A Meeting With Some Bright Norwegian Minds.
I had been invited to speak to four high school English classes here in Oslo by one of the teachers and Friday was the day. The kids were all in their last year of public school before heading off for the university experience. All had been taking English for several years and all seemed to understand most of what was said. Several in each class spoke very well with virtually no accent. I invited them to ask me anything at all … about me personally, about the U.S., or about Hawaii. And, with only a little coaxing, they started in. Mostly they wanted to know more about Hawaii, especially about how so many people of so many different races get along so well. It was probably more fun for me than for them, but they seemed very interested and, I’m relieved to report, no one nodded off. It was all in English and it was impressive.
The fact is, almost everyone here speaks at least a little English. And it’s a sure bet that almost anyone under 25 or so will be nearly fluent and most of them will have almost no detectable accent. It’s really quite remarkable. Furthermore — and I don’t know how the hell they do it — you walk up to the registration desk in a hotel … or go into a restaurant … and the first person you see greets you in English. It’s as though I had a sign — AMERICAN! — taped to my forehead. I keep asking them how they knew I was an American from a distance and they just grin and shrug. It’s almost creepy.
Saturday, with my Norwegian friends, I took the train from Oslo to Flam, a tiny little town located on a magnificent fjord. Flam is reached by a 45-minute train ride from Myrdal … a train that winds its way down through rocky gorges and several tunnels to a scattering of a dozen or so buildings. One of the tunnels makes a 180-degree turn inside the mountain in the descent. Highlight of the day was a two-hour cruise out in the fjord with streaks of mist providing an unforgettable picture … which, along with a number of other amazing photos, remains hermetically sealed in the damn camera to my everlasting embarrassment.
Tomorrow, rather early, I will return to Copenhagen and connect there with an overnight train to Paris. Then one more night there and it’s a flight to New York followed by Amtrak to Jacksonville for a meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. My next report will be from the City of Light.