great discussions and dessert of deep fried Mars bars and Oreos! Totally cancelled out all of the healthy veggie food we had just eaten, but the Oreos were amazing! Overall a wonderful night with some great friends and I realized how much I’m going to miss those girls when I’m home. Why does New York have to be so far away?
Friday was an all day paper writing marathon, with some procrastination…ok a lot of procrastination thrown in for good measure. Saturday I decided was going to be my shopping day to get some gifts for people back home that I had yet buy for. I ended up meeting Beth downtown and we just happened to find ourselves in the midst of Canterbury’s annual St. Nicholas parade! It was really neat to see all of the kids that were a part of this parade and we finally saw the big cheese himself, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I got to take some video of the parade, so people can get a sense of what it was like. I found some good stuff downtown and went home to find my kitchen taken over by Nikita, Gracie and Christina-a good thing for sure! After I ate some lunch (it was 3pm and I was starving!), we all went for a quick ASDA run and came back for a night of food and movies. We ended up watching Boonedock Saints, a movie I had never seen, but was definitely high on my list. I loved it, even though it was quite violent. Gracie made the point that I really had to be in order to get the moral of the movie across so well.
Today was exciting for me because I got to see my first real Scottish pipe band perform in Canterbury. The Argyll and Sutherland Highland regiment is a Royal Scottish regiment that is based in Canterbury…I’m still trying to figure out that one, and they just came back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. They were being awarded the “Freedom of the City,” an honour given by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury. To celebrate the regiment they paraded through the streets, with their pipe band and the regimental mascot Cruachan, a Shetland pony. I loved seeing and hearing the bagpipes! I was absolutely bursting with excitement when I heard them strike in. It was also really cool to be a part of a celebration like that, everyone supporting their troops. Even though they are not soldiers of my country, I felt a since of gratitude to them for serving none the less. Gracie and Nikita who had come down with me also really enjoyed it. Who doesn’t like to see dozens of military guys in uniform…some even in kilts! :) Well, I guess that better be all for now. Finished up one paper and some crib notes for my exams, so now all I have is one last short paper to write and another set of notes for Modern Britain and I’m done for the term! I’ll be home now less than six days! Can’t wait to see everybody!
Take care!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving in England and London trip 2

Hope everyone is enjoying the snow back home! I know I wish we had just a little bit of snow here, would make it seem more like Christmas time. It’s been hard to be away during this time, especially with Thanksgiving celebrations last week. I’ve been reminding myself though that “I’ll be home for Christmas” in no time at all. 11 days to be exact and as fun as it has been here for the past few months, I am ready to be home. Last week my friend Jordan came to visit for about a week and we had a good time. I picked her up last Saturday from the Canterbury bus station. On my way to get her I walked down High St. browse through the Saturday market. People were out in force Christmas shopping and it was really fun to see all of the Christmas stuff out. This coming Saturday I’m planning on going to the market again to take pictures so you can see all of the wonderful things I love about Canterbury’s market day and the Christmas season in England. Once I got Jordan we walked back down so she could see all the bustle of the town. I ended up making a cake that afternoon for one of my housemates whose birthday was on Sunday. I made a double layer chocolate cake called, “Dead Good Chocolate Cake,” and I got good reviews on it. :) It was really fun to make, so I might just have to make another cake before I leave, sort of a going away cake. Anyway, Jordan recovered from some wicked jetlag on Sunday and we did some exploring of the city in the next few days. I had a paper to write, which was unfortunate, but I did get it done. Thursday, we were both missing being home for Thanksgiving and after my morning class we made a mini feast of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce…yes I know this sounds pitiful, but it helped us cope…that and listening to Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Day” song on YouTube. Later on in the evening we went to my neighbor’s house were they had a feast, with turkey even and lots of alcohol. We then followed this by a trip down to a local pub called The Jolly Sailor. I had heard a lot about this place from many of the other American students, but had never been myself, not being the type to spend my nights drinking in pubs. We did go and I had a great time talking to people and they even had apple pie there for us. The owner even dressed up like a pilgrim and had American flags put up inside and outside the pub. The big telly was tuned into the Seahawks-Cowboys game which made it feel a little more like home (although the other t.v. in the pub was playing “real” football for the locals). Overall it was a great night with friends and a good way to be distracted from missing home for the holiday. The next day Jordan and I had planned to catch a bus up to London for the day, but needless to say the festivities the night before had taken a toll on us and we decided to postpone our day out in London until Saturday. Friday was spent lounging around and then some more shopping on High St. We had a nice supper at Prezzo, my favorite little Italian place, turned in early in preparation for London.
