Preston: I’m Preston Butler ‘14, and this past spring I got the chance to study abroad at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. It was perfect timing, because one of my best friends, Christy, was in Europe at the same time!
Christy: Hi, I’m Christy Purnadi ‘14, and like Preston I had the chance to study abroad this past spring at the University of Oxford. Preston and I are great friends and were excited to be in relatively close proximity to one another this semester. We had the chance to visit each other in our respective cities as well as go to Oslo where we were hosted by Chris Affolter ‘03.
Preston: Oslo was incredible! I got there on the train a few hours before Christy, so I walked around and got my bearings before heading to Chris’s apartment. He and his partner Evgeniy were SO kind to put up with us for the weekend! They were wonderful hosts, and it was cool to meet up with and get to know an alumnus of the McDermott Program.
Christy: I absolutely agree with Preston. They were incredible hosts. Chris even fed Preston and me during our stay. (Let me tell you, Chris is an amazing chef. I’m sad we didn’t take any pictures of the food.)
Preston: Oh my goodness, the homemade bread, Christy!! Homemade bread!
Christy: So good!!! Chris not only fed us, but he also gave us a tour of the city before letting us run loose. He first took us to city hall then around to some islands. One thing that is super unique about Oslo is that their public transportation system includes boats around these small islands!
Preston: After touring around cities for a couple months, this was a much needed nature break for me! Chris showed us one of his favorite islands in the fjord (a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs), where he likes to go fishing. After we hiked around for a bit…and missed the boat back – oops!
Christy: But it was totally worth it because we got to see this huge yet adorable dog!
Preston: Right, right! How could I forget the dog!? That, we definitely have pictures of, haha.
Preston: Anyway, we got to have a little picnic on the island before heading back with Chris. Sadly, the fish weren’t biting for him that day. We parted ways when Christy and I decided to check out Vigeland Park (definitely worth a google if you’ve never heard of it) and then head up to the cross country ski trails. One of the amazing things about Oslo is the forest at the city edges. You can take the metro to the end of the line, and it drops you amidst a huge network of trails!
Christy: I was born and raised in Dallas so the idea of having cross country ski trails in such close proximity is mind-boggling to me. Norway, like many other Scandinavian countries, really strives to ensure their citizens are happy, and one of the ways they do this is through providing people easy access to nature and outdoor sports. Many Norwegians will grab their skis, ride the metro to the end of the line, and go skiing after work. Wanting to experience the beautiful nature of Norway, Preston and I took the line to the end and went to explore.
Preston: It has been Christy’s dream for…I really don’t know how long, to walk on a frozen lake, so we were pretty excited to find one unexpectedly along one of the trails!
Christy: Yeah, walking on a frozen lake has been on my bucket list since middle school. So you can imagine my excitement when we found a frozen lake in the middle of March! I’m pretty sure I just went straight for it while Preston was the sensible one checking to see if the ice could actually support our weight.
Preston: Haha, well we decided to get off as soon as we heard a couple cracks, but not before getting some great pictures.
Christy: Oh also when we were walking back, I was very proud of myself for not slipping and falling…which of course meant that just as we were about to go back on the subway I slipped and fell hard on my behind…
Preston: Haha, I had totally forgotten about that!! I’m sorry for laughing, Christy. I know that was not a pleasant experience.
Christy: ANYWAY, we got some rest that night, had more amazing food courtesy of Chris, and learned that everything tastes better with creme fraiche.
Preston: I completely agree! But also, what is creme fraiche again? I know it tasted really good on pancakes with jam, but I still don’t know exactly what it is.
Christy: The best thing ever! (It’s a soured cream containing 10–45% butterfat, but less sour than American sour cream).
Preston: Well after breakfast we went to the Norwegian National Gallery, which I quite enjoyed. The exhibits focused a lot on Norwegian artists, naturally, so they had a whole gallery devoted to Edward Munch, who’s known for the wonderful painting below. Thereafter, my visit had come to an end. I had to catch a train back to Copenhagen, so I hugged Christy goodbye at the bustling train station and boarded the train. It was very movie-esque, although I regret I could not wave to her out the window as the train pulled away.
Christy: What can I say? Life doesn’t always work the way we want it to. After Preston left, I got to do a bit more exploring before heading off to my next destination, Poland! Overall, I loved Oslo. As Preston mentioned, after being surrounded by cities, it is incredibly refreshing to be encompassed by nature. Additionally, Chris taught us a bit about Norway’s society and structure which was fascinating. I cannot wait to go back and really dive deep into Norwegian culture!
Preston: I concur. I would absolutely visit Norway again, and it was invaluable to connect with a McDermott alum who knew the area well and was willing to show us around! Thank you, Chris!! What an amazing visit!