Tag Archives: Norway

Norway – More From Two: Observations of Politics – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Norway – More From Two: Observations of Politics – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

During the period in which I studied abroad in Norway, I was fortunate enough to be there during local (city/county) elections. Throughout the program, we (as a class) were able to learn about how the political system began and has evolved throughout the years, the political parties, and how the voting system works. At the same time, we were able to observe the process of campaigning for the election that would take place.

In the process of learning, I couldn’t help but to draw comparisons between the United States and Norway. The U.S. is a system that I was more familiar with and yet, it wasn’t until I was confronted with the system of Norway that I was able to have a changed perception. In the U.S., there is a bi-partisan system (Democrats and Republicans) that has led to the citizens having to make a choice for one over the other. The easiest way I can describe this is that both parties come as a standard meal; each has food items that you like, dislike, and have no strong opinion towards your preference. Yet, you must make a decision between these two standard meals – no substitutions allowed. As a citizen you must make the choice of what meal (political party) suits your tastes the most.

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(Picture 1: Visual representation of bipartisan standard meal described above.)

In comparison to the constitutional monarchy, which has a parliamentary system. that operates under a coalition of multiple parties. Some notable parties are: the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), the Conservative Party (Høyre, literal translation: ‘Right), the Liberal Party (Venstre, literal translation: ‘Left’), and the Green Party (Miljøpariet De Grønne). This system still offers the standard meals; however, due to their being multiple parties available, the meals are more specific (focused political goals). This helps the citizens to decide on a party with less compromises to their opinions/political standings. This system still has drawbacks just as the U.S. does.

One fact about Norway’s system that I really appreciate is the voter registration process. The individual citizen is automatically registered to vote when they are born and the birth certificate has been verified. I believe that this system has a large impact on why the country has such a large voter turnout. It led me to wonder how much of a difference this would make in the U.S., if it became a commonplace system. Still, one must consider the population and geographical differences between the two countries and how that impacts the quality and rate of how it would operate on a larger scale. Another aspect of the Norwegian system that caught my attention is the youth wings of parties that are active within all of its municipalities. The use of the term ‘youth wing’ has some negative associations (e.g., WWII) that can lead to assumptions and misunderstandings as to what its purpose and function is. One major event is that when elections are occurring, high schools will hold mock elections (and youth wing members are active in presenting the parties views) a week or so prior to the official elections. These mock elections are followed closely throughout Norway and are considered to be major indicators of how the results will turn out.
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(Picture 2: Visual representation of Norway’s voter registration)

Finally, I thought the campaigning process was fascinating. Due to parties being established and well-known for their views, there isn’t as long of a campaigning season. Although, I observed a local election (Oslo), the campaigning didn’t begin until a month before the election and (supposedly) national elections have only a slightly longer season. Then I look towards the United States and see a stark difference in length. In many ways, I’ve come back with a more negative view towards the system in the U.S. and that definitely led to me wanting to ignore the campaigning as long as I could.
At the same time. I decided to focus more intently in order to be a person for change and not fall into the category of an inactive or uninformed voter. I’ve taken a lot from this experience and believe that it has benefitted myself to delve more into politics than I have in the past.
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(Picture 3: My response to the United States while the Norwegian municipalities elections were occurring.)

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Norway – The Bergen Trip – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Norway – The Bergen Trip – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

After our train arrived, we disembarked and walked 2 or-so blocks to the hotel/hostel that we would be staying at for the duration of our visit. We checked into our rooms (I shared with one of my friends) and settled for a bit. It was a strange experience having a shared bathroom; however, our room itself was rather large with a bed, couch, desk, and closet space. Afterwards, we ventured out to buy a few foods to eat a short meal together and went back to our rooms for a night to relax. Due to the late night and the lack of sleep that I had the night before (plus a long day of travel) I went to bed that night at 21.00 (9) and slept until 08.00 the following morning. Refreshed, we got ready for the exciting day ahead of us.

That excitement was due to one of the main reasons for deciding on the destination of Bergen. It was chosen due to the fjord tours that are offered year-round. We had booked our tickets 2 months in advance to ensure that we would have a placement–though I don’t think it was necessary, as there were plenty of empty seats. Nevertheless, my mindset is that it is better to be prepared. Since we left an hour and half earlier, we were able to explore the area and look in little shops, down side streets, etc.

