School Again

After passing our level 2 language evaluations in November, Zack and I decided to take a short break from language school. It allowed us to rest our brains a bit, and do some practical application.We’ve spent time with friends, in the city, and in various meetings and church services. We’ve learned that we can understand a lot of what is said around us. But we also know we are still a long where from where we need to be when it comes to speaking in everyday conversation.

So it is back-to-school time for us! One year ago this week, we were just beginning our first language course. We knew almost nothing. It is exciting to see how much can be learned in just a year. Can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

Our goal is to take the level 3 evaluations around the beginning of next year. If those go well, we can say ‘ha det bra’ (good-bye) to full-time language school, and spend more time with the city and people we’ve grown to love so much!

Language Confused: Tire Dilemma

Here in Norway, we have two sets of tires for our cars: summer tires and winter tires. We have almost no storage space here, other than one closet outside of our front door (yes, one closet in our entire house – that’s a lot different from where we lived in the US). So, like many here, we have to take the extra tires to a tire storage facility.Literally, a tire hotel. It’s also where you can buy tires. But basically, you pay to store them and to have them changed out twice a year.

So we’re there, waiting on the guy who’s doing the paperwork. Another guy walks up to me and asks if he could help me.

Here’s the thing I’ve mentioned before: you typically rehearse dialogue before completing a task. Well, we’d already used all of that dialogue with the other guy, so I’d kind of filed it away.

And in my haste to answer him, instead of saying I’m here about tire storage, I tell him that “I am a tire hotel.”

Reunited: back on the same continent!

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Zack boarded a flight and headed for Atlanta. There were a number of reasons that this was the right thing to do, and the right time to do it. I’m really glad that it worked out for him.For 17 days, he’s been able to spend time with his family (and some of mine), connect with some stateside partners, help with some practical things, and be there for the birth of his nephew. I think this visit has been really good for him, especially getting to spend some quality time with his mom and dad.

But with all of that said, can I just say how excited I am that he will be home with us later today? It has been quite an experience for the three of us still in Norway. I have a new and overwhelming appreciation for single moms. Seriously. How do you ladies do it? I’m not even working full time and I still feel like I’m barely keeping things running!

The boys and I have had fun, with some challenges mixed in. But we are definitely ready to get back to our normal craziness, instead of this unfamiliar extra-craziness!

Can’t wait to have him home tonight.

Language Confused: You’re hanging up what?!?!

Zack had been working with the landlord, trying to get the bathroom remodel completed before my mom and step-dad came to visit. In a process like that, you hear and begin to learn vocabulary you haven’t used before.Like the word for moldings.

We were visiting with friends, but it was time to leave. Zack was excited to speak in Norwegian as he told his friend he needed to go and hang molding (trim) on the walls. Only he didn’t say that.

No, Zack was going home to hang lust on the walls.

Life Lesson: learn to laugh at yourself!

NWotD: Familie

Familie
(noun) Family.Used in a sentence
Familie er viktig for meg.
(Family is important to me.)

Related words
Far: father
Mor: mother
Sønn: son
Datter: daughter
Bror: brother
Søster: sister

Related to us
We are very excited that Zack’s brother and sister-in-law had their first child, a son!
Vi er veldig glade for at Zacks bror og svigersøster har fått sitt første barn, en sønn!

What’s it Like: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping here is not all that different here. Not greatly, different, anyway. Here’s a rundown on similarities and differences…
What’s the same as what we were used to in the states?
  • The food is pretty much the same. We can get most anything at grocery stores here. Imports will cost you. For instance, a small box of PopTarts is around $6-7 USD.
  • Several big chains hold the majority of the market. Our choices include Kiwi, Rimi, Rema 1000, ICA and Meny. We can also drive a little further to Coop, EuroSpar or Joker. (There are other chains in the country as well.)
  • Lots of choices when you’re shopping for coffee, cheese, meat or fish.

 

What’s different from our former ‘normal’?
  • At many stores, you need a coin to get a grocery cart. You get it back when you return the cart. Baskets are no charge.
  • Bring your own bags. Or pay for plastic bags, usually around 1 krone (@17 cents USD).
  • Almost everything is a local (local meaning from Norway) product. Produce is probably the biggest exception (you can only grow so many things in this climate).
  • Most juice comes in a paper carton, not a plastic or glass bottle.
  • Same for veggies: many are packed in boxes instead of cans.
  • In most cases, stores are small. Typically, there are only a few choices for each item. For example. the picture below shows Daniel on the vegetable aisle. Actually, only the right side is canned vegetables, and what you’re seeing is pretty much the entire aisle. And the last part is the Mexican food section.
  • Few grocery stores are open on Sunday. Like most stores and shops. Most cities have one or two small shops that you can visit on a Sunday. But be ready for narrow aisles, VERY limited selection, and standing in line a while.

