August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
I arrived back home last night after an amazing 4-day girls trip to London. For me it was a little bit of a last “hoo-rah” before school starts. Our lives have been full of stress and planning for almost all of 2012: from finding out that we could start med school this year in February to completing the move just last week. We don’t have much down time now before classes start and once that happens, there is no turning back. It felt so refreshing to take some time to simply relax with good friends. I feel primed and ready to go!
Yesterday I received an e-mail from school saying that they are missing the document proving that I don’t have dyslexia. It’s frustrating to simply think about how I am going to do that now that I am in Budapest. My doctor is all the way in Norway and I wouldn’t even know where to begin finding one here…
Now we are heading out to find suits for the Opening Ceremony this Sunday. We will taking our Freshman oaths and listening to some speeches – so we need to look good!
August 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
The title means “I wish you a happy birthday!” in Hungarian – which is perfect, because it’s my birthday! It sounds something like – and you’ll have to excuse my horrible language teaching skills – BULL-dawg SUUE-la-tesh-na-pot KEE-vaah-gnoc. The stress of the word is placed on the first syllable rather than the accented letters (as it is in Spanish). To me, Hungarian sounds similar to Italian, sometimes to French, and with a little bit of Finnish and Russian mixed in. I find it to be a very beautiful language, a bit hard to hear and seemingly impossible to learn, but beautiful nonetheless.
Following birthday tradition in my family, Skjalg woke me this morning with a lit birthday cake, card and present. My mom started this tradition where the birthday person is always surprised first thing in the morning by all the occupants in the house – human and animal alike. When we were living together with my younger brother, Christian, Skjalg’s younger sister, Kaja and her two cats, our birthday morning surprises were very lively. It is such a wonderful way to start a birthday.
In my post yesterday, I wrote a little about the Fungarian class we booked. At around 10:30, we headed out to meet our “language professor” at Kamara Café – located across from the main Jewish Synagogue. The café was located in a really beautiful spot, which made the lesson just that much more enjoyable. Our teacher, Miklós, was very witty, informative and patient and taught us how to say basic phrases. I’m a little intimidated by the Hungarian language. It has 44 letters and the vowels are…plentiful:
We learned how to say hello and thank you as well as how to order various things at restaurants and in grocery stores. Skjalg and I were totally energized by our lesson. We started practicing the phrases we’d learned and read aloud signs we saw on the way home. For lunch we stopped in at The Hummus Bar, where I greeted the host with “jó napot!” (which means good morning/good afternoon). When it came time to order, I asked that the server bear with me as I tried it in Hungarian:
Kérek egy…. chicken breast hummus plate.
I didn’t manage the whole thing…but he was amused enough to smile. Practice makes perfect, right?
After lunch, we headed home to relax and hide from the heat. We settled in on the couch with our feet soaking in buckets of cold water (which is SAVING me these days) to watch a couple of episodes of the utterly fantastic Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery series by BBC Four.
We celebrated my birthday dinner at Comme Chez Soi Étterem (highly recommended on TripAdvisor). It was a bit pricey – especially when compared to other restaurants in less touristy parts of Budapest – but it was definitely worth it. The servers were extremely accommodating and friendly and lit up when I ordered my water in Hungarian. At the end of the meal, they surprised us by turning off the lights in the restaurant and bringing out a tiramisu lit up with candles. After that it was a shot of homemade limoncello, apricot infused liquor, and plum infused liquor. As we were leaving, the server wished me a happy birthday and gave us a small bag of chocolates filled with dark cherry liquor. We will definitely be heading back there when celebrating a special occasion!
Now I’m off to try to fall asleep in this heat….
August 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
I slept horribly last night. I kept thinking about our move and all the possible things that could go wrong – definitely the right way to coax yourself into a cozy slumber. When I woke up at 8:30, I felt like this:
Skjalg arrived late last night, around 23:00. He picked me up on the corner so that I could join him in finding parking. He was exhausted, it was dark, and I have never driven in Oslo, so we were quite the team. We found a parking lot down the street from our apartment but when we went to pay, we saw that it would cost 900,- ($150) to park it for the 30 hours that it would need to be there. We’re trying to be as smart as we can with this move, so we decided that it would be better to look for free parking somewhere. It wasn’t easy, first finding a street that allowed free parking and then one of those streets that actually had a space big enough for us. When we finally found a spot about 10 minutes from our place, we were skeptical. We scoured for hidden parking signs and checked the dashboards of the other cars parked on the street. Once satisfied, we headed home.