We got on the bus at 9:30am and we were in London by 11:30am. I had only been to London once before, but that was on the east end, by the Tower, so I had never actually seen Big Ben, Parliament, etc. I was so excited to see it as we crossed Lambeth Bridge before getting to Victoria coach station. It really is a beautiful sight. When we got our bearings, we walked to Buckingham Palace just in time to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It was a neat thing to see, but no spectacular…sort of like Stonehenge. A quick stroll down Birdcage Walk, brought us right to Parliament Square where we got our first opportunity take some good pictures of Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster. Leicester Square was where we eventually wanted to go to get tickets to see a show on the West End and we got there by way of Whitehall and Trafalgar Square. We could see Downing St. but we were on the other side of Whitehall so we couldn’t see #10. Trafalgar was interesting, very crowded and made me really feel like I was in London for some reason. Don’t ask me why Big Ben didn’t do that to me and I had to walk all the way up to Trafalgar to feel that, but oh well. :) Leicester Square was packed with people and we stood in line for quite a while trying to get tickets to a musical. A lot of things were sold out and we ended up walking to the theatre on Shaftsbury Ave. where Josh Hartnett was in the play version of “Rain Man.” Jordan and I were both really excited to see Josh Hartnett (for those of you who don’t know who he is, he’s a pretty famous actor that was in Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down…yes…now you can understand our excitement! :)). The play was amazing and we were in the 5th row, which added so much more to the whole experience. After the play was over we walked to Piccadilly Circus, which is sort of like London’s Time’s Square of sorts. Loads of people everywhere and it was a bit overwhelming. We ended up walking back down to the Thames and crossed a footbridge to the other side, just down from the London Eye. I was snapping pictures like crazy because everything was just so cool! London is spectacular at night with things lit so beautifully! I fell in love with Big Ben, just like my housemate Nikita did on her trips to London. We were really exhausted by about 6:30pm, got some food in Victoria Station then waited for the bus back to Canterbury. I didn’t really enjoy the ride, back because I was tired, hungry and generally uncomfortable. Took a taxi back to Parham because we weren’t too keen on walking the ½ hour back to my house. Got some pasta and got Jordan checked in online for her flight the next day. She had to leave at 5am the next morning and I got up to see her off to her taxi. We had a good time and I was glad for someone from home being around, especially for Thanksgiving. Now it’s literally the home stretch, and most of that full of writing papers and studying for exams. I’ve got two papers down and two more to go, then next Wednesday I have two essay exams. I’ll probably update at least one more time before I’m back, but I can hardly believe that the end of my time here is so near! I have had an amazing experience here and even though there are a lot of things I will miss here, I’ll be glad to be back in good ol’ central Illinois. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

More tales from Canters...and Windsor too!

Hello all!