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(Image 1: The front buildings are the oldest wooden buildings in Bergen. They currently serve as small shops and restaurants. The buildings behind serve the same purpose as well as hotels and local residents housing.)

When it got closer to the time that the fjord cruise boat would arrive, we headed towards where we saw it and waited. After a while of waiting, I got a bit worried as there were no other people around. On our tickets, it had stated that if there weren’t at least 15 people, the tour would not happen at that time. Suddenly. This ensued:

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That’s right. The boat simply set off to the other side and we realized that, ‘Wow. We need to run to that side of the dock in order to get on.’, and so we did. We ran what is a 10/13 minute walk in about 4 minutes. We made it, with people still waiting in line and more people following our example in being late.

Finally, we boarded and spent 4 hours touring the fjords–sometimes from inside and other times from the top of the boat. It was consistently full of amazing sights: clear waters, a bright sun, isolated houses in the middle of green spaces, and snowy mountains in the distance. It’s an experience that I hope and strive to have again in my lifetime. For now, I rely on the pictures that I hadn’t taken at that time.

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One particular experience on the tour that was exceptionally fantastic was when the boat operators, saw the goats that they typically stop and feed. Therefore, we were able to stand a few feet behind them as they chucked chunks of stale bread over to the goats. Unfortunately, one was accidentally hit in the head by eagerly jumping down to get to the bread. Fortunately, it ate the same piece it was hit by happily.

It was a moment that was adorable and humorous all at once; it reminded me, somewhat strangely, of my dog.

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The rest of the day was spent wandering about, sharing a meal together, watching a Austrian psychological thriller, and chatting. It was a low-speed, not to spectacular day on the surface, but it serves as a great series of moments with friends that I will look back fondly on. We only had one more day and we would be taking the train back that night (23.30-06.45). We spent a majority of the day walking around Bergen and sitting in coffee shops (taking advantage of the warmth and wi-fi). Unfortunately, we couldn’t do too much as we had our luggage and so our last day was perhaps the slowest in movements. I look back at this trip and I feel so immensely happy that I decided to do something that was outside of my comfort zone. It was a time where I gladly experienced friendship and independence; mostly, it was a time where I was able to sit and reflect about myself, who I was and would be, and how–in a week’s time–I would be back in the United States.
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(Image 2: After going up a very slanted hill and getting lost, we were able to see this wonderful view of Bergen in the early morning hours.)
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(Image 3: Cats are known to randomly roam the streets of Bergen (and Oslo, to an extent) and this one in particular really enjoyed my luggage and claimed it for a short while. Many of the cats were friendly and this led to the internal struggle of wanting to simply take the cats and keeps them as my own because… cats.)

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Norway – Oslo to Bergen: A Train Ride – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Norway – Oslo to Bergen: A Train Ride – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

joniatrain1

It was the trip that I had been looking forward to since I bought the train tickets a month and half beforehand. I would be going to Bergen, Norway for three days with two of my friends/classmates. However, I did have a bit of a scare the night I ordered my train tickets. I had used my American debit card to purchase the tickets and went to bed at ten that night (as I had work the next day…). At half past, I received a message from my mother that I needed to call the bank at that very moment or else my account would be completely frozen. I went through the process of changing my sim-cards, calling, and resolving the issue with confirmation of my identity. It turns out, that my local banking centre had forgotten to tell the main bank that I would be out of the country and this led to the events. Honestly, although it was a stressful moment and I hope to never have a repeat, it was a growing experience. One important aspect that I have taken from it is that communication is key and double- and triple-checking is something that may seem tedious but can save you from a lot of unnecessary issues.

Moving forward, we decided to take the 7.5-hour train ride for two reasons: (1) it is well-known for being a scenic trip (note: I believe there is a film in Norway that consists entirely of this train route) and (2) it was a bit less of an expense. Though, it had more to do with the first reason for the second. We started our journey the day after classes ended in the early morning hours by meeting up on the stairwell in our building, then proceeding to walk down the hill to the t-bane (metro) to go to Jernbanetorget (Central Station) in order to board the train. This would be my first experience on a train and I was extremely excited to start the long trip.
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(Image 1: The night before, we had a final dinner with all of our program and ended up staying out until 12. Which meant that we had missed the last bus and had to walk back. This image is a representation of how tired we were from a lack of sleep (5 hours) on the way to the train station.)

