Phase two - arriving and settling in
My flight to America left Oslo early in the morning so I spent the night at the airport, too excited to sleep. I travelled with a girl named Marie who was going to the same area as I was. I changed planes in Amsterdam and had a few hours to kill before the big, ugly 8 hour flight to Seattle. I was squished in the middle of a 5-seat row for 3-4 hours at the time, watching the movie without sound, listening to Barenaked Ladies and making faces at the cute baby in the seat in front of me. It was the longest and most boring flight ever! I half-slept for an hour maybe, and when I walked off the plane I had been awake for 38 hours. Everything went ok with the Immigration, I found all my luggage and managed to not get lost. I found my uncle, aunt and cousins and finally put my feet on American soil.
The first place I visited was Starbucks (about an hour after I arrived), go figure. I'd seen pictures of the house and the street but it was still different than I imagined. I spent the first day at home, unpacking, getting to know the neighbours and such. I arrive at noon, which was 9pm Norway time, I was about to lose my second night of sleep and didn't communicate well in either language, hehe. Managed to stay awake until 8pm before I crashed.
They woke me up at 8 the next morning for my meeting with the school councelor. It was one of her first days there, but she'd worked at other schools and dealt with exchange students before. I'd made a list with the courses I wanted and I got all of them:) My first semester schedule was: US History, English 12, Chamber Choir, Web Page Authoring, Photoshop and Pre-Calculus. I peeked down the corridors a bit before we had to go to the bank. Opening a bank accout was messy - I had to come back 3 times! Afterwards I went to Costco for the first time and the thing about having to show a card to get in weirded me out a lot. Of course I had to ask if all the stores in America was like that., hehe. I still had no appetite at all. Later that evening I went with Jill and two of her friends to see Aimee Mann at the Woodland Park Zoo. It was raining, but still very good. Picnic concerts were new to me.
The rest of the week was spent with the hostfamily mostly, visiting places, spending twice as much time exploring the grocery store than finding the stuff on the list, "have you ever tried this? No? Then you're trying it now", Trying to work the TV, meeting a lot of new people I tried really hard to remember the names of, contacting people associated with the scout and venture crews around Lynnwood, getting over my jetlag and practicing my english.
The first saturday (my 5th day there) they threw a "welcome to the USA BBQ / 18th bday" party for me. Strange America hit me in the face when I went with my uncle to buy ice cubes and already blown up balloons! I tried a corn dog for the very first time and teryaki chichen (my new love). The only bad part was that I had at least 10 new names to learn in a day and I failed miserably, hehe. My aunt wrote them down on a piece of paper for me afterwards, thank god. On this day I felt like I'd crossed a border, language wise. I had a 10 minute conversation with someone without getting stuck on a word and I managed to not sound drunk. I was very proud of myself. We also had a Blue Jay (bird) in the garage today.
Then there was time to start school. Jill was a first time high school mom so she asked advice from the neighbours to check if I had everything covered and the responses were scary. "You haven't gotten a locker yet, or a buspass, anything?" I also weren't invited to the Orientation since I wasn't an entering freshman, so I snooped around the school a bit the day before but I still didn't know where I was going when Jill dropped me off at 7am on sept 2nd. Thank god for inventing the Link Crew, hehe. I found the room where my schedule was suppose to be although I was a little worried that it wouldn't be there because they had lost me in the system there before. I found all my classrooms without being tardy. I never knew they were so strick on that. And seeing students waiting by the door until the bell rang - first I thought they were messing with me. My counselor placed me in the beginners choir and since I'd been in choir for 8 years I wanted to try and change to the other choir. It took a few days but I managed to do it, ended up switching my US History class, right after I've spent 2 days memorizing all the presidents. And I got 100% on the test but right after I took it I switched classes and teachers. That was a bummer. People thought I was a freshman so they tried the trip me in the hallway, and then they got annoyed when I wasn't scared. I was laughing inside - if they only knew that I was older than they were...
During Labour day weekend I went to Bumbershoot - the Seattle Arts Festival. I didn't know anyone my age yet who could take me so I went with my uncle. It was a lot of fun. I stayed for the late concert - Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback:) It was my first stadium-sized concert and experience with second-hand pot. I also explored Pike Place Market where I met a busker, had Turkish food and saw people throw fish.
I'd done a lot of research on different scout groups in the area, and I ended up with two possibilities in the end - a girl scout group and a venture crew. The girl scout group never got back to me but I checked out, and later joined, Venture Crew 432 of Mt Baker Council. They had their meetings at REI, which was a new thing for me. They were all very excited since I'd been a scout for so long, and I was elected Vide President of Administration in the fall elections. My crew consisted of Advisor Brad, associate advisors Wayne and Ed, Katie, Robert, Jared, Spencer, Josh, Chelsie and Hannah. We did a lot in september - went kaykaing on Lake Union and worked with REI on a trail project. The people in the crew are awesome and I found my best friends there.