Thursday 26th May 21:16
“Hello, hola y hallo! My name is Benji and I’d like to sleep on your sofa please…”
The evening before the first of my final three exams at university, my friend Rob had shared with me a link to a blog titled “How Travelling Kills Ambition”.
In the year before, Rob had worked for 9 months at a global business and he quickly came to despise the office environment. Although Rob was the best in his academic year, repeatedly achieving 90+% in his exams, he had no interest in using his mathematical prowess in the same way again.
This blog, he said, summed up how he felt about life. Why working in an office will never be what he wanted. Why travelling would improve his life much more than a high income would.
I read this post and agreed with a lot of it. It describes the outlook of many people who are caught between society’s norms and living the life they want to. Let me know what you think.
The author of the blog was currently in Norway, and she had a recent post about why Norway was very accessible at the time of writing; the pound was strong against the krone, there were regular cheap flights from major EU airports and it was relatively low on most travellers’ to see lists.
This caught my eye. I already had two big trips planned for that summer (to Berlin with my Mum and to Poland and Hungary to teach TEFL) but my hunger for travel was high after revising for my final exams.
Within half an hour of receiving this post, I had found flights to Oslo (Rygge) for £54.38 and had a quick search of the hostels in the nordic city. They were all quite expensive.
Then the thought struck me. Couchsurfing, a.k.a.:
The Internet: Go sleep on a random person’s sofa
Me: Why not?
I downloaded the app, found a lovely couple who had similar interests, good reviews from those who had stayed with them and less than an hour after receiving the blog post, I had booked to go to Oslo 3 weeks later.
The next morning, when I sat my exam, I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities in this unusual country. What was I going to do? What was I going to see? How much would everything cost? What food would I try?
Upon arrival to the country, I had a rough idea as what my week was to be filled with; see the opera house, see the Scream, get my Viking on… but my journey became much more than this due to my Couchsurfing hosts.
I met them in a car park.
Okay, so I know you should never meet people you’ve “met” off the Internet in a car park, but this was Oslo, what were they going to do? Turn me into a gnome?
So I met Espen in this car park and I soon realised he didn’t want to harvest my organs for a quick buck. Espen was lovely. He was funny and sincere and thoughtful. Over the week, we spent quite a bit of time together and discussed many different topics – the Brexit vote was during my short stay in Oslo so that memory will remain with me for a while.
His partner Omar was great as well. A Venezuelan guy who had met Espen online, fell in love and when he emigrated to Norway, he finally met the man he’d later go on to marry.
They introduced me to some weird things.
- Like how on birthdays, Norwegians have hot dogs in pancakes (which are delicious by the way).
- How Norway is the biggest consumer of frozen pizza per capita.
- And they also enjoy pic-a-mix like most other Scandinavian countries.
- I also tried the brown cheese, which wasn’t so great.
Without them, I never would have visited Sognsvann, a beautiful lake at the end of the Metro where locals go to walk, cycle and swim. If you’re ever in Oslo, I’d definitely recommend going to this tranquil part of the forest, not that Oslo is a busy city like New York, but the calming effect of this area was amazing.
I also went to the Norsk Folkemuseum and the Viking Ship museum, which were great!
I’d definitely advise going to Oslo. I’d also advise seeing what Couchsurfing is like – you’ll get more back than you think!
Whilst writing this piece, I noticed that I was listening to Oslo by Anna of the North . Weird.