By Miranda Metheny
Word has gotten out that I’m headed to Norway, and in the middle of the winter at that. This has generated all sorts of interesting questions from family and friends, such as:
Are you crazy? Why don’t you go in the summer? Because the semester starts in January, and its not a frozen wasteland.
Isn’t it negative 100 degrees there? No.
Are you going to reenact “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”? Um, that’s in Sweden… plus… no?
Will you have to cross glaciers every day on your way to class? No, who would build a city or a university over a glacier?
Don’t Norwegians just wear t-shirts when it’s freezing outside? Actually, they dress quite sensibly.
Will you get to see polar bears? No, they’re not even found on the mainland.
This is a harder one, and it leads me to a never-ending stream of explanation…
- I am going to Norway to enjoy the nature and improve my Norwegian.
- I know Norwegian, because I taught myself in high school.
- I taught myself Norwegian in high school because I loved it the first time I heard it, because I was enchanted by the call of the fjords and the fells and the pine forests.
- I knew about Norway in the first place, because…
Wait a second.
What am I doing explaining myself? Why should I have to justify and rationalize my decision to study in Norway, as if it’s the strangest thing imaginable? The real question here isn’t why I want to go to Norway – it’s why wouldn’t I want to go to Norway!
Here’s my brief introduction of the country, for the uninitiated:
Norway may just be the best place to live in the world. It has the world’s highest standard of living, with a .943 score on the UN’s Human Development Index. This scale takes into account factors such as education, women’s rights, and health care.
Norwegian culture is highly approachable for Americans, with many people speaking English, and Norwegian being the easiest language for a native English speaker to learn… and yet the culture is also unique, quirky, and fascinating, with an emphasis on self-reliance, equality, and a love of the great outdoors.
And what’s not to love? Norway is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.
(Scientific evidence cited below contains a mixture of free-source images and pictures from my personal collection.)