Archive for Month: August 2015

Back in the Sioux Empire

I landed in Sioux Falls this past Friday, and I’ve just now moved all my stuff into my new room in Stavig Hall. The 16 hours of traveling went surprisingly well. Partially thanks to my new friend Cessie, that I met on the plane from Copenhagen to Chicago.

When I’m on airplanes, I typically prefer to zone out with my earphones and half a dozen movies on the screen in front of me. But this time, I didn’t even feel like being a typical introverted passenger. From the moment I shook hands with the person who sat next to me, until the plane touched down at O’hare airport in Illinois, I wasn’t really bored for a second.

The girl next to me was about my age, from England/Kenya, and on her way to California. Desite of our completely different backgrounds, we connected instantly, and kept talking non-stop for the next six hours. Then we took a nap, before we picked up the conversation an hour later. The nine-hour flight across the Atlantic went by so fast, I had to check my watch twice just to make sure it didn’t skip like four of the hours.

Isn’t it amazing how a few hours in the same plane can make you feel like you’ve known a person for years?

We talked about most things (I promise you that you that nine hours in a not-so-great SAS plane will allow you to touch topics you never even knew existed) One of our TV-screens didn’t work, and the rather lousy collection of movies opted for more creative ways to entertain ourselves. So we took some time to decorate the magazines we found in the seat pockets in front of us. We signed our beautiful art creations with “Hailey Johnson” and “Margareth Jones” (Yes Margareth with an H) so that no one would be able to trace it back to us. Smart huh?

 

Once we landed in Chicago, we had to walk our separate ways. But with today’s widespread use of social media, staying in touch shouldn’t be too hard.

I just love meeting new people, expecially when traveling. The different stories, opinions, dreams, passions and cultures people hold, never fails to amaze me. To this day, I still correspond with friends I’ve made from all over the world, either through the internet or old-fashioned pen and paper. My Singaporian penpal and I are actually going on our 8th year now.

Now I’ll iron my shirts (that got wrinklier than a Shair Pei dog while stuck inside my suitcase) before I go to bed.

Sweet Dreams,
Maria Lavelle

Reflection: Summer 2015

This summer has officially come to an end, and I can look back at three wonderful months. Nothing really turned out the way I had expected, but things worked out very well after all!

In April I sat down to think through every detail of my summer. According to my calendar I would practice twice a day, prepare for the National Track Championships that would be held in my hometown, and really just live the life of an athlete. I had even written down a weekly training schedule that would include a whole bunch of track meets all around the country.

Over the past year, I’d worked harder than ever, and was in a very good shape. I’d also sat new PBs in every jumping exercise, as well as in the weight room — so track-wise everything looked bright. I’d even shredded off most of my body fat, so that I could bounce off that runway as a leaner, faster and more powerful version of myself.

Video:

 

Having been forced to sit out on my entire college season, I was convinced that “This is going to be my year at the track!” “Of course all that hard work will pay off and result in a medal at Nationals. Common sense !!”

Video:

Still a little rusty, but I love this exercise☺️#triplejump #bounding #plyometrics

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Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve been able to summarize my summers with this sentence: “Train, compete, eat, sleep, repeat.” That always meant I had to forget about everything that had to do with the word “vacation.”

This year however, due to a stress fracture in my ankle, my plans of training and competing as a track athlete went completely down the drain. And believe it or not — I’m very grateful for it.

 

With more time on my hands, I had the opportunity to pursue one of my other passions — filmmaking! Through seven weeks I worked intensively on a three-part documentary film, about the track athletes who actually did get to go to Nationals. So not only did I get to make my first real 41-minute documentary, but I also got to spend several weeks inside the track environment, surrounded by amazing people!

 

After I released the first episode of the film, I got contacted by TVH (TV station in Haugesund) because they wanted to run a story about me and the film. Which gave the film some publicity that would later come in handy.

As soon as I got done editing the remaining two episodes, Haugesunds Avis (Newspaper in Haugesund) bought the whole thing, and aired it on their TV channel several times a day, for almost a week.

It's just me, reporting from the City Hall bathroom📹📝 lol

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Because of that, I was asked to step in as a “speaker” at the National Track Championship. I felt pretty fortunate to get the opportunity to work alongside NRK’s reporters (the biggest news station in Norway) and a bunch of other journalists.

 

The documentary has also been signed up for a film festival in Norway. But I don’t know the final “result” of that yet…

So, even if I didn’t get to compete at this year’s Nationals, I got so much more! I would honesty not have traded it for anything. In retrospect (I know the following sentence might sound weird,) I’m actually happy my ankle kept me from doing what I had planned.

I believe that God has a plan, and all I can do is to trust Him.

Isaiah

 

Bless y’all,
Maria Lavelle

Visitor from Americaah

This past week has actually been filled to the brink with activities of all different kinds.

As I mentioned earlier, my dear friend Brittany came to visit me last week. I’m not known for being a great patriot, but with the rare fortune of having a real American over, I figured I should try to show her Norway from its best side. Which, by the way, was way easier than I expected. Because the weather has been absolutely wonderful this past week. In fact, I think it’s been the best week so far this year.

On Wednesday we went downtown for sightseeing and ice cream.

