Monthly Archives: February 2007

High-Speed Sledge Riding in Oslo

Today, I took part in the sledge riding activity for exchange students. I expected something like this in Uppsala, where you just walk to a hill and go down afterwards with a sledge. But what was thought to be an activity for children, turned out to be a crazy, high-speed down hill sledging.

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The Forest

We first took the metro until the last stop of line number 1, Frognerseteren. From there we went to a small building where we rented the sledges. The trip was actually organized by a small Norwegian family business which is run by a mother and her daughter. The daughter is roughly my age and does a “Bachelor in Outdoor Activities”. While in Germany, I would have asked whether she has already a taxi for doing something useful after her studies, here in Norway things seem to be different.

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Logo of the Norwegian Skiing-School

With her came her young brother (about 10 years old) and a friend of him who spoke English perfectly. This was so amazing! I asked when children in Norway start to study English. They told me that they start already at the age of 6 or 7. So really early!

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The Metro

At the top of the hill, we got some helmets for the sledge-riding and by that time I knew: this is getting serious. The track itself was about 4 km long and some parts were covered entirely with ice, which made it impossible to “navigate” with the sledge. Besides that, I had made the tactical mistake of only wearing a jeans and some long underwear. This turned out to be wrong because everything became wet and some parts of the jeans were entirely frozen later on.

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One of the sledges

The ride itself was incredibly fast. There were some bumps on the track and sometimes you were really flying through the air for a few seconds. A guy from Greece made acquaintance with a tree besides the track – which obviously hurt a bit. Parts of the track were actually quite dangerous and one could have easily slided into the abyss. This provoked the Germans of the group to complain about how “they” (whoever that would be) could allow such a dangerous track to exist.

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some of the participants…

It was not necessary to walk up again. When we arrived at the bottom of the hill, we just took the next metro back up again and the fun could start for the next time. All in all, I managed to handle the sledge quite well. In total we went up and down for three times and I finished almost always among the first 5, so not too bad! The third and last run was the most fun and also the fastest one.

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…looked like astronauts

Reading E-mails in the Snow

This night temperatures dropped in Oslo and finally there is some real snow.

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Oslo University

It is now -9°C during the day and -15°C in the night. At the University campus, snow plows were deployed to remove the snow a bit. Today, February 6th, is the Sami National Day and as a result I could see a lot of Sami and Norwegian flags on the campus.

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Baby change facility at the men’s toilet

Another very interesting “feature” of Scandinavia is that they are very child-friendly. You see a lot of young couples with their children walking around; in the student area where I live there are special student kindergartens (for the children of the students that is). Child-care is not only seen as a task for the mothers, but also for the fathers. As a result, I spotted this sign of a baby change facility at the men’s toilet in our library.

Communication

Since GPRS data transfer is free in the network of Teletopia, I installed Google’s Gmail for Mobile and Google Maps for Mobile on my mobile phone.

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Gmail

The programs are running perfectly fast and answering emails goes as quickly as writing text messages.

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Google Maps for Mobile

On Google Maps for Mobile, Oslo was directly displayed when I started it (so now Google not only has all my emails, but also knows where I am!). The picture above shows a map of Maastricht.

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Satellite view

You can even switch to a satellite view, which basically looks like Google Earth on your phone. In total, I transferred about 1 Megabyte of data, which would have cost me around 19 euros in Germany – in Oslo it is for free.