 

Daniel loves the stores that have kid-sized carts!

 

Kiwi is one of the grocery store chains in our city. It tends to
have the lowest prices, but not as much variety.

Not Yet – words of encouragement

A friend posted a Rick Warren devotion yesterday that really encouraged me. And I thought, maybe I’m not the only one who needs to hear this. So here is an excerpt – may it be an encouragement to you as well!
(red text is my addition)

Why God Sometimes Says ‘Not Yet’
by Rick Warren
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’”
Hebrews 10:36-37, NIV

God’s delay [in answering your request] may be a test of your patience. Anybody can be patient once. And, most people can be patient twice. And, a lot of us can be patient three times. So God tests our patience over and over and over.

Why? So he can see how patient you are? No!

He does it so you can see how patient you are — so you’ll know what’s inside you, and you’ll be able to know your level of commitment. God tests you so that you can know he is faithful, even if the answers you seek are delayed.

You may be going through difficult times right now. You may be discouraged because the situation you face seems unmanageable, unreasonable, or unfair.

It may seem unbearable, and inside you’re basically saying, “God, I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t take it anymore!”

But you can.

You can stay with it longer because God is with you. He’ll enable you to press on. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit. Resist discouragement, and finish the race God has set before you.

What happens when you squeeze a fish?

FISH OIL.Part of our morning routine right now includes a dose of Tran. English speakers would probably know it better as cod liver oil. It is especially important to ensure we get an adequate amount of Vitamin D, when we aren’t able to get enough from the sun. Tran is a great source of Vitamin D and Omega-3.

The ‘norm’ is to take tran in any month whose name has an R in it (Norwegian and English month names are similar enough that it’s the same months in either language).

So every morning, we start our day with a dose of fish oil. Lemon flavored fish oil. And don’t our faces say it all?

(photo taken Oct 2013, when we first started taking tran)

(In actuality, it is not terrible. But I also don’t find myself wanting any extra after I’ve had my dose!)

The boys’ school

Another great topic suggestion from a long-time blog follower…

They take the bus to school most
mornings. They walk to the main
bus terminal in our city and take one of
the city buses that is designated for the
school each morning.

You mentioned that schools in Norway are excellent. Why are they excellent? What do they do differently?  

Before moving, I read a lot about schools in Norway. And everything I researched told me that the system is great. Very forward-thinking and quick to meet every students’ needs. Of course, most of what I read was about the national school system. But as plans unfolded, we ended up placing our boys in an IB (International Baccalaureate) School.
February 2013
And I cannot imagine a better environment for them! Their school is very much hands-on. They aren’t taught concepts simply through rote memory, but are presented with units of study that are then explored through various methods that allow the students to learn practically and not just theoretically. There is emphasis on cooperative learning, helping students to work together and to develop positive interpersonal skills in addition to academics.
June 2013
They are taught in units/themes. Each unit lasts about 4 – 6 weeks. Through each unit, they may have the chance to work on reading, writing, research, projects, history, science, applied math, etc. Some of the units they’ve studied this year:

DANIEL: You Are What You Eat; Tell Me a Story; Money, Money, Money; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
WILLIAM: Heroes, Space Explorers, Force and Motion, Peace and Conflict

August 2013

They don’t sit at desks and read from textbooks. They typically sit in groups around tables, working with various mediums and materials that make the lessons more realistic and make the concepts stick. They use experiments, field trips, presentations and creative projects to expand and apply knowledge.

Most of the teaching is in English. They have around 5 hours of Norwegian class each week, but it’s basically teaching the same things from the current unit, but in Norwegian. So they’re building vocabulary around things they’re already learning about.

The school is culturally and racially diverse, very international. Many of the students come from international families, having one Norwegian parent, and one parent from another country.

I know I struggle getting services for my kids.  Is that process any simpler in Norway?
Our experience has been educators that are proactive in assessing needs and providing the necessary assistance. We don’t know if this is the norm, of if we are just extremely fortunate to have a fantastic support system at the school. We have one child who struggles with some learning challenges. The specialist at our school went above and beyond to get him the testing and support he needed.

And do the kids notice a difference in the way they are taught or how the day is structured?

Their school day is from 8:45 – 3:05. It is longer than a school day in the national schools, but similar to what they’ve experienced in other countries. They have more opportunities to be up and not just sitting all day. They get two recesses each day, plus PE once a week. They also have opportunities for Norwegian, computer, music, and art. They really love their school!
Daniel participates in a class song at assembly
Student-led spring conferences (2013)
World Peace Day activities