Monday, February 23, 2015

Another week In

Well I have spent another week in Norway and it has been spent mainly at work. During the week I really will not have much free time I can tell. But that doesn't mean I can't take the time to notice the small things.  Here are some of the things I have noticed, and a trip I took to a more remote region of Norway for work.


First thing is first. Europe, and the majority of the rest of the world, is on a different point of sale system than the US. For their credit and debit card transactions they use a "Chip and Pin" system. This system does not require you to swipe your card in order for the merchant to get your bank information. Instead a "Chip and Pin" card requires you to enter in your pin into a microprocessor that hashes it through a decryption algorithm to spit out a result. If the pin was the correct pin then it will release your bank information to the vendor. That of course is an overly simplified explanation of the system and infact may still be wrong. In order to be more educated you can read about the system HERE. To the point though this system drastically cuts down on "hackers" stealing your card information right off the magnetic strip. BUT being in the good old US of A we are late to the ship on this one. WHY? Because we were one of the original adopters of the point of sale system meaning our entire infrastructure (every gas-station, store, atm, and ice-cream stand) was built on older technology. In order to switch over it is going to cost billions of dollars. About $9 billion roughly.

So what is the point of me writing all of this? In order to tell you if you are an American planning on travelling to Europe or anywhere that uses the "Chip and Pin" system, plan ahead. Either get your bank or credit company to issue a chip enabled card, or get a pre-paid card that you can transfer money onto.

If neither of those are a viable option for you then there is still the possibility of using the traditional swipe and sign method. However most cashiers / places don't even remember how to do it from my experience. After many failed attempts to pay with card and having to resort to cash, I finally figured out the trick. Swipe your card as you normally would into the machine depicted below instead of sliding your card in like show.

"Chip and Pin" reader or more formally EMV
Then when the system asks you for your pin number..... don't panic. Simply hit the RED button telling the system that you are instead from america and laugh at danger. Then it will ask you if you really want to sign for the transaction instead. Hit the green okay button letting it know that yes you are aware you are susceptible to credit card fraud, and wallah! You can now tell the cashier how to handle the next American that walks through the door. Fear not though you will likely only have to worry about this until October of 2015 when a large portion of US companies are planning to switch over.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Starting to Explore

Now that I have been here for a couple of days it was time to start exploring around. Obviously with it being Friday I needed to start exploring the local beer. I took a trip to my convenience store and picked out "Aass, Norges Eldste Bryggeri" Aass, Norway's eldest brewery. Figured If Yeungling was decent and had been around in america for that long then this stuff couldn't be too bad either.

About $22 dolars worth.... Won't be drinking too much here!

All in all it was a decent beer, but not my favorite, I will have to keep trying out different varieties and figure out what my tastes are here.

Mountain 1/7:

Well since this is the city among the Seven Mountains, I figured I should try to climb as many of them as I can while I am here. With that in mind on my first weekend here I figured I should start with the one closest to my apartment. Løvstakken - 477m tall and south east of the city centre. I was able to walk out my front door straight to the trail head.

Here is a map of the 7 mountains.

Getting settled

Getting some food

 Well now that I have made it to Bergen it is time to get settled in, find my way to work, pick up some groceries, and start functioning on a day to day level. One of the very first things I did was set out to find a place to buy food. Well it didn't take me long as the closest grocery store was 800 feet away from my apartment. The grocery store is small but it has a lot of the basics and definitely whatever I will need to sustain myself. If I need anything extra I will go to some larger stores.

Produce galore!

Everything else too

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Journey!

Well my first post will pertain to the first big step in my trip to Norway, which is actually getting there!

The journey actually started way before purchasing a plane ticket. Once I found out I was going to be going to Norway my companies division for global travel set off on the arduous task of determining whether or not I was going to need a work visa. This took about a month and a half, or maybe two, I don't know haha it just felt like an excruciating amount of time. During this waiting period I was fortunate enough to have very gracious friends that let me stay at their pad on their couch. These are also the same gracious people that are willing to look after my pup. Thank you James, Kayla, and Ryan! Once I finally knew I was going we had a final supper at Farm Burger which was everything one could want in a true american meal.

The final supper! Bacon, Peperjack, jalepeno, lettuce burger with a chocolate shake and sweet potato fries.
After that It was off to Gainesville to pick up my transcripts (which I needed for my work visa) and visit my lovely girlfriend one more time.