Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life in Norway so far

I can't believe it's been almost two months since I arrived in Oslo to start this new chapter of my life as a graduate student in a foreign country. As the days and weeks wear on, or rather fly by, I find myself feeling more and more settled. The first week of classes seems like it was ages ago - we are entering our fifth week of classes now. The semester started off a little rocky considering we were all behind from the first day of classes since professors had expected us to read several chapters before the first class (welcome to masters level studies). It has taken some adjusting to the new type of class schedule and how to best prepare for only having each class once a week instead of three times/week. Two of my classes meet for three hours, two for four hours, and one for SIX hours (starting at 8am on Monday mornings - joy!) but the six hour class will stop meeting at the end of September and the professor will start to teach a different class for second year masters students...meaning we will have three-day weekends for the remainder of the semester. BI (the school I am attending) mandates 15 minute breaks after 45 minutes of lecture time, which helps manage the longer lectures. 

The classes have overall been really fantastic. My classes include: psychological measurement (to include personality type analysis - my favorite!!), business ethics (potential thesis topic), Organization Science, Strategic Management, and Organizational Behavior (love this subject so much - another possible thesis topic). Of course, I can't forget my Norwegian course! I figured since I will most likely be here for two years I should learn some Norwegian and it would be nice to learn the basics to get by even though every Norwegian I've met speaks English. The class meets twice/week and so far is going great...if only I could justify spending time studying Norwegian over my other subjects...

My apartment is nice considering it's student housing. Of course it can't even compare to the student housing at CNU (the best on-campus housing in the nation!!) nor does it come close to my lovely furnished apartment in Bangladesh! but it fits the bill for a place to sleep and eat. I have also been very lucky to have a wonderful "roommate" - we share a bathroom - from Germany and 5 great flat mates to share the kitchen with (7 of us in total). My flat mates are from Germany, Latvia, China, and France - talk about truly international student housing. The apartment complex is located close to the best spot of nature in Oslo - the Sognsvann (picture below) and the beginning of the forest, so I've been able to take study breaks and run around the lake and enjoy the beautiful nature. 

Sognsvann near my apartment in Kringsja, Oslo
I've been able to do some exploring around the city and country. Before classes started, my German roommate and I hit the road to the west coast to enjoy our last days of freedom. We made the nine hour drive through the picturesque countryside through the middle of the country (see picture below). These roads were often only wide enough for one car and involved lots of steep inclines and switchbacks. There is really only one 'highway' through Norway. It follows the coast line and I use the phrase 'highway' because the speed limit is only about 50mph at its fastest points. We explored the small city of Stavanger before a good night's rest and a gruesome and completely rewarding hike in the Lysebotn fjord to Kjeragbolten. On our way home along the highway, we stopped in Kristiansand, a popular beach spot for Norwegians. 
Driving through the Norwegian countryside (Oslo to Stavanger)
Lysebotn Fjord
Kjeragbolten! done and done.
Fun/random observations so far:
  • In any given 24 hours, you can expect rain.
  • It's cold already - time for my winter coat and thermals kind of cold.
  • Norwegians claim that their eggs do not contain salmonella - making it perfectly acceptable to eat all the raw cookie dough you want :) 
  • I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to the fact that Norwegians do not greet each other when walking/running around the Sognsvann

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Grad School in Norway!!

I'm sure this post won't surprise too many of you. One, most of you already know! Two, we all know how much I love living abroad!

I'm moving to Norway for an amazing graduate program I discovered last spring (2011) before I received my job offer from AUW. I was searching and searching (and searching some more) for a masters program that seemed like a perfect fit. I am passionate about employee appreciation, employee job satisfaction, and overall effective business operations (HR topics). Most Organizational Psychology programs in the US are PhD focused and/or require a strong psychology background ('strong' considering I have no psychology background). This particular program is a masters-focused program in a top European Business school. There is also an incredible opportunity, if I get accepted, to earn a dual degree. This means I would spend one year in Norway earning my Masters in Leadership and Organizational Psychology and one year in the Netherlands earning my Masters in Organizational Studies. What a fantastic opportunity -- two countries, two degrees = double the experiences, double the learning power, and double the adventures.

