Wednesday, May 26, 2010

End of school

Now, as the school is over, and I think back at the semester at Stritch, I feel like it has given me a lot:

1. The chance to meet a lot of interresting people, some that I will stay in contact with for years from now (hopefully)
2. The chance to see the American culture and way of life from the inside(not just the simplified stereotypical American culture people hear about from media and through being a tourist there)
3. The chance to learn a lot through working as an intern at the Stritch International Office, through classroom presentations and activities
4. The chance to develop my English and Spanish language skills
5. The chance to have a lot of fun, through traveling, activities at school and with friends off campus.

It has been great. I've missed home while I've been here, but I am sure that I will miss Stritch as soon as I am back home as well. I would recommend studying there for a semester for whoever might be interested, and I would like to thank people who have had a look at my blog once in a while. I'll keep on writing at, and will with that just wish everyone a good summer!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Getting a new passport in Washington DC

If you, as Norwegian, would have lost your passport while you were in the US you would have to go to one of the Norwegian consulates in the US to get an emergency passport, or you would have to go to Washington DC to get a real passport. As I still have lots of travelling ahead of me, I went for the last option. What I did was to fly to Washington DC, take the  red metro line from Metro Center to Cleveland Park, and walked a couple of blocks south and about four blocks east to get to the Embassy, which is located right by most of the embassies in DC. You know when you have come to the right embassy when you see a statue of Queen Sonja and the Norwegian flag hanging outside a while building. There are no guards outside the building, and when you come in, you are greeted with a friendly "god dag!". They were very helpful with the applications that had to be filled in and offered me water and telephone call to Norway. All I had to bring in to get a new passport was just a form of ID, and a declaration that I did not apply for an other citizenship. The application was sent the same day, and I recieved the passport in my mail about nine days after.

Being a tourist in Washington DC

Almost everyone walking around by the mall in Washington DC (the area between the monument and Capitol Building) for the first time will have a feeling of being there before. There are so many places famous places that have been shown in numerous movies and TV-shows, making them easily recognizable for any tourist walking around in the city. When walking there nine years after my family made a house exchange for one month in 2001, all the things that I did, said and thought while I was there, came to my mind again. Staying at Hi-Hostel Washington DC in the city center, I had great opportunity of seeing the White House, the Capitol Building, the Reflection Pool and Chinatown, as well as several of the free museums of the Smithsonian Institute. Two days was enough for me to see most of the city, and get a new passport at the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

Washington DC

On my flight to Washington DC I looked up the city in my book "Turen går til USA", and was really fascinated about some of the information the book gave me: Washington DC has been the capitol of the United States since 1790 as the politicians decided to "cut out" 100 square miles by Potomac River, which is the border between north and south. The capitol city was named after the first president of the US George Washington, and was supposed to become a modern city, with architecture drawn by the French architect Pierre L'Enfant. Today, the city stay the same as it was in the 18th century, with famous buildings as the monument, capitol building and the White House.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The University Theater

Cardinal Stritch University has a department for Art, Photography and Drama. The drama students have several plays through the year. Usually there is a free show for the students at Stritch, and the second and third show would usually cost less than 10 dollars, depending on the play.
Today I watched a play by Shakespeare called "comedy of errors", performed by the drama students here at school, which involved singing, stepping and great dramatization of the play.


About an hour South-West of Milwaukee, there is a place where you can go skydiving cheaply. If you book early, you don't have to pay to more than a hundred dollars for a skydive in April.
I was pretty nervous at the beginning, but this was something I had wanted to do ever since I was little, so I was determined to go through with my decision. The most scary part was standing on the ground, seeing the small, plane that we were going up with, filled with holes and duct tape. It was almost not enough room for the four of us (the pilot, the instructor and the cameramen). The most complicated and scary part was crawling out on the outside of the plane at 1200 feet, without being allowed to hold on to the plane. When we were all outside of the plane, we jumped and made a roll/flip in the air, before we had around 40 seconds of free falling, which was just AMAZING. When the instructor pulled the string of the parachute, I was both relieved and exited, and wanted to go up again as soon as I landed. It was really a great experience that everyone should have once in a lifetime.I myself went from deadly nervous to overwhelmingly exited and revealed in one day.
A video of my dive can be found at Sky-Knights own webpages:

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Today, I watched the Milwaukee Brewers play the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. The stadium was built in 2001,  and has a roof that can be opened and closed depending on the weather.
There were more than 40 000 spectators watching the game. It was an interesting cultural experience, not because of the baseball game, but because of the spectator culture. People were sitting on the parking lot outside, drinking beer, and kept on drinking and throwing peanuts inside. It seemed like no one paid attention to the game, but they were only there because of the loud music and because it was allowed to drink there.
This was the second of three games that they are going to play against the Cardinals this weekend. Tomorrow the games will continue, and it looks bad for the Brewers.

