St. Olaf Study Travelers in Norway

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fresh Eyes

God dag fra Oslo.

A bit bleary, the Viking Study Travel group, led by professors Dan Dressen, music, and Solveig Zempel, Norwegian, arrived this morning in Oslo with the first wave of band and orchestra members accompanying us from Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Oslo.

I was seated next to Christine, a flute player from Vadnais Heights, Minn. A member of the St. Olaf Band, she's making her first trip outside North America.

Having started by working in France and Germany when I was 18, I never tire of immersing myself in other cultures. Each experience hooks me deeper. But, seated next to this wide-eyed, excited first-timer — holding herself back from shooting a whole roll of film from the airplane window — I gazed at the land, first green, then ice-flecked. Then the sea, then clouds, then the sunrise, then ships, then the unmistakable patchwork green of Europe. I looked away from my Norwegian novel and dictionary and felt again the rush of another adventure in culture and learning and life.

Christine's first trip abroad, with flute in hand. My 14th, or so, with clarinet in hand. She'll never forget her first. May she have so many that she, too, starts to lose track of the number, but never of the joy, the buzz, or the awestruck gratitude for the privilege.