By Miranda Metheny
One of the reasons I was eager to study in Bergen was because of it’s proximity to the mythical Norwegian nature. I knew I would be close to majestic fjords, sparkling sea inlets, towering mountains and roaring waterfalls… but somehow, I wasn’t able to process exactly how close.
Sure, I’d read that Bergen was gateway to the fjords, but I’d interpreted that to be the same way St. Louis is called the gateway to the West. I knew the city claimed to be built over seven mountains, but then, so does just about every other city from Rome to Prague to St. Paul, Minnesota.
Not wanting to let my expectations outpace a reality that almost had to be more modest than the reports I was getting, I forced myself to stay calm and relaxed throughout the preparation process. I was surprisingly “chill” as I filled out paperwork, bought the plane ticket and even as the final flight from Stockholm soared over a cloud-obscured Sweden and Eastern Norway.
In fact, I managed to keep myself from flipping out, right up until the moment they told us to prepare for landing.
I returned my seat-back and tray-table to an upright and locked position, and glanced out the window… and for one of the first times in my life, I literally felt my jaw drop.
A model-train fantasy landscape was spread out before me, sun glittering on snow covered mountains, bright blue inlets, waves so big I could see their white breaking foam from the air, enormous cruise ships weaving around green islands and rocky skerries.
I couldn’t get enough of it, just twisted back and forth from window to window and not believing that we were landing there, that I was going to be living in this place for six whole months!
When we finally did land, there was a brief interlude in my excitement and joy as I had to negotiate the new city, giant suitcase in tow, collecting papers and keys and directions. I was sweaty in the winter air and suitably exhausted when I finally reached my new dorm room, but when I collapsed into a chair and threw open the drapes, the wonder came back full-force.
As I watched, the last of the day’s brief sunlight glimmered golden on buildings and rocks and pines, lit up the mountain-top snow and faded into the winter twilight. To my right, white houses crept up the violet outline of Mt. Fløyen. To my left, the stunningly modern skyline of Bergen stood reflected in the harbours both in front and behind… and beyond that, just within sight, more mountains again, which started sparkling through the darkness like Christmas trees, a tiny Norwegian family room or kitchen inside every one of its lights.
I’d thought myself prepared for the move, but there’s no preparing yourself to live in the most beautiful place in the world. You just have to deal with it.