*sighs* I'm closing in on my final days in Oslo. I've been something of a hybrid tourist/resident here almost: visiting the sites and doing more normal day to day things with J.D. I even put in a few hours of RA work on this trip (alas, not as many as I would have hoped, but hey it's a new city, new country, right?
I've learned a smattering of Norwegian words — enough to occasionally understand signs, get from point A to point B and still make out all right. I don't really attempt to speak it much — I should I imagine — but for the most part I'm getting by rather all right. I do wish I could read more, even though Norwegian is relatively similar to English, some museums have relatively little by way of English text and it's hard to read long descriptions in Norwegian.
I've learned that my favorite grocery stores are ICA and Meny (Kiwi, Rema 1000 and Bunn Pris are others that I've visited), that I rather like Freia chocolate (the Lakris kind is extra yummy as it has licorice bits in it), that bread here is generally delicious, that I love lefse and Lomper, that sushi is considered fast food (and is very yummy here!), that lockers usually are on a deposit system rather than a pay per use system (or they're free!), that this city has like a million parks (or so it seems), one of the best public transit systems (hey Edmonton listen up!), and many small but history-rich attractions. I like the street performers, and well yes, there are people begging for food, they're generally quite polite, and don't look as scrawny as those in other European countries.
As for sites I've seen: Homenkollen was impressive (the ski jump); the Viking Ship museum was awe inspiring; the Historical Museum was educational; the Fim museum was worthwhile; the Polar Ship Fram was one attraction I'd definitely recommend; the Vigeland Sculpture Park is a MUST SEE; the Oslo Bymuseum (city museum) was definitely worth it as well; the Resistance museum was pretty sobering as was the Holocaust Center (though I'd recommend the resistance museum over the Holocaust Center); the ferry was fun to ride; the Intercultural museum was educational but I'd put it pretty far down my list of attractions; the Kon-Tiki Museum was pretty nifty (I could have spent more time there); I REALLY enjoyed the Folk Museum and recommend it to anyone who has a full day to take it all in; the Munch Museum was fabulous; the Ibsen Museum and apartment was wonderful and well well worth my professor's recommendation; Oslo's Radhus (City Hall) was marvelous, and the National Gallery is a DEFINITE must see for everyone. Yes, I missed some attractions, both in this list and on my trip, but hey, if/when I return I ought to have things to see! And well, I enjoy Norway enough that I would probably return at some point regardless of the course of my life and all that… maybe I'd even visit another city!
And I've walked the streets of most of downtown Oslo many many times. I've seen both the really ugly and the eyecatching graffiti, I've looked at the good architecture. I've been in the small malls and shopping centers, seen pay-for-use washrooms (fortunately these are not in the majority), walked through the nicest of parks, and seen more children than I could even imagine in Edmonton (this city is VIBRANT! GROWING! a great place to raise a family!).
During my stay I've visited IKEA twice, I've shopped at grocery stores, and Narvessen (and even the occasional 7-11 store too), I've been a tourist, ridden (and fallen off of) a city bike, taken the T-bane (metro), trikk (tram), ferry and buss (bus) (public transit rocks and the busses are so nice!), and time and time again I've realized just how much I'm going to miss both this location and my wonderful boyfriend who has put up with me for the duration of my stay. His roommate has been kind (particularly since 3 weeks is a rather long time), and his co-workers, friends (etc.) have been so friendly. Yes there are noisy houseparties everyweekend here. Yes, alcohol is super expensive, as is food (though sushi, ethnic pizza, kebab, and burgers are cheap), and the purchase of anything isn't particularly cheap but hey the quality of life seems excellent just like at home.
Cars stop for pedestrians here, and everyone walks places. There are many pedestrian only roads/paths, playgrounds are many, green space is frequent, and road/sidewalk repairs are done quickly and efficiently. Yes, construction is everywhere, but what northern city doesn't have winter and construction season as two dominant forces to contend with? Perhaps I've blathered on rather long, perhaps I tire of the question that others ask of when will I move here (even if I did, it wouldn't be until school was essentially out of the way — at least the course work part, so there's at least 2ish years yet that I'll be in Edmonton no matter where I would end up so this isn't a question I'm going to be answering… particularly as I love Edmonton [some think that that's strange, but it's home]).
As for souvenirs, I did pick up a couple pricey but worthwhile items: a fall/spring jacket, a sweater (not the more traditional Dale of Norway sweater, though I like those too, but a more unusual, still wool Norwegian sweater), a Viking Board game (see it at the next board game gathering, and I'll have it with me in Montreal and Victoria), and some gifts (not for many people as they are pricey but these gifts should be worthwhile).
Anyway, I've blathered on long enough. Does anyone have questions or anything? What else would you like to know?