Yesterday marked two years since I first arrived in Norway. It's hard to believe it's already been two years here. Having said that, I haven't spent the entire two years in Norway, I've also spent a good chunk of that time at home in Canada. There have been many ups and downs during the two years I've been here, but overall I've really enjoyed my time in Norway. I had the chance to catch up with my old teammates at Kjelsås, as they were playing against Rosenborg 2 in Trondheim on the weekend. It was nice to see the guys and watch them play, although they lost the game 1-0. I've posted a few pictures of Trondheim below and I apologize for the poor quality (had to take them on my phone camera). I will try and put up some more photos soon. Now I have to write about an annual tradition for students graduating from high-school in Norway called "Russ". It's basically a time of celebration for students that are finishing secondary school. Students have to wear bright overalls and hats that are usually red or black (depending on what the student's studied) from May 1st-May 16th. The tradition is that students have to wear their Russ clothes for the entire period, without washing them. Even though the period doesn't start until the first of May, most schools begin the tradition up to a week or two beforehand. On top of wearing these clothes, all the students get together in groups and rent mini-vans or busses which are also painted either red or black. Each bus is unique and individually painted by each group of students. Usually you can see the buses driving around town blasting music and some groups even hire a bus driver for two weeks. There are many crazy tasks that students try to complete during the two weeks. Some examples of these tasks are kissing a policeman or streaking through your schoolyard. If a student completes these tasks they receive a "Russ knot". Each student also has hundreds of business cards printed up to trade with other students and give out to people, that usually have a funny picture, quote, and fake contact details. For some reason young kids are really interested in collecting these cards and they try to collect as many as possible during this period. Every time I go out during Russ, I see lots of teenagers walking around in their red overalls with little kids running up to them asking for their cards. Most of the students are drunk during this period pretty much every single day. It's pretty entertaining watching a bunch of drunk Norwegian teenagers running around town. Surprisingly most of the people in town don't mind this tradition and most people seem to find it really entertaining. As crazy as this whole tradition sounds, I promise I'm not making this up! I actually first arrived in Norway during Russ in 2010 and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. At first I couldn't figure out why every young person was wearing the same outfit! I also started wondering why everyone was acting so crazy, and why there were so many red vans on the road. Luckily some eventually explained the situation to me. The whole tradition is certainly much different than what I experienced from Graduating high school in Canada! I'm sure I'll see some pretty funny things when I go out over the next couple of weeks! If you ever come to Norway during this time of year, now you know what to expect!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I've just gotten back to Trøndelag (central Norway) after spending the last week in Bodø. It was a great week and I really enjoyed seeing all my old friends & teammates up North. As always when you're having fun, time went by way too quickly. There was something exciting going on everyday during my trip. It was easy to remember why I enjoyed my time playing there so much. It was also hard for me to believe it's already been two years since I lived there; it feels like it was a few months ago. It was also nice to see my old coach, and to be made so welcome by everyone involved in the club. Bodø is a small town, but it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I hope that I'll get the chance to return there soon. You can see a few pictures from my trip below. I spent all of last night on the train heading back to Trondheim and I didn't manage to get very much sleep. The trip took ten hours, and I think I might have gotten about two-three hours of sleep at most. I can't say enough about some of the scenery in Northern Norway, some places looked like they were straight out of a movie, or a perfect photograph. I was disappointed when it became night and was too dark to see anymore. The only bad thing about taking the train last night, was that I missed the Champions League Semi-Final between Chelsea and Barcelona. After watching the highlights this morning, I realize that wasn't the best game to miss. As I write this blog, I'm currently watching the start of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. I'm looking forward to an early night tonight, after this game finishes. My hamstring is feeling good now, after lots of rest and some light training this week in Bodø. So I'm looking forward to returning to training very soon.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Trying to learn a new language is so tough, and it seems Norwegian is especially difficult. It’s been almost two years since I first moved to Norway, and I’m still trying to master the basics. Having said that, I haven’t spent the entire two years in the country. I’ve spent about 14 months, of those two years actually in Norway.
