Amber: "What is your favorite part of Norwegian 101 or 102?"
Maren: "My favorite part is seeing the growth over the course of the year. Every first day of 101, starts with that 40 minutes of immersion. Nothing is spoken but Norwegian for 40 minutes, and the terror and fear in students' eyes is REAL. It's intimidation. It's confronting the other that you have no context for.
Then, to see what that looks like in May—when you're navigating filming commercials in the spring about why students should take Norwegian at Luther, and they're going to be all in Norwegian. Or you're navigating a dialogue in class, or you're working through a longer text—and you can pick out the words and get the context and the meaning. Seeing that growth, is just phenomenal!"
Amber: "What is your favorite Norwegian food and/or your favorite activity to do in Norway?"
Maren: "My favorite food in Norway is fresh salmon, with boiled potatoes and hot butter to pour over the boiled potatoes, and then pickled cucumbers on the side. Not pickles—pickled cucumbers. They're fresh, and they're soaked in vinegar. It's just this incredible combination of flavors, and you have to put a little dill on the salmon—and it's all fresh, and it's all phenomenal. I know, you don't like fish, I can see it—"
Amber: "I don't like fish! *laughs* I like cucumbers, though!" :)
Maren: *laughs* "And do you like potatoes?"
Amber: "Yeah. What are boiled potatoes anyway?" *laughs*
Maren: "You just put them in hot water and boil them—"
Amber: "So, it's like mashed potatoes?"
Maren: "Yeah, it's like that, but you don't mash them. You just serve 'em like that, and pour hot butter over them."
Amber: "That sounds delicious."
Maren: "It's very delicious. :) That's my favorite...or fish soup. I love fish soup. It's so good.
My favorite activity to do in Norway...there's a couple of them. First of all, I love to go hiking outside of Oslo. The city of Oslo is 1/3 what we would consider industrial city and 2/3 forest. You can take the subway out to the forest, and it drops you off. I love that accessibility to nature. Sundays, when we were living there—we would spend the day hiking, out in the forest—and it was incredible.
I also love going skiing—anywhere in Norway. In the wintertime, it is incredible. You can go in the afternoons, and there are lighted trails throughout the city of Oslo. Getting on the subway in Oslo, with everybody that's got their skis, headed out to go skiing, is incredible. It's a cultural phenomenon."
And there you have it! :) My advice? Take Norwegian at Luther! Take it for your foreign language requirement, because you have family/friends from Norway, because you're interested in learning more about the language and the culture—doesn't matter!
I'll tell you one of the main reasons why I say that. I've only taken Norwegian with Maren, so I can't speak for any of the other professors—but she is easily in the top five of the best professors that I've had the pleasure of taking a class from at Luther. In a department that is outside of my major/minor? She is definitely the best professor that I have come across thus far.
Maren takes the time to get to know each and every one of the students that comes into her class. I'm pretty sure she learned most of our names within a week into Norwegian 101 (even when she was teaching 60+ students)! She knows who the athletes are, the musicians, who's friends with who in class—she knows all that. She'll talk to you about Norwegian and Norway, if you want to know more. However, she'll also ask you about everything else that's going on in your life with other classes, work, friends/family, etc.
She cultivates an amazing, fun learning environment—even during a 2:45 class. I think she even understands when I may be a bit more talkative and sarcastic than I am in my other classes, since I don't tend to talk as much in them (and Norwegian is my last class of the day). Sometimes, she even lets us sit on the floor for class—which is quite nice, especially after a long day.