Water in the US

The water here in Milwaukee is far better than it was in NY, DC, Atlanta and all of the cities I've been to in the States so far. I would say it is almost the same as the water in Norway. Probably because Milwaukee has similar cold and rainy climate as Norway, but Norway has still by far more rain than any place I have been so far.
On almost all public places in America, there are water fountains that anyone can use. Milwaukee is almost as south as Italy on the map, so they have warm summers, where these probably will be needed.

The World's Busiest Airport

When travelling to Florida, we had to transfer at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the busiest airport in the world. Here we had to spend the night because of the delay we had when flying from Milwaukee. Finding our way around was not easy. At the airport there were trains going in different directions, and a lot of shuttle buses going to different hotels. When landing in Atlanta we had a lot of time and managed to find the right shuttle bus that was going to our hotel, but it was a lot harder finding our way around the airport the next morning when we were in a hurry, which resulted in us missing our flight to Florida. This gave us another four hours of time, before the nest departure to spend at the airport. My suggestion for people who are have to transfer when flying in the US is to avoid these big airports, as they are always going to be busy, and the distance between the gates might be too big to go between, if the transfer time is short. Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta handles around 80 million travelers each day, while General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee handled less than 8 million travelers during the whole year of 2008. 

Panama City, Florida

During spring break, a lot of Americans go to sunny places such as Cancun in Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, but the most popular destination for students in America is still Panama City in Florida. This is where it all started in 1938 as a  swimming competition for college coaches. The students joined as spectators and were offered free beer during the competition. This attracted even more students through the years, and today it is an annual event for more than 500 000 students.
Panama City is a city close to one of the biggest beaches in the US, and has a relatively good temperature during spring break. The big amount of tourists during spring break, makes the locals try to show their best offers during this period of time, and it is also possible to rent scooters/motorbikes, play golf/minigolf or visit America's biggest club: Club La Vela with a capacity of more than 6000 people. Even though there was a lot of things happening there, while we were there, I do not believe that the city is very lively through the rest of the year. It was a very interesting cultural experience for me, but I am sure that I will never go back there on vacation later.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Spring Break

The last week, a lot of things have gone pretty wrong for me here in the states. Me, an Australian, a Frienchman and a Brazilian had booked our tickets to Panama City, Florida for Thursday afternoon. Everything was going to be perfect: we were going to travel in suits, looking fresh and fit for a week in the most popular travel destination for students in the states for spring break. I can say one thing for sure: things did not turn out exactly the way we had planned. Our first flight from Milwaukee had an eight hour delay. We ended up being in Atlanta, Georgia around two o'clock in the night, so we had to spend the first night in a hotel there, and then catch the next flight  scheduled to six o'clock the next morning. After a three hour of sleep, we rushed to the airport again, just a couple of minutes late to see our plane go up in the air, standing there, helpless. We begged the company for new tickets, and were luckily put on the next flight some hours later that day. When we came to Panama City, we took a taxi to our hotel, and were told that we could not use our reservation, since we were not 25, so we took a taxi to the next hotel we were put in, which was a really bad hotel, so we put in an extra couple of hundred to get a better hotel, which also was closer. We were hungry, tired and worn out when we arrived, and just after two days I managed to loose my passport and my wallet,  and could not join my friends out the next days, but I still managed to have a good time on the beach, mini golf resort and at the hotel the rest of the week.
In order to stay at Strtich during spring break, you have to fill out a form saying which days you want to stay. None of us filled out this form, so when we came back, they would not let us in before they had called resident life, and made sure that we could stay in our rooms over the break. So now I am just going to rest for a couple of days, before I go to the Norwegian Embassy in Washington DC to get a new passport.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Land of Oppurtunities

