Friday, January 19, 2018
During our first morning in Oslo, we visited a local sculpture park which was designed by Gustav Vigeland. As we walked around and contemplated what the sculptures meant, there seemed to be a consensus among the group that they commemorated the natural, family-oriented, and unified nature of the Norwegian people. Later that afternoon, we were lucky enough to be visited by Rasmus Hansson, a Green Party member who was a part of Parliament in 2013. He gave us a very interesting take on Nordic sustainability, arguing that while Norwegians are "rich, hypocritical, romantic, nature lovers", they can still improve on how they treat the planet.
For dinner that night we met in our professors' rooms and had a "Taco Friday" meal. This is another koselig activity that Nordics love. It was a buffet-style meal where we could pick from familiar taco fillings such as beef, chicken, salsa, lettuce, and cheese and from unfamiliar toppings such as pineapple, cucumbers, and corn. This was a great meal where we could just relax in our hostel, jam out to music from the mid-2000's (including music by Ke$ha and Hot Chelle Rae!), and get to know our classmates a little more!
The night did not stop there! It was classmate Marissa Carius's 22nd birthday and a large group of us went down to the waterfront with her to celebrate! We sat outside (with heaters, don't worry!) at an Italian restaurant called Olivia and each ordered a drink. We all had a good time chatting for a bit and getting Marissa a free birthday dessert from the restaurant. Once again, happy birthday Marissa!
Saturday, January 20, 2018
On our second day in Oslo, we went to the Folk Museum, the Nobel Peace Prize Museum, and City Hall. The Folk Museum was very much like Skansen in Stockholm where older buildings from Norwegian history were reassembled. Among these buildings, we saw the Stave Church from the 1100's, small houses from the 1600s (one used to house nine people!), and several apartment buildings from different decades. One of the main attractions at the Folk Museum was the exhibit of the Sami people. These are the indigenous people of Norway who are very similar to Native Americans in the United States. They are very spiritual people who live off the land and they were persecuted by Norwegians who lived more urban lifestyles.
The Nobel Peace Prize Museum was more modern and paid homage to those who worked toward a greater sense of peace. Many influential figures received this award including Barrack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, and Malala Yousafzai. The museum also highlighted the 2017 award winner International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN won the prize because of its goal to end all nuclear warfare on the planet. The exhibit was very emotional, ranging from photographs taken during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings to the recollections of those who have survived nuclear warfare.
Our final stop was City Hall, the location where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. When we walked in, we got an immediate sense of Norwegian nationalism. The halls were grand and covered in murals that celebrated Norwegian history and culture. The murals contained the Norwegian flag, nature, economic history, and key moments which influenced how Norway operates as a country today. Not only that, but there was a wedding procession taking place as we were touring the building! It was a really charming way to end our second (and very busy) day here in Oslo!