Universitetsstudent

Jeg har tre hatter på meg:

– Jeg er masterstudent

– Jeg er lærerassistent

– Jeg er internasjonal student

Dette fører til kraftig universitetsaktivitet. Jeg har kun hatt en time (som varte i tre timer) som masterstudent, men jeg har allerede forstått at det er krevd like mange innleverte skrevne sider som Lord of The Rings rilogien. Og det er bare i det ene faget. Jeg har to andre fag i tillegg.

Den gode nyheten er at jeg er den eneste av oss i klassen med bakgrunn i litteraturvitenskap, så da professor Federici begynte å snakke om alle -ismene innen litteratur, og de andres øyne blanket over, ble jeg litt glad inni meg. At første ukes lesning og diskusjoner handler om de norske og islandske sagaene skader heller ikke.

Men jeg driver ikke og selger skinnet før bjørnen er bedøvet, tatt kopi av og satt fri.

Som lærerassistent skal jeg lede diskusjonsbaserte seminarer med førsteårs bachelorstudenter. Her i Canada kan de begynnepå universitet når de er 17 år gamle. Som nordmann er det bare rett og rimelig at jeg ble ansatt som lærerassistent (eller TA) i engelsk litteratur. Det skal nok gå bra. Et essay er et essay, og Jane Eyre har jeg hørt om.

Det er som lærerassistent det hittil har vært mest å gjøre. Allerede første uken deltok jeg på et seminar hvor vi lærte hvordan vi setter opp et undervisningsopplegg med et system kalt BOPPPS, visstnok et verdenskjent konsept. I tillegg har jeg vært på diverse møter med professorer, mine med-TA’er og kontorrelaterte ansatte. Man skal jo få lønn, skal vite.

I helgen var jeg med på enda et seminar som ga meg studiepoeng, og om jeg deltar og får tilsammen 8 studiepoeng, får jeg et diplom som beviser at jeg et eller annet kan innen undervisning. Kan jo være greit å ha. I morgen er det duket for første time. Ikke i mine fag, men i engelsk litteratur. Det er påkrevd at jeg også får med meg disse timene. Og på onsdag  skal jeg ha mine første timer med studentene. Nervøs? Oh, yes.

Som internasjonal student har jeg også vært på endel møter, senest på lørdag hvor jeg fikk møte andre internasjonale TA’er. Jeg har også deltatt på en BBQ, som ikke var en BBQ, men mer en utdeling av varm mat. Det var en lunken opplevelse, men jeg møtte et par svensker og ei nordjente. Hadde tatt på meg t-skjorten min som har «Bodø» skrevet over hele brystkassa, og tror du ikke reklamen virket? «Hei, e du fra Bodø? Æ e fra Narvik.» Deretter skålte vi og nordnorsket litt.

På det internasjonale TA-møtet fikk vi høre litt om hvordan det kan være å være internasjonal student. Hvordan det kommer til å bli å se snø for første gang og sånt, og at vi ikke må fortvile når alle blomstene forsvinner. Dette er nemlig helt vanlig, og de kommer tilbake igjen i april. Jøjjemeg som jeg gleder meg.

En god forklaring på hvordan det kan oppleves å være internasjonal (student), er den følelsen man får når man går ned en trapp, og når du trodde det skulle være et trappetrinn der, så er det slutten av trappen eller trinnet er noen cm for stort/lite: det føles kjent, men likevel er det en liten ting som får deg til å halte. Slike halteepisoder er jeg omringet av:

Halt:

– Når man på butikken blir stående i kø 10 minutter lenger enn hjemme, fordi kassabetjeningen skal putte matvarene i posene dine. Og det er ikke bare stapp-and-go. Her skal matvarene sorteres etter hvilken matgruppe de tilhører.

– Når man kan gå på butikken, og vinmonopolet (ja, de har noe lignende her) på en søndag.

– Når du får kjøpt en 4-litersdunk rødvin.

– Når du må kalle mennesker Mr, Mrs, Professor eller Doctor. Jeg aner ikke hvordan jeg skal svare på epost fra mennesker med bedre utdannelse enn meg, men for å være sikker har jeg svart som om jeg kommuniserer med Dronningen av England.

