2016, Studying Abroad, Youtube

Reverse Culture Shock After 3 Years in England

Books & Films, England, Youtube

Dreams Came True On The WB Studio Tour – The Making Of Harry Potter!

Earlier this year a dream came true when Kostas (a Greek friend of mine who takes amazing instagrams) and I decided to go down to London for a weekend to do the Warner Bros Studio Tour, aka HARRY POTTER EVERYTHING ERMAGERD HELP IT’S TOO MUCH. He hadn’t been to London for a long time so we spent  a day seeing the sights by taking the Tube around and popping up for cheeky selfies here and there. I’ve visited London quite a few times, but every time I go back it charms me a little more. A post of the what to see if you only have 24 hours in London coming on the blog soon-ish!

We opted to stay at the Covent Garden Travelodge Hotel, which came to about 30£ a night for the both of us, but gave us a bit more privacy than a hostel would have done. We booked our tickets to the studio tour through the Warner Bros website and our transport through Golden Tours well in advance and after getting on our bus on the day we were off!

After a pretty long bus tour that  showed informational videos about Leavesden and the studio we arrived and walked towards the building.  Seeing the big stone chess pieces outside and the Harry Potter Studio Tour sign made the butterflies spread throughout my stomach and for a minute I couldn’t believe I was there. For as long as I can remember I would watch the Behind-The-Scenes DVD bonus material and documentaries about how the films were made, desperately wanting to understand the magic. I  had dreamed of going to see the sets and now the day was here and I couldn’t believe it.

The experience started as soon as we were queuing to get inside, as Harry’s cupboard under the stairs was there for us to view. It was a little cupboard tangible and detailed. It was THERE. Right there in front of me.  I kept gawking at everything, wide eyed and  starstruck. As we walked into a little cinema and got to see introduction videos and little behind the scenes clip the butterflies stayed. And when the screen made way for the entrance to the Great Hall I marveled at the craftsmanship of it all.

We walked through the Great Hall and came into the big studio itself. Information, interactivity and complete fangirling came together and I felt like a hopeful little 11 year old again. It had been years since I considered myself a hardcore fan (the fanfic writing kind), but Harry Potter is what made me fall in love with reading and what made me fall in love with England and during the tour I fell back in love with it. Harry may not have been as cute as I thought he was when I was 13, but the magic was still there and the feeling of nostalgia was strong.

It’s difficult to imagine the detail that actually went into the films, even the many details you never see, especially in Dumbledores office and the Weasley Burrow. So many little things make up a set and many of them never even make it on screen, but still had to be hand crafted. The scale models, the concept art, the green screen techniques and the animatronic creatures were all amazing pieces of work within their own fields.  We got to wander through a scale model of Diagon Alley, complete with fully stocked shop windows and moving effects, which made my day, and then we got to the huge model of Hogwarts. Wow. I have no words and can only bow down to whoever created such a magnificent piece of art. Because there is no doubt that the Harry Potter films are art. People can argue “mindless entertainment” if they want, but they would be wrong. The stories J.K. created are beautifully complimented by artists within many many fields.

It was honestly one of the highlights of the year for me, but oh how I wish it was all real and that my letter from Hogwarts had arrived when it was promised. I bet I wasn’t the only heartbroken 11 year old who had to realise that she would forever be a muggle and realised it even more so when she found herself standing in front of 4 Privet Drive, wishing with all her might it was real and not imaginary.

I got a photo of myself in front of the Knight Bus and Privet Drive, got to walk through the wibbly-wobbly bridge from Deathly Hallows and drink Butterbeer, and even snagged a few goodies from the (arguably overpriced) gift shop. I did the whole tour, but I didn’t  wanted to leave.  I felt like I could have been there for hours upon hours, just wandering the sets and trying to keep my curious hands away from all the beautiful props.

We visited Leavesden before they had the Hogwarts Express set and they also have wonderful seasonal themes for the tours so I do think I have to go back sometime, but what an experience!  Have you been to the WB Studio Tour? What was our favourite part? 🙂 Xxx

England, Expat Life, Studying Abroad, Travel

Life in England: Alnwick Castle Daytrip

Good morning lovelies! I’ve been a busy bee these past few weeks with university assignments and a wonderful weekend in the North-East with Kjære and his fam. Oh yes, we were reunited after five and a half loooong weeks and I didn´t stop smiling once the entire weekend. Except the part were we had to say goodbye again, but as luck would have it our next stretch is only three weeks at which point I will be back in Stockholm! We’re kicking LDR ass! More on this in another post.

