Six weeks in Oslo

A friend asked me why I haven’t written a blog on my six weeks in Oslo. I pondered on the questions… there was no answer.

Sometimes words just do not come to you and six weeks in Oslo where I attended the International Summer School 2010 at University of Oslo was such an experience that I could not put down in words and do justice to it.

* * *

“What’s ISS for you?” One of my hundreds of friend asked me on camera.

“ISS is six-week of my life that I am never going to forget!” And, they decided to put this small interview just before the end of an eight-minute movie.

It was indeed so. In those six weeks, I met hundreds of friends from all countries imaginable – and talked to them. I met the world at a place.

They not only helped me understand the world, but also filled in me the enthusiasm to work more; work better; study more and help to make the world better.

Some of the friends, I am never going to forget – for their talent, love and compassion!

* * *

The ISS Media Studies 2010 with course leaders!

“What’s best part of Media Studies group?” Our assistant course leader asked me during a lunch. (Yes, our teachers did occasionally join us in breakfast, lunch, drinks and dances – and late night gossips!)

“Friends… like that of teenage,” I told her that once I started my professional career, befriending people for true friendship without jealousy and with the ownership of teenage friends had become very hard.

In my group of 15 classmates, it was friendship that mattered most. There were of course ‘close friends’, ‘good friends’ and ‘friends’ but the way we could talk freely to each other, sometime even making joke of each other, and share a few light moments together was just wonderful!

* * *

In Oslo, we were far and foremost two things – teenagers and tourists!

Teenagers because we attended classes; completed assignments; went out in evenings and nights; and most important were free from any life pressure. Also because we talked how boring the lectures sometimes are and wondered around the city for nothing.

Tourists because we had such a busy schedule given by ISS in the early weeks that we felt like they are not going to give us time even for shopping. They were guided tours including that of Oslo city – all of which no one could attend, and there were an excursion tour (I went to Telemark – that was the only one left for me when I went to register) where we were made to feel like tourists rather than students.

* * *

And, of course, we were also made students.

At ISS, not only did I attend four-hour-long lectures every weekdays but also asked to do assignments that needed visits to library.

Looking at Media Studies schedule which had the last week free for take-home exams, we had thought ‘yes, here we have free time’. But it turned out that nobody from our class was seen around for long time during the week because they all were busy in the 15-page essay. It turned out to be the most time consuming part of our stay; and everyone sighed long and smiled at each other after the deadline passed.

* * *

I have no words to explain, but it was wonderful experience, just perfect!

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Falling in love with Norwegians

After two weeks of stay in Oslo – Norway’s capital – for a six-week study at the International Summer School 2010, University of Oslo (UiO), there are a few things I am amazed about. But one thing that I like most is the Norwegian people.

I have always heard about the ‘smile of Nepali people’ and many foreigners find it amazing that Nepali people are so smiling and hospitable. It’s true [we always tend to smile at people and believe guests as god].
Norwegians are different than Nepalis – they are more happy people.

Why I am saying so? Because I find at least three very good characteristics of those people: firstly, they seem to very simple, secondly, they enjoy what they are doing and finally, almost all of them have a sense of humor.

Yesterday, I attended a Norwegian Cultural Evening. It was an evening to remember – of course more for the performances that were truly amazing – for people displaying all those qualities I like.

A professor at the UiO was the MC and was making us laugh at every sentence. He came up with this brilliant idea of giving away a ‘prestigious award’ to somebody who had helped to save the ‘dairy industry of Norway’. Dressed up as a cow, he brought this empty container with a string and announced the person ‘who had in desperate attempt to save the dairy industry have helped consume 5,000 liters of milk in last few years’.

The award winner was the ISS 2010 director and he received the award; wore it around his neck throughout his closing speech and even later.

This is something unthinkable in Nepal. People like Einar (the director) – professors or directors or something like that – will probably consider such an act as an insult (and I have never seen a professor or people of that level becoming an MC).

And, at Natadal Farm House, where we spent a night during our Telemark trip, the owner (who also happened to be a professor of tourism at Telemark University College) briefed us about the farm, the old life and why houses were built in the way they are (of course with a lot of humorous tales – ‘I tell a lot of lies and I have a license to tell lies’.)

We also had two sisters – from the minority Sami community – who presented us their traditional dresses and chanting. And, I enjoyed watching them talking to each other and smiling (even laughing) shyly. That was always evident whenever there are formal programs – it feels like simplicity (or being informal) is the formality of Norway. I just love it.

