I arrived in Norway in August, 2013. Back then, I was 19 years old and I had just finished my high school. I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept my expectations not too high. I remember that I was picked up at Lillehammer train station by team leaders and students of our school, they were extremely welcoming and I already felt that I’ve come to the right place, a place where I will belong.
It seemed like the way from Lillehammer to Hornsjoe took forever, because I was curious and anxious to see the place where I am going to spend most of my time for the next 2,5 years. My first surprise was the spectacular landscape, once we had driven up the serpentine road. As far as I could see, there were forests, hills and lakes. The only sign of civilisation was few summer cottages on the way. I kept looking, if I could see Hornsjoe, but it takes some time to get there.
Once we finally reached Hornsjoe, I was immediately welcomed by others, students and staff members. They showed me around the building, which, for me back then, seemed like a maze, and it actually took me few weeks to get to know all the corridors, rooms and other places. It’s easy to get lost here at the beginning.
I was one of the first from my team to arrive. In the next couple of days we all (my team) gathered and started our Introduction week. Besides meetings about different kinds of practicalities, we also had a lot of team building activities together. We went hiking, we had a canoe trip around the lake and we ended up on a small island in the middle of lake, sitting besides fire, sharing our stories, previous experiences and getting to know each other.
We also decided to go for, what we called “Survival trip”. We split in smaller teams of 2 or 3 and went out of Hornsjoe with no or very little money. Our aim was to somehow find accommodation and food, meet people and explain them what and why we are doing this. Me and my teammate Jakub, we decided to hitchhike and see where it takes us. After walking some 15 kilometres, we finally found a good hitchhiking spot. After waiting for about 30 minutes, we got picked up by a man, who was just coming back from hospital. His wife gave a birth last night, so he was both happy and exhausted. He invited us to his house and his sister in law cooked lunch for us. We couldn’t be more thankful and believe that someone in this situation could still have time and energy to pick un some hitchhikers and share his house and food with us.
Later on we left the house of this man, got back on the road and got lift all the way to Oslo. Even tho we didn’t plan to go that far away, it sounded like a good idea. We arrived in Oslo quite late, but I still wanted to try to go around and ask for accommodation. We visited a couple of hotels, explaining them what we do and asking, if they would have a free room for us. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it took me a lot of courage to go and ask. In the end it was not successful, but at least I did something I would have never done otherwise.
After walking around and looking for a good spot to spend the night, we ended up in Vigeland park. We found a good spot under roof, had small dinner and went to sleep. We woke up quite early, and only then we realised that the park is closed during nights. It was lucky, that no one saw us and after packing our stuff, we left.
My first week in Hornsjoe was full of excitement, I did things I’ve never done before and I got to know my team, the people I was going to work, study and travel together with. It was fun, also relaxing and I got prepared for, probably, one of most challenging parts of my stay here – the pre-course.