Ankomstseminar in Balestrand

Hi world!

We just came back from our EVS On-arrival training seminar, in Balestrand, and have quite a lot to write!

First of all, anyone who gets a chance to go to Balestrand or anywhere in Sognefjord has to go. It is simply breathtaking, no matter the weather.
To give you an idea, this is what it looks like:
balestrand1

 

The Oslo-Bergen train ride is also highly recommended, as this is what you can see:
balestrand4

 

We were staying at the Ciderhuset (Cider house), where Tuba and Gard, the owners grow their own apples, plums and a few other types of fruit, and make their own juice and ciders. They also make a point of cooking with healthy, sustainable and when possible organic ingredients. On top of all that, they make the best food any of us will have eaten in Norway. The last evening, we learnt how to prepare a typical Norwegian meal. To be totally objective, it was not too bad for a start (let's say we also had the best teachers!).
balestrand3

The seminar had three main objectives:

-to introduce us to our rights and responsibilities as EVSers,
-to allow us to network with other EVSers (we were around 30, working for various organisations),
-and to introduce us to Norwegian culture.

The first objective was taken care of by Linn and Einar, from the Youth Agency. They helped us understand the program we're a part of, Erasmus+, as well as other practical information.

As for the networking part, we all talked about our organisations and what our job is, and quite a few of us were interested in cooperating later in the year. We also now have friends (= roofs) all over Norway, from Stavanger to Narvik.

Finally, Tuba and Gard took their cultural mission very seriously.
We heard Norwegian fairy tales by the fire,

balestrand5

 

sang lullabies and birthday songs in the cellar of the cider house, ate gammelost, smoked slamon, fiskerkaker, and other Norwegian delicacies. We learned about the history of Balestrand and the artists who left their marks in the town. We also got to climb a 972m high mountain and gaze at the fjord from above (then go back down as quick as we could, there was snow and frost up there!).

balestrand2

While we though we would spend the next day inside, warm and cosy, we were actually back outside and have the feet all wet again, as we went canoeing in the fjords!

Balestrand6

On a more serious side, Tuba, who arrived in Norway as a Turkish EVSer 7 years ago and now lives here, led a discussion about culture shock as a foreigner in Norway. We talked about society, how we perceived it and how we will be perceived, how to react to it and what to expect. To close that topic we watched a Norwegian film that was basically an exaggeration of the director's perception of society.
We also had a few drama sessions, where we were asked to act Norwegian dialogues, Norwegian History and a refugee's story.

It was a very complete week, where we had a great mix of learning, discussing, bonding, koselig times, outdoors activities, and amazing food.
We are now back in the office, ready to go on and make this an amazing year!

CISV-ly yours,
Laëtita & Emi

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Interesting reads:
A frog in the Fjord - a French expat's blog about life in Norway
More about EVS and the Erasmus+ programme

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