Our train departed at 08.15 and arrived at our destination at 15.50. The train was fairly empty and that allowed me and my friend to converse as we pleased. Since we were seated together, we talked lots, made at least 12 peanut butter sandwiches (and ate them all!), took dozens of pictures, and whatnot. I was surprised at the changes in weather that occurred throughout the journey; it started off as dreary autumn weather then transformed into snow as we got higher up, and by the time we arrived, we encountered a light rain; which would transform into a downpour that night.joniatrain3

One experience on the train that I was curious about was the serving car. I had heard about it from friends and I’d seen it in various films and television shows: I wanted it to be a more concrete experience for myself. Halfway through the trip we decided to venture through the carts to find it. Luckily, it was only 3 carts away and easy to find. Though, we were a bit shocked as we went from car-to-car and experienced difficulty opening the doors due to wind surging through. The cart was very modest with one worker and a small display of food options. We chatted with him for a bit and he gave us his suggestions for food and traveling in Bergen; he was wonderfully friendly and that made my experience one to hold with me.

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(Pictured: A waffle with strawberry jam and brown cheese and a Julekake-style muffin.)

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(Image: Throughout our 3 day trip, this is a drawing of the food that one of my friends and myself ate. We had 2 bags of clementines, two loaves of bread, peanut butter, instant rice, and (I had) chicken slices.)

That was basically the train ride; it doesn’t seem particularly thrilling as I write about it and yet it will remain one of my heart memories when I studied abroad. I sat in a rotation of non-stop chatting to companionable silence with a dear friend, I saw sights that I may never see outside of photographs again, and I took an adventure that I planned by myself. One adventure finished, many more to come.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Oslo, Norway – I’m a Glutton, but I’m also Frugal, Food and Norway – The North Star Reports – by Jonia Gordon. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Oslo, Norway – I’m a Glutton, but I’m also Frugal, Food and Norway – The North Star Reports – by Jonia Gordon. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

Author’s Note: The exchange rate of the US dollar to the Norwegian Kroner is fairly high currently: $1 is roughly 8.1-. The exchange rate changes based on the strength of the currency. If you have specific questions about food, grocery shopping, etc. – feel free to ask.

Coming to Norway, I didn’t know what to expect for food. The stereotypical image of various fish-centred meals came to mind—which was honestly worrying as I do not like fish—along with the infamous lefse. However, that menu has not been a particular reality for myself. Yes, there are many fish options but, there are also many other meat options as well. Yes, there is lefse—which I tend to live off of—though it’s called ‘lompa’ here.

One thing to note about Oslo: it’s expensive to live in. I had researched a bit and talked to a friend who had attended the program the past year, previous to coming, and that prepped me with some knowledge. The problem is that my knowledge was purely abstract and experiencing the expensive prices first-hand is painful for a frugal (read: cheap) person like me. Luckily, my stipend is a respectable amount. I receive roughly 600.- (roughly $70) per week to buy groceries and other necessities.

There is one place I would highly recommend going to buy groceries (in particular: produce) if you are ever staying in Oslo for a prolonged amount of time: Grønland. It is located in eastern Oslo and offers fresh produce at cheap prices. It’s often swarming with people and if you go during a busy time (e.g. Saturday afternoons), expect to wait in the checkout line for a minimum of 20 minutes. Grønland is traditionally an area that immigrants have lived in and I believe that plays a large part in why the prices are so much lower – the businesses (the grocery and other establishments) cater to the community. On the other hand, the area is becoming more popular and trendy with the youth of Norway and that is playing an influence on how things operate there. It would be interesting to come back in five years and see how it has changed.

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(Illustration Note 1,2: Exaggeration of fridge-space. I have 5 flatmates in which we share 2 fridges (1 shelf each) and cupboard space (1 cupboard each). If my fridge was this full and it was empty within a week; I would sob.)

Here are a few experiences I’ve had with food since arriving in Oslo:
A traditional fall (høst) food called “Fårikål” was a trip for my mouth and tastebuds. I had it at my volunteer placement with a bunch Norwegians telling me the background of the food and watching me as I tried it (no pressure…). First off, this seasonal food is boiled cabbage and lamb with some light spices. Secondly, it’s a prime time to eat the meat due to the sheeps feeding on herbs that provide the essence when eaten. At any other time of the year, the service users told me, it would not taste the same as the feed of the sheep would be different. Lastly, I quite enjoyed this “Norwegian” food; however, those who have problems with texture, the meat is slightly gummy/chewy. We finished the day off with waffles topped with sour cream and strawberry jam (jordbær) or brown cheese (brunost).