Hope everyone is staying warm back home-I hear that it's pretty chilly. It's gotten pretty cold here too, usually highs have been in the mid-40s. Yesterday morning I actually woke up to snow outside my window! They told us it hardly ever snows in these parts, but I guess they were wrong. I just loved seeing the beautiful big flakes coming down, just wished it would have stayed around a bit longer. It was all gone in about 20min when it started to rain really hard. It cleared up later in the day and was actually quite pleasent. Ok, back to last Friday and the very last of our fieldtrips. This time we went to Windsor Castle, about 2 1/2 hours from Canterbury by bus. I wasn't looking forward to this one as much as I had with the others, but it turned out to be a great time. We did a audio tour of the castle, which was interesting, but I was having a hard time absorbing all of the info and made it through the castle with Shanna in a relatively short amount of time compared to the rest of the group. I did get to see St. George's Chapel where Prince Charles and Camilla were married. That chapel is also were the Queen Mother and George VI are buried, so that was very interesting. Shanna and I sort of wandered around Windsor and found a café called Cinnamon. Shanna had a really yummy looking toastie and I had a toasted bagel that was very good...and some tea to warm me up because we were freezing! Did some gift shopping around the castle, then met up with Nikita, Gracie and Christina and had tea and some snacks at a little tea room/restaurant that was really from the 17th century or something. Very cool and good tea! Did some more wandering a gift shopping until it was time to get back on the bus. It was another long bus ride back to Canterbury and we were all ready to get off. Beth, Laura, Katie and I stopped by Sainsbury's on our way back to Parham to get some pasta for dinner. We all come back to my house and made dinner, while listening to the soundtrack from Anastasia..yes, we are cool kids. :) Dinner was good and we sat around chatting it up and drinking Kopparberg cider...mmmm. Nikita came back with her mom and sister who are here visiting for a few days. Saturday Jordan came at 2:30pm and I met her at the bus station. It was so good to see her after not seeing her since a week before I left to come to England. We walked down High St., looking at all of the vendors set up with the Christmas Market that's going on now. So many wonderful things to see, smell and taste, it's sort of overwhelming! Got Jordan settled in and then took her on her first trip to ASDA. We had to get some food for dinner and the like. When we got back, I started making a cake for one of my housemates, Rick, whose birthday was Sunday. I made a homemade chocolate layer cake with yummy chocolate cream icing. It looked pretty good I must say. I decorated it with blue icing and put 20 candles in it. It was a lot of fun to make and Jordan helped so it was even better! We had a good dinner, Skyped with Matt (Jordan's boy) and I made Jordan go to bed early because she was so jet lagged. Sunday we got up late and went shopping at Whitefriars just off High St. Came back once it got dark and made dinner again. I had to finish a paper for my history class, so Jordan finished reading Twilight. Rick and his girlfriend Emma got back from his birthday dinner and they dug into the cake I made. We had to light all the candles and sing to him too. He loved the cake and even though I couldn't eat any myself, it was nice to see them enjoy it. Nikita and her friend from home Sarah came back later from London and we didn't go to bed until late. Today I showed Jordan the university and we did some more shopping around High St. We got baguettes at the little baguette shop that I love so much and had a really intense political conversation with one of the owners. It was sort of fun though, it's sort of like a bit of home going in there since the owners are both American. They are both really nice and I love being able to talk with them. Got back in the late afternoon, it had gotten really cold. Made some tea and soup to warm us up. Now I'm sitting in the kitchen while Jordan is taking a nap upstairs because she couldn't fall asleep until 4am. Tonight we might be going out to celebrate Rick's birthday at a pub on Orange St. that I can't remember the name of. I have class on Wednesday and Thursday, so Jordan gets to explore by herself and on Friday we are going to London. That reminds me, I have to go get out bus tickets online! Saturday is a Christmas market up in Whitstable that we are going to try and get to and then Jordan leaves early Sunday morning. Not sure what we're going to do tomorrow, but at some time we'll probably be checking out the cathedral, this time not just taking pictures of the outside. Hope everyone is well and that you all have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Cheers from across the pond!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Larvik and Stavern, Noway

