Most of my thoughts on this trip, so far, have been full of insecurities and doubts; like any first-timer going across country on a trip knowing no one and studying in a foreign place would be. As much as I like to think of myself as outgoing, my natural introverted self has made me feel somewhat uncomfortable meeting seven new girls and living in close quarters. Being completely out of my element has left me a bit distraught my first couple of days in Norway. The feeling of homesick hit me like a ton of bricks. That is until I visited a town that made me feel closer to home, even though I am over four thousand miles away.

The town of Grünerløkka is filled with art, open people and lively music. Walking through streets filled with graffiti on every building, made me feel like I was at home away from home. The eclectic vibes that filled the air comforted me and I finally felt that this is where I needed to be; where I was supposed to be. With every turn down a street, I felt as if I was in a dream, one that I didn’t want to wake up from. Art was everywhere and life never felt so beautiful, being surrounded and completely immersed in peoples’ talents. On green hills, there were people blasting music, drinking beer and laughing loudly. Walking through a path with a massive chandelier hanging from a pole in the sky, that looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland, led me to the first music venue/bar, called BLÅ and it is here that I met people that took me out of my shy funk.

From what I have learned about Norwegian culture, thus far, is that they are not ones to be friendly, smile at you on the street or want to be bothered by you at all. Coming from North Carolina, I am more used to “southern hospitality” where you ask basically everyone you see, “how yall doing?” But being in BLÅ, everyone had a way to make me feel at ease. I’ve heard it is easier for Norwegians to converse with a drink in their hand, and I found that to be true at BLÅ. Every local I met here were easy to talk to and had more in common with me than I thought I would find with reserved Norwegians. To their liberal views, taste in music and art, and young spirited souls, I felt like I was back with my friends at home listening to our favorite song and talking about this nonsense we call life.

After my night in Grünerløkka, my day following in Oslo I finally felt like I had purpose and that this trip was not only good for my resume but for my soul. It helped me to appreciate the culture and the beautiful city that I would be living in for the next month.

I have learned that it is okay to be out of your comfort zone, because once you find comfort in your surroundings and the people you meet, you can find a whole new sense of self and reason. I am excited for this journey of learning about the Norwegian culture that I am slowly but surely falling in love with.