– Melk blir solgt i poser.

– Jeg må steke maten min på x antall grader Farenheit. Pizzaen min så ikke ut. De skal liksom følge the metric system her, men det må noen ha glemt å fortelle dem.

– Alle bruker himmelretninger for å forklare hvor de bor/kommer fra. Jeg vet at Bodø ligger i nord, men at nærmeste kjøpesenter ligger østfor hvor jeg står, sier meg ingenting. Takk Darwin for at naturlig utvelgelse ikke virker så kraftig lenger; jeg hadde vært den første til å gå meg vill og tørste i hjel på en fjellhylle.

– Vegg-til-vegg-teppe. Jeg sier ikke annet enn: 80-tallet er over.

– Sjekker. Se punktet over.

– Alle er så vennlige! Vi er kanskje vennlige i Norge også, men dette går over alle støvleskaft. Og jeg har bodd i USA så jeg vet forskjell på ektefølt og påkrevd vennlighet.

Kommer ikke på så mye mer pr nuh. Men jeg trives her🙂 Det er ikke en fryktelig fin by, faktisk ikke i det hele tatt, men det får bare være. De to jentene jeg bor med er som sydd for meg. Eller noe slikt.

Nå skal jeg bare kvelve meg selv på sofaen foran tv’n før maratonen kalt universitetslivet uke 2 starter. Det blir spennende å være internasjonal lærerassistentsmastergradstudent.

Så var man i Canada

Og vips, så var man canadier.

Etter å ha vekselvis gledet og gruet meg til å starte mitt år i Canada, gledet meg fordi det blir spennende og gruet meg fordi jeg skal være borte fra venner og familie, sitter jeg faktisk i en stue i et hus på et annet kontinent.

Det startet med en flyreise, som det ofte gjør når man må over store vannmasser. Midt i natta kom jeg meg fra Oslo til Amsterdam, og i Amsterdam hadde jeg blitt tilgodesett med 5 minutter til å komme meg på flyet til Toronto. Dette fikk ikke den nye kofferten min med seg. Slukøret sa jeg hadet til Miguel, en 56 år gammel mann fra Ethiopia som egentlig var kristen Inder og hadde vokst opp i en portugisisk familie og hadde barna sine i Canada, og satte meg på bussen til St. Catharines – The Garden City.

Etter en liten time i buss i bare 1000 grader og 100% luftfuktighet, var jeg framme. I et tomt hus. Jeg visste jo egentlig dette. Heldigvis kom huseieren 5 minutter etter min ankomst. Han skulle egentlig bare skifte en lås, men jeg passet på å halte litt, blinke med dådyrøyne og rumle med magen slik at han kjørte meg til butikken for å få tak i litt mat. Og mens vi da likevel var i gang, fikk jeg ham til å kjøre meg for å kjøpe adapter til telefonen min. I ettertid er jeg glad jeg fikk ham til å gjøre det, for jeg måtte vaske HELE huset før jeg sluttet å ekle meg. Fysjassa.

I halvannen uke var det bare meg, en oppblåsbar madrass, en krakk, en stol, en lampe og fire ekorn i 29A Walnut Street. Det var rundt 30-35 grader ute og høy luftfuktighet, så jeg greide ikke å jogge, men jeg fikk trimmet ved å kraftgå til universitetet. Det tok 45 minutter hver vei.

Etterhvert så jeg en nabo. Jeg var så opptatt av å si navnet mitt at jeg ikke oppfattet hva han het, så han kan vi kalle Høyrenaboen, fordi han bor til høyre for oss. Noen dager senere ble jeg invitert bort til naboene til venstre hvor jeg møtte mange mennesker. Igjen var jeg så opptatt av å uttale mitt eget navn korrekt at jeg ikke husker hva en eneste av dem heter. Alle var fryktelig vennlige, da. Det er det viktigste.

