Oh Leeds. You were so close, and now you are so far. With your Popina’s. Your delicious, reasonably-priced-miscellaneous-meat-Popinas. And your, er, park bit. Woodland Moor. Oh Woodland Moor (that’s the name). You were once of such close proximity, but now you are a distant memory of mine, lost to the competition of fjords and brunost.
For the next year, I will be living in Oslo. I speak no Norwegian, and I’ve never been to Scandinavia. In fact, I’ve never spent more than 3 weeks out of the UK. I’d love to profess that I was a traveller at heart, that a new city is like a blank book for me to write my story upon blah blah and that shit, but I’m not. I hate being away from people I like, and I’m terrible at functioning as a normal human being in an unfamiliar place. I get really bored of my self. I fail to maintain an optimistic perspective on things to the extent I am painfully expectant of failure.
So why on earth did I think I’d enjoy a year abroad? Well, considering all these flaws I have just listed for you, I felt there was probably some self-improvement to be had. I mean, who gets to 20 and still fears long expanses of time alone? Considering this, extracting myself to a cold, left-wing feminist haven felt like the ideal time to stop being a massive fucking loser and learn how to be a real human being.
I mean, Norway is pretty cool. Oslo is edgy as fuck, and almost rivals Leeds for saturation of oversized ‘ironic’ Hawaiian shirts per m2. The language barrier is essentially non existent but for some reason I am still spending 5 and half hours a week learning Norwegian. It can be an isolating experience, yet the Norwegian propensity to eat waffles and be #yhsoedgy has made being painfully alone somewhat easier to manage. There is really nothing like wiping tears off your face with a freshly cooked waffle. No really.
So I’m here now, slowly drifting back and forth between the feeling of stability and the feeling of loneliness. Irrespective of the fact that Oslo has the accolade of being the most expensive city in the world, I have now decided that I like beer (about £5 a can), which makes the days pass with slightly more inebriation-based enjoyment. When not drunk, there’s a lake, some islands, and a lot of beautiful nature, as well as a relatively large capital city all within about 10 minutes of me. I’ve travelled around Norway a bit: I’ve visited Bergen which required a beautiful 8 hour train journey where I got to see a glacier. I’ve also been to a ‘Hytte’, which is essentially a cabin in the Norwegian countryside. Pastimes included reading by a fire, eating mushrooms picked locally, perusing the leftover of a deer hunt and of course, consuming ample quantities of waffles. On my run today, I got lost in a forest for 20 minutes.
The days are strange and somewhat entertaining, and so far, I feel like my decision has been worthwhile. Oslo is similar enough to not give me a culture shock, yet possesses quirks that makes living here novel and interesting. As long as my new penchant for beer does not bankrupt me, and I don’t get sick of salmon, I should be alright.