After a two hour flight from Berlin we landed at the ultra-modern airport located near Oslo. We were greeted there by Hege who was the third foreign exchange student that we hosted. She lived with us during the 1994–95 school year.
Hege, all 6’1” of her, remains as a bubbly and full of life today as she did 25 years ago. We will be guests of her family for the next four nights. This is Christine standing next to Hege and Jan’s 15 year old son!
She, her husband Jan, and their three children plan on visiting us in Missouri later this Summer. Every member of the family speaks fluent English, however the children seem to make fun of their father’s English which they consider to be less than perfect. We disagree!
Hege and Jan are both teachers in a nearby elementary school. They both have a pleasant lighthearted demeanor that must endure them to their students. Hege has explained that she is assigned a class in the first grade and then follows that class as their teacher for the next seven years. She becomes very close to the class members as if a member of their own families. I asked Hege if she ever had students that she found “challenging“. “Of course,” she replied, “it just means that I have to try harder.” I have no doubt that she does, and successfully.
Norway has approximately the same population but twice the land area (5.2 million and 149,000 sq miles) as the state of Missouri (6 million and 69,700 sq miles).
Norwegians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, ranked sixth worldwide in per capita gross domestic product (USA is 11th), and 1st in the International Human Development Index (USA 10th) which seeks to quantify factors such as the delivery of healthcare, education, infrastructure, housing, nutrition, life expectancy, and personal freedoms. Our 30 minute drive from the airport to Hege’s home community visually confirmed these statistics.
We are approximately 400 miles from the Arctic Circle, the farthest north thus far on this journey. We are also nearing the summer solstice. Therefore, it was still “daylight” at 11 pm and it never did get totally dark. At 2 am the brightening skies forced me to get up and pull down the blinds.
Today is a “chill out“ day so we are doing laundry, catching up on a little reading, and I’m trying to figure out how to make my iPad “cooperate“ again. I am currently typing this on the annoyingly small screen of my iPhone. No pictures today, but I hope to remedy that tomorrow when we travel into Oslo to tour the sights that might include the Viking Museum and the Kon-Tiki Museum, dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 1947 voyage from Peru to Polynesia on a pre-Columbian raft.
We have 10 nights to go before we are home in our own bed.
Peace Everyone! Pete