It’s always a jolt, that moment when I enter a foreign country and realize that I’ve been transformed from a competent adult (okay, super-competent, because my OCD and white middle-class privilege combine nicely for ultimate societal mobility in the States) into a pre-lingual child who has to work hard to fulfill basic needs. True, at the moment I have a warm and fuzzy feeling of accomplishment because today I figured out how to buy a light rail pass at student rates, but it may not count because I was helped by a biology grad student. Whose request for my number afterwards amused me because I don’t even have a phone yet, which sounds like an awful “move on, sir” line but was true (No, Casey, I was not a bitch!). Anyhow, my To-Do List is miles long, and each thing ridiculously contingent on another.
Get internet access!
Get my student name and password so that I can have internet access
Get my student card so that I can have my student name and password
Get my personnummer (sort of like a social security number but much more necessary to
Norwegian beauracracy) so that I can get my student card
Fly to Oslo so that I can get my personnumer at the Fulbright Orientation
Check the bus schedule to the airport on the flybus website
Oh wait… first I need internet access.
Oh, and buy a phone so helpful grad students can call me after they’ve told me how to navigate Bergen.
Yes, it is a vicious cycle. Made more complicated by the fact that the forms and brochures and info-packets I’m using have all been translated from Norwegian, so that they are often vague or self-contradictory. And that UiB seems to have a ludicrously loose grasp on the fact that their system to access the internet actually requires checking one’s email for updates. Makes me miss good old U of Maryland, which, with all its challenges, had a wonderful surplus of informative helpfulness.
What I’ve accomplished since arriving:
A library card to Bergen Library, and three English novels plus a children’s book in Norwegian on my shelf. At least I have my priorities right.