Sunday, October 17, 2010

A wise man once said...

"All good things must come to an end"

So this post is going to be somewhat less concrete. I suppose my thoughts have been less concrete lately anyway, which can be a worry if you consider that I have officially finished my Obstetrics rotation (3 weeks) and am approaching the tail end of Gynaecology. God save the unfortunate pregnant lady who needs me to birth her unborn child in the back of a ute...

But what I really wanted to say today is something completely unrelated to medicine. Lately I've been doing a bit of reflecting, and one of the thoughts that keeps surfacing is the fact that I will be returning to Australia in two and half months. I have officially passed the half-way mark of this exchange experience, and here's the thing. When I arrived in Oslo just over 2 months ago, I came to the conscious decision that I would make this place into my new home. And that I have done for sure, in many aspects. Each day, I learn more and more Norwegian. Whilst speaking fluently is (obviously) still a challenge, I can now hold decent conversations about substantial topics. I even went so far as to purchase two novels in Norwegian, and have started on book one (Gutter er gutter - a translation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy).

It's not just the language. It's the place, the way of life, the attitude. I don't calculate prices in Aussie dollars anymore, and when discussing plane tickets or accommodation, I prefer to talk in Norwegian kroner. If I go one step further with this, the next most obvious aspect of settling in is the people you befriend. I've met quite a few people through my adventures here in Oslo, some of whom have become really good friends. I mean, with some people I would be rather upset if they visited Australia in future and didn't tell me (not that they would do that)! These people are the ones you tell things to, feel happy with, and can be upset to. They help you when you *really* need it. I keep saying this, but I really think it's true that you can feel these sorts of things rather quickly - you don't need to know someone for very long to feel that you connect with them on more than a "Hey, how's it going?" level. And of course, everything happens on fast-forward whilst on exchange!

But here's the thing. I'm going back home in 2.5 months, and as much as I look forward to the comfort of family, friends and familiarity, I know that I am going to miss my life here terribly. It's sort of a good thing really - what would be even sadder is to have spent 6 months in Oslo, only to have "I can't wait to leave this place" as the last thing on my mind. And so when I got myself into this exchange, I knew I was set up for these mixed feelings at the end. But of course, you don't say no to a good experience just because you know it will end at some point. And let's not sugar coat my time here. There have been some not-so-great experiences too, events I'd rather not recall, decisions I'd rather do over. Yet all in all, my decision to forego electives and come to Norway on exchange has been one of the best in my life. Cheese aside, I've learnt a lot about myself, what I am capable of now, as well as where I want to go with my future. If my mind were a map, this map has extended its borders.

So it's going to suck when it comes time to say goodbye. Sometimes it's easy to lapse into the train of thought, the one that asks "What is the point of all of this, if we're only going to go our separate ways so soon?" It's not like I live a train ride away from Europe...I wouldn't even mind the 24 hour traveling time, but buying a plane ticket from Australia to Europe isn't exactly loose change.

I can't help it. I invest myself with people. The more you invest, the more you gain in return. Usually. And I suppose we can consider our lives like a long stroll. Sometimes you'll have certain people with you along the way, who then take their own path at a fork-road, at times you'll walk more or less alone, other times you'll be with other people. But essentially you walk alone, except you're never *really* alone I guess. The practical person in me would say that the type of friends you hold come to you sort of like in an audition, with our subconscious casting certain friends to fill in vaguely defined roles. So essentially, you have the same circle of friends no matter where you go, except with different names. You will always find yourself The Joker, The Listener, The Crazy one, The Gossip, The Drinking Buddy, The Plotter, etc. I guess the point of me explaining this is to say that it's not quite that simple or true. Some of the people I know here now fill a unique role, roles that are lacking in Melbourne. And to take up these roles, I have to give a little of myself, make some room, clear a little space. The sad thing is, I'll be going home in a few months and so will they, and perhaps take with them parts of me I won't get back. The same goes for the Norwegian language. Amongst the beginner exchange students in Norwegian class, I've probably invested the most of myself to pick up the language. It has certainly paid off whilst living here, but realistically, where am I going with this as soon as I get back home? Nobody speaks Norwegian in Melbourne, and Swedish? Well...

Okay, enough of this intangible crap. All of this may be the truth, but it also comes down a lot to perspective, and I suppose I can always spin this in a favourable light if I so desire. Indeed all good things must come to an end, but I really should stop thinking about it and just enjoy everything for what it is, as it is, right now. After all, this exchange experience wouldn't be called an exchange if it were to continue indefinitely.

So in the meantime, I'm just going to keep dancing in my head, have a great time, hopefully pass my exams, and when the time comes and the curtain closes, I'll take a bow and be glad for having had the experience in the first place!

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