Telemark skiing in Sudndalen, Norway – Part I

Norway has officially turned me into a skier.

The story of this weekend begins many months ago, back when I was accepted to study abroad in Norway. At that time, I looked at several clubs here at the University of Oslo. The one that jumped out at me was OSI Fjell, which is a mountaineering club (“fjell” = “mountain”), including skiing, hiking, glacier activities, and mountain climbing. I signed up to receive e-mail alerts about upcoming trips, and ever since then I have been watching for a trip that seems both interesting and something that is at my level. Meaning, no experience. Unfortunately most of the trips require technical experience, which was disappointing.

But then a few weeks ago I received an e-mail about a Telemark skiing course. The course offered a few different levels, including level 1, which is for people with little or no skiing experience.

So I signed up.

As the departure date grew nearer, I started to worry. I wasn’t doing this trip with anybody I knew, so would I make friends, or would I be lonely for the whole trip? Would I like skiing? What if I missed the bus?

Finally, the date of departure, Friday March 2nd, arrived. We were departing from this one building on campus and since I wasn’t entirely sure where the building was at, I got there really early. I saw a girl sitting outside the building with skis, so I went up to her and asked if she was going Telemark skiing. Turns out she was, so we talked until more fellow Telemark skiers arrived.

Around 2:30 PM the bus showed up, so we loaded our stuff. As we were loading the bus, I talked to another Norwegian girl who appeared to also be alone. Her name was Pia, and like me, she also did not have skis. We sat together on the bus, which helped me to feel less alone.

We went to Sudndalen to ski, which is about halfway between Norway and Bergen. The bus ride took around 5 hours, which included a stop to pick up groceries for the weekend. We watched Ice Age 3 on the ride there, and shortly afterwards I took a little nap. I woke up around 8 PM, right when we were reaching the cabins we were staying at.

On the bus ride to Sudndalen we signed up for our cabins. Pia and signed up for the same cabin, which we shared with five other people. We all introduced ourselves when we got in the cabin, which was basically a blur of Norwegian names: Pia, Marit, Ragnhild, Anders, Martin, and one other guy whose name I can’t remember. The cabin was really nice–it had a kitchen, bathroom, living room, two bedrooms, and an attic. The guys claimed the attic and Pia and I slept in one of the bedrooms.

We then set to work on making dinner (hot dogs), since we had to cook for ourselves and another cabin. The other cabin arrived, and then the party commenced.

Okay, very low-key party. Most of us were pretty tired so we just ate and talked to each other. I met a ton of nice Norwegians whose names generally escaped me as soon as I heard them, and a German guy who has been living in Norway for a few years now. I was asked over and over again where I was from, what I was studying, how I was liking Norway, why I came to Norway, and if I had ever skied before. It was interesting because a lot of people asked me about American policies and our viewpoints on certain issues, and also gave me their opinions of the US. I really like hearing what Europeans think of America. It’s not always good–a lot of people think Americans are stupid, but people who have been to America generally have really good things to say about it.

It was also interesting for me because when people would speak to me, they would speak English, but they otherwise always spoke Norwegian. As a result, I heard a LOT of Norwegian. Most of it I didn’t understand, but every once in a while I would pick up a word or phrase I knew which was cool. It was also funny because during the weekend, the two people who set up the trip, Vegard and Vilde, would give us some information about the upcoming day. Whenever Vegard gave us information he would speak in English, since I asked that he do so at the beginning of the trip. However, Vilde would always speak in Norwegian, despite knowing that I couldn’t understand Norwegian. Oh well. I would either figure out what she was saying or the people around me would translate for me (which was quite nice of them–I didn’t even need to ask them, they would just ask me if I understood and if not would translate).

We went to bed after everybody left since we were all quite tired and we had to get up early the next morning.

The next morning, in which I made an idiot of myself over and over again, experienced firsthand how kind some people can be, and tried Telemark skiing for the first time… all to come in Part II!

Also, just spelled “bus” as “buss,” which is how it’s spelled in Norwegian. Good to know that Norwegian is destroying my excellent spelling.

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