Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ohio Invades Norway

I returned from a ramble to see a mechanical bull set up in a tent outside my apartment. A Norwegian waited outside soliciting riders. 
“No thanks,” I told him, “I’m from Ohio.” Judging by his puzzled expression, I probably should have explained it better, something about coming from the land of mechanical bulls and wanting to escape that in Norway, but I’m not sure it would have made any sense to anyone who hasn’t firsthand experienced the pig races and fried cool-aid of the Ohio State Fair. (I just found out, it’s international week at Fantoft. Norway is celebrating with mechanical bulls).
Kitkat bars in Norway come with hiking directions and a
map. I  love this country.
Anita finally told the high schoolers off for playing on facebook during class. Utter relief. Though she says blocking facebook has been discussed, and the authorities have decided it’s more important that the children learn to discipline themselves than that they not lose time right now on facebook. Interesting, and I wonder if it works. Definitely not the way it’s done in the US educational system (by the way, Shifra Zack, if you’re reading this in class, turn it off NOW!).

I’ve formed a clique in my Norwegian course. All my life, I’ve worked against cliques, and steadily wandered from group to group. But just this once, I’ve actively worked to create a clique, and man, do I see why they do it. I’ve effectively picked out and bonded together the others in the class who are also teaching at the university, and who happen to have nationalities with which I jive well. There’s the German teaching atmospheric dynamics, the Brit finishing his PhD in physics, the Slovenian/maybe-he’s-Slovakian-I-really-can’t-tell-the-difference who finished medical school and practiced as a doctor for six years before coming to Bergen to get his PhD in biology, and a German guy who’s really Japanese by ethnicity and wormed his way into the group by virtue of being hilarious. The five of us have scared off all of the exchange students in the class, and so we’re free to be as silly as we want (only in incredibly intelligent ways, of course).

The truth is, after teaching all week, it’s a relief to enter my Norwegian class (Norskkors) and shrug back into a student. I needn’t worry about whether students are engaged, or scared to speak, or slowly chewing up pages of the textbooks and spitting them out at the ceiling. I’m free to sit back and enjoy the ride of learning. I think the other graduate students in my group feel much the same way, and so there’s a certain lightsome hilarity in our interactions and a sense of colleague-hood in the courtesy with which we engage wholeheartedly in our teacher’s activities. 

I’m reading an easy book in Norwegian, and have a fairly good idea of what it’s about; so far, a son has waxed poetic about reuniting with his musician father for a good fifty pages. I catch myself phrasing things in Norwegian as I walk, and soon hope to write a post in basic Norwegian. It’s so cool to watch my brain wrap itself around another language. I’m especially sensitive to it because of teaching English, and having spent the past half a year improving my Hebrew hasn’t hurt, either. Jeg kan prøver å skriver bare på norsk nå, men den er veldig vanskelig; jeg ikke vet mange ord (note: Norwegian readers, please don’t laugh at my grammar!).

Rainbow by Ulriken
Today was a beautiful sunny day in Bergen. It rained, of course. While I was walking to class, it even hailed. But that’s a typical sunny day in Bergen. And it means… RAINBOWS! A splendid, enormous spray of colors arched over Ulriken as I came home.

I started my high schoolers on journals today. They groaned at the workload, and five minutes later were intent on writing. There’s something so provocative about writing for one person, baring your soul to your teacher and getting a chance to tell your half of the story. Teaching can be very one-sided, with the instructor getting to share all of their self while the students dutifully lap it up. But journals bridge that gap and let the student make their case to the teacher, shout “here I am! Whole and quirky and alive!” I can’t wait to see what they’ve written, and establish a rapport of genuine conversation with my students. And hopefully some of them will find it addictive, and delicious, and not be able to stop, until six years later they find themselves journaling across blogspot for their entire acquaintance to see. If only.


  1. Hehe in the not too far future you can do umd invades norway!!!!! :-D

  2. My mom just told me about your blog--so much fun! How long are you in Norway for?

  3. Haha, Michele, too true! Hi Keshet, I didn't know your mom was reading it! I'm in Norway for a year-- until next summer.

  4. Ok,so i'm just reading this now. and I am in class. sorry. my bad.

  5. "Jeg kan prøver å skriver bare på norsk nå, men den er veldig vanskelig; jeg ikke vet mange ord (note: Norwegian readers, please don’t laugh at my grammar!)."

    If you have an auxiliary verb ("kan"), the main verb is in the infinitive, so "prøve", also "skrive" (infinitive, marked by "to"/"å"). "Den" should be "det", because it's a pronoun reference of the subject clause "å prøve å skrive". "Jeg ikke vet" should be "jeg vet ikke" because Norwegian independent clauses mostly have V2 word order.

    But this was in September of course, so you probably figured that out! ;)

  6. Yes! I hadn't realized how much I've learned until I looked back at this. Now I'm trying to figure out how to make something past tense... the rules are complicated... dd... et.. te...