Even though I’ve been here for just under two weeks, it actually feels like a month or longer! I’ve (nearly) obtained everything I essentially want or need, know where to go to find virtually anything (whether it be loose tea, board games or whitegoods), and have already given directions to a lost person in this city.
I’ve also already fulfilled most of the residence requirements for moving into this country. The process is actually quite complicated and I wonder just how difficult it would be for international students to enter universities back home.
While last week was about buying everything I needed (essentially, from IKEA), this week has been sorting out subjects for masters, and a famous week in Norway that happens before universities. This week, called fadderuken in Norwegian (mentor week), is something that we don’t really have back home. It basically involves new students in different faculties doing various activities throughout the day, then heading out for the night.
Some activities are quite tame, such as mountain hiking or trips to the aquarium. But others involve boat trips (which lead to much nudity), or scavenger hunts around the city that involve removing clothes also. Then the nights involve a 3-step process which include: vorspiel (pre-drinks), going out, then nachspiel (afterparty). Compared to Melbourne, vorspiel seems to have a stronger emphasis because the price of drinks is so expensive in Norway. On top of that, the drinking culture can be quite overwhelming to those who are not party goers or heavy drinkers.
In addition, the weather in this city has been quite sunny all week, which is quite rare. As a result, more students have been outside and the streets and parks have been extremely lively and packed with students everywhere. I actually have found it quite hot here, and find myself often wearing less layers than Norwegians do.
My newest culture shock here is that many Norwegians are quite familiar with Australia, and that most I’ve spoken with have travelled there at some point! A lot have been on exchange in Townsville, and a few have travelled down to Melbourne, and even fewer along the Great Ocean Road! When introducing myself to people this week, I kept prompting them by asking if they had heard of Melbourne. Eventually I stopped doing this after one (new and Norwegian) friend said that most Norwegians would know where I’m from anyway.
Even though not as many Australians travel up here to the north, perhaps I can start that kind of trend. We’ll see!