Family Adventure!

Family in Norway
Author: Leigh Tipper

Single Mom Taking on the World

The kids and I are so grateful to be having this experience abroad. We left Vancouver Island on New Year's Day, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that as a single mom taking my two kids abroad didn’t take courage. I was pretty nervous, and excited, all three of us were. 

Family in Norway

Flying to Norway is expensive and also very long. To cut down on the cost I decided to fly to Amsterdam first, and then to Bergen, Norway. This made it half the price, and gave us an opportunity to take our time and enjoy another city on our way there. Our stop in Amsterdam was just over 24 hours. We chose a hotel close to the airport, with a train service that could both go to and from the airport as well as the city centre of Amsterdam so that we could really get the most out of our time. 

I also made sure to find a hotel that could hold our bags after check out so we could explore the city without lugging them around. Then when we were done we could collect them and head to the airport for our flight to Norway. 

We choose to see one of the most spectacular galleries I have ever seen called Rijksmuseum, where we saw paintings from masters such as Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and more! I was in tears, not over the art, though that moved me as well, but at getting to watch my children walk ahead of me looking at all these masterpieces, in Europe! As a single mom, I could never in my wildest dreams believe I would be able to give this experience. All because I decided to go back to school at the age of 39, with the hopes of improving our lives, and at 40 applied to study abroad. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the GSO Scholarship. But I also wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t believe that change is possible and that following my love of history would give us all so much in return. 

GSO Bergen

After plane delays and weather delays we finally made it to Bergen. Thankfully I had made the decision to travel fairly light, it made all the transfers and delays much easier to handle. We each had a backpack as a carry-on, packed with a couple extra outfits, and one checked suitcase. I know that this was going to be a big change for the kids so making sure they brought the things they could keep in touch with their fiends with was important. Such as; Nintendo switch and Xbox. It may sound silly but for them knowing they could keep that small routine relaxed their minds and to be honest things really do slow down quickly when mom starts going to school. Plugs are different here so when you land, or before you come, you can buy converters. 

It took me a few days here to understand the online portal for school, being in a different language, and so different from what I’m used to. But things have a way of seeming more daunting than they actually are. In no time I was moving my way around the site, buying my textbooks, and learning some Norwegian in the process. Bergen feels like a movie set, it is a very old city, and was a major port during the Middle Ages. I knew right away I was in the right place. 

Nordic City

Here I am studying Old Norse Mythology, Archeology of Rome, Germanic and Scandinavian cities, Scandinavian Rock Art Carvings and Europe Post 1945. The classes are all in English, however because English isn’t the professors first language often they will move between more than one language. Which has been a challenge for note taking but on the other hand it has opened me up to so many other words or phrases that honestly English just can’t express sometimes. 

The kids have always been homeschooled, and so here they continue to do that. They are enjoying exploring the city and the food here. We are making plans to explore a little more come spring when we can rent a car and the weather will be a bit better for driving. The feelings of being homesick comes in waves for them, which is part of the growth and part of the adventure. I try to let them feel it as much as possible, trusting that when we do return home they will look back on all they just lived through and be proud of themselves. 

Family Selfie

Sometimes it’s I feel like I’m in a dream. I’m in class discussing the origins of Odin, I’m looking out the window at little homes all in white on the mountain side that reached down into the fjord, and then I walk outside and snow starts to fall. All my life I’ve wanted to be here, and now I get to with my two children at my side, cheering me on.