actuality.log


All entries tagged 'Norway'

Wednesday, May the 26th, 2010
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Wednesday, November the 25th, 2009

One of my very first memories is from kindergarten. To this day, I vividly remember the pattern on the gate I was railing against with my tiny palms as I wailed for my mommy to come back and get me. The place wasn’t very far from our home at the time—probably half a block away—but it felt really far away. Being cooped up in there had this really isolating feeling, like there was no escape. And even if you could get away, there was no point in trying.

My next memory from kindergarten is falling for my class-teacher at the time. For the life of me I can’t remember her name, but I can’t forget the sweet smile on her adorable face as I presented to her today’s little trinket. Each day, my tiny hands would painfully fashion for her a necklace or a pendant or some other trifle out of multi-coloured clay, hoping today would be the day I finally won her over.

But that’s a story for another day. For the purposes of today’s tale, I need you to imagine how isolating and unfun my kindergarten experience might have been.

It’s a common sight whenever I am out. Groups of teeny-tiny tots excitedly hobbling around and being prammed about town by their kindergarten teachers. Their cute little faces all smiling and wide-eyed; their brightly coloured clothes easily keeping them in view; their fluorescent name tags having printed on them big, bold contact info, should they still manage to wander off.

Sun or rain or snow, it doesn’t matter. Spend a couple of days in Oslo and this is a sight you’re guaranteed to run into. And it’s not just kiddies from school. The number of people pushing their (freakishly huge) prams around as they go about their days is just astounding. The Scandinavian trait of spending so much of their time outdoors is passed onto their kids when they are really young. And I think this is a very good thing.

Seeing the spring in the step of the tots leads me to believe it would’ve been pretty cool to go to kindergarten here. Spending all my time singing and playing and being carted around town sounds a hell of a lot more fun than wasting my days on those fucking pre-alphabet squiggles. I think I wouldn’t have felt so isolated, and actually realised how many fun and colourful things there were going on outside.

At least, I wouldn’t have been bored out of my mind.

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Tuesday, September the 1st, 2009

I barely got any sleep over the weekend, and nearly all my time awake was spent having fun. It began with a concert (where I was the only non-white person in the crowd!) on Friday evening and ended on my couch in the wee hours of Monday morn over an episode of Nip/Tuck along with my friends. The events in between are still a bit fuzzy in my mind, but I remember it being a blast.

When I was first contemplating coming to Scandinavia over a year ago now, I thought of the move as a very temporary step. Like it was some unpleasant detour I needed to take before I proceeded with the actual course of my life—where I’d have interesting and fun things to do, where I’d form bonds with like-minded people, where I’d feel peaceful and relaxed… but the more I think about it, the clearer it becomes that I already have all these things. Right here, right now. This place has been good to me. The people I get to be with are warm and friendly. Work is interesting and relaxed. I spend a lot more time doing fun things—including activities outdoors. I eat healthier. I feel healthier. I make more money, and I live a lot better.

But why am I bringing any of this up now? I think it’s because the chance I have to go to Cambridge has resurfaced again, and I am not convinced I should leave all of this behind.

Even if it is a fancy uni. Even if everyone there speaks English by default. And even if the population there is a lot more diverse.

Wednesday, October the 22nd, 2008

I keep working on these in-depth introspective pieces that don’t really go anywhere, and never seem to get done. I think it’s about time I tried something different.

My move to Scandinavia has been far more pleasant than I’d imagined. (Which isn’t really saying very much given my imagination, but you know what I mean.) I’ve gotten to spend far more time outdoors, the people are open, friendly and drag me into their fun, and recently, as the weather has turned unfriendlier and everyone’s spending more time indoors, work has begun to pick up as well.

No longer just a “lowly student,” I’ve taken it upon myself to expand the scope of my work and my responsibilities. I now split my work time roughly in thirds between new, challenging work (which is hard and takes a lot of effort for little payoff), expanding on stuff I worked on during my Ph.D. (which is easy, and involves little effort for sizeable payoff), and finally, helping lost kiddies around the lab who seem to gravitate toward me (which takes substantial effort and offers a reward of a very different kind). All in all, between the intelligent and friendly company, the nearly unlimited resources, and the heavily subsidised food, it’s been a very positive intellectual environment.

The only thing that has irked me thus far has been my ghetto living conditions. Actually, it hasn’t really irked me that much (or you would have heard me whine about it every day), but what really has bothered me is how hard it has been to find a decent replacement. How much ever I enjoy mocking and deriding the U.S. (doesn’t everybody?), things there were usually a lot more streamlined and systematic. If you were willing to pay for something, you usually received it without questions. Here, well, I don’t want to use words like racism, nepotism, and xenophobia (Hey, I just did!), but things are just a lot more convoluted and arbitrary (to my detriment). As a colleague remarked of my experiences, “It’s not surprising, but it’s regrettable.”

