talking with the locals, two stories

A few weeks ago, two little girls who had been playing in the courtyard outside my flat. They ran up to me and one said something in rapid fire Norwegian. With a little shrug I told her “Jeg snakker litt norsk…” (I speak a little Norwegian). She gave me the saddest puppy dog eyes and pouty lip that I’ve ever seen and then scampered off to play some more.

A week later the same girl, with a different friend – a little boy this time, was again playing outside. And again she ran up to me and tried to start a conversation with me. As I started to tell her “Jeg snakker litt norsk…” you could see the lightbulb go off – she remembered me.

Instead of running off, she asked in slow and very clear Norwegian “Hva heter du?” (What is your name?). I responded and asked what their names were. Then the little boy asked “Hvor gammel er du?” I answered and asked the same of them. We ended the conversation with them asking where I was from, what language I speak, and where I was going.

While having a conversation with a couple of 8 year olds is only a small victory in the war of learning Norwegian, I celebrate it as a victory nonetheless!

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A friend of mine asked if I would mind coming over to given her boys (16 and 13) some practice speaking English. They are moving to Brazil for a year and will be going to an international school where they will be taught in English. Here children start learning English in school around the age of 8 (they pick up another language – German, Spanish, of French – a few years later). And while they watch plenty of American tv and movies (nothing is dubbed here, instead there are just subtitles), they don’t have many opportunities to speak English outside of class. My colleague (who introduced me to the above friend) decided she wanted in on the action too. She has 3 sons – 16, 14, and 11. I’ve met them several times, and while the older two are comfortable speaking with me, the youngest always tries to hide when I’m around. I find it entertaining, he probably finds it terrifying!

So just what does a 30-something American female talk to teenage Norwegian boys about? Football/soccer, school, skiing, more football (specifically EuroCup), what it will be like living in Brazil… I’ve tried to help the younger boys realize that even if they don’t know a word in English, they probably know the words to describe what they are trying to say. It is then neat to see them using the new words I’ve taught them later in the conversation.

But these poor boys… not only are their moms making them practice English with a random American girl, they also making them make me dinner as a thank you. Yes – a 13 year old boy made me dinner last night! And the week before that, and the week before that. While their repertoire isn’t all that wide (tacos, pizza, spaghetti, simple chicken dishes), each of the boys make dinner one night a week. It is rather impressive. My friend pointed out, as her oldest son rolled his eyes regarding our talk about making dinner, that someday he can use these skills to impress a girl. Coming from someone who really doesn’t like to cook all that much, I agree – it is a good skill to have!

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And because a post is more fun when it has pictures, here are a few from last weekend. I decided that I had to stay up until sunrise at least once while I was here. Which only means staying up until about 3am these days…

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One of my friends snapped this picture of me, taking a little catnap before the big event. Much thanks to he who had the foresight to bring a couple of blankets.

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And here it is, the sunrise over Trondheimfjorden. It was worth it.

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This entry was posted in all things norwegian, daily life. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to talking with the locals, two stories

  1. Mike Naylor says:

    Hei Kelly! Thanks for the note on my blog — glad you’ve been following. I’m having fun looking through your experiences as well! Best wishes back in Seattle. (I’m from Bellingham.)

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