The day of the first challenge was sunny and beautiful. As usual, the mamas told us what to wear – which that day was our wind pants, warm jackets, and either a red, blue, or white hat they had given us to show which team we were on. I was to be on the red team with Brandon, Kent, and Candice. We were the first team to be filmed that day, and as usual, the setup for filming took forever. We hung out about 200 feet from the filming location and we could see that a small course had been set up in front of the Stave Kirke. Finally, the director came to tell us the rules of the first challenge. We were not allowed to run. We had to stay together. At each “station” there would be a puzzle to solve. Once we had come to an answer as a group, we would grab the puzzle piece we thought was correct and go on to the next station. After all the stations, we would try to put the puzzle pieces together and if they fit, we were done. If they did not fit, we had to figure out where we had gone wrong and fix it. Meanwhile, we would be timed. The team with the slowest time would be in danger of being eliminated.
We knew that this challenge would be testing what we already knew about Norway. I knew a few things from my upbringing and some studying I had done before I came – but I had no idea what kinds of information they would be wanting! I just had to hope and pray I had some knowledge that would be helpful to my team.
The first station turned out to be easy – it asked questions about the Norwegian National anthem, locations in Oslo, and government. I knew all the answers at this station.
The next station asked “what was typical Norwegian.” We agreed on an answer that I thought was very good and I felt confident of our answer.
The third station had locations and we were to guess which were Norwegian. This one, I had no idea. We just guessed.
The fourth station was on a bus and the bus driver asked us “Where would the Norwegian sit?” There were puzzle pieces scattered throughout the bus.We all agreed that the Norwegian would sit alone. But the question came down to whether the Norwegian would sit by the window alone or sit on the aisle seat alone. I immediately decided the aisle seat was right and grabbed that piece. Everyone knows that if you don’t want anyone to sit by you, you sit on the aisle seat! (I thought this station was really cool. The answer to this was so natural. I felt like I had been studying for this challenge my whole life).
We speed-walked to the place where we were to put our puzzle together and found that we had three of the four pieces correct, as we suspected. We went back and got another puzzle piece from the location station and fortunately, we guessed correctly this time. We were done!
As we walked back to the room where the other teams were, we decided to look really downcast – like we thought we hadn’t done well at all. However, we all felt really great about how quickly we completed the course.
Once the challenge got started, it didn’t take long until all the teams were done and we were being interviewed individually again. Four different times I was interviewed about how I felt I had done and how our team had done. Finally, they brought us all together for the results.
It felt as ridiculous and exciting as I imagined it would – to be there with the cameras trained on us and waiting for the results. I had so much fun doing the challenge and I was pretty confident we had won. Other teams would have had to do it perfectly to have beaten us since we only made one error. Candice was standing next to me and she was so nervous – her breathing was getting heavier and heavier as Henriette slowly began to announce who had come in last place, then third place. Finally, it was down to us and one other team.
“The winner for today’s challenge is, Team Red!”
It was pretty cool! We cheered! We shouted! We rejoiced! We embraced! Oh sweet victory! And we knew none of us on our team would be the dreaded first person to go home. I was so glad about that and so glad that I contributed to the victory.
It became very clear that day that this competition was anyone’s to win. It all depended on what kinds of challenges came your way and who your teammates were. We were all smart and capable and gifted in our own ways.The challenges were very fair. Only time would tell how long any of us would be there. But that day – I was really happy to have tasted victory and to be able to not even worry about the next challenge because our victory had ensured we didn’t even have to compete in the next round.
That night we ate supper with the crew and celebrated that the first episode was now complete. The next day we would journey to a new place and another new episode of Alt for Norge.