Saturday, August 21, 2010

Through the cellophane glass

I've been thinking of how best to encapsulate my first week of studies here in Oslo, and I'm drawing a blank. Perhaps I can somehow find a special vial and bottle up this week, store it for a future date when my life reaches a lull and I need that kick. I think some people call it cocaine. Anyway...

So as medical students, we start our semester when everybody else is out having fun with orientation week. Naturally. But never fear. A few very generous Norwegian medical students did organize several social events for the exchange students, including a Norwegian BBQ, a Buddy-night, as well as pre-drinks to the semesterstart party, which took place on a boat overlooking the spectacular Oslo opera house. I'm really grateful for the work they've put into this, and I'm glad for the interesting people I've met through my adventures in Oslo. From walking through the streets of Oslo city centre around midnight, rain drizzling and not entirely sure where exactly we were headed, brushing past the enumerable junkies outside Jernbanetorget (Oslo Central Station), running into students, randoms, strangers, people on the plane, chasing after the T-bane, joining the medical students Innebandy team (requires another post)...all these experiences I can only draw parallels with jumping into a freezing cold lake in the middle of a Norwegian winter's night.

And I could go on about all the cool things I've gotten to do but I think the pinnacle of this exchange, the highlight of my time so far are the people I've come across. All it demands on my part is some enthusiasm, a lot of participation, and being honest to myself. Yeah, yeah...honest to yourself...what is this, the Oprah Winfrey show? But seriously, I think in a new setting where you're thrown in with a bunch of new people, it's natural to want to put your best foot forward. And yet I think so far, my best foot forward is the honest one. And it's the same with the city Oslo itself. My first impression of Norway was one of perfection in almost every way. It's like when you visit your aunt's house that one time a year, and stand mouth agape as everything looks immaculately clean, floorboards polished and furniture dusted to a pristine sheen. Yet you know that it's never like that when people actually live there... Now almost 3 weeks later, I begin to scratch the surface, dig a little deeper and I'm confronted with the knowledge that Oslo, much like Melbourne or any other city, has many faces. Exploring the many faces of Oslo and its people is like walking through an endless diorama. Discussing this with several of the Norwegian students has been very enlightening for me, and I think the more I start to strip away the cotton candy cellophane goggles through which I've been viewing the city, the more I'll learn to appreciate it for all that it is.

You know, like with people, there is a certain beauty in truth and genuineness. I love my home in Melbourne exactly because I've also come to accept its shortcomings. Now as I sort through the forest of what and who is real, and what is a simply a front, I think I could almost say that I'm settling into my new home called Oslo.

Meanwhile, pictures... I've had a horrible run with cameras - batteries running out, leaving cameras at home, etc. Hence a paucity in photos. But I did remember to bring a fully charged camera out today, and here is where I went - Vigelandparken, with the crazy sexual statues:

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