I have discovered an obsession within Norway and it is called Kebab. It’s an option that I tend to eat once of every two-or-so weeks; why? It’s delicious, it’s decently priced (55.- or ~$6.50), and establishments are located throughout Oslo—even on the outskirts of campus. It’s become a go-to meal when you want to walk around Oslo with friends and don’t want to spend a lot on food. For those who don’t know what kebab is: pita bread stuffed with lamb and an assortment of vegetables (cucumbers, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) topped off with dressing/sauce.

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(Illustration Note, 3,4,5 : these exist in the U.S. and I must find them. I come from too small of a town that these are not common within a 3 hour drive. I’ll feed the love while I’m here and by the time I get home the craving will end. We all know that my last statement was a lie.)

If you’re a junk food lover, then you must be willing to pay the price. I’ve avoided it for the most part—great for my health and horrible for my desire to eat—and only splurge for certain occasions. I’ll often buy when I’m having a movie night with friends. Story time: One night, my friend and I had decided to watch a film together. We headed down to REMA 1000—a store located within our student village—and decided to buy junk food. All day I had talked about how I was determined to buy ice cream. As I looked through the ice cream freezer and decided on a chocolate-coated pistachio ice cream bar, my friend came around the corner and burst my sugar-coated bubble: (Illustration 6)

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In the end, I bought the chips rather than the ice cream. I was disappointed and proceeded to eat the whole container of chips within a timeframe of 24 hours. I have come to learn that I have a much stronger will power to not spend money than to gorge on junk food: I never thought that to be a possibility before coming to Norway. At the same time, I have been able to decide when it’s best to splurge on something as a reward for doing well on papers, homework, or Norwegian class.

I have a confession: before coming to Norway, my cooking skills were… alright. I could make very basic food and primarily survived off of sandwiches, premade items, and my mother’s cooking (bless her soul). Since coming to Norway, I’ve started to learn how to cook and explore with trying different recipes and techniques. One of my greatest accomplishments is cleaning and cutting up chicken—I had no inkling beforehand that it would be as bloody as it was. On weekends, my friend (the same one who ruined my ice cream craving) and I cook together. She is very proficient and has taught me quite a bit; in exchange, I share my baking knowledge.

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(Illustration Note 7: These pictures are a combination of homemade food, store bought foods, and a flatmate cultural feast + doodles for dramatic effect)
I’m not going to lie: there are times where I resort to eating food that I don’t have to cook or prepare. I think we all have those days where we just want to be lazy and not put any true effort in to making delicious food. For me, this day often falls on Sundays. In Norway, stores (food and other sorts) are not open on Sundays—an exception being Grønland and expensive shops. I probably spend more time daydreaming about food that I want to eat but (1) can’t afford and/or (2) can’t have as it doesn’t exist here (e.g. hotdish).

The main message I give to those future travelers to Norway (and anywhere in the world): you can survive and find fairly priced food here, it’s okay to splurge every once in a while, and trying new things can be fun. Maybe I’ll listen to my own message and try to eat fish or I can always fall into the “Do as I say, not as I do” life lesson. We’ll see how that goes, for now: off to eat a lazy meal (as shown below).

JGFood8JGFood9

(Illustration Notes 8,9: Kjeks = Crackers, Brunost = Brown cheese)

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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An Irrational Worrywart Flying Alone From Newark to Oslo, Norway — The North Star Reports – by Jonia Gordon. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

An Irrational Worrywart Flying Alone From Newark to Oslo, Norway — The North Star Reports – by Jonia Gordon. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

All summer my parents would ask “Are you getting nervous?” The reason they asked me this question was, come August, I would be studying abroad in Oslo, Norway for 4 months. In all honesty, I wasn’t that nervous—though the constant question stirred my nerves each passing day—as it was still a very abstract concept for me.

The summer seemed to speed by and that meant time to pack. I started to pack three days before I left, which was coincidentally, the latest my parents would allow me to put it off… I had two large suitcases and a travel backpack to fill with everything I would need for a third of a year. It was a moment of peculiarity. I was packing with the knowledge that—unlike college—I could not simply go home or have my parents bring the things I forgot. All at once, as I sat surrounded by piles of clothes, I realised just how permanent it felt. As I stuffed my luggage with clothes for all sorts of weather (thank goodness for storage saver bags!), toiletries, and necessities, the fear that had trickled in all summer was starting rain upon me.

