I’m coming to the end of my first semester here in Oslo, and therefore I feel obliged to offer a retrospective evaluation. I’d give it like a 6.9 out of 10. A somewhat low score, yet considering my expectation was probably around a 4, it’s been better than I expected. I’ve been here four months, which has often felt like 3 months too long. Being here a year’s gonna be sick.
It’s exam period, which means moving becomes a problem for future Ruby. I am usually neurotic about exam back in Leeds, even though for English Lit, the time you spend studying isn’t actually directly proportional to how well you do (I’ll never forgive you, Keats). Yet on a year abroad, nothing counts, and all I have to do is pass. Thus ensues an eternal struggle between my ego and my laziness.
‘You know you don’t like feeling stupid, right? Do some work’
‘But hey…we haven’t watched that new episode of Homeland yet, it’s not like the exams matter or anything’
‘Paradise Lost is just waiting to get dominated by your superior analysis skills, Ruby’
‘Moving is for quitters’
Also amidst the exam joy, is that other kind of seasonal joy: Christmas. Norwegians bloody love it. Everything in the supermarket gets prefixed with ‘jule’. Like pate? try Christmas pate! Like fizzy drinks? Try Christmas fizzy drinks! Like eggs? Try Christmas eggs! Have exactly the same egg. For £1 more. Now that’s a PR scheme if I ever saw one.
They also find innovative ways to consume meat at this festive time, considering that they eat meat pretty consistently throughout the year anyway (Norway is one of the highest consumers of meat in the whole of Europe. Don’t come here if you’re vegetarian.) They have this festive dish called pinnekjøtt – which translate directly to the alluring title of ‘stick meat’. Essentially, it’s dry smoked old mutton, which you then rehydrate for 13 hours in water, steam/smoke with ‘sticks’ and then roast dry. It is then served, in the true Norwegian style, with two carbs and no veg. For someone whose only meat tends to be the chicken flavouring in a pack of instant noodles, it’s actually pretty nice to eat actual, albeit it, weird, bits of meat. Other Christmas traditions involve pepperkaker, the greatest biscuit known to mankind, also known as gingerbread. OH and Christmas beer. And Terry’s Chocolate Orange that isn’t Terry’s anymore but probably Olaf’s or Bjørn’s.
Norway also does this thing where it snows before Christmas, and it’s like normal, white, not shit snow. This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen snow before Christmas, and it is even more exciting than I could have ever imagined. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen snow, but it’s really fun, and white and everyone feels happy when they see it. I love snow.
I am yet to actually walk out into the -5 snowy outdoors…but hey, from the warm distance of my badly insulated student room, it looks like the physical manifestation of pure icy joy.