fall turned to winter... and I finally got my computer back (sans pictures, music, or microsoft word).
here's a good summery of the summer....
not my dog, not my pack, not my picture but a variation of the theme.
School is going well in Fairbanks, 3/4 through the semester already. Planning for next spring... 12 credits and lots of ski trips.
Guro will be coming in January. Eline and her students will be here in February and plans are for a 12 day ski trip in the White Mountains north of Fairbanks.
I'm living by the Tanana River in a waterless cabin with a childhood friend and my cat. We had a dog, Eby's Red but she flew to Colorado last weekend to be with her family and live more of a sled dog life then us two students could give her. Fall was full of yellow and orange and Fairbank's dark green swamp spruce... some of my favorite colors.
Winter began in the middle of October with heavy snow (for Fairbanks) and temps in the negatives.
....here's a summery of the fall and so far, the same applies to the beginning of winter.
Just finished with my last exam! I would be feeling more free if I hadn't indentured myself this summer. Plan was to bike from exam to work, but last night my back tire decided to quit on me. It is flat and won't pump up. The front tire just deflates every night and is ok with a pumping in the morning. In any case, I need to borrow some tools, steal a bike tire or two, replace mine and then bike to work. In the meantime I can eat some grilled food while I borrow my tools.
I'm scheduled to work from June 1 to July 31 and it is already the 3rd so I feel I need to get on the ball and go put in some time. I got an update on my computer, the keyboard needs to be replaced, so hopefully that will be fixed soon enough...
I have another marathon essay writing night ahead of me again. I took a reading break to go to Vin og Musikk for some nice BEAT-hoven and string quartet, with matching wines to the music. It was a very small venue, our matchy-matchy red and black and black group sat in the very front, close enough to clearly hear the nose huffs of the solo violinist. Tonight, Lady Grey and Jenny Wilson are going to get me through. In the morning I´ll have a decent essay to format (can´t figure out this danish word processor) in the lovely mac room with all the nice fonts and big screens and a very large collection of 90s hits stored in iTunes. Whether that´s good or bad depends entirely on your music tastes.
ps- thanks to janna for the cleverly construced title phrase.
My computer is broken so I won't be on skype for a while. It was being very slow ("treg") for about a week and now the keyboard doesn't work so I took it in to the local mac store (eplehuset). They are not authorized mac repair people so they have to mail my computer to Trondheim or Oslo. The loss of my computer is both good and bad: I gain a little free time, but I lose a personal computer to type my essays on, so I will be handwriting and typing at school I think. Apart from the loss of my favorite way to waste time, I had a really nice walk in town today. The forecast proved accurate and it is beautiful sunny and blue out. I ran errands and sat in the library drinking Solo. I had planned on studying, but I found a Nemi comic book at my seat, so I read that and when the library closed at four, I walked home.
it's easy to forget about pending essays when you're floating through the trees on two feet of new powder. i have this great tiredness in my body now -from doing something physical outside in the cold- the best kind of tired, i think. charlotte and i were very lucky to come home to dinner on the table, some spicy pasta jago cooked up. i shared my flatbrød, not as good as besta's but pretty good nonetheless.
it's been a full day, although not of schoolwork, which it should have been... however, i had a good talk with a friend, real breakfast, good cheap chocolate, snow down my shirt in my hat, and a warm white bed.
i'm glad i carted my snowboard over the atlantic. these past few days i've been regretting it, but after today i've lost all doubts. it's a foreign thought now. even if i don't set foot on my board until next season, today on the mainland was completely worth dragging that awkward giant gear bag through tiny train doors, heaving it onto carts and wedging it into small cars.
it's been snowing all week, and the forecast predicts more of the same. now i have a reward to look forward to when i get my essays done (!).
i woke up this morning feeling better and not so sorry for myself. i took a shower, grabbed my skis and walked to the store because i figured i had just enough money in my alaska checking account for some bread and pasta.
i skied to school and after class sat in the sunny library and concentrated on just being happy and productive. i came home and cleaned my room to loud music in my headphones, putting lots of good energy into my little home which had been transformed into a sourpuss cave the past two days.
i don't know when my visa kort is going to come, i received a PIN from the bank and discovered they have an incomplete address, without my room number.
i have a long day of classes tomorrow but hopefully i'll gain some insight on where to go with my essays for these subjects.
guro is off touring se asia, and i'm very happy for her!! it's hard to be jealous when i'm surrounded by sunny icy tromsø, but if it starts raining i'll probably start longing for a beach.
i can't believe it's already the middle of april! summer will be here before i know it. i'm looking forward to seeing halvor, and also to coming home to alaska and starting my "northern studies" program. i miss my breadmaker!
