Day 0: After almost a year’s worth of preparation, it’s finally here. I squeeze six months of life into two suitcases and fly out of -16ºC Montreal winter weather and hop on a plane to Trondheim, Norway. It’s exciting. I’m exhausted. And I will miss my cats something awful.
Oh and my family too. Of course.
Day 1: Travel time: twelve hours. It’s 3ºC. I arrive at the private housing for students, pick up my key, and lug my fifty-pound suitcases to the third floor. My dorm room is simple. And missing something.
There is no bed. A desk, a chair, a wardrobe, but no bed. Just a giant litter box.
I have not slept in twenty-fours hours and there is no bed.
There is, however, a tiny bathroom.
The administration gives me a small cot for a few days until I buy myself a mattress. I have no pillow or blanket, but I did bring a set of single sheets. I put the flat sheet over the window, the fitted one the cot, stuff the pillow case full of t-shirts, use my long down winter coat as a blanket, and fall into a deep sleep for several hours.
Day 2: I sleep until almost noon, and practically miss the few hours of daylight left here in the Norwegian winter. I have a sore throat and a headache. I also have no food. I lug myself to the grocery store to buy: bananas, tomatoes, an avocado, cheese, cold cuts, bread rolls, coffee, cream, and sugar and it cost me $1362.45.
Not really. But Norway is crazy expensive.
Day 3: I finally meet some flatmates.
The housing is divided into single, double, and small apartment units in buildings on a complex as a big as a city block. My floor is a seven-person “collective” wtith private rooms and bathrooms, and shared living-room/kitchen area.
As I exit my room I see a six-two, blond & blue-eyed, square-jawed twenty-one-ish year old boy-man cooking barefoot in the kitchen. God damn, Norway. Why do all your people look like fucking supermodels?
He didn’t get a bed either. The last guy in my room took his home with him to New York. I’m still 0-1 on the bed front. But the blond-god is pleasant and friendly.
The other flatmates are just as nice. I meet four out of six, get the details of our cleaning duties rotation, and tell them all about my sexy research.
Their English is so good it puts us North Americans to shame. And they keep apologizing for their “poor English.” Just stop it. You are all so far ahead in your education that even your English is better than most native Canadians. I should know, I read their university papers. Some students are excellent, some are lazy, but there’s a good chunk of them that simply were not properly prepared for how to write for university, and are even confused as to the main components and point of an essay. I’ll keep the rants for later posts.
Day 4: I head to the International Students Office to try to fix a registration issue, and have a lovely conversation with the gentleman in charge of the doctoral “free-movers” (as I am classified). He is German, married to a Greek, and went to school in Switzerland. We spoke French. He’s even been to Montreal and spoke fondly of the confusing Quebequois dialect known as joual. Crisse, qu’le monde est p’ti des fois, en?
Mr. German relates an amusing observation on Norwegian culture: “It is fully egalitarian,” he insists. “From Monday to Friday, there is no difference between man and woman. But,” he tilts his head slightly, “when Norwegians drink alcohol on the weekend they allow themselves to flirt.” I do not yet know enough about domestic mating habits to judge the accuracy of his claims. I’ll keep you posted.
On my way home I snap a few shots with the iPhone. As my friend M.H. says, Trondheim is a terribly handsome city.
Finally, here’s my makeshift bed. I’d like my mother to know that I have adjustable heating, and am not suffering despite the lack of proper bed and bedding. G’night, Readers. I’ll be dreaming of my IKEA shopping trip tomorrow.