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(Note: An eye-catching luggage is very easy to find (left) at baggage claim, whereas the more conspicuous one (right) can lead you to reach for luggage you thought was your own but really belonged to a Norwegian family.)

Nevertheless, I was proud to have fit everything (or so I thought) that I needed in the three bags I had chosen for my luggage. The day before my flight, my family and I packed everything up in the car, I said farewell to my grandfather and then we were off. The day seemed to pass in fast and slow motion all at once as the next day arrived: Departure Day. The rain of fear that I was talking about earlier; yeah, that fear was now drowning me.

We had an early sit-down breakfast before we went to the airport. My family (parents and older sister) helped me to get my luggage checked and then led me to the line for security. We shared hugs and my mother cried—then we found out I had to go to a different security checkpoint and repeated the whole thing again. They left as I waited in life for my turn to go through the scanner and I tried to focus on anything but the fact that my family was leaving the airport without me.

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The first flight I had was from Minneapolis, MN to Newark, NJ and it went fairly well. Though there were a few moments that could have gone better: (1) A person giving me my ticket which had fallen behind me, (2) I (in reaction to 1) checked my carry-on 4 times before looking for my gate due to an irrational fear that I had forgotten my passport, and (3) having to lug my bag everywhere with me was a hassle. Due to it not being my flight out of the U.S., I didn’t have that much anxiety about it. After arriving in Newark, I had a 5 hour layover—45 minutes of which was spent wandering around trying to find my gate—and the rest of that wait was spent munching on overpriced airport food and listening to people speak in Norwegian.

After the long hours passed, I finally stood in line to board the 8 hour flight to my destination. Rapidly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and all sorts of irrational thoughts sprung about my mind in flurried movements. I could just not go, fly home, and never think about it again. Or what if I’m on board the plane that—despite a low probability—crashes into the ocean and I die. All sorts of scenarios rampaged my mind (each more and more unlikely and unrealistic) and then I was boarding the plane.

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I, unluckily, had a middle seat. It wasn’t a terrible experience; however, I didn’t sleep as I feared I would end up sleeping/leaning on of my seatmates and had to frequently get up throughout the flight so that my window-seatmate could use the washroom. The flight was long and I had foolishy not charged my iPod battery—leading me to simply stare ahead at the seat in front of me as the in-flight media was not working. The food wasn’t the best, but I didn’t feel like eating anyway. I just wanted to land safely and proceed with my life. When I did land and go through customs, baggage claim, and finding my professor, I was ready to sleep for half a day. Instead, we proceeded to get our keys, move-in, meet all the people in the program, and go to IKEA. My professor strongly suggested that we stay up as late as possible so that we could adjust to the time change. I went to sleep at 23.30. Thankfully, I adjusted within two days and was able to start enjoying the adventure that is studying abroad.

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(Note: though I have to go through this again when the 30th of November comes…)

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[Photo 1: Although I did not have a picture of Paul, this is a picture of his son Torger’s family. Names in order from left to right: Ingman, Torger, Palmer, Guri, Morris (my grandfather), and Jalmer.]

Every time I sit in class while the teacher takes attendance, am next in line for a ceremony, or any other time I am waiting for my name to be called, I try to predict if the speaker will be able to say my name correctly. Most of the time, the answer is no. While I am proud of my last name, “Pederstuen” is not a very common name, nor is it easy to pronounce. After the first botched attempt at pronouncing my last name, it takes some people two or even three more tries to get it right. After finally mastering how to properly pronounce Pederstuen, people often inquire to its origin. I quickly reply that it is a Norwegian name and most of the time the questions stop there. However, I did have one professor this year that asked what my last name meant. Sadly, I had to answer that I didn’t know. A quick Google search did not clarify the meaning or origin of my name, and I did not look any further. However, I recently looked into my family history, and I was able to find out how the Pederstuen name began.

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[Photo 2: This is a picture of my great-great grandfather’s farm near present day Skabu.]

My research was quite simple. I asked my parents to bring me a binder that is full of typewritten pages about my family history which trace my family lineage on the paternal side. The Pederstuen family name began with my great-great grandfather, Paul Syverhuset. The book about my family history explained that it was customary for someone to change their family name and take on the name of the farm they lived on. Later, my great-great grandfather moved to Perstuggu (near present day Skabu) and took that on as the new family name. In the spring of 1906, Paul and some of his children came to America, the rest joining them that summer. When Paul moved to America, he went to live on the farm where his sister, Anna, was already living. It was then that Paul changed his last name to Pederstuen. I discovered the Pederstuen means Peder’s house or living place. Although I do not know where the Pederstuen came from before that, this is the point it first came into my family lineage, eventually being passed on to me.

