Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ja, kan jeg hjelpe deg?

First and foremost, I have to encourage everyone to please at very least keep the Haitians and their families in your thoughts and prayers. And even if you can only give a few dollars, please head to the Red Cross webpage, for details on where to send monetary donations to this tragedy-stricken nation.


So, my Norwegian classes...it's like saying "How about those Mariners?", I feel like, lol.

Anyway, today was my second full day of class, and I think I've pretty much got the hang of the schedule now...I'll be in my Norwegian classes four days a week, always in the morning, and just staying for the Norsk portion, not any of the other classes that the refugee students are required to take in order to get their immigrant salary.(Stuff like mathematics and computer tutorials in Norwegian, to make their lives here a bit easier.)
My schedule is pretty much:
Monday-Tuesday, and Thursday: 8:30 - 12:00noon
Wednesday: 10:30 - 12:00.
My school is about a mile away, so I walk. Usually alone since Harald is not remotely conscious at 8:00 a.m. He claims he'll keep walking me to class on Wednesdays with the dogs, so we'll just have to see...
Today I got to walk to school with my little sister-in-law. Her school is a street down from mine (but she moves up to the junior high that is literally across the street, next academic year), and she left an odd fifteen minutes earlier than she usually does just to keep me company on the way, how sweet is that?
Anyway, since it's so dark at 8:00 in the morning still, we were both outfitted with reflectors by my MIL at the front door of the house, because she was terrified one of us would would be unseen while crossing the streets...I'm guessing she was only really worried about the girl wearing black pants, a black wool coat, black boots, and carrying a black tote...hey, my scarf was green at least!
After our protective gear was secured, we headed out and my SIL waved goodbye to me from her school so I could walk the extra few blocks myself...in the freezing cold. brr.

Yesterday was my first day in my class, and at the school in general. Well, from the time I walked into class, introduced myself formally behind the door of our classroom to my five classmates, word had circulated that a real live American girl was attending the school!
By the time my class was over, no joke, there was a veritable audience standing outside the door watching me pack up my things, waving, smiling, and giggling nervously while trying to spot my horns.
Ha.
But yes, currently I'm torn between being the school's celebrity student as the only American in the building (and as far as I know, the only American EVER to attend), and a lady who much be just another Norwegian teacher by the students who haven't heard the hot gossip yet.

Seriously though, novelty aside (which it will hopefully wear off a bit in the next week or so) my teachers are great people, and I feel like I'm already more confident when speaking and really learning Norsk after a new days! The best part about going to school (the worst being how early I have to get up. ugh) is hands down, my classmates.

Now, with no offense meant, and in plain terms, Norwegians tend to come off as extremely rude and even stuck up. All the time.
It seems to me, it's much like how people view my little sister, Alex. Like the Weegies, Alex is just naturally a very quiet person, she always has been, and until you really get to know her, she won't say much at all, aside from a few polite nods and smiles. Because of this, people often think she's stuck up, or bitchy, but this is really not the case!
Weegies, are also incredibly quiet and withdrawn naturally. They are usually very unconfident about their English speaking abilities, and rather than try and laugh off any mistakes, they instead rationalize totally ignoring non-Weegies while occasionally staring(re: all the family gatherings with Harald's clan up to this point).
So going to school with all these political refugees, I admit, I was nervous! I didn't feel like locking myself in the bathroom and crying because no one would acknowledge my existence (junior high, is that you?)...luckily, these people were day vs. night from the usual Weegie protocol!
My school is mostly Middle-Eastern people, with a few folks from greater Asia and Eastern Europe. In my own classroom, there is a girl from Thailand, two people from Pakistan, an Iraqi, and Afghani.
The first day in class, everyone smiled, was genuinely interested in my story, rushed to shake my hand, and engaged me in conversation right away.

I was so shocked and happy, I almost cried anyway!

Now admittedly, I have little to no exposure to the cultures and people of the nationalities I mentioned above, so I really didn't know what to expect.
They are all the nicest people I've met since I got here last month.
Today, during class break (early tea/coffee/biscuit time), a dear lady from my class noticed me looking lost in the kitchen with a teacup in my hand.
"You need hot water, Kirstin? Oh! Come with me!"
She grabbed onto my hand and guided me through the hallways into a room full of ladies in their hijabs, listening to Arabic music, eating their snacks and making tea.
"Salaam!" They said happily and all smiled when we walked in. They all rose and shook my hand, told me their beautiful names (which I'm scared I've forgotten most since I met literally a dozen at once, and chatted while making my tea for me. I sat with them for a while and tried to explain my iPod in Norwegian and English because they had only heard of them but never seen on in person. After I left the room with the ladies, I ended up in front of the huge world map, giving a light U.S. geography lesson with some chatty, darling Nepalese girls who had some cousins that were refugee citizens in the States.

So I'm super excited and optimistic about my Norskkurs now, because I feel like I'll really get a handle on the language, and my fellow schoolmates are really great people who have been through so much in their lives, just to come here to Norway where they can be more safe and secure than in their home countries. I'm truly privileged to know them all, and all the more thankful and gracious for my own origins...

Now, I have an approximate metric ton of homework to do between Norskkurs and my thesis deadlines that all culminate in a tornado of a due date on this coming Monday. owie.

WIR update:
I finished Leave it to Me by Bharati Mukherjee early this week. I really enjoyed the main character, but the ending kind of threw me for a loop...not necessarily in the good way. I wouldn't mind checking out more of Mukherjee's pieces in the future because her voice intrigues me, but this book frankly left me lukewarm.
Onward and upward though I suppose, when I start The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton(Check me out, popping links into WIR all of a sudden!)...as soon as I dig myself out from the homework pile...or instead of diving in at all, hmmm...