Fra å bo i et hus med ekko, ble det en ganske stor overgang da først Amanda ankom med 3 biler fulle av møbler og nips naps, og deretter Kaleigh med en småfe-trailer. Begge to viste seg å være kjempehyggelige mennesker med en liten hund (Koda), en større hund (Lexie) og en katt (Sophie). De hadde til og med med seg møbler til meg, noe som var bra da alt jeg hadde tatt med meg av «møbler» var et skilt som oppfordrer meg til å drikke vin.

Så nå er vi godt innstallert i huset. Vi har to TV-rom, en liten veranda, hvert vår rom og hvert vårt bad. Jeg får lov å jogge med hunden og det er en park i gåavstand herfra. Fryd og gammen. Det er ikke en spesielt vakker by, faktisk er Bodø penere enn St. Catharines, men jeg håper at jeg blir kjent med så mange kule mennesker at det ikke gjør noe. A-mennesker på et B-produkt.

På torsdag starter universitetslivet, med egne timer og timer med førsteårsstudenter hvor jeg er lærerassistent. Det blir både spennende og skummelt og forhåpentligvis gøy og utfordrende.

Fra båten Maid of the Mist inne i Niagarafossen

Dette er stua og kjøkkenet. Jeg bor i underetasjen, mens de to andre bor i 2. etg.

 

Reklame på den lokale matbutikken

 

TV-stua hvor vi hadde Harry Potter-maraton hele helga

Moving Day Coming Up

I haven’t packed.

I am about to leave Norway for Canada in 3 days and I haven’t packed.

It’s not that I don’t want to, but times are hectic! Like the last 4, I worked worked worked my way through summer. I did manage to squeeze a holiday into the busy schedule, but it turned out to be more mentally exhausting than planned. In the middle of planning my one-of-three-maid-of-honour-tasks the horrible happenings at Utøya occured and I found myself sitting in front of some kind of news giving media for hours a day. In addition I have been taking care of a dog, something I loved but it meant that I was away from home to do Canada-packing.

Yesterday we had a send off party for me and my friend who is going to Sout Dakota for a semester. It turned out great, but also sad. I can’t believe I’m going to be away from all my wonderful friends for a whole year. The difference between going away for that long now and back in 2000 when I worked for that mouse, is social media. At least now we can easily keep in touch. As in not depending on collect calls and the odd slow computer.

Tonight (after work, always working) I’m finally returning home to do some packing. I’ve got a black belt in travelling so it really is easy packing. It has just been hard finding time for it.

Being a bit sad about leaving family and friends behind has been overlapped by the feeling of joy from the thus far welcome I have been given by my future house mates.

Ambivalent feelings, as you can see. But it would have been strange had it been otherwise.

Canada, in T minus 3 days! More to come!

July 22nd 2011

I am in a state of collective mourning.

The shell shocking events in Oslo and at Utøya July 22 2011 has left me numb. I had so many plans for that weekend, but ended up sitting glued to the TV, with the radio and computer on, wanting to know everything about this horrible horrible situation.

I did not know any of the victims. Or, at least I don’t think I do as the police haven’t released all of the victim’s names. Two boys were from my home town.

But still, this was a violent act of terror intended to hurt my people, my country and all that I stand for: democracy, openess, love, as the PM and Mayor of Oslo expressed.

My poor little, country.

«There are so few of us in this country, every fallen man is a brother or a friend.» (N.Grieg.)

Usually I have no problems expressing myself. In writing or orally. But it has now taken me 5 days to write this, and even now I am lacking words. I can not even begin to pretend to know what the victim’s families and friends are going through at the moment. And not just the family and friends of the people who lost their lives. Those who escaped the fake policeman will most certainly need all the support they can get.

I will attend my town’s parade in memory of all the victims. It is tonight at 18:00, and I feel like crying just thinking about it. I work at the historical museum which is situated right next to where the parade will end up. There’s already full activity there to set up the necessary equipment. My Mom has bought roses; one each, to show that love conquers hate.

There has been a wave of love over Norway these last five days. I, a self declared half-cynic, feel I have been hit full on by this wave, and I can’t seem to express enough how much I love my family, friends and country. I just hope this spirit of togetherness and kindness will continue to grip us in decades to come.

