Since it's been almost a week since I posted anything of substance, I thought I would send up a flare with a brief update amidst a busy week. It's hard to believe that this is our last week in Norway; this also means that we have a test to take, a paper to write, and research to present.
Over the weekend we did our fair share of sitting and studying. This was rewarded by several outings in Oslo. On Friday night, the ISS hosted an International Cultural Evening complete with food, presentations, and performances from around the world. The talent from our diverse student body was stunning. I was most impressed by the different cultural and historical dances from different countries. As Americans, we had to ask ourselves, "what is our culture?" What clothing, dances, and food are fundamentally "American"? The best answer would probably be the culture of the Native American, but history and white settlement have not been kind to their culture and sadly most of us don't know enough about their traditions.
I was also struck by the photos and videos that played showing the country of the performer. CNN and world media are good at showing worn-torn countries, disasters around the world, and struggling populations, but the images we saw showed that territorial borders don't magically make countries look different...most places look much the same, or at least more similar than different. After the performances, much singing and dancing of our own ensued.
On Saturday morning, Michael and Nathaniel and I got up early(ish) and hiked to a secluded cabin near Songsvann Lake where they sell waffles and coffee in the morning. We had the trail to ourselves and even picked raspberries on the way up. What a way to start our day! In the afternoon we went down to Aker Brygge where we got fresh shrimp on boat/restaurant.
Sunday we took a break in the afternoon and went back to Sognsvann Lake where, surrounded by many happy Norwegians, we grilled hot dogs and took in some sun!
Yesterday we presented our research projects in our Peace Prize Seminar. Each of us gave a 10 minutes presentation on research that warranted at least 30 minutes each. In any case, I think my presentation might be a good start toward my Government Department senior thesis. Michael and I will both have the chance to present our research at the 2012 Augustana Symposium.
More to come soon on my research, the conclusion of my Scandinavian Government and Politics class, and hopefully within the week some final reflections on a very transformative 8+ weeks abroad!