Even so, I’m relieved to report that through a recent sequence of events (fortunate or not I am yet to decide), I’ve found myself a nice place to move into. It’s a chic little flat in a quaint little neighbourhood at the heart of the city. It’s ridiculously expensive, but what the heck, I’m fairly certain I can afford it. (What could possibly go wrong with that kind of logic?)

But I know that still leaves some central questions in your minds: “Why aren’t you ecstatic? What is it about this mysterious ‘recent sequence of events’ you chose to mention but not elaborate upon?” You see loyal reader, the reason this flat even opened up in the first place is because a cute girl I know is moving in with someone else (who she’s known for even less time). And while I am delighted by the location, the view and the ambiance, I’m not particularly thrilled by the context.

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Friday, July the 25th, 2008

I have no better words to explain things than to say, “I’ve fallen into a sort of anti-routine.” Much of how my life goes on now seems to be entirely contrary to how things were when I was in grad school. For starters, I’m spending a lot more time outdoors—socialising, hiking, playing, shooting pictures.

A group of happy campers

Crazier still, much of my time at work also seems to be spent socialising and laying down plans for further fun after work and on the weekends! The only times I’ve seemed to have gotten any real work done are the few days I’ve forcibly isolated myself at home. And this has been necessary from time to time, for the world has gone entirely topsy-turvy: Work stuff isn’t trivial any more. Much of what I’m looking at right now I haven’t delved into before, requiring quite a bit of catching up.

Either way, what I guess I started off trying to say is that I’ve fallen into a routine here. And even if it the specifics of this routine starkly contrast how things were before, constancy is not the best inspiration for me to write—explaining the recent silence.

Lonely girl by a lake

May be I should just get irked enough about the ghetto neighbourhood I’m temporarily domiciled in, so I can entertain you better. Or at least, try to with greater frequency.

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Wednesday, July the 9th, 2008

you wouldn’t dress like that.

I’ve been wanting to pen this for a while now, but I’ve been too busy… having fun!

I arrived here expecting things to be cold. And by that, I don’t mean the temperature outside (that I can handle, given my training over these past years)—I expected the people to be very cold. I thought I was going to be isolated and end up lonely and miserable. Truth be told, I almost wanted things to be that way, so that it would hasten my move to England.

But alas, it wasn’t to be.

I really like this place and it’s people. Everybody is warm and helpful, and they make it a point to drag you into whatever shenanigans they’re aiming to pull. Consequently, I too have begun leaving work early, and most of my evenings and all of my weekends have been packed with fun activities. In fact, I probably didn’t go to sleep at all last weekend, choosing instead to attend one party late Saturday, which sort of lasted until late Sunday… around which time the next one began!

There are definitely some perks to the sun not setting.

Well-oiled colleagues

(Not getting yelled at by the cops for disorderly conduct at 4 a.m. is not one of them.)

I need to get going now. I’m joining a group of people for the awesome does of fun that is frisbee golf; an ingenious sport that replaces the dullness of golf with the hilarity of athletically-challenged science dorks trying to throw things over long distances!

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Monday, June the 30th, 2008

Nuzzling into this soft orange couch with my warm glass of cocoa this lazy Friday afternoon, I look around to see a nearly-deserted research facility. The clear glass walls and brilliant sunlight spotlight the lonely chairs and abandoned computers. Out of habit, I casually glance at my watch and that’s when it becomes apparent what is remarkable about this serene picture: It’s just past 1 in the afternoon, and everyone’s gone for the day.

There are a slew of things about life here that put it in stark contrast with that in the U.S., but it is this that I find most striking: The work-life balance in this part of the world leans rather heavily toward life.

Which is nice.

Thursday, June the 26th, 2008

Greetings all from (now) ever-sunny Oslo!

Things have been remarkably pleasant so far. Most of my time (it’s really only been a little over a day now) has been spent sorting out basic things like immigration procedures, but it’s been worth it, for the most important part of my journey is already complete: I received a two-year visa to travel nearly anywhere in Europe!

People around have been helpful and friendly, and quite surprisingly, just about everyone speaks English (albeit sometimes hard to comprehend). Much of what I’ve gotten to see is just as it’s described in the travel books and shows about this place—this is a country with a lot of natural beauty, and the sun barely sets in the summer. People seem to be so excited by the warmth and sunlight, they’re all out dancing and partying, or just chilling or whatever soaking it all in.

Sadly though, my work involves sitting down quietly in a lab. But it’s not so bad, the facility is rather impressive, the people nice and smart, and my office has huge windows with a gorgeous view of the fjords.

I think I’ll stop now, because my laptop’s battery is running out of charge. Being the genius that I am, I forgot to bring a converter along that would’ve allowed me to plug in its American charger into a European socket.

Doh!


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