Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ibsen, Dogs and Food

A little over a week ago I took a trip to the Ibsen Museum in Oslo. (Yes...I've not blogged in a while...whoops!)  

The day started out really nice...and kind of weird. I had the train to myself...all to myself.  It was a little weird, but then people joined.  Let's take a minute to appreciate how clean, spacious, and lovely the public transportation is.  There is no trash or dirt on these floors.  The train has a coffee machine and a bathroom.  I love you Norway!  ...And on to the Ibsen Museum.

The Ibsen Museum was wonderful and my theatre heart was a-flutter! Short overview for those not geeking out on theatre 24-7.  Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906) is a renown Norwegian playwright who primarily wrote in the late nineteenth century.  His plays encompassed a wide range of topics, but it is primarily his middle period of writing that we regard so highly.  He, along with a few other European writers and a director, helped shape realism, which is the primarily dramatic style seen today.  Basically all Western acting, theatrical structure, directing, design, was influenced by him.  Also, his most famous play, A Doll's House, ushered in a way of looking at female characters that changed them from victims to protagonists.  (That last statement might be a little strong, but you get the idea.)

I teach A Doll's House every year and I'm not sure I would know how to teach text analysis without that play.  I also love his play Hedda Gabler, and An Enemy of the People.  If you don't know Ibsen, google him, read one of his plays...or at least get the movie adaptation!

The museum was the apartment he had the last 11 years of this life.  He was living well!
Why yes that IS a view of the palace from his window.  

Most of the rooms were protected by glass so I couldn't go in them, but he did have several fancy stoves in each room.  This was a luxury at the time, but the craftsmanship on them were gorgeous!
Impressive huh? 

The apartment was nice, but my favorite part was that I was the only one on the tour!  Apparently there are not thousands of Norwegians flocking to this museum on a random Saturday.  I don't understand!  The tour guide was a literature scholar and she and I had a great time chatting about his plays and talking about his impact on the world.  Honestly, I don't remember much about the house, but the conversation was wonderful! 

They did have a great exhibit after the tour about Ibsen and his impact AND they had a mini-exhibit about how he influenced the Beatles!  Yes, John Lennon loved Ibsen and was going to name The White Album A Doll's House after the Ibsen play, but another band got to the name first so they just left it the White Album.  Also, some speculate that John's signature round glasses are a nod to Ibsen's round glasses.  I think I can accurately conclude that if you like the Beatles you are a Henrik Ibsen fan.  

Most of the pictures I took didn't turn out well because of the glass, but the bathroom was precious and this is an Ibsen tile. These were throughout the bathroom and I love them!  They are a little judgey when you're in the bathroom, but I want an Ibsen bathroom tile!

After the museum I met up with Kenzo and Nick for some delicious desserts and prosecco. Kenzo just came with us inside.  I love how dog friendly it is here!   

It was a wonderful day in Oslo!  Here's to many more!!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My Norwegian Home

I've had several people ask me about my apartment and job at ACN so this post is dedicated to that.  Above is the street that I live on and my walk to work.  Down the street in the yellow building on the left that is the American College of Norway.  

Here's the building up close.  The building has two parts.  This part is from the 1700s or so it says on the door.  American College of Norway (ACN) is actually on the other side of the building and added on in the 1960s, but that part isn't as photogenic.  ACN is a small school that helps Norwegian students get a year of American college credit and also assists them with applying to college in the states.  Here they can take courses for one year only and then transfer them to another school.  ACN has a few partner schools and UND is one of them.  It is also provides a study abroad opportunity for American students  ACN is such a unique gem and if I was a Norwegian student that wanted to go to school in America it would be an obvious choice.  Navigating choosing a college when you are born in the country is overwhelming.  I can't imagine trying to do it as an international student.   

The student body is between 40 - 70 students with a wide range of interests and intended majors.  The courses I teach are typical fine arts credits for any student to easily transfer.  I am teaching Introduction to Theatre, which is a new class for me to teach, but good to have in my arsenal, Acting 1, and a course called Integrated Cultural Experience: Theatre.  This course is billed as a humanities course for a fine arts credit.  So we are reading plays, working on creative projects, etc.  This course also has an optional 1 credit course with it that is a theatre trip to London.  We will be taking that trip in April.  

I cannot say enough positive things about ACN.  The staff is incredibly student centered and continues to find creative ways to help students succeed.  Last semester one student studied quite frequently in a staff members office to get help on homework and learn proper study skills.  They also have activities for the students to help create community.  This semester they are having prom, tomorrow is a super bowl watching party, and we can't forget Waffle Wednesday! 
I loved them so much I ate 3...and then was sick for the rest of the day.  It is such a lovely community of committed people and they not only are wonderful to the students, they are very helpful to us newcomers.  When I got to my apartment they had my fridge stocked with food and clean sheets on the bed.  Any questions I have about getting around the city or country are alway welcome and I they always have time for questions school related or not.  I have only been here a month and I already feel a part of the family.  May will come all too soon and there will be some tough goodbyes.  

Now attention must be paid to the most important individuals at ACN.
This is Fifi and Louie.  They are Krista's, the director of ACN, dogs.  They are precious and I love them and tell them that everyday.  When you walk in the door in the morning they greet you, sometimes they will just wander in your office to say hello.  Sometimes I smother them with kisses.  There is also Kenzo, Nick's dog who makes appearances as well.  He's been on the blog before, but also a cutie! 

ACN provides the out of town teachers with housing.  It is lovely.  Here's some pics!
This is what you see as you walk into the apartment.  As you can see it's an open floor plan with the kitchen on the left and living room on the right.  I'm on the second floor and my apartment is two stories.  
I know you were worried, but yes there is a bathroom.  It was hard to get a picture with the correct angle to show everything, but on the left is a shower and you can clearly see the washing machine.  Dryers are not that common so everything hangs to dry. I'm a big fan of the drying rack, but air drying your undies is a new experience.  

This is the guest bedroom. Out of site is the opposite wall, which is closet space.  

Then there is the nook that heads to the upstairs.
And then the upstairs loft area.
And finally my bedroom.
The bedrooms are fairly simple, with a bed, a rug, and closet space.  It is the architectural details that I love.  Those exposed beams!  The brick fire place!  The skylight!  Eat your heart out Joanna Gaines!  

I'm such a fan of Scandinavian design.  It is simple and smart.  The skylight opens to let in fresh air, but they also have shades so when the days are very long in the summer you have some darkness.  Also, no top sheet here in Norway.  There is a bottom fitted sheet, but no top sheet.  

That is my home while I'm here. It feels very spacious for just me, but I'm not complaining at all!