All students, international and domestic, know the true meaning behind “going home for Christmas” (or whatever your special festival is). We go from sad student apartment stripped off homely feeling, perhaps some dodgy roomies and old couch pizza, to a clean and warm house where the laundry fairy does the laundry and the food cooks itself (i think….?). From a fridge that is the true proof of the roller coaster that is your existence: beer and moldy veggies (veggies because you decided for the hundredth time its time you get real about your health, and beer because you quickly figured out that’s just not happening), to a fridge with enough greasy yummy Christmas food to feed a small village. Yes, going home for Christmas gets a whole different meaning when you’re a student living away from home.
In my case, home is quite far away from Griffith University, Australia. It’s in Norway. Which is across the world, in northern Europe. Which means that it is cold. And then I don’t mean “Aussie-winter-oh-no-its-13-degrees-lets-stay-inside” kinda cold… I mean your undies are made of wool kinda cold. I mean your car most likely won’t start in the morning kinda cold. I mean your eyelashes freeze and go white kinda cold. I mean don’t put your beer on the porch ‘cus it will will become beer-popsicle kinda cold.
Anyways, I thought I would share with you some the things that are typical to my Norwegian Christmas/winter.
- We have dinner parties and open presents on Christmas Eve, and what we eat is not randomly picked. There is just a handful of different traditional dishes that are being eaten across Norway on Christmas Eve. And we have the same thing every year, like, EVERY year. In my family we eat reindeer on Christmas Eve. We usually don’t have that at any other day of the year, so its safe to say I’ve eaten that dish only 22 times in my life. Which makes it even more special. One year my nana suggested that perhaps we could eat something else, like pork belly, next year. Well.. lets just say we were only seconds away from putting her in a retirement home, ‘cus that kind of gibberish just doesn’t belong in the mind of anyone sane. One does_not_mess with the traditions.
- Boxing Day, or second Christmas Day as we call it, means only one thing: PARTYY. It is a huge party day in Norway, especially among young people, and it will mean that errrr’one will be out and about. Which also means that you will be standing in a line for the nightclub for about an hour in minus 20 degrees with your hair all frozen stiff, your cheeks red and ankles about to break off. But that won’t stop us, noooo. Nothing that a few shots of tequila can’t fix! (which will only cost you a small fortune in Norway because.. well… because everything is insanely expensive in Norway).
- We ski! Before the snow flakes even hit the ground the Norwegians are ready with their skis and gear. We wake up, look outside, decide that yes that is enough snow, and head out straight after brekkie. We love downhill skiing and snowboarding, BUT, theres also a different breed of ski-goers in Norway that might be unfamiliar to most Australians: cross-country skiing! It looks easy, for Norwegians it’s easy, but as I figured last year – it’s not so easy for anyone not born right into it. Last Christmas, I brought my Australian boyfriend, who had never seen snow before, out skiing in Norway. That_was_hillarious! He ended up sweaty, wet and angry in a ditch in the woods, broke my ski pole by falling on it, and decided that this was the most useless sport he had ever tried. After I was done taking a gazillion photos of his struggles while laughing, he took off his skis, walked back up the hill, and sat in the car while me and my friends continued to ski.
Fun for him? No. Fun to watch? Oh yes.
- There will be an obnoxiously large amount of presents underneath the Christmas tree, at least in my family, and my dog will try to open them all while nobody’s watching. We are an exceptionally ordinary family with few members, but yet, we spend hours opening presents every year. I have three cats and one dog, and they all “give” presents (aka mum buys and put their name on the card), which also adds to the total. And it doesn’t matter what was on your wish list, ‘cus you will always, without a doubt, get something you did not wish for and will not use. My mum gave my boyfriend, who was too shy to wish for anything, a pair of huge, knitted wool socks with traditional Norwegian pattern. Which he will never use, BECAUSE AUSTRALIA IS RIDICULOUSLY HOT.
To sum up: going home for Christmas is amazing, and I still cannot picture a Christmas away from home. Mum’s home made food, parties with my best friends, quality time with my dogs, and being outside in the snow. Nothing can beat that.
Ah well. One year until text time!
-What did you do this Christmas? Share in the comments!