I registered for classes today :) Eskimo-aleut, Native Cultures of Alaska, Yoga, Political Economy, Geography of Alaska, and Natural History of Alaska.
I just got back from a delicious moose, glass noodle and fry bread dinner at Ørndalen tonight. Janna was a great hostess and I had a great ski there with Charlotte and Jago.
The ski back was almost twice as fast as the ski there, mostly downhill, and completely dark. Skiing down a slope with black flat light and no idea where the trail curves feels like flying. Wonderful!
Tomorrow, school is kicking into gear. I have my first of the constant stream of exams being assigned tomorrow and I'm also meeting Janna and Charlotte at noon for a climb, so I need to get to bed so I have the energy to ski to the uni.
having a great time in barcelona! enjoying the sun (20+), sand, palm trees, and flowers. i've been riding around the city by bike, drinking lemon beers on the beach, walking a fat black lab around neighborhoods filled with boxed window flowers, restuarants, and people pushing their babies around. i've been taking pictures, but they don't capture the air around you, or the warmth :( tomorrow i am going to do some more sightseeing, some postcard writing, and maybe eat some tapas. food is cheap here! no plain pasta this week!
So said Besta (in norwegian), when we went for our ski yesterday. It is so beautiful here in Vågå during Påsketid! There is masses of snow here, probably almost 2 meters. It has been blowing hard though, enough to drift in the road that Onkel Kåre has plowed with his tractor up to Besta's.
My trip to Spain is coming together. I've spent all day at the computer putting in requests on couchsurfing.com and looking at bus and tog schedules. I'm planning on seeing Girona, Barcelona, and Valencia. I'm pretty sure I have places to stay the entire trip, just waiting for some confirmations. :)
Planning for this trip is just whetting my appetite for more travels. Besta and I played Idiot with a set of cards Guro brought back from North Carolina, and now I want to drive/bike the Blue Ridge Parkway which was featured on the front/back of the playing cards. I've put that down on my list alongside seeing Arizona, New York, the prarie, and Maine. And that's just within the U.S...
My UA Scholars is tying me to Alaska for the next few years, but that's not such a bad place to be either. I'm thinking about taking another exchange option, but I'll have to see how that's fits into my plans for a degree. I guess the first step is picking a degree... (northern studies, history, anthropology, geography???)
God Påske! On the schedule for tomorrow: a ski tour, åsne, and a visit to ingrid og jorid
A lot has happened in the week and a half since I last posted. I have been filling my time with all sorts of productive activities...
The student gym at the university has a great climbing wall. The wall at UAF completely pales in comparison. I took the test to get my climbing certificate and failed because I learned a different way of belaying than is standard in Norway. My climbing instructor at UAF is a great person, but in our class he was pretty lax about safety, which can have pretty disastrous consequences...
In order to climb here, you either have to have your own gear (rope, belt, belay loop, beaner, etc.) or rent it from the gym. Luckily, I have a friend or two who have their own ropes :) and I brought my belt and shoes over. There are no top ropes set up, so one has to lead climb, which I think really pushes you, both mentally and physically, to progress as a climber. I'm pretty weak, but I'm climbing regularly and really loving it.
i.e. running dogs under the northern lights, eating great food, snuggling with puppies and soft reindeer hides, being social, and being outside all day.
Getting into my schoolwork
I'm starting to catch up on all of the reading I neglected for the first three weeks of school.