The good thing about living in the States is that there is always something to do. If you go for a walk downtown Milwaukee, you will see posters for all kind of events. Including the metropolitan area, Milwaukee has more than 1,7 million people and an hour south in Chigaco there are more people living in the city than in the whole of Norway. This is probably the reason why there is always something happening. Yesterday me and a friend wanted to try something new, so we got into our Thai-dye shirts and went to a alternative-reggae concert. During the concert, people made a big circle and people that had something to show could go into the middle to do their tricks. It was very fascinating to see all the people showing different things such as blowing dog balloons, making tricks with a crystal ball, juggling, dancing with hula hoops or with ropes that were on fire. It was like everyone tried to express their individuality, by showing their skills. This really made me thinking what skills I have, and it made me realize that I do not know any tricks like this. Maybe now is a good time to learn?
Video of the girl dancing with ropes that were on fire:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mid-Term Exams

It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the semester already, with mid-term exams coming up this week and next. The exams over here are a lot simpler than exams at Norwegian universities. The exams are simply 30-50minute tests, usually with one page of multiple choice scantron test plus some questions that you are expected to answer shortly on. This is very easy compared to the "normal" Norwegian exams where you sit 5-6 hours writing pages of answers.

March Study Abroad Fair

Wednesday March 10th was the international study abroad fair here at Stritch. As an intern at the International Office, I had to show up, with pictures and food from Norway. I had a lot of people coming up to talk to me, but it might have been because of the fact that it was during lunch hours and I had food to offer: WASA crisp berad with Jarlsberg, King Oscar Sardines(which was not that popular) and salmiak liquorish. People asked mostly about the language, and did not know there were universities in Norway that offered courses in English. And teachers and others came up to me just to chat about their travels to Scandinavia and the nature there.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The cheapest way for money transfers?

When I came here, I brought some dollars for startup that I had bought at a bank in Norway. After a short while I found out that it was cheap and easy to get an American account and debit card. I you go to Norwthshore, they actually offer you 50$ to open an account there. I used to transfer money from my Norwegian account to the American account, but now, when looking at my account overview, I have found out that this has been very expensive. I have found out that the cheapest way for me to get money over to my American account is to withdraw the maximum amount of money(400$) at the ATM at stritch, which costs around 1,5$ to the American bank plus 35NOK to my Norwegian bank. This is still cheaper, as they do not charge you a certain percentage like on international money transfers. The money that you get from the ATM can you just use as cash or deposit it on the American account. It is not as easy, but still cheaper than regular money transfers.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Game- and Casino Night

As said, Stritch arranges a lot of events for their students. This weekend they had gaming night and casino night with great success. At the game night, they had several TV-screens and different playing consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and Sega Megadrive. Everyone who entered got a ticket, and at the end of the night prizes were drawn such as MacDonalds giftcard, BestBuy Giftcard, Nintendo DS and Photocamera. I got the 10$ BestBuy giftcard.
The casino night was the most fun Stritch-event so far I think. When entering, people paid 3 dollars and got playing chips and slot machine coins in return. These playing chips could be used to play blackjack, poker and roulette, and could be changed into lottery tickets. At the end of the night, they drew prizes such as a 100$ Visa gift card, poker set and electronic equipment. This was a fun experience, as it was very close to how it would be at a real casino, and at the same time totally legal: the money that the casino earned was sent to Haiti and the players could not win real money (even though a visa gift card is practically the same as money). This has been a fun weekend, and now I am looking forward to Wednesday when the Stritch cars will take us down to "Noodles and Company" where we will get 5$ to eat for.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Not more than an hour from Stritch, there is a ski resort called Sunburst, which is open from 10 AM to 10 PM every day. There are five lifts, two snowboard parks and tracks for snow tubing. I had most of my fun in the snowboard park, until I managed to slip on one of the rails, and hit the front of my legs against the metal edge of the rail. I had a lot of fun until that happened, so it was definately worth the 35 bucks spent on renting board and the skipass.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soda, Candy & Ice Cream

Reese's Pieces are small M&M lookalike candies, which have a hard Hearshey's chocolate shell, but are filled with peanutbutter. I remember eating my fist Reese's Piece and instantly spitting it out, thinking that it was an M&M, but now as I have gotten used to them I think they are pretty good.

Root beer is something I do not, and never will like. If I would have tasted it blindfolded I would have guessed that it was toothpaste mixed with medicine. There are also other kinds of soda you can find here, which is not in Norway, such as Pink Lemonade, Mountain Dew(different kinds) and Cherry Coke/ Pepsi Wild Cherry, which I have come to like a lot since I came here. What I was shocked to see and taste was the cherry M&M's, which look like normal red M&M's, but taste like cherry chocolate.

