Today, while riding the subway back home, the guy across from me randomly asked (in English… he must have sensed I was not Norwegian), “Do you study?” I told him yes, then we discussed my studies for a bit. He then said, “Can I ask you question?” I replied, “Sure,” and he asked, “Why are you so happy?”

Why am I so happy?

Well, let’s see, starting with yesterday…

Yesterday Kelsey and I met up and hung out for most of the day. We walked around Karl Johans gate for a while, which is a street in Oslo that leads to the Royal Palace. A lot of shops are situated along Karl Johans gate and the surrounding streets, including at least four H&M’s within a five minute walk and far too many Burger Kings and McDonald’s. The presence of McDonald’s was so ridiculous that for the rest of the day, Kelsey and I would point out a McDonald’s if we saw one to keep count. A TGI Friday’s can also be found on Karl Johans gate, along with a BEN AND JERRY’S. The Ben and Jerry’s even had a white picket fence outside, which is typical American. Now, of course there are plenty of Norwegian stores and restaurants along the street, but the number of American fast food places/restaurants is ridiculous.

There are also some interesting buildings located on/near Karl Johans gate, including Stortinget (the Parliament of Norway building, pictured below), Nationaltheatret, and the Universitetet i Oslo law buildings.

And of course, the Royal Palace is at the end of the street. We didn’t walk all the way to palace since we needed to catch the bus to IKEA, but I’m sure we’ll visit it some other time.

IKEA was excellent, once again. When I went the day before they had free popcorn, so I was really hoping I would get free popcorn again today. Unfortunately, they weren’t making popcorn when we were there, so I was very sad.

Later in the day we went exploring around the Karl Johans gate area again, but this time we headed farther north. We didn’t worry about where we were or where we were going since we just wanted to see which was fun, and luckily we were never completely lost. We also walked through the mall attached to Oslo Central Station, then walked over towards the Oslo Opera House. The sun was setting at this time (I mean obviously, it was 3:30 PM), which provided a gorgeous backdrop. Since it was dark by this time and we couldn’t take more pictures, we headed back (plus I was starving).

Today (Thursday) was another incredible day. Kelsey and I met again in the morning and took the subway to Oslo Central Station. This time we walked south instead of north, and came up the Akershus Fortress, which is a medieval castle. Akershus has been used as a prison, and the information center there had some interesting stories about a few of its famous prisoners. The fortress was amazing, and it also offered a wonderful view of the surrounding area and water.

We then wandered over to the Nobel Peace Center, which we’re going to tour another day. We then headed over to the Royal Palace and walked through the surrounding park. We continued walking through a neighborhood behind the palace before turning around, since I had to meet a friend soon. Kelsey stopped off in a bakery where she got a cinnamon bun and coffee (which she is addicted to, haha–she’s in good company cause Norwegians love their coffee and there are coffee shops on basically every corner), which she said was amazing. The cinnamon bun did look incredibly delicious, and I’m definitely going to get one in the future.

I then headed back to Oslo Central Station to meet Christopher, who is the brother-in-law of a nurse my mom used to work with. We connected on facebook before I left the US, and he very kindly agreed to show me around and spend some time with me. Today we had coffee over near the Nobel Peace Center and chatted for a bit. Christopher also taught me a few Norwegian phrases, including how to say “thank you” (but if you say it wrong it means “roof,” so that’s awesome because the pronunciation of the words is very similar, at least to my ears) and “my name is…”. Norwegian is a really beautiful language; it’s awesome to listen to, but it is going to be very hard to learn.

After we had coffee we went over to the Nationaltheatret subway station to head home. Unfortunately Christopher couldn’t stay for too long since he needed to head home and pack, but the time I spent with him was a lot of fun since he’s a super nice guy and very friendly, and we’re going to hang out again soon!

So that is why I’m so happy, because I’m having an amazing time in Norway and am hanging out with some fantastic people 🙂

But really, I was probably grinning like an idiot the entire time I was on the subway without realizing it, since I can’t think of any other reason why he would ask me why I was so happy. So that’s cool.

Can’t wait to go exploring again tomorrow!


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