Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dinner and a movie;

I walked up to Trolltech so that we could go on an outing with a few of the guys. The nine of us took the subway down town to an Indian restaurant. It was located in the middle of the main tourist street, just in front of the palace. We were able to ascertain most of the items on the menu, but the waitress brought us some English menus just incase. Even though we have been attending the Norwegian classes, and I know my numbers, I still felt uncertain when ordering “number 56”, so I resorted to English. Maybe next time I will feel more confident.

After dinner we walked about five blocks over to one of the theaters. We had ordered the tickets on line, so we only had to pick them up. In Norway you pick the seats that you want to sit in when you purchase the tickets. The seating is all assigned, so you have the ability to sit in just the place you like the best. One interesting “tid bit” about the seats I noticed was that there was no cup holders in the armrest. I have no idea why this is; I just found it an interesting fact.

It was nice to go to out to dinner and especially out to a movie. We have been watching the movies we have, in the living room on our laptop. At the theater we watched “King Kong”, which was a good movie to see in the theaters due to the nature of the film. It was fun to compare this new release to the original feature from 1933. On the walk home, we also had discussions about the graphics and the effects of the movie. We also learned from this movie that an enormous bug is always “scarier” then the large hungry dinosaur just out side your hiding place.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Classes:

We have finally been able to start Norwegian lessons at the new Trolltech office. There were a total of twelve people (employees and spouses) that wished to take a Norwegian class. Because there were so many of us, Trolltech decided to hire a private teacher to come to the office instead of sending us to a local college. Every Thursday we meet in one of the conference rooms, and have our private lesson.

Since we only meet for two hours once a week, most of our learning is done at home on our own. We were all supplied with a text book that included a CD, and a workbook. We have a lesson for homework, that we go over in class. The point is to work on the oral pronunciations, and have the grammar explained to us while we are together in class. We are then able to work on the translations at our own pace. The CD also allows us to listen to the pronunciations, to improve our speech.

Like any language class, it is hard and frustrating work. Ben and I are already seeing a difference in the amount of words we are able to pick up form television and the grocery store. At times we are even able to hear some spoken words, and understand the meaning. Of course we can only say simple sentences like “My name is” and “what?” but it feels good to know we will soon be able to get around in the verbal part of living in a foreign country.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sledding;

Trolltech has internal mailing list dedicated to certain interests that the employees can interact together in. On the sports list a message was left for an outing to a near by sled renting lodge. The idea was to take the new employees out to experience a Norwegian winter “sport”.

It took about thirty minutes to travel by subway to the mountain sledding resort. We obtained our sleds at the rental office and preceded to carry/pull them to the start or the run. The sleds consisted of two wooden rails with a metal strip on the bottom. The rails were attached to wooden framed square that housed a nylon fabric square attached with rope laces. The result of the construction was a heavy, sturdy sled that cushioned the rider from the bumps of the run.

It took about ten minutes to reach the bottom of the sled run. In that time you tried in vain to control the path the sled would take. Even though in some places the edge of the run had a curved wooden wall to herd sleders on the path, at times there was nothing to keep you on the track. I found myself approaching turns with nothing to keep me from going over the side of the cliffs. Other times the lack of sled control produced my appearance beneath the bushes of the forest surrounding the route. It felt like a ski run that had been “let go”. It was several miles long of mostly un-maintained hills where you could get up to twenty miles an hour. Portions of the trail curved around the side of the hill where there was vistas views of Oslo to your left.

When we arrived at the bottom of the “hill”, there was a platform to wait for the city tram to stop and pick us up. It took the tram about twenty minutes to return the sledders to the lodge next to the run at the top. Two members of our group were Girish and his wife Tahara. They are originally from India, but came to Oslo from Texas. It is hardly surprising that this is the first year that they have seen snow. They have been making the effort to try winter activities such as ice skating. Tahara was a little nervous about the sledding, but quickly got the hang of it. I could hear Girishs’ excited yelps the entire way down the run.

After sledding down the hill twice, we were all wet and cold. Most of us could no longer feel out toes, and fingers. We went to the lodge for coco and snacks. We all sat by the fire talked and ate. We took a few group photos before we headed back to the subway station. When Ben and I got home, we quickly changed in to our warmest pajamas, and sat together drinking one last cup of coco before heading to bed.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Years;

We were invited to Frank’s house for a new years party. Frank does not work for Trolltech, but is friends with many of the people who work there. When we arrived Marius, Simon and Jason had already arrived. Also present was another friend of Frank, his sister, and two of her friends. At about eight o’clock there was a buffet style dinner. There was an assortment of cold trays with pasta, shrimp, and meat entrĂ©es. We ate in the living room, talked and listened to music. Mostly we talked about our Christmas’s and the different cultural experiences that goes with every ones respective holiday. While talking the group broke up in to two sub groups. Those that can speak Norwegian, and those that cannot.

After dinner, a cheese and fruit platter was served to go with the wine that had been consumed all night. At this point Jason was a little tipsy, but was having more fun for it. An assortment of chips and sweets were also at hand to wait out the clock till midnight. At about ten till midnight we bundled up, retrieved some plastic glasses and champagne and headed out side.

There was no ball dropping on any of the buildings, and there was no count down to the moment of midnight. Instead the sky over Oslo was on fire. We walked to the closest park to watch the fire works. The displays were not put on by the government, but by hundreds of regular citizens. People were set up all over the park with all kids of fire works. They ranged from small sparklers to huge multi colored rockets. It looked like the types of displays you would see on the fourth of July in the US, only multiplied by ten. The rockets were going off about ten feet from where we were standing. A few rockets exploded on the ground and although we all new that it was dangerous; the effect was still pretty cool.

Our group each had a sparkler, and champagne as we watched the spectacle. We walked up the hill for a better view, and we could see more fire works in all the different parks through out the city. The noise was immense and reminiscence of thunder. The smoke in the air seemed to magnify the brightness of the explosions. The seen was amazing and can just not be described short of it was the most amazing thing we have yet seen.

On the walk home, the men in the group amused themselves with sliding down the hills, which were ice slicks. Back at the apartment, we continued to eat and talk. Then there was the “cheese shots”. One of the cheeses served had a funky taste so the boys decided to mix the cheese with alcohol and grapes in a blender to make shots. Simon and Frank had the idea and only they partook of the creation. Surprisingly Simon found the concoction palatable.

We had a fantastic time at our first Norwegian New Year. We are thinking that next year we will either join in the setting off of fireworks, or travel to the fordge to watch from the cliffs.