Ice cream is different here as well. Here at school, they have an icecream machine which makes normal icecream, but if you go to Kopps they would serve custard, which is whipped and pressure cooked milk, sugar and egg yolk, which is frozen and served in a waffle cone. When first trying it, it tastes really sweet and good, but unlike icecream I could only eat a couple of spoons of this, before I would have gotten sick of it. Another kind of ice that we do not have in Norway, are the dippin' dots, which is freeze dried dots of icecream. If you try eating them rightaway, they would burn a littlebit in your mouth. It was a littlebit weird putting something dry into your mouth and feel it turn into icecream in your mouth, but I think this will be the icecream of the future, and it is probably just a matter of time before it reaches Norway.

One type of candy that they do not have here is the Scandinavian salmiak liquorice. As I came here, I brought and 800grams box of Pingvin liquorice, which lasted for just a couple of weeks. I tried giving it to Americans as well, but very few liked it. In fact, most of them spitted it out right away and thought it was disgusting.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Milwaukee Bucks

Today I saw my first NBA-game: the Milwaukee Bucks against Charlotte bobcats, and to be honest, I did not feel like they played too much better than the school team here at Stritch. What was a lot better though was the stadium, all the audience and the music and cheering. It felt like being at a concert, where the atmosphere is so good that you get goosebumps all over your body, and a good feeling in your body. Before the game and between the rounds, there was a lot of entertaining things happening on the basketball field such as national hymne being sung, cheerleaders dancing, a live band playing, different competitions being held and free things being shot at the audience. When the game was over, me and a couple of friends decided to buy tickets for the basketball game between Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heats on the 26th of March. I am already looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Madison City / Madtown

This weekend I was in Madison, which is the capitol city of Wisconsin, located about 80 miles west of Milwaukee. It is possible to get there from Milwaukee with The Badger Bus, but this costs around 20 dollars each way, so it would be better to drive the one and a half hour yourself
The city has been awarded titles like "the healthiest city in the US", "the best American city to live in" and "one of the fifty most gay friendly cities in the World". The city has several Universities and is therefore a big student city, with lots of events arranged by student organizations, including the State Street Halloween Party, with over 100 000 Halloween dressed participants and the Mifflin Street Block Party in May. The State Capitol (picture) is the beginning of the main street in Madison, which is called State Street and has a lot of restaurants, espresso cafès and shops. The street was decorated with silver snowflakes and lights and is only open for pedestrians and bikes. A great place to sit and take a coffee, without the noise and movement from cars.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Milwaukee Public Museum

The Milwaukee Public Museum is one of the biggest museums in the US and is located downtown Milwaukee. It is a museum of natural and human history, where you can visit Africa, Asia, Europe, the Artic, South and Middle America, the Pacific Islands and a Costa Rican rain forest. The European exhibition showed houses from all the different countries, and had facts about them on the outside. The Norwegian house was small and wooden, and had a small bed, and a woman sitting in the traditional Norwegian outfit, the "bunad", knitting a traditional "Marius"-Sweater. From the facts on the outside, I learned that the term "spooning" (sleeping together) came from Norway, as men in Norway would carve out a spoon-necklace of wood and give them to girls. If the girl accepted and wore the necklace, it would mean that she approved the men to be their husbands. 

Cell phones and SIM-cards

Cell phones in the US does not differ much from Norwegian in brands, but the models are totally different. They have Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC and Blackberry, but instead of having plain touchscreen phones, most of the phones here have something fancy about them. Most of them are flip-up or slide phones and have a hard button QWERTY-keyboard with a screen on the inside, and a simple touchscreen on the outside. I feel like many of the most popular cell phones in Norway look a lot like(slim, big screen, full-touch phones), but vary more in operating systems and hardware specifications, while here it is more about shapes and sizes. Even though I just bought the brand new Nexus One, which is a really slim and fast running Android cellphone, I still envy people with thick brick phones when they flip them open and reveal the hard button keyboards and big screens underneath. 

Another thing is that if you buy a prepaid phone card here in the US, it is not very likely that you can receive phone calls and text messages if you do not have credit on your phone. I chose to go for the T-Mobile prepaid card, as it was only 10 dollars with 3 dollars calling or texting included. T-Mobile have good customer service, and a shop close by Stritch, but if you run out of money on the card, then you will not be able to receive any text messages or incoming phone calls. 

