Even though I have never lived out of home, I would imagine that one way of knowing that you’re settling into a new place is when you develop a routine. To some of you, this concept of ‘living’ might be quite rudimentary. But to me, as somebody who has never lived out of home or barely cooked for himself, it’s a completely new experience. It’s as if I’m about to step off The Eagle and make my first few steps on the moon. Both frightening and exciting at the same time!
So ‘living’ in Bergen, compared to back home, also requires a few extra things to make sure that you get by. I will explain what these things are as I get to them.
Every morning I always need a coffee to kick start myself, unless I have slept in. In Norway, the best way to do this is to boil the kettle, drop a teaspoon of instant coffee into a mug, add the water and leave it at that. No milk, sugar or Arabica beans to get you by. In fact, Norway is apparently one of the world consumers of coffee and so a standard Melburnian should dare not expect any better when going to most cafés. For me, this is perfect since I was one of the few (unannounced) instant coffee drinkers back home, enabling me to slide into the Norwegian niché without much hassle.
Going to class is also very similar with home, where in lecture theatres you have your preferred seating row and people you regularly sit with. Lectures seem to always be two hours starting at quarter past the hour, with some sort of ‘intermission’ or ‘pause’ in the middle. If it’s sunny, people will go outside to get some rays while others will go down to the cafeteria to buy some more black coffee. Lectures are very informal, and lecturers are referred to on first name basis and questions during the class are generally welcome. Afterwards, I often find myself sitting with my (new) group of friends in the cafeteria and talking about whatever until we all decide that we should go home and start some work.
Compared to back home, you will often find yourself carrying an umbrella everywhere. Since Bergen’s such a rainy city, it could rain at any point ranging from drizzle to downpour. The weather report sites are apparently pretty good (I’ve been told!), so if it says it will be sunny, you can usually leave it at home. It’s an extra item to carry, but better than getting soaked!
Shopping differs quite a lot compared to Australia. Supermarkets are vastly smaller, feeling more like large convenient stores. Most shops will only have two to three registers and the range of food you can purchase is more limited. Fruit and vegetables are imported all over the world since Norway does not have the climatic capacity to cultivate it themselves. So you will often see apples from New Zealand, pineapples from Costa Rice, oranges from Argentina. Potatoes, cucumber and broccoli are grown here I think. But the biggest surprise comes when you reach the register, where the cashier sits on a comfy swivel chair scanning the items for you. As the items reach the other end and slide down a low-angled ramp, the cashier will casually ask “bag?” at some point during your transaction. They cost, but feel much sturdier than the plastic bags back home. When you pay (some stores have a coin machine!), you quickly grab your bag and pack all the items yourself while the cashier starts scanning the items of the next person.
I have also decided to join a club! One might expect me to have joined an ice skating or twitcher group (I actually don’t know what clubs my friends might think I would join!), but this time it’s fencing. En garde! Practice sessions are twice a week in the afternoons (5-7 or 7-9) and I find it a fun way to take your mind off everything, let loose and poke a few people if you can.
(Spot me at: http://bstv.no/8354/den-nye-it-sporten/)
Then there’s the cooking when I get home. So far I have done OK, and it’s quite easy to cook ‘lazy dinners’ here such as frozen pizza or hot dogs (pølser in Norwegian). But I’ve cooked a few Norwegian (student) dishes, which I hope to expand on in the following months as well as dishes I would have (considered) cooking back home. Stir fries, spag bol etc.. One of my new friends taught me how to cook chilli con carne last night, which seems quite simple to prepare.
So with an umbrella in one hand, I hope to go buy my (international) ingredients after my black coffee and class tomorrow morning. One small step for Dan, one giant leap for Dankind!