Before the Trip
First of all I tried to find people that would like to go hiking in the next time as well. Therefore I asked a bit around who was still available and found two members of the Outdoor Education Program and one who studies politics who were ready to go. Since they did not all know each other and there was a lot to be planned we organized a Zoom-Meeting on the evening of the first day of the skitrip. Sitting together in one room and talking about what to do and how to get there we found that we were not too sure about the weather being okay (mainly meaning dry). This was one of the reasons why we decided to book a car and bring a tent in order to be flexible on where to go and what to do when.
The more detailed planning took place (as usual) rather short before the trip, in this case the day before we started out. Since there was only one day (Saturday) in between the last day of the second skitrip and our self organized tour this time that was not to be helped. All four of us met finally in person and decided to go to Bergen first, driving there all the way in one day. We had already decided on two drivers, one of them beeing me, and therefore knew we would be able to switch along the way. This seemed necessary since it always is a long drive and became even longer as we were trying to avoid toll roads as much as possible. That is why we ended up going pretty far north before turning west. Also our route included some interesting looking mountain routes sometimes leading up steeply sometimes on a plateau or through a valley. All these roads seemed pretty small and curved and I was rather glad that I had been driving in mountain areas before.
For the first three nights we booked a hostel in Bergen since the weather did not seem to good and we wanted to stay in the city. For the days afterwards we decided to just wait and see and then decide spontaneously where to sleep. Generally we planned to stay for three days in the area of Bergen including at least one bigger hike (Bruviknipa), do Preikestolen the day after and visit Stavanger in the end. But depending on the weather we were also ready to change this plan.
We were rather well prepared and looked up possible hikes already and also some possibilities on what to do in and around Bergen. One of us made a list of a few nice places in the town itself and we found that rather practical when we had actually arrived. Especially since she had also marked the places on google maps and that is why we had a guided tour around the town. Concerning the hikes we still had to make some rearrangements once we had arrived.
When it came to the equipement I could lend some outdoor things that might be needed to one of our group since (if you are not studying Outdoor Education) not everyone brings this kind of equipement to an exchange semester in Norway. We also decided not to bring too much each since the rented car would not have too much room and also to use backpacks to make the loading of the car as easy as possible.
When it came to food everyone had a bit different ideas of course but we found an agreement fast: everyone should bring some food and we would share afterwards. We planned on bringing food for the first two days and afterwards do groceries in Bergen which turned out fine.
For fetching the car the next day we decided to go all together even if that meant to carry all our baggage and get up early, because the direction (going to the car rental at the airport) was the right one and we wanted to start the long drive as soon as possible.
During the Trip
As I already mentioned this time there was a lot left open before we actually went on the trip. For example we had to plan when and where exactly to do our groceries and also what to eat. Sometimes that turned out to be a bit tricky since not all of us would always go together but we did not know each other well enough to be certain about what someone else would like or not. So clarifying/ planning this before going into the supermarket was/ would have been helpful.
Also finding where to sleep during the night was sometimes very spontaneous. This was nice because of all the possibilites it offered but it could also turn out a bit stressfull. Once we felt like we needed an appartement during the night and took the first offer which we received. This was cancelled so we took another one. But then suddenly the first one was available as well and suddenly we were to pay both and the time for asking ones money back was over already (the days before it would not have been a problem). Hence there were a lot of phone calls to do and staying available while walking down from Preikestolen. Finally this was solved thanks to some friendly and understanding people. Still this may certainly be the downside of planning spontaneously.
This time our group consisted of two people knowing one another pretty well, me who knew everyone a little bit and one other who knew just me a little. Therefore in the beginning (the 12 hours of driving to Bergen) we were all trying to get to know each other a bit better. In At first I had the feeling that we maybe all preferred to ask questions and listen rather than answer them ourselves. None of us would take the roll of a leader imediately. Still, since I knew and liked everyone I found myself talking quite a lot soon.
Luckily we all would get to know one another rather quickly since we spent a lot of time together and did different outdoor activities where the personality shows easily. Especially after the trip I realized that I got closer with all of them and with one of them in particular.