Because I look quite Norwegian and I blend in quite a bit here, people always speak to me in Norwegian at first. It can be kind of funny to see their reaction when I respond in English. Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t ask me the same question, “What can you say to me in Norwegian?” It can get a bit irritating at times, but I always try my best, even if it turns into a complete red-faced mess at the end of it. The thing with Norwegian is if you don’t correctly pronounce the words exactly, people won’t understand you. Sometimes I feel like I’ve nailed the pronunciation of a new word and give it a try, and people will just look at me lost and confused, which can be very frustrating. I feel like if I’m speaking to someone who doesn’t speak English very well, I can still easily figure out what they’re trying to say, even if it’s way off; that’s not the case here in Norway. A big problem for foreigners in Norway that are trying to learn the language, is that everybody speaks almost perfect English. It’s extremely rare to find someone here who doesn’t speak English. Of course, some people are shy and most like to claim that they don’t speak English well, but that’s hardly ever true. When I’m walking around on the street and need to ask a random person a question, I don’t even need to ask if they speak English. Of course this is nice for me at times, but it also has made it very difficult to learn the language. English can be found everywhere here; on TV there are many American and British shows. English is a main subject in the schools here, so even young kids can speak the language well. Norwegians are very well educated people for the most part, and tend to speak 3-4 languages easily.
TV is actually a great way for me to learn Norwegian as well. All the English shows have Norwegian subtitles, which can be very helpful for me, because I get to see words over and over again. As I mentioned before the pronunciation of words is the hardest part for me. In Norwegian, there are three letters that we don’t have in the English language- Æ, Ø, Å. They’re all difficult to say, but out of the three, I find Ø the hardest to pronounce. Another major problem that I have is the way R is pronounced here. Norwegians roll their R’s in most words, which I’m still absolutely terrible at. I’ve noticed that I’m getting much better at reading Norwegian. I try to practice reading the newspaper and websites in Norwegian as much as possible. This has been a good way for me to pick up many new words. I’m also getting much better at understanding people talk, and I’m finding that I can pick up on what the conversation is about more often now; providing the people speaking don’t constantly change subjects. To make things even more difficult than they already are, there are many different dialects throughout the country. While most of the words remain the same, the way people speak and pronounce certain words, can be completely different from place to place. Personally, I found it easiest to understand people in Oslo, because they usually tend to speak slower there. Up North in Bodø, the way people speak is much different than in Oslo. Now that I’m staying in the middle of Norway, the dialect is again totally unique. The people in Trondheim speak so quickly, so I find it much more difficult to follow what people are saying here. As you can imagine, being exposed to different dialects in each place I’ve been to, has made it harder to learn the language. Having some consistency would certainly be helpful!
I’ve met many foreign players over here, and we all tend to agree its very tough to learn the language; simply because there’s never a situation where we’re forced to speak it. Even players that have been here for many years, sometimes still struggle to speak much of the language. At football training, I’ve been at some clubs where there are a number of foreign players, so half of the instructions are in Norwegian, half in English; which can be extremely helpful. This is actually pretty rare, and I’ve had to learn to really focus on what the coaches are saying (without a translation), and just go straight into the drills. Trust me, this is not an easy thing to do when you’re training with professional football clubs. There’s no room for error in the drills. You’re expected to do everything at the best of your ability and as quickly as possible. Essentially there’s no time to figure things out, you definitely get thrown straight into things. I remember one time while on trial with a new team; we were doing a complex passing drill, with very brief instructions in Norwegian. In the position I was standing in, I thought I was supposed to pass the ball first time when I received it, which I did. The coach started screaming at me, because apparently in my spot, I was supposed to control the ball before passing it. Harsh and unnecessary, since I was new to the club, clearly didn’t fully understand instructions and it was a very simple mistake. But this is just the way it can be over here, perfection is expected and things are supposed to be done right all the time. There is very little time to adapt to what’s happening in training and you have to stay focused at all times to be successful.
