My Month in Norway by Shawnna Casazza

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I spent from June 13 to July 13, 2001 in Stavanger, Norway on a one month temporary assignment.  I work for Phillips Petroleum Company in Bellaire, TX doing eBusiness and Web Site Design.  The Phillips Norway office was going to be shorthanded during the summer so I was sent over to fill in.  The following is a documentation of my time and notes of my experiences.  Hope you enjoy them!


I arrived on Wednesday, June 13 and was met by Petter Hermansen and Ova Aalen.  They gave me a nice greeting, helped me with my giant pile of luggage, and we were off to the office for lunch and training.  I worked with Petter (as much as I could through the jet lag) on Wednesday afternoon and again on Thursday morning, then he was off to Thailand on a month's vacation.  The Norwegians often take very long and far away vacations like this, most often to warmer places!
I stayed in a hotel the first five nights, which was in the middle of downtown Stavanger.  Then after that I moved into a beautiful flat. It is very near the city center, but far enough out to be more quiet!

I had lots of good weather during my trip, which is somewhat unusual for the area.  It can get very gray, foggy, and rainy here so everyone rejoices for the sunshine.  Sometimes the fog can be very patchy too, one day it was foggy all day around Stavanger but I had been farther east on a drive and had a clear, sunny day.  It stays daylight here most of the time.  It's only dark from about 1 am to 4 am - which meant I could sightsee far into the evening and still have plenty of daylight!
Here are some scenes of the town and the office.
General Info.  Here you can see some general things like the car they gave me, my hotel room, and some pictures of things that are different from home.  You can also read my ramblings about things that I've seen which are different here.  
Friday night I went to the beach at Sola.  It was a beautiful beach and I had a nice walk along the shore.  Saturday I went site seeing and hiking, Sunday a boat trip into the same area where I had hiked the day before.  On the boat I made a new friend - Terra Bulloch.  She was also alone in Stavanger on business and also from Houston, so we had a lot in common!  We had dinner together on Sunday and Monday nights.  It was very pleasant, as the most lonely time when traveling when is eating meals alone. Especially in such a boisterous environment as the harbor area in Stavanger! 

Tuesday Terra invited me on a nice tour of the area.  It was great!!

I have had several nice dinners thanks to the kindness of friends from the Norway office.  I enjoyed the meals, the conversation, meeting the families, and I learned a lot about Norway and the area as well. 
Friday night I had a bit of a bad experience at the grocery store.  I had to stock the flat with almost everything and that was quite an ordeal.  I couldn't read any of the packaging so had to lift, smell, mash, and shake every package trying to guess what was inside.  I got a big cart full of things and then found that you are expected to bring bags to the store with you to sack your purchases.  So I had to guess how many sacks I would need and buy them.  Then they couldn't process my credit card and made me run to an ATM while all these people waited behind me in line and this huge pile of groceries was stacked there, waiting to be sacked (you sack your own groceries everywhere here).  It was very stressful.   But I did run into Edith there which was a bright spot in the whole experience.
Saturday I went touring again, and shopping as well.  It was St. Hans day where everyone celebrates the longest day of the year with bonfires and a cookout.  I was kindly invited to bonfires at both Eirik Braatvick's house and at Colin Kennedy's.  I know that speaking English to me is a bit of a chore to many Norwegians so I didn't want to impose on Eirik's family and friends that much.  But since Colin is Irish it's OK to impose on him - just kidding!   The bonfire and cookout was nice and I met some interesting people from Minnesota.  They were visiting Colin's neighbors, as the wife is an American from California.  There were actually a lot of Americans there, military people from the nearby NATO base.  However, they seemed a little richer than me and not the kind of people I would approach in the States so I didn't approach them here either.
Sunday was a quiet day.  The weather was gray and it seemed like a good chance to rest so I did.  When I say I rested, that means I only visited three tourist things that day!  I hiked to a waterfall on Tuesday night, and around my neighborhood on Wednesday night. 
Thursday night I headed out for a long weekend in London to visit Scott & Dina Robinson.  They live in Guilford, Surry - near the Phillips office in Woking.  I had a great trip, seeing the sights and visiting with the Robinsons.  We had not seen each other since they left Bartlesville in January of 2000. We got terrific weather and had lots of laughs.
Tuesday night was a real treat.  Eirirk Braatvik took me on a kayak trip to Lutsi (a lake in Sandness).  Then I had a nice night out at the harbor with friends afterwards.
Wednesday I took a hike to Dalsnuten with my friend Arild Solsbak, who I know from my days of working in Drilling.  Thursday I got to leave work a bit early to go to the VIP area at the Phillips World Volleyball Open.  Friday night I went out to the harbor area with my friends (also from my drilling days) Shonna and Kevin Green. 
Saturday I met Trina Sørum for another day of being a VIP at the volleyball tournament.  Trine brought her two children and her sister, and graciously invited me to join them.  The two Norwegian teams played 3 times while I was there that day so it was very exciting. 

Sunday Arild joined me for another hike, this time a big one to Kjerag.  We got very lucky with the weather and had a nice trip.

Tuesday I was invited to another dinner, this time at the home of Grete Breivik.  They have a beautiful home by the sea on the islands north of Stavanger.

On Wednesday, I left work a little early to do one last tourist thing.  I visited Ustein Kloister, a very old monastery on an island to the northwest of Stavanger.  One of the neatest parts of that trip was taking the tunnel that goes under the sea.  Later that night my friends and I went out one last time and had a very nice evening.  Then suddenly my trip was over.  On Thursday night I packed my things.  Early Friday morning I left Norway and headed for home.

So that's it - my month in Norway. I saw many things, had so much fun, and made good friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.  
It was a wonderful experience.