As I am writing this, I am sitting at the home of composer Edvard Grieg, in the same place where he often sat to find inspiration for his music. As I look out on this specific inlet of the North Sea, I understand why he chose this spot. The calm waters and forested islands, accompanied by the intermittent chirps from an arrangement of birds immediately put my thoughts into a reflective mindset. I have been in Norway for the better part of two months, and it feels like it has been simultaneously only a week and an entire semester. Each day, packed with so many opportunities, passes by in the blink of an eye (and only ~6 hours of sunlight), while these busy days coalesce into weeks that feel like months. I seldom have time to sit and reflect just in my thoughts, so moments like this make me truly appreciate the experience and opportunity I have been given.

Where I am writing this post The view from where I wrote this post

In the past month, I have met many new people from all over the world. Each brings their own perspective, language, and culture with them, and is more often than not, brings a unique cultural view that I have never experienced before. The group that perhaps has had the most profound impact so far has been my flatmates. Hailing from eight different countries, the “First Price Besties” (named after the brand in the store we all like to buy) are my daily companions. From taco nights to hikes to karaoke, this group of people has been the source of great joy and served as my second family during my time in Norway. I thought I was going to miss living alone, but it is the exact opposite. It is wonderful knowing there is always someone to talk to, study with, or go on a walk with, and it has brought a great sense of belonging and familiarity through all of the new adventures each day. So many of my favorite memories so far have been with this amazing group of people.

Bugonyes Skiing
Alex and I after a sauna session in Bugøynes, Norway At the top of the mountain at Voss Ski Resort
Kirkenes Boat Ride
In the Kirkenes harbor, facing the Arctic Ocean On the boat from Bergen to Askøy

Another highlight was my brother being able to come visit during the week of my birthday, where he was able to experience what he calls “The Bergen Difference.” While he was here, we explored the city both on foot and by boat, hiked on mount Ulriken, went skiing, and visited several local restaurants. While he was here, we spoke about the beauty of nature, and the experiences that make life worth cherishing. We talked about how it’s the small moments that are most meaningful: peacefully enjoying a sunny day, getting outside to explore, spending time with loved ones, getting lost in a book, relaxing in the sauna. These few months have awakened me to this realization: life is just as much about the work you do as it is about taking a step back to appreciate the amazing chances we have each been given every day just by being who we are. This semester, while initially just being a chance to experience a part of my heritage, has become an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the many great experiences that life has given to me. I know when I leave Norway, I will return to the US with a renewed mindset and invigorated spirit, ready to face all of the challenges and opportunities that I encounter. Studying abroad has been a game-changer for me, keying me into the minutia of life, making me appreciative of the small things that make life more than just something you live, turning it into something you truly get to experience.