Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Sea Chanty of Sorts

Last night was my first trip to the Dragen band Cabin. That´s right folks, the band I play in has it´s own rustic, circa 1928, cabin. No running water, a wood stove, and last but not least an outhouse. But of course it is still right on the ocean and is surrounded by beautiful green space as far as the eye can see! Also I can use the cabin if I should so choose. So if anyone feels like visiting on the cheap you´ve got a place to stay!

We all had a party there last night after a long weekend of rehearsing. Free food too. Unfortunately, for me, it was all meat and bread. So I had the choice to eat some yummy chicken or bread slathered in mayo. I chose the former. Big surprise. And I´m not going to lie it tasted pretty good. I´m still planning to be a vegetarian when I have control over it though!

After the food there were many Norwegian songs sung, and some American
80´s hits played loudly such as "Heaven is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle. A personal favorite of mine. It was funny to watch the Norwegians try to sing the verses, fail miserably and then promptly chime into the chorus. Another fun activity of the night was when we were split into teams and given the task to write new lyrics to an Abba or Beatles tune of our choice, but the lyrics had to have something to do with band. Pretty geeky but it was fun to hear what people came up with. The only downside to the night was paying for the taxi to get out there and back. On the way out it was about 9 dollars and then the way back it was almost 20. And we were splitting the fare among 7-10 people! Crazy!!

I had my first class on Friday! The head of the Masters Program is our lecturer and he seems really really nice! Very open and warm and interested in us learning a lot. It seems important to him that we delve into a topic that fascinates us and will make an impact on our performing. He told us more about what the semester is going to look like, as well as resources to use to help us narrow down a topic of interest. I´m still feeling a bit lost as far as a topic goes but that´s ok at this point. I have a meeting with my advisor tomorrow morning so hopefully that will help point me in the right direction. I also met with my bassoon teacher for the first time since I arrived on Friday. He just got back from America. He was teaching at Aspen Music Festival which is a very prestigious summer music program. We met for a bit to talk about the plan for the semester;what he wants to start with and also to talk about what I want to work on for myself. We have our first lesson on Tuesday at 13:00! I´m nervous but really excited. He gave me a new reed to try, and a bunch of new music to get me going. YAY! I´m totally nerding out!

Things I Will/Want to Accomplish This Year:
Become really great at double tounging
Become a more confident sight reader
Take a professional audition
Play every day!!!!

Nerdy I know but it keeps me honest if I say it to the world.

It´s the start of a new month and I am ready to take on all that they can throw at me!! tally ho!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things are starting to get busy...

I have band rehearsal Friday night from 6:30-9:30. Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 5:30-8:30. WOW! I was surprised when I heard this. No wonder they are the Norwegian Champions! But on the up side we are all having a party on Saturday night to celebrate our hard weekend of rehearsing! So all in all it should be a good time and I am happy to be busy again. And people seemed to be pleased/impressed with my playing which is good to hear. Maybe I actually have a chance of hacking my way into this business after all...

On a low note I was sad to hear that Ted Kennedy passed away. He was a pretty good senator and the only Kennedy brother to die of old age.

Also I found episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" online. yay!

Pictures coming soon. I am in the process or ordering a computer but I might just cave in and go to a camera shop to have a cd made.

One more thing...
I made a new friend who looks exactly like John Turturro. Also he´s from Israel, uses Linux, plays 5 instruments and his last name is Elefant. Interesting fellow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Things to Occupy the Time

Reading: Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Listening: The Pleased, Joanna Newsom, Bon Iver, Tegan and Sara (emo time)
Writing: Post cards, letters I will probably never send
Eating: bread and cheese, cucumbers, baby carrots, bananas
Wish I was eating: guacomole, hummus, indian food, deep dish pizza (lots of grease preferable)
Making: reeds and sweet bassoon sounds

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Comforts of Home

I went out with some friends last night after the concert. They are really great people and I hope that we can get to know each other better. It's nice to know already that it won't be too lonely here. Corinne is the best and I love that she is here so we can talk about the weird idiosynchrosies of Norway, such as how they don't have good pizza and you never know which way the door opens. She is also a really great player and will be a good mentor to me while I am here. my intuition is saying yes!

Seeing her made me miss home a little. last night had some raw moments and I am feeling down today. The rain doesn't help either. Right now I wish I could curl up in a ball and watch a good movie in bed. Alas no TV or movies to be watched.

This will have to do for now...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recent Events:

I finally got my student ID card! YAY! Doesn´t sound like a big deal but it means real independence! I can access the buildings on campus on my own after hours, check out library books, and make copies. I am also eligible for highly sought after student discounts ;) WOO HOO!

All this week I have been singing alto in a choir. I haven´t been in a choir since 6th grade so I am out of practice to say the least. It´s actually sort of fun. We are singing songs about the first spring by Mendolssohn. The rehearsals are all in Norwegian though so I have to figure things out by body language for the most part. Although the director speaks so softly that the Norwegians can´t understand him either. Tonight is the concert. There will be other groups playing as well. The concert is going to be about 2 hours long so I better mentally prepare myself to sit and be patient. Afterwards I will be going out with some new friends. A trumpet player and another American bassoonist who came here two or threee years ago to study with Per and now is playing in the Bergen Philharmonic! She also studied with Mr. Miller so it´s sort of like I am follwing in her footsteps. We´ve heard so much about one another that it is about time that we finally meet!

It´s another beautiful day today! I better get out and enjoy it before it´s nearly 24 hour darkness and constant rain. Apparently a few years ago Bergen had rain for 87 days straight!! Almost the world record. I can´t imagine. But I guess I´ll have a pretty clear picture soon enough.

post cards will be coming soon to those of you who have given me your address...
if you want one you better speak up soon and move fast!!