Not long ago I told someone that, a gullible thought or not, I thought that the world would be a better place if  we just were kinder to eachother. I think this sentiment must be shared by many Norwegians as we now see how we as a people have reacted to this tragedy.

My thoughts are with the victims, the survivors, their families and friends, the volunteers, the professional helpers and everyone else who have been affected by this.

Maria Mena’s «My Little Country»

«No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.»
Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse
Greek slave & fable author (620 BC – 560 BC)

 

Spiders and Me.

While talking to a friend the other day, I realized that I’ve had a few weird encounters with spiders.

I come from above the Arctic circle, thus our spiders are, well, tiny. As a child, this did not in any way dampen my arachnophobia and I was often seen lurking around the house with a lighter and hairspray. Not to fix the spider’s hair and offer it a cigarette, but to slowly watch it burn to death.

Other than that I was a nice child.

At the age of younger, I moved to Florida to work at that place with that big mouse. It turned out it was a little bit warmer there than at a latitude of 67 degrees. Apparently this makes the spiders much bigger and faster. Our spiders are sluggish and would rather try killing prey by staring them to death than spin a web.

Therefore, the surprise was big in Florida when I spotted a spider walking on the floor in front of the TV, and upon putting a glass over it, it started sprinting around like a maniac and didn’t try staring at me at all. In fact, it started groping under the glass trying to get out. I quickly put 5 books on top of the glass, had some goose bumps and got some garlic. Just in case.

Now, what did i do? I couldn’t take the glass away; I was sure the spider would hurricane itself on to my neck and suck the blood out of me. Or whatever spiders bigger than a speck of dust do. My room mates weren’t home to help me, and I wouldn’t leave it there. It was right in front of the TV!

After a quick contemplation I decided to seek help in my neighbours. The problem was that they were all working, and I could feel the panic rise in my throut as door after door remained unopened as I doorbelled my way down the street.

Then I struck gold. «Ding-dong!» Door opens and a petit French girl dressed in hotpants size 0 and a tiny singlet looks at me. «Oui?» She says, and I’m sure I can hear butter melt as she bats her eyes. «Hi, um, there’s this s-p-i-d-e-r in my room and I was wondering…» * Blank stare from French girl* «…could you maybe help? Itotallyunderstandifyou’reafraid! Gosh I’m so scared myself that…»

French, petite butter melting girl: «Bien sure.» *Weird stare*.

She gently helped the spider out and didn’t even die. That night I smacked my forehead and called myself a wimp before going to sleep.

A few years later I lived in New Zealand, and this one day I was helping an Australian guy paint a house. The house was beautiful, with a big, sun-shaped, black pattern on one wall. No, wait a minute! That was no pattern. It was a huge, hairy spider who looked at me with all 8 eyes, beckoned and said with his best Eddie Murphy’s Raw voice: «Come on!»

A light run, screaming and waving my hands in the air, later I was by the Aussie’s side explaining the carnivore problem we suddenly had to deal with.

My first plan was to leave an unpainted 5 diameter big circle around the spider, then I decided it was best to not come close to the wall at all. The Aussie had a bit of a different plan as he calmly took his left shoe off and smacked the spider with it.

The rest of the day I was left painting over the spider goo, which was somehow worse than both my initial plans.

A few weeks later, also in New Zealand, I was in a car driving on the highway. Suddenly I see this Arctic Circle sized spider, though yellow, sitting on the dashboard right in front of me. «That’s not a big spider» I thought, remembering the kitten sized one from before.

Then it jumped.

Now, I’m not used to that. Our spiders only jump if they are accidentally sat on a trampoline in the summertime while kids are jumping around on it.

I was thus required to react accordingly.

The driver didn’t find that funny at all. No soup for me that day.

Fast forward a few years, and I was backpacking around Central America with my very good friend Lily. We were only supposed to travel around México. Come to think of it I’m not entirely sure how we ended up in Guatemala, but I suspect we had had beer before the decision.