The typical phases after Tuckman that come after the mentioned forming process in the beginning (namely: storming, norming, performing) seemed to flow into one another. Since we where already on our way when we started to get to know each other (better) we were somehow performing (on a simple level) already. Still for example later on when it came to hiking or map reading one of the others would most of the time take on some kind of a leading role whereas I usually stayed in the back and made sure that everyone was doing fine and able to follow. Sometimes we where also really discussing and again a small tendency for one person to take the lead showed which had not been there in the beginning. So we experienced some hints of a storming phase which were showing from time to time. Still all in all it was rather harmonious most of the time and we always managed to perform in the way that we needed to in order to have a nice trip together.
Generally I would say that two of our group were rather task orientated which was pretty helpful when it came to leading (as I mentioned) but also for planning or making decisions. The rest of us seemed more in the socio-emotional-role where the highest aim seemed to be to keep the group together and functioning. That also was useful to keep discussions short and manageable and also to make hiking together less risky since a lot of care for the members of the group was shown. A good combination of both can be rather useful in a group and usually I have the feeling that for example I adapt a bit to the role that seems to be needed more in a specific group.
What I Learned
When it comes to further planning when one is already on a trip I learned that it can be very useful to have enough data on ones mobilephone. Without this it is only possible to look something up in a hostel or flat with WIFI-connection and not as we often did: when we were already on our way. This accounts for appartements but also for maps of certain areas, searching for good parking spots or information about the building in front of you.
Also (again) a bit more storage on the mobilephone would be nice when it comes to downloading apps that come in handy (komoot for planning a tour/ having a map of the area, maps of the parking prices in Norway…).
Concerning the food I got reminded of something of which I did not really have to think about so far in Norway: When the winter is over or one spends time inside: Think of which kind of food to bring or at least on how long to keep it and where to keep it! Dairy products for example seem to turn sour rather quickly if they are not kept pretty cold.
Again I learned also a lot about my own body, my strength and weaknesses and how important it can be to be spontaneous. For some reason (I still do not know why exactly but I was pretty certain in the beginning that I could just not deal well with some of the food) in the evening of the second day I started to not feel well. I had a pretty bad stomach ache and additionally … enough reason to spent the night in the bathroom. This state got a bit less painfull but it did not go away until some time after the trip. Hence I found myself unable to eat the planned food especially the already sour one (which was quite a lot) and generally I could not eat too much. This in combination with often few sleep during the nights (that I spent partly in the bathroom) made me weaker than usual. Still I wanted to come along and also I did not want to „spoil the trip“ for which we were to move from then on every day into a new appartement. I practised ignoring my body when it was no use to concentrate on the pain and instead enjoyed the hiking, the nice region and company as much as I could. At the same time I had to listen to my body more closely than usual to know how much I could manage and when I was actually fit enough to for example drive the car. Again I tried to do this without complaining in order to keep the general mood up (which was not always very easy for me) and I hope I managed most of the time.
Still even though we all hoped it would get better we decided to book an appartement (using the website Airbnb) every time during the day. This meant we could not go camping and the costs were higher than planned orginally, but somehow no one (including myself) wanted to sleep in a tent with me as long as I kept suddenly running out during the night.
All of us also learned to get along with interesting hosts who for example would want us to keep the main light on during the whole night „for the plants“ as she sad.
Or when we learned that „our“ appartement was in fact the living place of the mother of the one who rented the appartement out. He had forgotten that his „normal“ appartement was not available and had asked his mother to leave her flat to us for one night. She did not seem too happy about that and also had to come into the appartement in the evening as well as in the morning to collect some things. Still we of course stayed friendly and thankful for a (pretty fancy) place to spend the night which helped to lift the spirits a bit.
As usual we also learned about the beautiful landscape including Bergen the city that is said to on average ‘enjoy’ 239 rainy days of the 365 days per year and therefore be the wettest ciy of Europe. There the climate seems to be a lot milder and there were many beech trees and other trees with leaves instead of neadles. The plants actually reminded me a lot of the ones at my home in Germany.
Also the hike on Bruviknipa which was „advertised“ to us as one of the most beautiful mountains in Norway offered a very special view down a fjord and so did Preikestolen.
So I learned to love the norwegian landscape even more.