I started this morning by heading to the grocery store to get food for our road trip. It’s so easy to eat unhealthy foods when traveling by car and can also be very, very expensive – especially when traveling through Scandinavia. We have several food coolers that we purchased in the states that will be perfect for the drive. I figure we could bring whole grain bread, meat, cheese, cucumber and tomato for sandwiches, as well as fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt and mager kesam (which we don’t have in the states, as far as I know…it is like a lower fat/higher protein yogurt). I have a cooler made by 6 pack bags that will keep our food cold for up to two days. If I have time today, I may even grill some of the chicken we have left. We’re only going to be driving for 2-3 days, so I don’t need to go too crazy, but it will be nice to have options on the road.
Now it’s just loading the truck and cleaning ahead of us. Several of our friends are stopping by throughout the day to say goodbye. I’ve said it many time before, but I have to say it again: I can’t believe this is happening!
August 11, 2012 § 3 Comments
After I finished writing my blog post yesterday, Skjalg and I spent the rest of the day packing up the apartment. We took a break around 13:00 to get some food with Kaja, Skjalg’s sister. Every single surface in our kitchen was covered and there were therefore not a lot of food options available at the time. We were also too tired to be creative.
Lunch was a nice change of pace. We rarely go out to eat in Oslo because it is so expensive and it felt nice to “treat”ourselves during the chaos of this move. We even got to see Adrian Grenier walk by the restaurant with his entourage. I smiled at the thought that I have seen more celebrities in Oslo than I did living in Los Angeles.
By the time 18:30 rolled around, we were exhausted. We had plans to meet our friends Roar and Karolina for dinner at their place at 20:00. I decided to start getting ready, while Skjalg continued organizing the living room. With our efficiency at an ultimate low, we ended up not leaving until about 20:30. On the way, Skjalg received a call from his grandfather. They began talking about the move and about his recent trip to Budapest and, since it was going to be a little bit of a longer call, Skjalg motioned for me to go inside while he stayed out on the balcony. I was met by a beaming Karolina, framed by a flash of bright colors. She and Roar greeted me, inquired about Skjalg’s whereabouts, and then proceeded to beckon him into the apartment. Skjalg didn’t understand what was going on and just continued to motion for me to go in without him. He eventually told his grandfather that he would call him back tomorrow and we headed into the apartment.
Karolina and Roar’s place was decorated with brightly colored paper ribbons, balloons and luau decorations. I began laughing and talking about how beautiful everything looked, when all of a sudden, friends started popping up from different parts and rooms of the apartment. I was completely shocked! I kept registering familiar faces and then battling with the concept that all these familiar faces were together in the same room. All of our friends in one place! I was so ecstatic and disoriented that I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Our friend Daniel – who is a nurse at a hospital here in Oslo – told us that we had to get dressed for the part. I looked down and saw that he was pointing at surgeon gear. Within a couple of minutes, Skjalg and I were dressed in white lab coats, gloves, surgical masks, and surgical caps.
The night got better and better. Karolina is an amazing cook and had prepared homemade lasagne (the best lasagne I’ve ever had) and salad, brownies with chili, rice crispy treats (a whole new experience for the Norwegians there), and homemade hummus and pita bread. For the drinks she made a punch, which included chunks of strawberries, apples, mango, and other assorted fruits.
After we had finished eating and people had settled into conversation, we got yet another suprise. Stian came out with a bag and told us that they had all gotten together to get us something that would help us in medical school. First we were given a great guide to Budapest, from a line of travel books that Stian and Daniel use when they travel:
So far, I love it – and I haven’t even been to Budapest yet. Each page opens up to smaller sections of the city with recommendations for shops, museums, and restaurants and cafés. I think it will be much easier to navigate than one large map.
After looking through the guidebook, I was handed a small orange bag with something wrapped in green tissue paper inside. When I opened it, I found a Chinese coin bracelet that Karolina had made for me. Chinese coins are a symbol of prosperity and happiness. There is a square hole in the middle that represents the connection between heaven and earth. On the back of the bracelet, she included a small elephant with it’s trunk raised. This is an optimistic symbol for good luck and fortune. As she put it on I made a wish, which, when the bracelet falls off, will come true.
We were then handed a large card signed by everyone there and Skjalg and I took turns reading through the different notes. I was such a mix of happiness and sadness as we read through the card. Words can honestly not express how grateful I feel to have such magnificent friends. I’ve made such deep connections with them and it hurts to think that I am leaving. This is honestly the hardest part of moving to new chapter. I can only hope that they make the trek to Budapest and take advantage of our extra bedroom 😉
Once the card had been read, Stian drew two boxes from a bag. I knew what they were before I could read the box – STETHOSCOPES! We were both so excited and pulled them out to try them on each other. Hearing the beat of Skjalg’s heart – while dressed in full surgeon garb – made me feel, for the first time, the realness of this future.
Thank you so much, again, to our amazing friends. It was an amazing night and we are so thankful for everything. You are all such fantastic people 🙂