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On Norwegians and nerves

Four years ago, Emma chose a rather auspicious day to come and visit me in Oslo; her flight arrived on the seventeenth of May - or rather, Norwegian Constitution day.

This of course meant that, as soon as she arrived, she and I were towed along to watch the parade with my Norwegian friends, have ... several drinks and generally admire the fact that absolutely everyone was dressed up in the national costume.

We finished the day at a fellow pianist's house, eating leftovers from the breakfast we'd had that morning. Also, because there were four musicians in the room, we ended up watching Eurovision reruns, singing along with the bits we remembered and betting on when the "gearchange" (i.e. the moment where the song transposes half a note up for extra drama) would happen.

As you do.

This was quite the memorable occasion. So much, in fact, that a few weeks ago Emma asked me if I knew of any celebrations happening in Holland which perhaps we could gate-crash with our Haugtussa programme.

First, I wondered why I hadn't thought of that myself. Then, I contacted the Norwegian Sjømannskirken in Rotterdam. A week later, on the sixteenth of May, I popped in for a quick visit to see how the acoustic of the room was and whether the piano was as good as I suspected.

"A warm welcome" doesn't quite cover the experience I had. The church itself is, of course, beautiful, and I heartily reccomend a visit to anyone who is in the neigborhood.

The community running it matches it in warmth.

I spoke with two of the community's leaders, and when I told them that I'd probably do my tallking in English on the day, they assured me that everybody would be able to understand it fine... and then one of them said "but Norwegian would be better, of course".

And that's when I resolved to do the talking in Norwegian.

I spent the entire next morning writing and then doing the reverse google translate thing to see if what I'd written made sense in English. For the first time in years, I held my speech aided by a sheet of paper.

I haven't been that nervous since my Master's exam.

Fortunately, all's well that ends well - both my Bokmål ramblings and Emma's Nynorsk singing were understandable (even though it was pointed out to us we have "charming" accents).

Afterwards, we were offered lunch... and they had waffles.

The same waffles I used to have for lunch at the Musikkhøgskole.

With home-made jam.

We will definitely be back.

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