Prior to applying for the Oslo Rocks journalism program I had never traveled outside the United States. In addition to this, I have also never traveled alone. I was used to living in my bubble in the rural Midwest. I have spent my entire life living in North Dakota and had grown comfortable with the way of life there. I felt like I was missing out on something big there, as I was only acutely aware of all the music and art in the world.

I suppose what made me sign up for this program was just the need to experience something new. This experience did make me feel some fear and hesitation leading up to my departure date, but it was needed if I wanted to pop the bubble I was in while in North Dakota.

The one aspect that contributed to both my fear and excitement was about the culture. Norwegian culture has permeated down through generations of people in North Dakota so I had grown accustomed to tales of Viking ships and lutefisk. That is not by any means a comprehensive description of Norway. As I landed for the first time in Europe, one thing I found strikingly odd and even a little unsettling is the frequency of which people here touch each other. I was greeted by couples making out and strangers taking the seat next to me in a row full of empty chairs.

These are all insignificant factors compared to the one Norwegian cultural aspect I was most anticipating to experience: the music. If I had wanted to see one of my favorite musicians perform at home I would have to drive hundreds of miles away. In Oslo all these festivals are right at the fingertips of anyone who wants to experience them.

There is music and art in nearly every street I have walked down in Oslo. I think it is beautiful and I want to know more. I want to be able to dive in to this music festival phenomenon in Norway and discover what makes it tick and continue to thrive. To be able to experience all this firsthand while also being given the opportunity to solidify my time in print media writing is something I cannot take for granted.

The people and music of Norway offer a stark contrast between life in rural North Dakota.