Shadowing a Rastafarian in Oslo

I took the red-eye Wednesday night (Boston to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Oslo) and, in a what I hope is a good sign, got three seats to myself so I could lie down and actually sleep. Once in Oslo, I navigated myself to the bus that goes to Ås, where I'll be studying for the fall. Despite their reputation for being cold, I found all the Norwegians I interacted with friendly and helpful. The bus driver called me a cab to pick me up in Ås to take me to my university--we were told to ask for this in our university Welcome email, but nonetheless I was a little anxious, because asking a bus driver in the US to call you a cab would be, I think, very inappropriate. But lo and behold, when I arrived in Ås, there was an extremely friendly and helpful cab driver waiting for me. While I found his particular Somali-Norwegian accent particularly difficult to understand, he made up for any lack of communication with unbridled enthusiasm. He helped me get into my university apartment, and then once inside began showing me how everything worked, liked where the bathroom was and how to turn on the faucet.


After settling in, I walked fifteen minutes to the small center and treated myself to a burger and a glass of red wine. I remembered the feeling from last summer, where I felt totally unhurried by the light, not having to worry that I'd get stuck somewhere after dark, because it doesn't really get dark. But it does get cold, and when I was chilly on my walk home I once again wondered why I decided to seemingly skip summer this year. 

I met my roommate, a really nice Norwegian woman from the area, about my age. And then I packed up my bags for another month of travel, and slept deeply, grateful for the room's blackout curtains. 

The next day, I checked out the adorable cafe on campus, where they serve delicious coffee and sandwiches, and play music like Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, which made me feel at home. The campus was quite empty, and it started to sink in that I was really doing this, I was really going to be living here until December. I was glad for the distraction to head up to Oslo for the night.


After a half hour train ride, I arrived in Oslo and navigated to my host's apartment, right near the royal palace. My host was Benjamin, a half-Jamaican half-Ghanian Rastafarian who was incredibly generous with his home and time. After I arrived and said the only thing I really needed was a SIM card, he walked me to the place where he said they sold the cheapest ones. Afterward, he bought a bottle of wine so he could get cash out, and then we went to this unmarked card playing house where he buys smuggled cigarettes for half the price. We went back to his apartment where he cooked me a Jamaican chicken dinner and we watched the European Athletic Track and Field Championships on mute while he played reggae music instead. 

The next morning, I was able to catch a bus from just a block away that went directly to the airport, so that was fortuitous. Once at the airport, I realized I had forgotten to pack socks for my month long trip, and so bought some extremely expensive Norwegian flag socks a the gift shop, which I've been wearing proudly. 

First impressions of Oslo: not particularly lovable on first walk-around, the architecture isn't very charming, but there are tons and tons and tons of coffee shops—Scandanavia is really into their coffee. I look forward to exploring the city more, though, in the coming months.

And now I'm at Herrang dance camp! It's a bit surreal being back, like revisiting a wonderful dream, or traveling back in time to re-experience the best parts of childhood. I'm not sure how much I'll update while here, but after this I'll be a few days in Stockholm with my parents, and then Germany before heading back to school on August 6th!


Thanks for reading! The next posts will hopefully have less catch-up, more adventure.