A Tale of Three Cities

A Tale of Three Cities

DO YOU ever think about the key moments that brought you to where you are now? I do.

– March 8, 2011: I went to pub trivia and a spoke to friend who shared some information that would change my life. Our team came last in trivia.
– May 10, 2011: I sat a job interview for a graduate job and afterwards met a Norwegian that would change my life. I didn’t get the job.
– April 17, 2012: I received an offer to study a Master’s degree program in Biology at the University of Bergen. It wasn’t my first preference.

Three years have passed since then. And now I am at crossroads.

I stand in a big room with two exits. To my left is a glass door, where I can see what appears to be an endless field of luscious grass. I wanted to go there in the beginning, but the glass door just wouldn’t open for me. To my right stands a tall, wooden door, sealed tight. There’s a small keyhole below the handle and a slither of light shines through. I can’t make out what’s on the other side though.

Two weeks ago I sat an interview for a PhD position in Trondheim. And when it comes to job interviews, I begin to think about what might happen if were accepted for that position and have to move elsewhere. But there’s a PhD position in on offer Oslo and also in Bergen now. And so I begin to wonder even more…

I have decided that I want to continue life in Norway. I enjoy it here too much to leave just yet, and have full support from my family and many friends back in Australia to live here for longer. But I feel starting a PhD position in Norway is completely different than taking a Masters degree. I said to myself when I first moved here that ‘the worst that could happen is that I wouldn’t like it and I’d just go back home’. But starting a full-time paid job means that I’d be locked into living in one city for at least four whole years.

Bergen has been my home for nearly two years and I have met some amazing people here. But lately I’ve started seeing and spending less time with these people. Some of my friends have started to settle down so I see them less. Some friends have become busier so we spend less time together. Some friends will leave Bergen after I complete my Masters so I might not see them again. And I have become quite busy myself so I lack time to spend with others. All of this has made me feel…lonely. I am afraid that remaining in Bergen would inflate these feelings of anxiety and this isn’t healthy for me or anybody else. At the same time, I have developed a familiarity with Bergen and walking through its streets and hiking along its mountains instils a strange sense of familiarity within me. I guess that’s what it means to feel at home.

Trondheim is a nice place, but is one of the smallest populated cities I have ever travelled to. I am afraid that I will meet those feelings of anxiety there like in Bergen. This is perpetuated by the fact that I don’t know anybody there. Plus I would have to live there for four years and the thought of feeling ‘alone’ for that long concerns me. I hear that the student life is fantastic there, but no one can tell me what it’s like for doctoral students. Apart from that, the PhD position on offer there is exciting, and centers closer towards my interests than any other research project previously.

Oslo was my first preference for studying Masters. There are many things to do there and I enjoyed myself thoroughly when travelling through the city. However, accommodation is expensive and the PhD position on offer there is on a topic I am less familiar with (compared to the jobs in Bergen and Trondheim).

So the room I currently stand in is Bergen. Do I remain in this room, amidst my present concerns? Or do I consider moving to Oslo behind glass door, to the city I have always wanted to move to? Or what about Trondheim, the city I have only seen through a keyhole? That is, assuming I get to decide where I want to go.

I guess whatever decision I make or whatever option I am given from this point onwards will lead me to a new path. Maybe it will lead me to a door I didn’t notice before? While it never hurts to think about future options, I guess that over-thinking can be an unhealthy thing too. Then again, moving to Norway took a year in the planning, so maybe this whole process is shaping things to come for me and my life in this country.

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