I am glad that my family has such a detailed record of our history and that I had to opportunity to learn from it. I now have a better understanding of how my family name came to be, and I am grateful for this stronger connection with my family history.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

What’s in a Name? World History students at our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica, were assigned the task of researching the name of a person or place with a personal connection to their lives, looking into the history of the name, the motives behind its use, and the significance of the name in the past and present. Students selected a variety of names including hometowns near and far and family names. Whether it was a name they’d always wondered about or one long taken for granted, their findings were often unexpected. Even when the name itself was not found to be especially meaningful a recurring theme emerged of increased awareness and respect for those who came before and the value of knowing their stories. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[By Hayden120 and NuclearVacuum [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Almost 200,000 immigrants came to the United States from Norway between 1900 and 1910. One of these 200,000 was my great-grandfather, Ole Dahl. He grew up and worked on a farm in Bodø, Norway, before coming to the United States in 1907 at the age of twenty-two. His plan was to get a job where he could make enough money to buy a boat and return to Norway as a fisherman. Little did he know, he would end up staying in Minnesota the rest of his life.

His journey started by traveling to Liverpool, United Kingdom, to get on the steamboat Cedric, which was headed to Ellis Island. At the time, this steamboat was the largest ship in the world and provided relatively good accommodations compared to other ships. The trip lasted about a week and a half before he arrived in New York on May 14, 1907. From there, he went to Minnesota, where many other Norwegians had gone over the years due to the amount of farmland in the state. He somehow found his way to a large farm in Granite Falls. He would keep this farm in the family for generations, as it remains to this day.

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Despite the fact that Ole was enjoying his life in the U.S., his family back in Norway was still very important to him. He sent them money throughout rough economic times and decided to visit them in 1947. When he returned to Norway, his family was surprised by how much he loved life in the United States. He told them he couldn’t wait to return to “God’s Country.” He wanted his family members to return with him, but in the time that had passed the economy had improved and they didn’t need financial help anymore; they chose to stay in Norway. It was hard for Ole to leave without his family, but he now had a family back in Minnesota. In fact, he had a daughter and two sons who were starting to have children of their own and who would eventually take over the farm. Nevertheless, both the Norwegian and American sides of the family have remained in contact with one another to keep our history and culture alive.

Fast forward to the present day. I visited the farm in late July 2013 for the 95th birthday of Ole’s son and my great-uncle, Harold. I went with my mother, father, and brother, and we brought a vase of flowers from our Norwegian relatives. With the flowers in hand, we went up to Harold, who was sitting on a John Deere stool in the garage surrounded by decorations of green and yellow tractors– further evidence of just how much farming and the family estate mean to him. When we greeted him he immediately asked about the flowers. We told him that they were from the relatives in Norway whom my brother and I would be visiting next week with our uncle.

As we told Harold about the flowers and the trip we would be taking, several other friends and family members began to ask questions about the flowers and told us to say “hi” to the Norwegian relatives for them. Others would come up and tell my brother and me stories about when they went on their first trip to Norway, because everyone in our family had gone at least once. The story that stuck out the most was the one from my dad’s cousin, Cheryl, who told us about when she first arrived in Norway. When she stepped off the plane, she was greeted by Ellen, Åsmund, Arnie Berger, and Betzy (members of the oldest living generation of our relatives in Norway). Immediately Cheryl was whisked off to a town an hour away, brought to a small house in the country, and walked into a birthday party of a relative she had never met. Everyone talked to her as if they had known each other for years and were just catching up. amynorthnorway1

When my uncle, brother, and I went to Norway the next week and met our relatives, including Ellen, Åsmund, Arnie Berger, and Betzy, we immediately hit it off. In fact, I could even see them taking us halfway across the country to attend the birthday party of someone we had never met, just like they had done with Cheryl! We learned just how much Harold’s farm means to them; they all knew Harold and our whole extended family, and talked very fondly of the times they spent both in Minnesota and in Norway.