Sunday after a wonderful breakfast, Jens-Henrik showed us around the old part of Larvik where the house is and where he grew up. The houses in Larvik are so pretty and some of them were painted with really beautiful colors. Most of the houses were white, but they were all so different and unique that the whiteness didn’t matter a bit. Jens-Henrik knows so much about the history of the area and he filled us in quite well. When we got back to the house we then went with Mona to Molen, just about a 15 minute drive from their house. This area is where the glaciers stopped thousands of years ago and deposited all of the rocks it had been carrying with it. All of the stones were very rounded and smooth & there were so many different types of rocks along this beach. There was even a few Viking burial mounds made from the stones on the beach. It was a really beautiful area, as you will see by the pictures. We all really enjoyed simply sitting on the rocks and listening to the waves crash into the shore…and taking lots of pictures of course. We were able to see the sunset from this place and I just marveled at the beauty of God’s creation in this place. It was truly stunning. That night, Mona made us a traditional Norwegian meal with Norwegian meatballs, potatoes, something like sauerkraut (but it actually tasted good), pickles, carrots and lingonberry sauce…yummy! Mona and Jens-Henrik wanted to be able to speak with my parents, so we got Skype to work and were able to webcam with them. They left me alone to talk to my parents and Dave came over to talk too. While I was Skyping everyone else dug into the chocolate hazelnut cake that Mona made for us and started watching Lord of the Rings. When I came down they had saved me a huge piece that was delicious, especially with vanilla ice cream and a fresh pear! We watched LOTR for a bit longer then headed to bed.
Mona had to take Tryve to school the next morning so we were alone again on Monday morning for a while. While I was in the shower the doorbell rang and Amy answered it. I found out later that it was some guys working on the sewer system in the area. They were surprised to find a house with three Americans that didn’t speak Norwegian, just as we were surprised to have Norwegian construction workers at a house were the people who live there weren’t home. When Mona came home she thought it was pretty funny, but wished she would have known they were coming. After another wonderful breakfast (we ate so well on this trip, it’s ridiculous!), we went to Mona’s hometown of Stavern, the next little town over from Larvik. There are a lot of pretty buildings including the church that Mona and Jens-Henrik were married in and a former military base. They also had a harbor, of course, and we enjoyed the beautiful views. I don’t think that this country can have a bad view after all I have seen of it! We then went downtown Larvik to do a little shopping and it was fun to wonder around the shops. I found some things to take home as gifts and bough a pair of mittens for myself. We had lunch at this little bakery that was really good and cozy. Since we had decided that Beth, Amy and me were going to make tacos for dinner to sort of repay Mona and Jens-Henrik for all their hospitality, we went to the grocery store to pick up what we needed. I love going to grocery stores, even in the States, but the ones in other countries are even more fun, because there are so many different and cool things to see. We bought the stuff for tacos and then some Norwegian chocolate to take back to our families (if it makes it back). Jens-Henrik wasn’t going to be home until 6pm, so we had some time to relax and visit…and Amy wanted to watch some more LOTR. :) Making tacos together was fun and they were so good, we were all stuffed! After dinner we visited some more until it was time for us to get to the airport. We said our goodbyes, promising to not let it be another 18 years before we saw each other again and took some last minute photos. Mona drove us to the airport and we were off to England once again. We had a taxi waiting for us when we got there and the driver was hysterical! Got back to Canterbury around 1:30am and went to bed. Spent yesterday resting up from a busy weekend. Norway has been one of my most enjoyable trips, although they have all been great! I hope I get to go back soon! Winsor Castel field trip on Friday, then Jordan comes on Saturday! Will update asap!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oslo, Noway

Just got back early this morning (around 1:30am) from Norway, but we had an amazing trip to Oslo and Larvik. I’ll break up the post between Oslo and Larvik for easy reading and pictures.

