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My Norwegian Adventure Begins

Have I mentioned that I have a little international Abenteuer planned?  Yep, I’ll be heading to Norway for a two-month research stay this spring!  Even though the major point of my time there will be work (must hand in dissertation by, cough cough, next year), I am over-the-moon-excited!

I’ll be based in Oslo with a side trip to Trondheim, but have my sights set on some serious weekend traveling through the country.  To quench my excitement, I’m already lining my feed reader with Norway-based blogs so I can start gathering ideas.  I also plan on getting in touch with the Norwegian side of the family that I’ve never met — my great-grandfather emigrated to the US of A, but most of the rest of the family remained in (or returned to) Norway.

Even though my stay is still several months away, I’ve already begun my great Norwegian adventure by starting to learn the language…

inspire language learning

My path to learning German was inspired by love and the desire to be able to speak the native language of my sweetheart.  But of course, the process of building my life here in Germany (over the last four years) has benefited immensely, both personally and professionally, from my ever increasing fluency.  It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s been worth all the blood, sweat and tears, a million times over.  Sometimes I can hardly believe that such an ungifted language learner like me has ever managed to become so comfortable in a foreign language.

And now I’m ready to face the challenge of learning Norwegian (Bokmål)!  My goals are a little different than for German, of course.  For now, I’m just aiming to be able to communicate the everyday basics and have a general idea of what’s going on around me during my research stay.  Although my working language will be English, a little effort towards learning greetings and some formal niceties will probably go a long way.

I’m curious about how this language learning process will be, especially now that I’ve already got one language under my belt.  I can already sense that my confidence is much higher and my expectations more realistic.  Plus, I’m already a pro at making lots of mistakes and embarrassing myself, so might as well keep that ball rolling. :)

Another interesting quirk this time around is that I’m learning Norwegian in German, if that even makes sense.  At the beginner levels, there’s still a lot of explanation going on, and since I’m enrolled at a German university, the explanation, of course, is in German.  I thought this might blow my mind, but the first lesson yesterday was actually totally fine.  And somehow, since there are so many similarities between the two languages anyway, it kind of does make sense.

In any case, I’m excited to finally get this adventure started!

Do you have experience learning other languages, Norwegian or otherwise?  Or tips on what I should do and see during my time in Norway?  Please share!

13 comments

  1. Vanessa says:

    How exciting!

    My boyfriend is from Spain. I’ve taken three Spanish classes here in Hamburg and also find that learning another foreign language in German is not a big issue. I got my Masters in Sprachlehrforschung and one of the many things that stuck with me is that our native language and foreign languages are, metaphorically speaking, stored in different file cabinets in our brains. I haven’t read any studies of language learning in such contexts, but it seems to me that operating in a fully-foreign-language-state of mind might be beneficial to the process.

    Additionally, current approaches in Sprachlehrforschung strongly adhere to the fact that previous language learning experiences can and should be activated to benefit the learning of other foreign languages. That means, of course, that having German under your belt already will serve you well when learning Norwegian.

    Looking forward to reading posts about your experience in Norway.

    • Hi Vanessa, thanks for sharing your expertise! That does kind of make sense that if German and Norwegian are stored in the same part of my brain, maybe the learning process might be enhanced, rather than wasting energy and time searching around to make connections with my native language. So fascinating how that all works, isn’t it? Must have made for an interesting Masters degree! In any case, I’m looking forward to the process. :) And best of luck to you too in learning Spanish!

  2. Emily says:

    Wow!! How exciting! Both Oslo and Trondheim have been on my list of places to see for awhile so I’m looking forward to your thoughts and of course your pictures! A friend of a friend’s mom was from Trondheim and named him Trond and so when we were first introduced he said he was Trond from Trondheim but I heard Trond Time. Anyway, I giggle anytime I hear Trondheim.

  3. Jul says:

    Congrats on the Norway gig! I’d love to spend a couple months there. We took a wonderful trip up and down the country (including a stop in Trondheim) a few years ago. The Lofoten Islands were the part that sticks out in my mind the most. You can search our blog for “Norway” for specifics – I think I blogged the crap out of that trip.

    I’m in a similar situation language-wise: I’ll be spending February in Tokyo, so I’ve just started learning some beginning Japanese. I can’t find a local course which fits my schedule (ridiculous as it is – I will be living in 3 different countries before I hit Japan), so I’m teaching myself for now, with the hopes of finding a private tutor to practice speaking with after I have managed my way through all of these characters. I’ve found several extremely helpful ipad apps which have made things fun so far. I wish stuff like this had existed back when I was learning German and Italian…

    • Cool, I’ll definitely check out your posts about your trip there! Most of my extracurricular traveling will have to be on the weekends, so I’m hoping to lay out some travel plans in advance and travel to some places I’ve never heard of — like the Lofoten Islands, maybe! :)

      Wow, Tokyo will be amazing! It’s going to be hard keep track of you inbetween that and your move to Scotland, but sounds like such an adventure. I think it’s great that you’re learning Japanese before your trip, and kudos to you for having enough motivation to start with some self-learning. I’m sure it’ll be really helpful for your time there. I can’t wait to read about all your adventures!

  4. Gordy Huffer says:

    Mandi, have you been able to contact any of the Hagemoen family in Oslo? I’m sure they would help you arrange a trip to the family farm in Gosdal Valley. We tried to find a program to learn Norsk before we went, but seems that it is not a popular language so not very available on line or in the stores. Most of the folks born in the 60-70s are quite fluent in englsh so you should not find many that only speak Norweigien. They will be impressed that you are able to speak to them in their local language. Will be watching for your blogs.

    • Hi Gordy, I’ve haven’t tried to contact anyone yet, but it’s at the top of my to-do list! Thanks for all your help with the contact info. I definitely wouldn’t pass up the chance to visit the family farm.

      I got a bit lucky in finding a Norwegian course here at the university, but the only qualified instructor will be leaving the uni once the course is over. Glad I have the chance to learn while he’s still here! I assume I’ll be able to get around in English when I need to, but thought learning a bit of the language might be a nice opportunity to get to know the culture better and identify with my heritage a little bit. :)

  5. Heather says:

    That’s so exciting to hear that you’ll be going to Norway! That’s definitely on my list of places to visit, and I can’t wait to see how it looks through your camera! And learning Norwegian in German? Damn… that’s impressive.

  6. Jay says:

    I’m so happy that you’ll get to experience Norway. It is so, so gorgeous!

    If you like to hike, definitely do Preikestolen near my adopted home, Stavanger. If you don’t like to hike, you can always do the fjord cruise. The hike was absolutely amazing!

    Let me know if you make it to Stavanger – we could certainly meet for a coffee!

    • Thanks for the tip about Preikestolen — I love hiking and will put it at the top of our to-do list! I really can’t wait to get to know Norway better, and want to make the most of my two months there. If we make it to Stavanger, I’ll definitely drop you a line. :)

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