This spring marked the half way point for the Masters in Globalization: Politics and Culture class of 2011 at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Seven Norwegians, a Croatian, a Rwandan, two Ghanaians, a Ugandan, and and Alaskan celebrated a year of challenge and fun. Regardless of our perceptions of how the program might turn out, I think we all discovered a pleasant mix of rigorous academic work combined with relationship building. Second semester in particular forced all of us to difficult courses and weakness in our previous education head on; we worked hard and fought to do the best we could. I have been amazed at the resilience of our small class- my classmates impress me all the time not only in their schoolwork, but in their character as well.
Who are my class mates? There is Ragnhild, Line, Saralinn, Sara – the four Norwegian girls. There are two Norwegian boys: Erlend and Martin. These Norwegians are not typical- they all speak English like pros and all of them have spent anywhere from 6 months – many years abroad during their childhood or educational experiences. Then, there is Vedaste, Joseph, Daniel, Justice, Ivana and I– the internationals. We are less established at NTNU than all the others (except for Vedaste who also did is Bachelors there.) As the foreigners, we have not only spent the year working hard academically, but also learned how to navigate Norwegian culture, health care systems, grading systems, bureaucratic loopholes, and much much more. We have all appreciated having our Norwegian comrades to show us the tricks and share their culture with us – which they do happily and with extreme kindness and sensitivity. The utter courage that my international friends haveshown when tackling this experience has been remarkable. Norway for me is at this point almost a second home, and yet I still struggled figuring all the details out. I never stopped being amazed at my friends who managed – some how – to not only be great at academics but also maintain a positive outlook (most of the time!) on life abroad.
Sadly, as the year drew to a close, we realized that we wouldn’t all meet again until the Spring of 2011. Our program requires an internship component and our class will be spread around the world. The international students will stay in Norway, because the scholarship for living expenses they receive from theNorwegian government stipulates that. The Norwegians (except for Martin who opted to stay local) and I are able to go abroad. Line is in Katmandu, Nepal with “Save the Children.” Ragnhild and Erlend are in Shanghai and Singapore (respectively) with a Norwegian company called Elkem. Saralinn is in Malaysia with another Norwegian company called Telenor. And Sara is off somewhere (I am not sure where) because her Thailand trip was cancelled due to the violence earlier this year. I am going to Geneva, Switzerland to intern with UNCTAD- the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development!
Thus, in June, our class bid farewell until the winter. The international students headed home for the summer, and the Norwegians stayed at home and prepared to leave for their adventures! Most of them have started their trips, and it has been fun hearing about the craziness of some of Asia’s most globalized cities. The cool part about our class and also these internships is that we are not only studying Globalization, but we are living it through each other our own unique experiences. It is really fascinating!
On August 25 I embark on an adventure in Geneva! It will be the first time I have lived somewhere (since I was on AFS to Norway for the first time at least) where I don’t speak any of the local language (which is Swiss French). I am looking forward to a challenge! I don’t have many expectations for the experience and have not prepared as much as I could have… but I am hoping that this will add to the excitement of the adventure.
But first… SUMMER IN ALASKA!