 

As some of you might remember, I went rib boating a few weeks ago. And I actually liked it so much that I wanted Brittany to have the same experience. However, the tour I went on, can’t be compared to this one at all! Last time, the boat was full and there was no wind = a rather comfy ride with relatively low levels of adrenalin. But this time around, Brittany and I were the only two passengers, and it seemed like the “captain” made it his mission to scare us sh*tless. He was driving crazy fast on the 10ft (3m) waves, and at one point I was convinced we’d fall out, or at least break something.

The thing with rib boating is that you don’t have anything holding you down, except you own hands. And you can’t really sit down on the “saddle,” because the waves will either beat the air out of your lungs, or hurt you badly. Instead you have to stand in a squat position, and use your legs to cushion — which is fine for a while, but after an hour, your quads will be shaking from exhaustion.

Anyway, as an adrenalin junkie, I had a lot of fun! But I felt kinda bad for Brittany. She grew up on the American prairie, and has never been out on the open sea. So this was definitely an extreme way to experience the Norwegian elements for the first time. Luckily, she’s a tough girl, and handled it perfectly well.

 

On Friday we planned on spending the day at “Åkrasanden,” which is a beautiful beach nearby.

Photo credit: Friluftsrådet Vest

But our plans quickly changed when the weather turned its back on us. We had dressed in appropriate beach outfits, and were ready to do some free-diving at my “secret” spot… but after 10 minutes we both got so cold we headed back home.

On Saturday we baked a peach pie, which didn’t turn out as good as we’d hoped for. But it wasn’t too bad, at least if you consider the fact that I was a part of the baking process.. Everything I bake tend to either look funny, taste weird or have an unusual texture. But I have other talents, so I’m not too sad about it.

 

On Sunday, we drove to Bergen to visit the third part of our trio, Karen! After three months apart, we could finally celebrate our reunion !!

 

We spent all day at Karens family’s  mansion, and then went swimming in their private marina. After a while, we needed some action, and decided to jump from the roof of their boathouse. My two “slimy” friends did, of course, make me jump first – just to see if it was safe. Right after I jumped, Karen’s first response was: “Did you hit the bottom?!” When I replied “No no,” she and Brittany jumped as well, haha. Too cute <3

See video below!


Monday was our last day together, before school starts next week, so we made sure we got the most of it.

We spent all day in the city of Bergen, before we visited the Aquarium.
The highlight of the day was undoubtely when we got to hang out with these celebs —

With only two days left of the summer vaycay, I’m starting to feel ready for a new semester at Augustana College University. From September 1st, Augustana will no longer bear the name “College,” but “University” instead – which makes me very very happy 🙂

Well, I should go to bed now. So talk to y’all later.

– Maria Lavelle

Tuesday, and a movie review of “My Skinny Sister”

The trip to Bergen was a huge success, and I’ve now been back in Haugesund for a couple of days.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the fact that the annual “Norwegian International Film Festival” is being held here in town. Haugesund is kind of Norway’s version of Hollywood, for the one reason that the Norwegian “Oscars” happens here every year. Haha, it feels weird writing that, because the people of this city doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about it. Anyway, for a movie-nerd like myself, it’s pretty cool.

What I love about Film Festivals is that you can watch as many movies as you want, ALL day! Well, I didn’t really utilize that option this year, because I’ve had other things to take care of. But I did at least spend a few hours in the theater yesterday, and got to watch two movies before lunch. Sweet sweeeet.

The first one “My Skinny Sister” (Swedish title “Min Lilla Syster”) impressed me. This is Swedish director Sanna Lenken’s debut. The movie is about two sisters. Katja, the oldest, is a beautiful, popular, thin, confident and promising figure skater who is striving for perfection in the ice rink. And her younger sister, Stella, who is everything Katja isn’t. She was not exactly born with skates on her feet, and despite her efforts, she remains a faded shadow of her sister. When Stella discovers that her older sister is struggling with an eating disorder, Katja forces her to keep it from their parents by blackmailing her – which gets serious consequences.

The movie is shot in a very up-close, handheld, shaky, cloudy way, that makes us see everything from Stella’s perspective. It works really well, and it allows us to see her thoughts, even though she doesn’t say much. Absolutely beautiful! I also loved how the director was able to create the “weird” bond sisters tend to have, on-screen. I could really identify myself in parts of the connection between the two sisters! Very few have been able to do that in such a realistic way before.

The story itself is pretty dark, powerful, and at times, uncomfortable to watch. But it’s the reality for many living with an eating disorder, and I think this movie sends an important message. So instead of me spoiling the whole film here, I think that if you ever get the chance, you should just watch it.

I should get some sleep, because tomorrow’s a big day! My lovely American friend Brittany finally gets here, and I’m excited !!

Good night folks, bless you all.
Maria

Bergen

Right now I’m just chilling at my grandparents house in Bergen, while waiting for my hair to dry after a pretty tough swimming session. I sat a new personal best in total distance covered in one session today, wohoo.

Yesterday, I met up with my fellow Augustana Viking, Karen! We haven’t seen each other since early June, so this Augie-refill was very needed. Since we’re both going back to the US in two weeks, we figured we should warm up our inner Americans a little, so we went to eat at Friday’s, before we followed up with some Ben&Jerry’s icecream. (Which by the way, is not quite as good as Cold Stone’s, but still pretty decent.)

IMG_9655

Wups, I gotta go and pick up my sister and her boyfriend. Talk to ya later!

Blesings,
Maria

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