Lauren - D9455 Outbound Exchange to Norway 2016

So for the past week I have been off school for winter holiday or “vinterferie”. Over here they seem to have a lot of holidays, like just before I arrived they had their Christmas holiday and now we have winter holiday and in not too long we’ll have Easter Holiday so thats super good, well done Norway on all your holidays.

Anyway after finishing school on Friday the week before last, I packed all of my borrowed skiing stuff in my bag and drove with my host family to their cabin in Hafjell, which is a skiing area not far from Lillehammer. We arrived at the cabin around the same time as my host aunt and uncle and their son. They also have a dog which made me so happy because it reminded me of Maddie back home so for the rest of that evening I pretty much clung onto the dog.

On Saturday the weather was not favourable for skiing – it was extremely windy and there was a heavy downpour of snow, so instead of going for a cross country ski, I went for a cross country… walk… with Anne, Invild, my host uncle Leif and the dog Tequila. It was not the most leisurely of walks… At one point we strayed from the main path to go have a look at one of the cabins owned by some billionaire, which required us to walk through snow that was nearly up to my waist. We all had a good laugh as we struggled to move forward on two feet, Anne choosing instead to slide across the snow on her front. The cabin owned by the billionare was less of a cabin and more of a giant mansion. Made me wonder what his permanent home looked like. Afterwards we returned to our much more humble cabin to have something to eat and not do much for the rest of the day, which suited me perfectly.

On Sunday the weather was clear, which was fantastic because now we could see the amazing view from the cabin.

Taking advantage of the beautiful sunny day that it was, Anne and I went for a cross country ski, which to be honest after the skiing disaster that was me at winter camp, I was feeling a little apprehensive about. However, once we got going I actually surprised myself with how much better I had gotten! I managed to go the whole ski trip without falling over once! It was truly remarkable. I went about 5 or 6 kilometres while Anne went ahead to 8 or 9. It was a very leisurely ski, stopping lots to take pictures and admire the beautiful scenery, speaking of which:

After the ski we went back to the cabin to relax a little, then Anne, Anders (my host Dad) and I packed our bags to go back to Kongsvinger for two days because they had work for two days and I wanted to sleep for two days (basically).

Cabin from the outside

Cabin from the inside

So Monday and Tuesday I spent at home, then on Tuesday evening we drove back to the cabin and then on Wednesday it was time to try slalom

I was very excited to go downhill skiing as you can see by the look on my face in the above picture, little did I know of the catastrophe that was about to occur. As I am a beginner in every sense of the word, the plan was just to go down the green slopes today, and maybe try the other ones later on in the week if I wanted.

This sounded good to me, so we arrived at the slopes and headed off down the first green slope. So everything was going just fine, I was perfectly happy to meander alongside all of the 3-year-olds who were also on the green slope and felt very confident in my basic skills that I had learned on winter camp.  Now what I didn’t realise was that at this point we were actually at the top of the mountain, and the slopes get harder as you go down, so if you want to stay on the green slopes, at a certain point you have to stop and go to the side to catch the ski lift back to the top.

When it came to the point to turn off, I was ahead of my host dad and sister, so I didn’t realise and just kept on heading down the slope. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that I was going much faster than I was before, and I found myself thinking “Where have all the kids gone? Why does everyone all of a sudden look very professional? How come I am losing control of my skis? Why does that sign have a big red dot on it?” It was at this point I realised I was in fact on the red slope.

For those of you not familiar with the grading of ski slopes, it goes green, blue, red, black. Green being nice and easy and black being death. I managed to come to a stop and my host dad and sister caught up to me, informing me that now we would have to go all the way down all the red slopes to get back to the ski lift. This was a terrifying prospect. Up until that point I had managed to get down the slope without falling, but I didn’t think that would last much longer. I was right.

Eventually, after much falling, tumbling into the forest, crashing into a very angry woman and giving up and just sliding down on my bum, I made it down the red slope. It goes without saying that for the rest of the day I stuck to the green slopes and made sure I knew where to turn off to get back to the ski lift. On the bright side though here’s a picture of the view from the top of the slopes!

On Thursday I went back to cross country with Anne and Ingvild and we went about 8km, once again it was a beautiful day – we had been very blessed with the weather all week, plus in the evening we got to enjoy this amazing sunset:

On Friday we took a break from skiing to visit Lillehammer to have a look around and do some shopping. I didn’t really buy anything but it was really nice to wander through the streets of a beautiful little city surrounded by mountains. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures.

On Saturday I went cross country skiing once again with Anne, this time 9km, and the highlight of the trip was definitely when I saw this dog:

Sunday was our last day at the cabin, so I thought I would really try and make the most of it and go 17km with Anne today. At first it was not so bad, there was plenty of downhill so the first half wasn’t too tiring, but the second half was pretty much all a gradual uphill slope, so that was pretty exhausting. But of course, it was still a beautiful day so at least we got to enjoy the amazing views one last time before heading back to Kongsvinger that afternoon.

Now I’m back at school with nothing really new to add, but tomorrow I will be travelling back to Hamar to hopefully finalise my residence permit and get all my personal numbers etc etc.

Hopefully wont be too long before my next post!

Lauren xxx

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