Hallo from Block A

Ok, so maybe 3 days has rolled over into 4. My bad. So we last left off with hearing about the apt I would be sharing with Norah, my classmate, for the next 13ish weeks. Ida had described it as cozy. And cozy it is. While our bedrooms allow us to easily house an elephant, we must literally do the tango to both use the kitchen at the same time. Luckily, we have managed to time our use of the kitchen so that we aren’t constantly playing bumper elbows.


After finally getting some shut eye after 20+ hours of traveling, I awoke Thursday thinking, “Man, jet lag. What jet lag?” Feeling pretty good, Norah and I embarked on a journey to Ikea to stock our little place as you see above with pots, pans and bed linens. It was Norah’s first trip EVER to Ikea, so, of course, I made her take a picture in front of it, which you can find on her blog (norahinnorway.wordpress.com). For those that have not experienced Ikea, it is home furnishing store on steroids, and not any of those wimpy ones either. Think more of that guy with no neck and shoulders that don’t fit through doorways. Now that’s Ikea. So it was no surprise that we were starving and needed a break once we finally made through the labyrinth of showrooms and home goods. I guess that’s why Ikea has it’s own restaurant, they know just how exhausting their store is. After Norah and I grabbed a quick bite (the meatballs are pretty good, by the way) we lugged our mother load back onto the free Ikea bus (yes, they really do have a free bus that only goes to and from Ikea) and onto the Bybanen (pronounced be-bahn), their city rail system and then finally up the 6 flights of stairs to our apartment. Only joking, it was 5. Joking again, we took the lift.

We ended Thursday by having dinner at our friend, Kaja’s, apartment. She was another student that had studied at Duke. She made this nomtastic traditional Norwegian meat dish, Norah and I could not even tell you how to pronounce it- I’ll have to ask Kaja to write it down for me. Kaja was so sweet and prepared a box of traditional Norwegian snacks, from brown cheese (yum) to kaviar in a toothpaste-like tube.

Nomtastic Norwegian treats
Brown cheese!

Friday found us taking the Bybanen to Bergen University College, the university we would be doing our internship through. After getting our ID cards, we toured the physical therapy department and were shown their classroom that was equipped with Redcord, (I’ll have to take pictures later) something they seemed to utilize quite a lot in their treatments. After some research, I discovered that it was developed by a Norwegian ex-gymnast, probably why it is very popular here and not in the US. Back to the school itself, it was apparently finished just 1 1/2 years ago and built around an old rail yard, so rustic brick buildings are enveloped by more modern glass-walled ones.

Norah’s going to kill me.
The backdrop at the university’s bybanen station

On the way back from the university we stopped to do some grocery shopping. It was an experience. While fruits and veggies I can easily make out, names for some meats and sauces were a little harder to be certain of their contents. Nonetheless, we got the essentials and headed home. While Norah decided to get her Crossfit on, I opted for a relaxing afternoon in bed since I had awoken at about 3:30 AM that morning and struggled to get back to sleep. I guess there’s the jet lag. Once Norah got back, however, we did a little exploring around our complex and discovered that there is a club, Klubb Fantoft, that rages on the nightly, we think. Friday night they had “drunken karoake” which we opted out of to catch some z’s.

Day view of Klubb Fantoft

I have realized at this point you are probably wondering why the post is titled ‘Hallo from Block A,” fear not! I have a simple explanation, it looks like a prison.

Our cozy home for 3 months, Fantoft prison Hostel.

Since we had been anything but adventurous Friday, we decided to explore more on Saturday. However, Saturday was when Bergen showed it’s true, rainy colors. Norah and I had been fortunate that Thursday and Friday had been clear, even sunny at times, with pretty snow covered hillsides. We were now seeing the brown undertones of the weathered lanscape. Regardless, we made our way onto the bybanen to hit the city center. We walked around to different stores and through different malls, Norah actually came away with a cute coat. Fun fact: any clothing purchases you make abroad you can get whatever money you paid in taxes back when you leave the country. We quickly realized Bergen is actually very small and most tourist attractions are outdoorsy, like seeing the fjords or hiking the 7 “mountains,” more like hills, that surround the city. So after only a few hours out and about we headed home. We ended Saturday spending yet another evening at Kaja’s for a pre-party (a really popular thing here in Norway since drink prices are very expensive when at the bar or restaurant.), however, this time getting lost since we did not have our other friend, Ida, to guide us. We made it, though! And without asking for help, a good accomplishment for us. At Kaja’s, we finally got to see the last of the Norwegian trio that studied at Duke, Lotte (she will actually be my partner in clinic)! Luckily, when we left to go home, Kaja was also leaving on her way to a concert, so we didn’t get lost again.

That brings us to today! Woooo. Thanks for hanging in there. Today, Sunday, Norah had researched a train you can take to the top of one of the “mountains”, Floyen, so we did it. From the top, you get an incredible view of Bergen, and I imagine on a clear day, the fjords in the distance.



We decided it would be nice to walk down and take in more of the views, not to mention get some steps in. We were passed by too many people running up the switchbacks. No, thank you. Once we got the bottom, we were hungry, of course. Oh! One thing we learned today, well Norah learned, was that large grocery stores and shopping malls are closed on Sunday. Good to know, say if you need that purple, bedazzled unicycle, you’ll have to wait until Monday. Anyways, we walked around DCIM100GOPROsearching for a place to eat and finally settled on this place called, Inside. Inside’s specialty was hamburgers, what do you know. I decided on indulging on their house burger which had a mango dressing. It wasn’t bad actually, besides the fact the hamburger was miniature. Not bitter or anything. I decided to pair it with a glass of London’s Pale Ale (not too bad) which brought the tab to just about $23. Yikes, I guess eating out isn’t going to be a common occurrence here.


Itty bitty burger (I’ll work on my photography skills)

So concludes the first few days in Bergen, Norah and I have mastered the public transportation, for the most part, and discovered some good pearls about the nuances of our home for the next few months. Stay posted as we treat some patients and do a little more adventuring.




2 thoughts on “Hallo from Block A

  1. Hey Sam, this is awesome. A couple of my class mates did a presentation on Redcord, it sounded really effective for patient treatment. Can’t wait to hear more.


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