Currently listening to Kendrick Lamar and feeling quite recovered from the most horrendous experience volunteering I've ever had and the most horrendous experience I've ever had on my 9 month trip! Basically, might never go WWOOFing again, even though my friends had such positive experiences. I won't go into too much detail about my experience farming in Vest-Agder, but unfortunately I ran into the worst person to volunteer for. I was taken advantage of, never told thank you, bullied, belittled, and never invited to do anything fun. The woman who organized the farm was the definition of a freeloader who gave the other volunteer and me the bare minimum in food (we lived off of brunøst and Wasa crackers, which is really NOT the normal Norwegian diet, maybe the traditional snack). I also ended up using a lot of my own food, as the woman never offered to take us into town to buy snacks or to treat us to anything.
Their food was incredibly bland and not enough for us to feel healthy. Farming is hard work, so you need nutrition, or a well balanced meal, which is something we didn't always get for dinner, and certainly not for lunch. She would yell at me for every little thing, even if I hadn't done something wrong. She would sit and smoke cigarettes and nitpick over every little thing while the other volunteer and I sweated and mucked out duck shit, cow shit, and did our best to scrub the floors. She even demanded that I help clean her house when I asked what we could do for fun (this was after I had worked the required 4-6 hours that day), and she was very passive aggressive. WWOOF is about exchanging cultures, not freeloading off of the goodwill of other people. In the end, after a particularly nasty outburst about the internet going out (and her blaming it on me, even though there were three other people in the house using internet), I decided I had to make the 2 hour+ trek to the bus and train station.
The next morning, I woke up at 6 am and started walking down the highway. I had left a diplomatic, honest note on why I could no longer stay at the farm, most notably that I did not feel welcome there. On my walk, I even saw my first Norwegian moose! It scampered away before I had a chance to get a photo. Surviving on my Ritz cracker and apple, with little food to spare, I made it halfway before a kind older Norwegian man picked me up and dropped me off at the train station. The unfortunate part was that there were so many sweet people in the town (which I won't bother to name to save privacy). They reminded me of small town Minnesotans with their small talk. A group of older men noticed I was a foreigner and as I placed my 5 kroner in the piggy bank to pay for coffee, they sweetly handed me a cup and said "enjoy your day!" Ugh. Just had the worst luck, didn't I?
When I had gotten to the train station, I received a nasty email explaining how nobody liked me at the farm, how I was weird, how I was a liar, how I don't know how to take care of animals (jokes on her as I grew up helping my parents raise a herd of up to 40 horses, chickens, dogs, goats, and cats!) and how I must eat my own shit (the lady didn't speak the best english). I wrote an honest review, and to ensure other WWOOFers considering the farm in the future knew what this person was like behind closed doors, I posted the message onto my review. Unfortunately WWOOF thought the review was a bit personal, so they flagged it. This really frustrates me, because had I known that this farm was not so supportive and verbally abused their volunteers, I would never have gone here! I guess the only advice I can give to future WWOOFers is that you should look for farms that have tons of positive reviews, because apparently WWOOF is afraid to allow honest negative feedback. In the future, if I ever give up my own free time and money (I had to buy several bus and train tickets, as well as a taxi, which totaled over $150!), I will go with WorkAway. I have lost a lot of trust in WWOOF as they seem to not care about the volunteers so much as the hosts. What I had was truly not a host, but a monster of a person who did not treat guests like guests, but rather like animals. I hope nobody has to go through the same experience as I have!
So yesterday I got into Stavanger and walked around town. I stayed in a nice hostel and luckily I've met several friendly Couchsurfing hosts that are willing to take me on :). I'm staying with one guy for a few days (many Norwegians are busy with family and friends this week as it's their Constitution Day) and I met another guy who will help me the rest of the week. There are many great places to hike nearby and the city is quite cute, though not as special to me as Trondheim or Tromsø (I'm quite biased towards the north of Norway). All in all, the Norwegians I have met are AMAZING people and have welcomed me and made me really feel at home. Unfortunately I found one rotten, horrendous, despicable person, which of course exists in every culture.
My advice to people that are in horrendous situations like mine: get out. You don't owe people anything. If someone takes you for granted, leave. I felt really unsafe, which is why I didn't tell them I was leaving because I know I would've had to listen to yelling and screaming. I have dealt with enough bullshit in my life to know that I don't need to listen to that. I have had SO many amazing Airbnb, Couchsurfing hosts and volunteering gigs that I know what I'm worth and what that relationship is supposed to be like. Unfortunately it didn't happen that way for me, but at least my friends built amazing relationships with their hosts. I am no longer in prison (it really felt like I was breaking from prison with all my stuff!) and am going to enjoy the last week I have in this beautiful country!
View of Stavanger
The Colorful Street; there are so many good bars! I went out for some sour beer here to unwind (Circus is a great beer bar!)
A little piece of Myanmar right here in Stavanger. She is a democratic leader that was placed on house arrest, even after she won the election in Myanmar. Norway hands out the Nobel Peace prize, while Sweden hands out the Nobel prize.