Now, to get to the point of this post, last weekend about 50 Erasmus Society members and committee members headed north from Newcastle to Alnwick Castle & Gardens. Alnwick is a real castle currently owned, run and periodically lived in by the Duke of Northumberland. The castle itself and the (frankly ginormous) castle grounds have been used as locations for Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and a number of other films and tv-shows. It´s truly beautiful and visiting Alnwick was a grand day out, as you can see by the vlog I made of the day 😉

Hope you’re having a great monday! Xxx

Life, Studying Abroad, Youtube

I’m back, England! And it’s a mixed feeling sort of situation…

My return to England has been a success! I’m BACCCCKHHH.

I have to admit that it’s odd being back. And not because I moved back into my flat and immediately got reunited with my dust mite/mold allergy (why carpets Britain? WHYYY). It’s odd being back because it’s like a different life. Different food, different people, different routines, different activities. I’ve left one home for another, once again having to readjust my thinking to a different way of life  – its liberating and stressful  and exhilarating all rolled into one.

The first couple of days back I did errands and slept and being back at university didn’t really register. Then friday happened and 3 hours into the Newcastle University International Welcome Day I looked around me at all the other Society stands, and it hit me. My third year has arrived. My third and LAST year. How weird is that? I never planned for anything after university because university was always the goal. And now university is almost over. I’m slightly terrified by the prospect of writing a dissertation and finishing uni, but being back in the student bubble is amazing. What do I do when uni ends? Then what? *entering black mental hole of future doom*

Luckily I don’t really have time to think about that now that I’m back being busy again – thank God. Yesterday and today was spent in Photoshop making event headers for Facebook events, on stand at the Fresher’s Fair and in meetings. Being the  PR Officer of the Erasmus Society is a varied, but fun role! Tomorrow is when the real bizz starts however, with a 9.30am induction followed by a meeting with the (so far unknown) person who will be my dissertation supervisor.  Wish me luck! Xxx

Ps: BlubImNotAFish tagged me in the Harry Potter Tag so that video is now up on my Youtube channel!

Expat Life, Life, Studying Abroad

A Lesson In Exchange Rates

I recently had a bit of a financial heart attack. For a couple of hours I feared for my future and cursed my country and questioned the point of student finance when it doesn’t even finance my studies. See, the exchange rate between the Norwegian Krone and the British Pound  went from about 9,50 kroner to the pound to 11,50 kroner to the pound in a year and a half. Then, on december 16th 2014 (couldn’t find an English source for this, only Norwegian ones, but here is a translated version)  we had a massive drop that has since then only kept dropping, putting the Norwegian Krone at an all time low. One pound costs 25,5% more Krone than it did just a year ago.The Krone has dropped from 11.50 to 13 kroner to the pound in the last 6 months alone.The exchange rate has never been this bad, and because the Norwegian oil fund is less worth by the day it keeps falling.

Adult life is hard

I pay an international student turition fee and because international tuition fees (the fact that I don’t get to pay EU fees when we’re a part of the EEA because a former Norwegian government threw away students rights during trade negotiations is an entire rant on it’s own) at English universities are usually horrendously high my tuition fees have skyrocketed. A year ago I would have payed 50 000 NOK less in tution fees than I have to now, soley because of the exchange rate. 50 000 NOK is a lot of money. I could travel the world for 50 000 NOK. Or get three return flights to Australia. Or go on a luxury 3 week holiday. Or go to Vietnam on a 12 day Contiki experience… twice.

It is therefore also unfortunate that these 50 000 kroner is what I have to cover myself because  Lånekassen (Literally BorrowBox, the Norwegian student Finance system) doesn’t cover it. They have a maximum loan sum you see, and though I would have stayed well below it had the exchange rate stayed stable, I am now well above it, though the british GBP sum hasn’t changed. GAAAAAAAH FRUSTRATION. This means that I probably won’t be able to travel as much as I was hoping to because the money I make from my part-time job and three months of work during the summer will go straight to try and cover my expenses.

Lånekassen to every student currently abroad struggling With finances

Life threw me a bit of a curveball here because of the world economy changing (which is interesting, but also terrifying)  and I’m not happy about losing my travel money, but I have now resigned myself to the fact that there is nothing I can do about the situation. Zilch. I will just have to accept that most of my Norwegian maintanence loan will go into the tuition fees account instead of my rent, get a part-time job and make it work. I’m not able to make lemonade out of this situation, but I can at least bite the sour lemon and try to make the best of it. And I’m sure learning a lot about exchange rates and how to speculate in money.