BI Norwegian School of Business, Oslo Campus (official photo)

Tour of the BI Campus from the Architect

In December, I had the opportunity to visit Oslo for several days and visited the BI campus. Here is a picture of the interior I took while touring the campus:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend 2012

This was the first Memorial Day I have been able to spend with my family since 2007. I have been loving the time at home since returning home from Bangladesh in September and being within weekend-visiting driving distance! Here's how the weekend shaped up:
  • saved a kitten that managed to 'doggie paddle' ('kitty paddle'?) all night long in the swimming pool
    • searched for said kitty after he escaped from his box in the house....15 minutes later found him hiding in a corner 

  • killed a Virginia Black snake ...which was mistaken for a copperhead snake at first which was in the house!! (ok, Dad killed it! but still!)
  • family reunion complete with pool time, grilling out, and chicken egg hunts!
  • pitiful yard sale x2 mornings
  • two extra paid days off from my company! = 5 day weekend!
Hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Leaving Bangladesh

I know I haven't blogged in quite a while. A handful of you know where I am and what I have been through the past few months but to bring everybody up to speed, here is a super abbreviated, unemotional update....After returning to Bangladesh in August, I quickly (considering I was hoping to live in Bangladesh for several more years) turned around and returned to the US after quitting my job. The decision process seemed incredibly long and drawn out (it took me almost three weeks to decide to leave!) but considering the implications, it seemed to be an insufficient amount time to respond. To ridiculously under play what happened, there were major unethical leadership decisions made that I could not ignore. Unfortunately for the students, the decisions of one person led to a huge turnover before school even started... Leaving Bangladesh, AUW, my students, friends, memories, and future hopes and travel plans was, without a doubt, the most difficult decision I have ever made.

Top 10 things I miss:

  1. The students!!!!
  2. My co-volunteers, office mates, and roommates (shout out to the penthouse!) who became my travel partners, sounding boards, and best friends
  3. The Food - Doi Puchka, Kalo Jam, Kacha Gola, Tandoori Paneer to name a few
  4. Aarong! amazing fair-trade store with gorgeous Shalwar Kameez outfits, saris, household items, etc.
  5. The Clothes - picking out fabrics in the market and sewing designs at the tailor. and of course, Sari Sundays at school!!
  6. Traveling - Asia is simply amazing!
  7. Work Dynamics - having a challenging, rewarding job with a fun office environment, ample time off, and in general feeling like you're making a difference every day
  8. AUW - the sense of community, diversity, and constant learning experiences
  9. Humility - I miss being humbled on a daily basis. Living in Bangladesh reminded me how sheltered and easy my life has been and to be more grateful for the experiences and opportunities I have had.
  10. Bangladesh - overnight buses (the real-life equivalent of playing chicken on the road!), rickshaws, CNGs, miscommunications, villages, holiday celebrations, and the list could go on!
Thanks to my great new friends, daily van rides, lunch gatherings in the cafeteria, travel fiascos, twice daily tea breaks, etc. I have come to associate numerous songs with my memories of Bangladesh....If my time in Bangladesh had a soundtrack, it would sound something like this:

  1. 'Sheila Ki Jawani' by Tees Maar Khan (hottest Bollywood song of the year)
  2. 'Pee Loon' from Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (favorite song to listen to in the van in the am!)
  3. 'Tum Jo Aaye' from Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (another fave van song)
  4. 'Home' by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  5. 'Somebody to Love' by Justin Bieber (let's be honest, all things Bieber)
  6. 'Enchanted' by Taylor Swift (again, let's be honest, all things TSwift were jamming in our office!)
  7. 'Wavin Flag' by K'Naan (South Africa WorldCup theme song)
  8. 'On The Floor' by Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull
  9. 'Waka Waka' by Shakira
  10. 'California Girls' by Katy Perry