Love to you all! I miss you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tales of Humility

Some funny things about living in Norway:

I live in a large complex that looks like a housing project you would see in a big city in the states. not the prettiest site. My apartment is very small. The main room is about 10x10 with a small hallway where the kitchen and bathroom lie. Lately for dinner I have been eating spaghetti. A classic choice for a college student and ever so cheap. Unfortunately though I only have one burner and no stove. So I have to hold the sauce pan above the boiling noodles so that the rising steam will heat the red sauce. A very minimalist cooking experience to be sure.

Also the bathroom is in a word, modest. There is a shower curtain and a shower head but no floor for the shower. Let me clear. There is one floor for the whole bathroom. no divider. Just the floor and a drain. So the water from the shower gets everywhere and my floor is completely drenched the rest of the day. Did I mention that this place is really cheap? it could be worse. There are several students, mostly from Norway who were accepted to the school late and are completely without anywhere to live and are relegated to sleeping on a mattress in the sport hall next door to the hostel. At least as a international student I am guarenteed an actual place to sleep. I can be grateful for that. 

One more silly story...

So because I am a new student I do not have a student ID yet. What that means for me is that I do not have access to the music building after business hours and on the weekends. But as a musician you tend to go to the music building quite often since your main responsibilities are to practice and rehearse. So yesterday, a very rainy Saunday afternoon, I went over the academy hoping against hope that someone would be there to let me in. The best chance of getting someone´s attention is to go to the back door which is through the courtyard. The gate was locked, of course, so I had no choice to climb over this gate. I felt like quite the trespasser. I´m surprised that the dobermans didn´t come running out to chase me away. Can anyone say "Release the hounds Smithers!". Sorry, bad joke. Anyway. I made it through the first gate and then was on to try to get someone´s attention by knocking on the window. Of course the whole cafeteria was deserted with it being a Sunday, and I all I could really do was wait. But then I noticed that the bathroom window was ajar. AHA! A chance to break in! I was excited and the wheels in my head began to turn. now I just had to figure a way to hoist myself up to the ledge which was about level with my head. I looked around the courtyard and the only thing I could see that could possibly work was a big black plastic jug for depositing cigerettes. Disgusting! I drag this thing over to the window climb on top of it and I am still a little to short to climb in. Why didn´t I get any of the tall genes? So here I am in the rain, on top of a dirty, smelly cigerette depository trying to break into the school I attend through a bathroom window. I felt like such a fool! I stepped off of it and of course 15 seconds later someone came  and let me in.

Quite the glamorous life here in Europe! 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The First Cut is the Deepest

First of all I want to say thank you to all of you for reading about my blog. I hope that it is of some interest. I can't say that I am the most fascinating of writers but I will do my best to convey what I am doing here in the most riveting way I can!

I have officially been in Norway for 6 days! It has been a stressful week but it has had many high points as well.

Stress factors inlcude:
1. missing all the people I love back home!

2. not knowing anyone the first few days, obviously. Everyone in the hostel it seems is either from Germany or France and brought all their friends with them for the semester. I am one of few Americans.

3. Everything is expensive! it is about 11 dollars for a decent beer and 6 for a bad one. The good thing at least is that Norway has very few alcoholics. Going out for dinner is also very expensive. About 1.5 times as much in the U.S. I plan to try to stay in to eat as much as possible but it is difficult to say no when nice people you are trying to become friends with invite you out.

Things that you don't think about before moving to another country:

1. you don't have sheets, blankets, pots, pans, cups, plates, salt and pepper. All of you back home don't take these precious gifts for granted.

2. Cell phones are a gift and a curse. They are of the great convenience when you have one. when you do not, it is impossible to find an available land line!!

But of course there have been a lot of good things too:

1. Everyone here is extremely friendly. The other students are very friendly and up for hanging out and getting to know people. It is apparent that students here value having a strong sense of community. This is very exciting for me especially coming from the University of Minnesota where there is virtually none. There is a student organization that welcomes all the new students called SIB. they have organized a bunch of different outings for all of us newbies. On Tuesday there was a scavenger hunt around the city and then free pizza! Emphasis on free. nothing is free here so you have to get while the gettin' is good! Last night they took us out for a pub crawl to show us all the best places to go out for a beer. But beer is so expensive I have a feeling I won't be doing that often. It was fun though and good way to get to know people. the norwegians here speak english beautifully and it has been very easy to communicate with them. Many of them ask why I came here though as if they cannot imagine why anyone would choose to live in Norway. Being from MN I can understand why you would wonder. I would often ask exchange students the same thing. But really this is a pretty great place to live. Free health care, free school, beautiful clean environment and friendly people. And luckily for me a wonderful orchestra right next door to my school!

2. It is absolutely gorgeous here!! I have never been in a city with more natural beauty surrounding it. The whole city is surrounded by mountains, covered with trees and is right on the sea! Who could ask for more?! The city itself is also very charming. The classic cobblestone streets, and buildings with colorful tiled roofs. Rain is a constant presence but it adds to the city's charm, at least for now :)

I start class on August 28th. unil then I will be keeping busy with a few different things. The school needs people to sing in a choir for a performance next week. And by need they are asking me so they must be desperate. Not sure if I am going to be asset or a detriment to the quality of that performance. We'll see how it goes. I also have been asked to play in a well renowned wind band. Apparently it is the best one in Norway!Rehearsal for that starts next Tuesday. And of course practicing and making reeds is a given. I am excited for things to really get going a little more next week. Now that the "getting to know you" part is winding down it will probably mean more playing and practicing.

That is all for now. I am sure there will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!

Love to you all!