Spending two weeks in Norway was an eye-opening experience. Not only did I get the chance to travel to a different country and be immersed in a different culture, but I had the opportunity to meet members of my family I had never met before. Over the next two weeks, as we explored Oslo and other cities and met more and more family members, I suddenly realized why my family members return so often. Though our relatives in Norway are descendants of my great-great-grandparents, they treat us as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. I did not realize until Harold’s 95th birthday how much pride my family takes in their Norwegian heritage, and when I went to Norway, I finally understood why. It was not just that we came from a beautiful country, it was because of how hospitable and kind the people there are.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Amy North, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Narvik, Norway – Immeasurable Hospitality — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

A special series. Narvik, Norway – Immeasurable Hospitality — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[A shot of the view from Marit’s family cabin, the scenery here was almost surreal it was so beautiful. Pictured is her family’s bunkhouse.]

In 2008 I gained the older sister I lacked biologically by way of my family’s participation in a foreign exchange program. She came to us from a town in the North of Norway, and since leaving she has returned a handful of times to the U.S. to visit. I was able to make the jaunt to New York City to meet up with Marit, my Norwegian sister, and João, another beloved foreign exchange student from the past, for last Thanksgiving break, spending an amazing week catching up and enjoying the city and each other’s company. After 7 years of saying “Someday I’ll come visit YOU” I was finally able to fulfill my promise, venturing up to Narvik to spend my last week in Europe with Marit and her beautiful family.

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[Looking out from the interior of the family cabin. Ann-Irene and Knut-Erik have put so much work into this amazing getaway and it shows in the details.]

My flight was scheduled to depart 4 hours after my last final exam, poor planning on my part, but I was stranded in Barcelona’s El Prat airport for a number of hours due to heavy snow in Oslo, Norway. The airport staff began giving us updates both in Spanish and English and then as time dragged on the notifications were given only in Norwegian and I was forced to ask for clarification, unable to read the context from the faces of my fellow stranded peoples. Finally, we were able to board and leave for Oslo’s Gardermoen airport where I met Marit and waited for our next flight even further North to Narvik. I hadn’t eaten much at all that day, not intending to be stuck in El Prat for so long, and so upon my arrival Marit and I feasted on Lapskaus, a stew-type dish, and flat bread. In retrospect, this airport meal should have acted as forewarning to just how well I would be eating during my time in Norway.

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[Martin’s family has cabins up in Riksgränsen resort in Sweden, and I had the opportunity to snowboard even though I was incredibly out of shape/practice!]

One flight and bus ride later; we arrived in Narvik, hoofing it up the ice and snow-covered hill to Marit’s family home with our luggage. I still don’t know why I bothered trying to pack anything more than a backpack since realistically few things I had brought for Barcelona’s winter would serve me well in Narvik’s spring weather. Marit borrowed me everything I needed; long johns, wool socks in every thickness, hiking gear, jackets, and even a pair of boots loaned to me by her boyfriend’s mom (Thanks a million!!). The hospitality was unending. I almost felt uncomfortable accepting so much from her family my first time meeting them, but soon realized that they had already accepted me as one of the family, and my hesitation dissipated. We spent the week hiking, eating, exploring, visiting the nearby Riksgränsen ski area in Sweden, and eating more. Did I mention eating?

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[On one of the last days we took the gondola up to the top of the mountain in Narvik and hiked back down. The views were amazing.]

The meals I enjoyed in Norway deserve their own post, and I think I may dedicate some time this week to detail it all, but right now let me hit the specifics. Typically I eat like a bird, taking small portions if at all possible just so that I can guarantee no waste. The week I spent in Norway I had thirds of everything put in front of me. Everything. I don’t think my hunger grew in any way, the food was just so amazing and in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be eating this well for quite some time. After my third plate of dessert one night, Marit looked at me and just smiled, commenting on how she had never seen me eat so much, I retorted that I never eat this much. Something about the company I held, the amazing food they prepared, and all the coffee and wine that I could ingest had me mesmerized, left in a food-consuming trance that I couldn’t – and didn’t want to – break.

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[Snapping a quick picture with the reindeer! We may have them in our zoo, or even in the Fitger’s courtyard around Christmas time, but seeing so many in one spot in their natural habitat was pretty cool! (Fun fact, all the reindeer in this area are owned by the Sami people.)]