Let’s pray the exhange rates improve over the next month, or at the very least that they don’t get any worse.

#FrustratedCat  Xxx

norway, Travel

From Newcastle to Northern Norway via an Airport Bus Cargo Hold

It’s the summer holidays and I have a ridiculous amount of free time in between my second and last year at university. For the  past four years I have spent my summers working in the regional tourism office in my home town, and this year I returned for one last summer of working for the travel board. To get home however, I first had to complete one heck of a journey.


The journey from Newcastle to my hometown of Sortland takes between 15 and 18 hours. It’s only 1775km (aka 1000 miles) between them and logically it shouldn’t take that long. If I had lived in London it would have been a simple Heathrow – Oslo – Home situation, but I don’t so it’s not. Instead I start my day with a train from Newcastle to Manchester, via York, often at 4.30 am. Virgin East Coast Rail takes me south to York then further away form my final destination, but this route is  usually quite scenic so I’m okay with it. I’m feeling good, munching away at the standard breakfast of a Sainsburys Meal Deal from the shop in the station. We get to York and switch to a First Transpennine train to Manchester Airport.  Then, almost two hours later, they ask us to switch trains one stop before the Airport. I’ve probably failed to mention that on this particular trip home I have three suitcases with me, one for the cabin and two to check in. I’m not happy about this whole “running around like headless chicken trying to figure out what elevator- and escalator-less platform the next (delayed) train from Manchester Picadilly to Manchester Aiport leaves” situation.

We eventually get to the airport. The check in at Manchester Airport when flying with SAS can be a nightmare, but this time I was lucky and travelled on a Monday.  I walk straight up to the desk, flash my silver Eurobonus card like it gives me the power to grant people eternal life, check in and go about my day. This little victory combined with a weird sense of accomplishment due to gaining a silver EuroBonus card leaves me smiling. Lunch is a sandwhich I hastily buy in Boots before running to my gate. It’s Gate 28. Always Gate 28.

IMG_7516This post is getting long and I haven’t even left the country yet. Lets speed it up a little.

Right, so we fly to Gardemoen Lufthavn, Oslo. It’s uneventful. but I do snap this photo as we take off, knowing I’m going to miss my evergreen second home. I play “On Top of The World” by Imagine Dragons and start missing England and everything in it.

After reading a couple of chapters in my book we land at Gardemoen Airport (OSL). The waiting begins. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Five hours of waiting to be exact. It would have been six hours, but I cross over a timezone and lose an hour which I always seems to be equally surprised about. I pay 4 pounds for a bottle of water, 7 pounds for some tiny bags of snacks and 10 pounds for a simple salad (WHAT IS UP WITH NORWEGIAN PRICES). Someone knocks my salad onto the floor after one bite and doesn’t apologize. I send them a mean look and sulk for the rest of the wait while watching Modern Family on Netflix. Gardemoen Airport has unlimited free internet and a good supply of electrical sockets for everyone so I decide I really like Gardemoen.

We land at Harstad Narvik/Evenes Lufthavn (EVE) and I hastily get my luggage and run out to the bus headed for Sortland. The problem now is that I see someone walking past with the exact same suitcase as mine just before the bus is about to leave. It’s bright pink and I don’t see many like it so naturally I feel the need to make sure I haven’t stolen someone else’s suitcase and run out of the bus to access the cargo room. As it happens the bus driver presses the “close” button on the hydraulic door just as I’m leaning in to check the tag on my suitcase. The door closes and after throwing my legs in after my upper body (to avoid them becoming spaghetti) I sit in complete darkness in the cargo room of an Airport Express bus for a good minute. I kid you not. In front of the waiting queue for a bus going in another direction I disappear into the cargo room of the bus like some magic trick, emerging a minute later to find people staring at the cargo room in both astonishment and complete amusement at my misfortune. There is pointing. The bus driver swears and mumbles something about me being a fool. I feel like a bit of a fool, but laugh it off and hide my red cheeks in the collar of my jacket. The bus ride is understandably long 😛

Now, after taking two trains, two flights and a two hour bus journey via the cargo room of said bus you may think I’m tired  and ready for bed. However, when we fly in to Harstad/Narvik Evenes (EVE) Airport I am welcomed home by this:

The midnight sun in all its glory . It’s 22.30 pm and it’s been an exhausting day , but coming home to the land of Northern Lights, mountains, snow in June, fjords and Midnight Sun? It’s the best feeeling there is. And as the bus rolls past green fields, blue water  and white peaks I contemplate the long journey and feel nothing but blessed for both the places I get to call home and for the opportunities life has given me.