I don't think I've mentioned it before, but for those who don't know the three/four classes I am taking are:
1. International Political Economy
2. The Sami Nation
3. Indigenous Religions
4. Norskkurs (sometimes)
None of the lectures I am having are really scintillating, especially Norwegian, where we are forced to discuss in groups things like "barneoppdragelse" and "skilsmisse." Childraising and divorce. It's hard to discuss something in which I have no experience/interest and discuss it with other people who barely speak Norwegian and are equally bored. Rather than go to norskkurs, I'm trying to find EKTE Norwegians with whom I can pratar med. Working great so far, I called my mother...
My other classes are going good, my main challenge is trying to correlate the lectures with the reading.
I have made so many friends here, from my Polish beauties to the few great nordmenn who have the patience å prate norsk med meg. Tromsø really is an international city.
It was my birthday last week, and it was wonderful! I got the most lovely birthday wishes from everyone I knew.
I had three couchsurfers that day as well. :D I had been planning on going to the pub that night, but was leaving the where and the when to a couple of friends.
By 1o o'clock that night, I hadn't heard anything and was sitting at home with my couchsurfers wondering what was going on when I finally got a call. "Aren't you coming?" It seems everyone had told everyone but me what was going on, and nearly all of the people I knew in Tromsø were sitting at a bar waiting for me... So lickety-split my couchsurfers and I walked down to the sentrum where I was met with a birthday feather boa, cake, singing, dancing and fantastic friends!
This weekend, I went to the wedding party of two amazing people, Trond and Maria. I don't want to jinx them, but they seem perfect for each other. Looking at them together gives me, a cat-lady spinster at heart, hope I might find someone who fits me as well as they complement each other. Congratulations to them! The wedding party was fantastic, full of lots of great people, moving speeches by bride, groom and bestman, two incredibleyoiks by Ande Somby, and masses of great CRAZY dancing!
This past Sunday, I went down to the city center with Alina and Kamila to watch the Norwegian Championship in reindeer racing. They closed down the main pedestrian street and covered it with snow in order to hold the races. Unfortunately, they were charging 50-100 NOK to stand next to the fence, so I found a vantage point a little farther away. Can you imagine someone charging to see the Iditarod or Fur Rondy?
The racers had one reindeer each pulling them on skis, there were two racers at a time. It took only about 16 seconds for the reindeer to run the length of the main street! The announcer said that reindeer can reach speeds up to 70 kmh/43 mph!
It was raining and blowing, so we only stayed for a few sets, as they had 5-8 minute intervals between each start, we were getting cold and Kamila was bored. But if you put aside the rain, cold, and fines, it was pretty awesome!
I'm addicted to the internet. So, starting today, I'm boycotting facebook, myspace, and all the blogs I read for a week. I spend way too much of my precious Tromsø time on the internet and it just won't do.
However, since I am a modern woman, the news, email, and skype are still on the ok list (I think they qualify as neccessities). And of course, blog updates.
I emailed this to a friend but I thought the rest of you might like to know my norway plans as well:
feb: work school
march: barcelona school work
april: school work
may: exams exams
june/july: working work$$
july/august: poland ukraine turkey greece norway
of course, this schedule is subject to change (and sure to be supplemented with other side trips/adventures)
As for Barcelona, I'm leaving Tromsø on the 17 March and visiting Vågå/Vinstra for a few days, then I fly out of Oslo on the 21, and return the 30th. I'm flying into Girona Airport, which is 100km (63 mil) north of Barcelona, so I will spend a night or day in Girona, then travel down to see the big city for a few days before I further south to see Valencia (there might be a festival there). I might try and see how close to Africa I can get before having to return to Girona to catch my flight to Olso. Of course, this is NOT set in stone!
It's 0˚C in Tromsø and I see this huge dark cloud hanging over the sea. Hopefully it's bringing snow rather than rain. The thin cover of snow we have now is just barely doing its job of providing fun winter activities. The ski tracks have gone to ice, and the rest of the snow around here is dirty and crystallized.