Anyway, in Guatemala we were, and we decided to avoid the big cities and instead go sleep close to the jungle. We found a hostel with rooms with no proper roofs nor windows, because of the heat, and I distinctly remember thinking «uh oh», before I dropped my backpack on to the floor. And left it there for a week.

The day of departure arrived, and having repacked and closed the backpack, I started lifting and swinging it on to my back. Halfway through the move I found it too big, and heavily leaned it on my knee.

*Smack!* The impact made something clinging on to the backpack fall to the floor, and something I first mistook for a small dog turning out to be a spider sprinted to the other side of the room.

Lily and I did our best damsel in distress impersonation screaming and jumping on the bed, then thought better of it and grabbed the «Kill-a-bug» spray box and sprayed for our lives.

In retrospect I can see that this wasn’t fair to the spider at all; it was probably more scared than us, but we were bigger and had poison.

Finally, a couple of knights in shining armours came running into our room, in the shape of two Swedish guys in shorts. «What IS it?» they said, making karate moves and banging their chests. «There.Is.A.HUGE.Attacking.Spider.Over.There!» *Shivering pointing fingers*

Have you ever seen a spider shrivel up when it dies? No? Well, it does. And when the Swedish guys looked into the corner, all they saw was a black, small dot once 5 times bigger.

They never believed us, and called us «typical girls» the rest of the evening. Which I hate! But that is a different story.

This isn’t even half of my weird spider stories. Maybe some other time I’ll tell you about that time I removed grass in Australia only armed with a small dog, or that time at the pet shop when I thought there were glass between me and the Tarantula. Or that time I had a deadly spider sitting on my hand.

– Have a nice spider free day.

Don’t do as you’re told

And I mean it.

Just remember there’s a difference between being youthful and being immature.

From an early age I did my own thing. From not wanting to play the games the others played, via a different taste in music to asking important questions when my Confirmation was due.

I continued doing things slightly different, always seeking that unique little twist that would make the scenario interesting.

I’m not saying I’m immensly different from everyone. I’m not. I just seem to like things a little different.

Why am I saying this? Well, I found this poem I really liked. A poem which has that little twist. Poetry is not my favourite genre, but at times I’ll find one that smacks me in the head and leave me tingling for a while.

This poem was written by Nicanor Parra, a man who wanted «to get away from the conventions of poetryHis sister, Violeta Parra, was a well known singer (Gracias a la vida/Jeg vil takke livet)

In Spanish (English will follow):

LA MONTAÑA RUSA

Durante medio siglo

la poesía fue

el paraíso del tonto solemne.

Hasta que vine yo

y me instalé con mi montaña rusa.

Suban, si les parece.

Claro que yo no respondo si bajan

echando sangre por boca y narices.

In English (sorry, my Spanish is a little rusty):

THE ROLLERCOASTER

For half a century

poetry was

paradise for pompous idiots.

Until I came along,

and installed myself with my rollercoaster.

Get in, if you like.

Of course I will not be responsible if you get out

with a bleeding mouth and nose.


International Worker’s Day

I started my second job today, on International Worker’s Day.

My first job is at an orthopaedic workshop (think insoles, shoes and artificial legs), but since I’m moving to Canada to study I want to save as much money as possible. Hence my second job.

So what do I do? I’m a museum hostess. I’ve worked at the museum many summers before, and it’s a great job. It kind of helps that I’m a history geek; anything that happened before last year is interesting.

Museum of Nordland

This second job means that I’ll be working pretty much all through summer (with the possibility of a holiday), but I’m used to that. Other years I’ve had 3 jobs with 1 day off in 3 months.

The sun is actually shining here today, so I took my coughing and snifling body down to the pier after work to have some icecream, listen to an audio book, and then I drew a little bit until 2 ladies joined me on the bench and started smoking and coughing phlegm (at least I’m only hacking), so I went home.

Me, happy at the museum with my head to one side, something I wonder if I do since I've made my head like that in all the drawings.

Me eating a huge soft serve at the pier. Sun shining and all (not common). Very serious face, eating icecream is serious business.

What I'll be doing the rest of the night: sit in front of my computer with coffee to write. Yes, that is me sitting on the floor under the table. Very comfortable.