From the moment I saw a picture of the scenic landscape, I have always wanted to visit Norway. Little did I know, this dream was going to become possible after learning I would be going abroad in Europe for the fall semester of my junior year of college. After my departure, my mom posted a picture on her Instagram of me in Prague during my first week. After my Norwegian relatives saw it, they reached out to my mom. These relatives stayed with my mom and her family when they were growing up as an exchange program during high school and I have always heard stories of the time they spent together when they were younger.
After some planning and booking flights, I found myself on a plane to Stavanger, Norway to meet my Norwegian relatives for the first time. I was so excited to see where my grandpa’s side of the family came from. My eyes remained glued to the airplane window, waiting for those beautiful scenic landscapes to appear, and sure enough, they did. I was already blown away by Norway’s beauty and I learned quickly that Norway is compiled of many different islands. I was eager to get off the plane and finally meet these relatives who were such a big part of my mom’s life growing up.After finally getting off the plane I was greeted by my relative, Olav, with open arms and eagerness to show me around the beautiful Stavanger.
He began to tell me how I came at the perfect time of year, before the winter where it starts to get dark around 4p.m. He explained how many people in Norway struggle with seasonal depression because it gets dark so early. The first stop we made was at the “Sverd I Fjell” statue, a symbol of unity for Norway. Once we arrived at their home, they made me a snack after a long day of traveling. They explained how the shrimp and salmon are customs of Norway because they are fished right here. I then met their two sons, who were around the same age as me. At first we didn’t really know what to talk about but once I started asking about their interests, they began opening up and asking me questions about my life home in America.
The next day we would be traveling to Stord where my mom’s side of the family originated from. We took the fjord about an hour from Stavanger to Stord where Olav’s parents greeted us. They were quiet and spoke less English than Olav did, but they tried their best to communicate with me. On the way to Olav’s parents’ house we stopped alongside the road. I was confused at first but Olav explained this is where my grandpa’s mom used to live. After taking a picture we continued on to the house where his parents were quick to show me pictures of what the house used to look like followed by a diagram of the family tree. I found this really helpful since we’re distant relatives. The diagram definitely help put things in perspective and made me understand the family dynamic a little better. Olav’s parents also showed me pictures of my grandma and grandpa in the places I had just visited, this immediately brought a smile to my face, knowing that my trip here means a lot to not only me, but family too.
After traveling back to Prague for the rest of my semester, I showed my mom pictures of my time in Norway, and having not been to Norway before, my mom said my trip to Norway inspired her to make Norway the next trip on her list. Visiting Norway was an experience that I’ll never forget. Being able to travel to a place where your family came from and that’s so near and dear to my family’s heart is a once and a lifetime opportunity. If you’re planning on traveling abroad, don’t be afraid to ask your parents they know any family near where you’re traveling to!