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