The time I spent with Marit and her loved ones was nearly indescribable. I can’t thank them enough for their overwhelming warmth and hospitality, opening up every corner of their lives to me and even going so far as to re-tell jokes in English after they flew over my head in Norwegian. As my time with everyone came to a close I naïvely believed that maybe this time saying goodbye wouldn’t be so hard: that after receiving so much kindness and generosity and feeling like the world had maybe shrunk just that much more, maybe I wouldn’t feel so far from my big sister this time. I learned at the security check, as we hugged one more time, that I had thought wrong. Even typing this all up a week later I’m flooded with emotion; gratitude, love, longing. But mostly gratitude. No matter how many languages I learn I won’t be able to say thank you enough. Takk.

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[From left to right: Knut-Erik, Marianne, Erik, Marie, Ann-Irene, Martin, Marit.]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Katherine LaFleur, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Trolls: The Dangerous, the Terrifying, and the Commercialized? — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Tayler Boelk

Trolls: The Dangerous, the Terrifying, and the Commercialized? — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Tayler Boelk

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In most Norwegian folklore, trolls are depicted as dangerous, terrifying, and incredibly stupid. Troll tales are used to teach lessons to children. The book I have, Trolls and Their Relatives, was given to me by my great grandmother. Trolls have become increasingly commercialized. The book I received, as well as some miniature troll sculptures, were purchased in Norway in a store entirely dedicated to trolls. My grandmother said you could buy troll statues larger than her!

Trolls describes the most “common” trolls in Norway and how to outwit them. While most trolls are considered dangerous, not all want to cause harm. If a human chose to house a Nissen, and give it food on Christmas Eve, the troll would bring good luck for the livestock and crops the next year. This story was used to teach the lesson of kindness. Some other lessons from the trolls include the Nokken, who represents disobedience, the Tussel, who signifies gossip, and the Hulder, who represents temptation.

According to one of the funniest stories, trolls would sometimes steal human children and replace them with troll children, and this explains why children are not very well behaved for a few years. Eventually the trolls get sick of the human child’s good manners and take back their ill-mannered troll child. If we apply this traditional tale to Disney’s Frozen, it would appear that Christoph and Sven weren’t adopted, but rather, kidnapped!

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Frozen included a depiction of the Norwegian troll. These trolls had some traditional traits, such as becoming a part of their environment (you may recall a cute little troll exclaiming “I grew a mushroom!”), but for the most part were the nicest possible version of a troll found in Norwegian folklore. Our antagonists did not have to worry about being eaten or crushed, nor did the trolls have to worry about any Vikings coming to destroy them or turn them to stone. (In Frozen they already were stone!) Despite the inaccuracy of the trolls’ loving characteristics, as someone with Norwegian heritage I am happy that Disney made an attempt at including some of Norway’s most interesting history.

Yet another example of the commercialized troll comes from an excerpt from an Oslo magazine introducing an app for smartphones called “Trolls vs. Vikings.” The game depicts the trolls setting up defenses and battling the angry (and stupid) Viking characters who are trying to steal their gold. While some things are accurate (they share the names of traditional trolls) I would not consider this app a good historical representation of the relationship between Norwegians and trolls.

So what is the relationship between Norwegians and trolls? As I mentioned earlier, the trolls were used to symbolize a lesson or quality such as kindness or temptation. Each troll has a specific characteristic, usually but not always undesirable. If Norwegians treated certain trolls with respect and kindness, good fortune came to them, but most trolls are depicted as dangerous. Trolls representing undesirable characteristics were seen as something that needed to be defeated. Thankfully, my book teaches me how to defeat trolls, something I feel I should share with you in case you should ever come upon one!

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Trolls are defeated many different ways, depending on the creature. For example, the Nokken can be defeated rather easily. The Nokken lives in swamps, rivers, and lakes, luring people into the water. To defeat the Nokken, one needs only to throw a needle or a cross into the water while speaking the Nokken’s name. The larger trolls that you would typically find stealing cattle or princesses take a little more effort. To defeat one of these trolls you must chop off all of its heads (this can be as many as twelve!). But for your typical troll, all you must do is keep them chasing you until the sun rises at which time they will either burst or turn into stone. Those that turn into stone become just another part of the Norwegian countryside.

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Photo Credits:
Eriksen, Jan Bergh. Trolls and Their Relatives. Stavanger, Norway: Dreyer Bok, 1983.
“What Are Trolls?”. Trollwatch International. http://www.trollwatch.com.au/What%are%20Trolls/pid1whataretrolls.html
wikia.com. “Trolls-FrozenWiki.” Frozen Wiki. http://frozen.wikia.com/wiki/Trolls


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Tayler Boelk