Taxation in stores

Imagine that you are out shopping with a certain amount of money, say 20 bucks, and you find something that you really want, which is only 19.99 and you think "yesss, I can get that", but NO.... When coming to the counter,they would say that the price is around 21 dollars. In the United States, the final price is set at the counter when the tax has been added. The tax for groceries, clothes and most of the things you can buy in shops are usually 5%, which means that you would have to add 50 cents for every 10 dollar a thing costs. This can be a pain in the ass when you are out shopping, but luckily the tax is not as high as it is in Norway(25%), so it does not make much difference.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stritch Arrangements

All students going to Cardinal Stritch University have to pay a so called "activity fee", which is supposed to cover expenses that Stritch have when arranging trips, events, sports and the cinema. The last weeks I have heard about several activities arranged by Stritch, such as:

  • Free bus trips to Chicago(about one time each semester)
  • Pizza Shuttle is free, and they actually give you 5$ to buy pizza for (they drive you to place called Pizza Shuttle, which is a place where you can buy cheap and good pizza)
  • Lift and ticket to NBA games cost 5$ (I have signed up to see Milwaukee Bucks this Friday).
  • Trips to museums here in Milwaukeee cost 2$(I went to the Harley Davidson museum today, which was really interesting, showing different bikes such as the first that were made, bikes that were used in movies, like the bike from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, custom made bikes that were really something out of the ordinary and the machines that made the bikes).
For some activities you would really have to be quick to get seats(usually the free ones), and other activities never get filled up(like the Harley Davidson museum today)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Milwaukee Art Museum

On Wednesdays the Milwaukee Art Museum offer free entrance to their museum if you are a Milwaukee resident. The museum is definitely the most beautiful museum I have ever seen, both from the outside and the inside. When entering the museum, there was an enormous hall with glass windows and ceiling. The museum can both look like a ship with sails, or a bird with wings that slowly go up and down depending on what time of the day it is.

The museum has art in many categories such as: religion, environment, lights, and infinity. The last part I liked especially, with mirrors that "cloned" the objects so that they looked like they went on infinitely. They even had a so called "infinity room" with lights and mirrors on every side, that went on forever, just like the scene in matrix, where they have shelves with weapons that never stop. 

I found one picture that I recognized from my book in art from elementary school, which was a picture from Andy Warhol with two cans of tomatoes which were identical, except from the colors.This museum and the art that they have there is definitely something everyone who visit Milwaukee should see, as it has become one of the symbols of the town.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV

The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL) and the most watched American broadcast. The Super Bowl Sunday is an actual American national holiday, and the second-largest day for food consumption in the US, right after Thanksgiving. The commercial break in between the match is also considered a big event for most Americans, as this is the time when the most expensive and thought through commercials are being played.

The atmosphere here at Stritch was really tense as the "New Orleans Saints" beat the "Indianapolis Colts" thirtyone to seventeen in Miami, Florida tonight. The school here, showed the game on a big screen at one of the common areas and gave away free food, snack and soda. During the halftime break, The Who had a show and commercials from Doritos, Google and movie ads for Alice in Wonderland and Ironman 2 filled in at the break. It was an experience, even for people who had no interest in or knowledge about the sport at all.

Theaters in Milwaukee

When googling "mvoie theaters in Milwaukee", seven different theaters came up. As I have been here, I have been to two of them, and there is also a small one here at school, which shows movies once a week. The different theaters I have been to so far are:

Marcus North Shore Theater is one of the closest theaters to Stritch. This theater looks very much like an Hotel, where all the workers are wearing suits, they havered carpeted floor, with a lot of gold covered objects. They have restaurants, and even a bar outside of the movie area, and some of their movies are shown in UltraScreen. I went to see the Edge of Darkness in the Ultrascreen auditorium, which had three stories of big comfortable seats(more comfortable than "luxussalen" in my hometown Stavanger) and a big clear screen. Ticketprice: 8,50$

Humphrey IMAX-dome is at Milwaukee Public Museum. The theater has an auditorium with seats that you can lean down and look up at the ceiling which is one big screen, covering the walls of the whole auditorium. This gives you a 3D experience, as all you can see, is the screen. I saw a documentary about fishing and sealife in South Africa, and had to close my eyes regularly, because I became sick when they flew over the shore and when there was too much going on for my brain to register. Ticketprice 5$

Cardinal Stritch University also show movies in a big auditorium every Thursday. The seats are like regular theater seats in Norway, and they serve free popcorn by the entrance. Ticketprice: Free

A difference between theaters in Norway and theaters in the US is also that you do not have to pick your own seats when purchasing tickets. This is fair for the people that arrive early to the theater, but bad for those who booked their tickets online/by phone and came late.