My classes are going well. The opening movie at the Tromsø International Film Festival this year was The Kautokeino Rebellion, about the Sami uprising in Kautokeino in 1852. This movie has received rave reviews. Generally, most good movies are based on good books, and the teacher of my Sami Nation class brought in the author of the book that inspired this movie to talk to us. Unfortunately, I can't remember her name, or find it on the internet, but I know she's a Danish scholar who had a GREAT presentation. It was incredibly interesting to hear about how these separate events (a religious movement, a farmer's complaint) culminated and lead to the rebellion. Essentially, she explained "the tipping point" to us. Unfortunately, my other classes this week weren't as riveting as this one. Both my professors for International Political Economy and Indigenous Religions speak in such broad, abstract terms it's hard for me to follow what they are actually talking about. Luckily, the texts for both classes are very interesting and aren't typical textbook reading.
As I've been typing, that dark cloud/fog has been moving closer and closer to the shore. I couldn't see Kvaløya before, but now I can't even see the coast of this island. I really hope there is snow inside of this cloud, because it's actually kind of creepy.
Tonight, there is a "welcome back the sun" festival in downtown Tromsø and also a party at the school, both of which I'm going to have a look at.
I visited Tromsø Villmarkssenter today looking for a part-time job, maybe shoveling poop or something, and got offered a full-time handler position. Effective as soon as possible. I would not call myself experienced in any way, but I guess being born into dogs is major points in Tore and Tove's book. I think I am pretty lucky to be raised the way that I was (thanks mom and dad) because I have a pretty good selling point in the world of dog mushing. I come from good stock!
I've been weighing the pro's and con's of accepting the full time handler position, here's the run-down:
Pro: good money Con: not enough time to study?
Pro: free food and housing Con: Have to move from cozy Åsgårdveien
Pro: 3 days a week off Con: Have to use those days to attend class
Con: No freedom to go ______ whenever I want
I think I'm going to work part-time until I can get an idea of how much time per week I should be spending on my classes, and then maybe I'll consider moving to Kvaløya.
I've moved to Åsgårdveien. No hassle at all to change my accomodation, and I think I was very lucky, since I scored the last room available in Åsgard. Moreover, I have a room on the top floor, facing the mountains, and not far away from the bathrooms. Both pictures (taken by my friend and close neighbor, Ignazy) show the view from outside the windows on this side of the building!
I like my room here far better than the room at Prestvatnet. Here, I have wooden furniture, a long desk along the breadth of the window, cozy textured walls, and a small dark brown bookshelf. It's nice to not have to close my curtains against the parking lot! Also included in my room is a nice closet and a small sink/mirror. I didn't know living in a dormitory could be so homey. It must be the wood.
Today, my last free day before classes, I took the opportunity to go hiking around the neighbor island of Kvaløya, which is the 5th largest island in Norway. My Polish friends, Ignazy and Ula, and I took the bus across the bridge and walked across the narrowest part of the islant to see the fjord on the other side. Wanting to see a different fjord a little farther away, we stuck out our thumbs and the only people who stopped for us were headed to Sommerøy.
So, we jumped in the van. Sommerøy was a wonderful surprise. A lovely little island full of colorful houses and sandy white beaches, even in the winter! We followed a road along the coastline, climbed a hill to spot a lifehouse, and found a fish shack by the side of the water. I collected a few shells and we ate lunch at the top of a windy hill waiting for our ride to return.
From there we drove around the south side of Kvaløya, where we spotted a herd of reindeer grazing by the side of the road. We also saw an island that is home to a herd of wild muskoxen. The University of Tromsø introduced the muskoxen to the island in the 1960s, according to our drivers, a couple of very friendly and kind social workers.
I'm so happy to be in Tromsø! The sun should show up sometime this week, and there are so many things to look forward to!
Fjellgruppa (hiking and skiing in mts. around Tromsø)
Summer in the north (beaches, Europe, kayaking)
"Arctic Norway" classes
Tea (lady grey, polish mint, sunfruit)
I've also emailed Tove and Tore of Tromsø Villmarkssenter. They both ran the Iditarod in 2006 and have a wilderness tour operation (dog sled tours, climbing, glacier hikes, etc.) I'm hoping to get a part-time job with them, but if not, I'll be happy to come visit their puppies. :)