And, those seven people who presented us the traditional Norwegian dances were all past their 60s but they were enthusiastic and happy to perform for us. Probably they missed a few steps but who cares of steps – all I was watching was how happily they were performing and how proud they were to do so.

Performing people – musicians and dancers – did perform in front of us but I know they were more playing instruments and dancing for themselves – the satisfaction on their faces (rather than strains) was satisfying to us as well.

And, how can I remain without falling in love with Norwegians?

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The Hostel Life… at UiO

Hostel life is not an alien for me – for I had stayed almost year in hostel during my final year at school back in Nepal. The hostel was 10-minute walk from my house and I was staying in the hostel because my parents want me to study, rather than play and stroll around, during the last days for the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations.

Right now, I am housed at the Blindern Dormitory – a student house in the area of the University of Oslo (UiO) where I am studying at the International Summer School (ISS) for six weeks.

And, though there are lots of similarities; the hostel life here is an amazing experience than that of my old hostel days.

The prime reason: because the Dormitory is also housing many hundred people from all around the world whom I could meet everyday during breakfast, lunch or dinner. And, amazingly, even after six days here, I always see a few totally new faces.

Secondly, the food is always curiosity. At breakfast, I can now assume what’s there but at lunch and dinner, it could be a plateful of food items for me or just a quarter-full of (that’s because I don’t eat beef). Two dinners were something like ‘rice and sauce’ for me (good thing is they always have tea/coffee, juices and breads).

And, there are always a few people in the courtyards – either talking in couple/groups or drinking coffees or sitting/sleeping idly. The lure to walk down to the courtyard, saying hi to a few people and watching others or sitting with friends is always inviting.

Fourteen years ago, when I was in hostel, it’s felt almost like a prison because we were required to study for most of the times and play for only an hour a day. The breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at time, and of good quality, but then there were only a dozen fellows on the table – all of whom I know very well.

I hadn’t played much in here (I used to write poetries 14 years ago, but not here). Once I played football with a few friends from and it was quite interesting. I have seen others playing volleyball, table tennis, badminton and pool (ahm – why they have always programs/meetings in the evening so not letting us play much of the sports?).

I still have five weeks more at the Dorm and I hope that the experience here will prove a memorable one.

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From Oslo, with love…

“Ujjwal from Nepal. You?”

That’s the sentences I have repeated most in last five days. At the Blindern Dormitory, near the University of Oslo, where I am currently housed for six weeks along with a few hundreds others, similar sentences are still buzzing.

Officially there are nearly 600 students from 91 countries studying various courses at the International Summer School 2010, and it’s obvious that all are trying to get introduced to as much as friends as possible – for friendship and for information about their countries.

For me, many faces have already become known – and many others remain un-introduced. I believe that within six weeks of our courses, I will at least exchange a couple of warm sentences with everyone else!

* * *

The ISS seems a great program. The ISS brought in so many diversified people from around the world to make it really a global forum – a forum where all smiling faces probably reflect the happiness we could have enjoyed hadn’t there been any conflicts among the nations. (I asked if a Indian friend of mine can warmly meet a Pakistani friend, share the lunch table and talk warmly, why the nations fight?)

The ISS is also great because all the courses we all are doing are credited course – so it’s not just fun but also some serious studying.

And, personally, I liked it most because it took me back to a few years – the life of students. Although there are contrasting differences between my college life and here, I am actually enjoying the routine life (of going to classes, reading books and trying hard to understand whatsoever –ism the lecturers talk about) without the job pressure (so can walk around freely, visit library, computer lab, sit by the fountains, play football and just gossip with friends).

This is fantastic (at least for a mid-career professional like me!)

* * *

Oslo is beautiful.

The jewelry of Oslo is greenery! Everywhere there is green and I am told that within 20 minutes from anywhere in the city, we can reach woods. I believe because I can chose to take a little longer route to my class from that needs some walking in the woods.

I have been to Vigeland Park (the naked park or the park of angry child statue) and the Opera House overlooking a harbor. I had not taken many photos in those places because I know that I will be returning to those places many more time in coming weeks – they are just beautiful.

Oslo is a relaxation city. No matter what amount of work I do or how many kilometers I walk, I feel relaxed because I could see people in the parks, grounds and almost everywhere relaxing – by lying around or picnicking and that’s a striking difference from many other developed countries where everybody seems to be in hurry.

And, probably because it’s summer time here, it’s always bright outside from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (I have not been awake the other hours).

[I am in Oslo, Norway for six weeks studying Media Studies at the University of Oslo’s International Summer School and I will be writing quite a few blogs from here.]

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