I’ve learned many of the basics in Norwegian by now. I can greet people properly, introduce myself, talk about what I like and don’t like to do, where I’m from, what I’m doing in Norway, order food, say goodbye, etc. I also know many individual words, which can be very helpful. If I can’t respond to someones question in Norwegian, I can often respond in English now, because I know what’s being asked. Hopefully as I keep practicing and learning the learning the language, I’ll be able to continue putting together new sentences all the time. Although learning a new language is tough, frustrating and even embarrassing at times, it can also be fun and interesting. Depending on how you look at things, it can be a great challenge. I love the feeling of mastering a new word or sentence, or knowing what somebody is asking me. I hope that one-day, I can speak Norwegian fluently; it would be a great accomplishment for me. I have a very long way to go until then, so for now I just need to keep improving one new word at a time.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
"Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do."
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
"The only way of finding the limits of the possible, is by going beyond them into the impossible."
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
Monday, April 9, 2012
Over the past week, things here in Norway have been pretty quiet due to the Easter break. Most people take the entire week off work and kids are out of school, so most things are shut down. Because of this, I’ve been able to have a nice couple of days off training, which I think my body really needed. It’s been a pretty crazy two months or so for me, training with various teams and travelling around lots; so having a relaxing couple of days has been great for me. As I mentioned previously, I’m in the city of Trondheim now. I’ve been able to spend lots of time with my relatives that live here, which has been so nice for me. I’ve had the chance to stay with them at their cabin over the Easter break and spend time relaxing, eating lots of great food, and practicing my cross-country skiing. A highlight of the break for me was going downhill skiing in Åre, Sweden (see my post and pictures below).
It's Monday evening and although I'm sad the Easter break is over, I’m now feeling much more relaxed and well rested. I’m looking forward to returning to training later this week, and to my search to find a new club. I’ve been having many positive experiences on the field so far this year, and had the opportunity to train with many clubs during this pre-season. I’m quite simply trying to find the right fit for me. I want to sign for a club that I’m happy playing for, where I’m going to receive the top training and coaching I desire, so that I can continue to raise my game to the next level. I want to sign for a club where I can contribute and get as much playing time as I can, at as high of a level as possible. I’m sure I could have signed for multiple clubs by now, but I don’t want to sign for a club just for the sake of signing. Having said that I can’t wait forever to join a new club, with the new season on the horizon; so hopefully I’ll find the right fit soon, and settle into my new club as quickly as possible. As of right now, I’m feeling very fit and ready to go, with over two months of fantastic training under my belt. By training with various clubs, I’ve had to constantly adapt to new playing/training styles, play in multiple positions, play against many good players, and overall test my skills as a player every day; which can only help me in the long run. I have an exciting opportunity lined up for next week, and while I hope it will be the right opportunity for me, only time will tell. I'll continue working towards my goals every day until I reach them.
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God Påske! / Happy Easter!
Keeping up with Norwegians on skis is a major challenge to say the least! Over the Easter break I had the chance to go across the Swedish border to Åre, and spend a day on the slopes with family and friends. Åre is a skiing town/village which comes alive during the winter, and is considered to be one of the best places to ski in all of Scandinavia. The Alpine World Championships were held here in 1954 and more recently in 2007, and you can see why. The skiing was amazing and I had a fantastic day checking out the various hills at the mountain; it's a day I'll remember for a long time. After chasing a bunch of talented skiers downhill all day, I was happy to make it home in one piece! I hope that I'll get a chance to visit Åre again in the future.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve been asked to join Red Nation Online as a monthly columnist, talking about my experiences of playing abroad. Red Nation is Canada’s Online Soccer magazine and I’m really excited to be joining their team. You’ll be able to find a monthly column from me on the site and you can read my intro column here: http://rednationonline.ca/InTheseBootsApril22012.aspx. As well as writing for Red Nation, I’m going to try to expand on my posts on this blog as much as possible, as I have many new ideas to share. Make sure you check back on a regular basis for more from me, on my life playing football abroad.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Just when I thought the snow was finally finished for the year, I woke up to find a pretty big snowfall yesterday morning, and again today. This is starting to feel like the longest winter I've ever experienced! I can't wait until spring is finally here to stay... I snapped a few pictures this morning, which you can see below. I'm still in the Trondheim area and I'm currently training with a new team. I've been training with this team for a week or so, and have enjoyed the training so far. With it being Easter this week, I think it will be a quiet week, but I'll be sure to post more about this later.