We left Canterbury by taxi a little after 7am on Friday morning to get to Stanstead airport for our 10:35am flight to Torp, Norway. Surprisingly there was no traffic on the way to the airport, normally at the time the M2, M25 and M11 are packed, especially because of construction, but we had a straight shot all the way there. Our driver was nice and interested in why we were going to Norway and only for the weekend. The flight was a little less than two hours and we were in Norway, where it was a lot warmer than we expected it to be. Once we got through customs (where I was informed I was not wanted by the police by the really nice customs officer :)) we had to find the bus that would take us to the train station, where we would then need to get on the train to Oslo. We asked at the information desk and were told that the easiest and cheapest thing to do was to take the bus directly to Oslo. We got tickets and got a hold of Mona to let her know that we would be arriving at the bus terminal, not the train station. The bus took about two hours and we were able to find my mom’s friend Mona after a quick call to tell her what platform we were on. For those of you that don’t know, my mom studied in Oslo for a year with Rotary and while she was there she became friends with Mona. Her and her husband, Jens-Henrik, came to our house in 1990 when I was one year old, so it had been a lot time since we had seen each other. We were staying the night in Oslo at a really nice hotel downtown called the Hotel Royal Christiania. We dropped our packs in our room before we went out for a night tour of the city. We got to see the government buildings all lit up and the harbor with the fortress on the other side lit too. Around 6pm, we ate at this Italian place near the harbor called “Eataly.” I thought it was a pretty clever name. The food was really good and we sat and talked there for about two hours. Went to bed pretty early because we were going to have a big day on Saturday. The next morning we had a wonderful and HUGE breakfast at the hotel. There was all of this wonderful and warm bread with loads of raspberry jam. Needless to say I ate way too much and wasn’t hungry until about 4pm. Our first place of the day was Vielandsparken, a sculpture park that we got to by cable car from downtown Oslo. It was an amazing park with all of these human sculptures. All of the figures were naked and the detail was amazing, especially the faces of the different figures. My favorites were the ones of the couples, especially the one where they had their noses and foreheads together and then there was one of this little boy throwing a fit. It’s pretty famous and the detail of the face was just so alive! We took lots of pictures, because there were so many different statues! It was a great day to just walk around and enjoy all of it, especially since the weather was so great. The cable car got us back downtown again and Mona showed us were the Norwegian Resistance Museum was on the grounds of the fortress in Oslo. She left us there to catch a train back to Larvik so she would have time to get ready for her mother’s 70th birthday party. We went through the museum and we were very impressed. There were a lot of original artifacts and very interesting exhibits which were thankfully in English as well. After the museum, we walked around the fortress and had a great view of the other side of the harbor. Once again, the weather was perfect, even though it was quite chilly and the pictures came out great! We found our way down to the harbor where we were the night before and then walked around the downtown area. Since it was a Saturday there were a lot of people about, but it was still fun to see the city life. We figured out what train we need to go to Larvik that evening at the train station and had a while to wander some more in the dark before it left.

The train was packed when we finally got on and we each had to sit separately. I ended up sitting next to this young Norwegian guy who was very friendly. We ended up talking the entire two hours from Oslo to Larvik about everything. He told me about his job at a refugee camp outside of Oslo, his wife and son and we talked about what it’s like for Christians in Norway. Christians, like Muslims here, are the minority and they are really looked down on by the general public, not taken seriously as he said. It was really interesting to be able to talk to him about all these things and before I got off we exchanged e-mail addresses, hoping to maybe stay in touch. I just thought that was such a neat experience to meet someone, randomly on a train like that, just added to the fun of everything. We got to Larvik around 8pm and took a taxi to Mona’s house. They were gone at the birthday party, so we had to let ourselves in. Mona had left us some snacks (which we devoured) and pizza was supposed to be coming at 8:30pm. After the pizza came we sat around, talked and I tried to get caught up on my journal. Mona and her family got home close to midnight and we stayed up talking for a while. It was so neat to get to talk and share stories with someone that I didn’t really know, but I still had a connection with. We got to sleep in until 10am on Sunday morning, because we were all tired out from the day before.