Monday, March 11, 2013

Putting the Study in Studying Abroad

Wow, this blog has reached double digits for posts!  Ten weeks, [insert whistle sound here].  I have exactly a month left of classes, which applies greatly to the title of this week’s blog addition.  I definitely have to be work mode the rest of my time here, mainly because of my ISP (Independent Study Project).  I’ve mentioned my ISP in earlier blogs I think and I am getting into the heavy research and delivery points of my project.  I’m studying the paradox/relationship between Norway’s reputation of gender equality and domestic violence, with the overarching theme being the past, present, and future status of gender in the perspectives of Norwegians.  Sounds like fun stuff huh?  Well it is for me!  Fun, hard work that is.  Title explained, now onto another packed week here in Oslo.  As usual I’ll start with today.

I went to Stortinget which is the name of Parliament for the second time (I also went on Thursday, details on that trip below).  After having class on campus, my HECUA group and I headed over to meet the FpU, which is the youth branch of the FrP aka the Progess Party.  The Progress Party is the second largest party in Parliament currently after Labor, is polling at third for the upcoming election in September, and is the party farthest to the right in Norway.  To compare the party to the US, in my opinion it is libertarian on a good day but can act like the Tea Party.  That said, the three guys we met with, Erik, Tristian, and Chris, are all youth members and advisors to the mother party and since they’re all involved in politics, they know how to sell themselves.  While the Progress Party isn’t one I’d likely ever vote for if able to cast a ballot in Norway, the visit was educational and definitely helped my understanding of the party more than only reading about it.  Then we got a short tour of Parliament including the main chambers that we missed on Thursday. 

After Stortinget, I went over to the complete other side of the Norwegian political spectrum for an interview at the Socialist Left’s youth branch.  I sat down with Ida, the feminism leader of SU (Sosialistisk Ungdom aka Socialist Youth), to ask her questions for my ISP.  She was great to talk to, and it was ironic to bounce from all the way right to almost all the way left (Norway has a Red Party as well but they have no seats in Parliament presently).
I had a pretty eventful Monday today, but now on to last week!

Tuesday:  This was an on campus day.  I went to class in the morning then to Uglebo during café hours for waffles with some classmates.  Waffle Tuesday is turning into a tradition; I’m going tomorrow (the 12th) as well.  For 10 NOK each waffle (just under two dollars), plus free tea and coffee for being a volunteer at Uglebo’s night version (bar), it’s the best deal on campus I know of.  After fluffy, jam covered goodness, I met up with my professor to talk about my ISP.  And that’s when the already covered title came to be.  March is a school work heavy month and this month felt like it crept up on me.  “What, March?  Already?!” was pretty much my thought process after realizing (as opposed to having it in the back of my mind) that the rough draft of my ISP is due at the end of the month.  After I got home, work was still on my mind as it needed to be because I had a paper to work on that was due on Friday.  Sitting at my computer and going to sleep wrapped up my Tuesday.

Wednesday:  My sixth full shift at Queer Youth marked evaluation day.  Mostly what Eirik, Ashild and I talked about was what I’d be doing with my remaining days at QY.  My main focus for the rest of my shifts will be the office itself, launching the social space.  I spent my day on Wednesday framing posters and putting them on the wall, which took way more effort than it sounds.  After QY I went home and wrote more of my essay.

Thursday:  As mentioned above, this day marked my first time seeing Stortinget!  The Politics major in me was super excited for this class visit.  We met with Peter Skovholt Gitmark of the Conservative Party (Høyre, which literally translates to “Right”), who was elected in 2005 at the age of 28.  Entering Parliament that young isn’t abnormal in Norway, whereas in the US it’s very rare to get into Congress that early in life.  It’s possible for the House of Representatives, but even less likely for the Senate.  Peter is on the committees of the Interior, Finance, and Environment.  And if the election goes how the polls are looking, his party will be the largest and he may be a minister.  Peter gave us a tour, mostly showing off the artwork on the walls of Parliament and of his office.  The man has swag from all over the world and from being on the radio a ton of times; a mug each time he was on air, which totals about 120 mugs… Not all of them are in his office, but wow (I think I saw 20 or so).  And the main things I noticed were two pictures he had on his wall, one with David Cameron, and the other with Margaret Thatcher.  After his office, Peter sat down with us for a Q&A.  Then I headed back home to finish off my essay to turn in the next day.

Friday:  International Women’s Day!  One of the fullest days I’ve had in Oslo means bullet points:
  • Had the first interview for my ISP at noon at the police academy with Geir Aas, a researcher of police conduct who did his PhD on family violence.  A surprisingly pleasant hour talking about “tragedy” to borrow his word.
  • Went home to put the finishing touches on my essay then sent it off/
  • Popped some very quick tags at UFF, a thrift store right across from Oslo Central Station.  I’ll definitely be making another, longer trip there in the near future.
  • Then the most awesome series of events:  My friend Cassie has mentioned an event at the Norwegian Peace Council earlier in the day and I’m so glad I went.  At the organization’s location downtown, they held a screening of “The Whistleblower” starring Rachel Weisz.  The film is about the true story of an American police officer who goes to post-war Bosnia as a UN peacekeeper and discovers a scandal of human trafficking with international police, UN, and diplomatic involvement as clientele.  Kathryn Bolkovac, the real life woman of the movie is based on, was present at the event as well for Q&A after the screening which was really cool.  Then there was a band to finish off the line up.  The entire event was free including food, beer, and wine.  Like I said, pretty much the most awesome thing I’ve attended, thanks Cassie!  I bought a signed copy of Kathryn’s book and made a donation to the NPC but like I said, otherwise the event was essentially free.
  • After the NPC, Erica and I went to Uglebo.  It was a nice change to be a customer rather than a bartender.  Apparently it’s a tradition at the pub that no girls can work on Women’s Day, so, when you can’t volunteer, go for fun!  The pub was great: got some drinks, the boys made sandwiches at the entry (see what they did there), and Erica and I stayed until about closing.  Afterwards we went to our friend Alex’s place with Silje for a kick back.
  • All in all a good day.  And lastly, happy 100 years of female suffrage in Norway!
Saturday:  Erica and I kept up the free peace theme by going to one of the very few days of free entry, which I luckily happened upon when looking up its hours, at the Nobel Peace Center.  A new exhibit had just opened up the day before: European Identity through Photography.  It was a good visit, and for what we didn’t pay at the door we spent at the gift shop, ha.  After the Peace Center we had a taco night with a couple other friends and then headed out to Amatøren for “Western” Night.  I put that in quotes because there was no country music at all.  A few people dressed up, I was clad in plaid for the occasion, but that was all that matched the advertised event.  The music that was played was mostly American and Latin pop.  So I guess western night turned into “any songs produced west of Norway” instead of a cowboy kind of night.

Sunday:  Sunday Funday?  Not quite, I holed myself up in my apartment for the day with the intention of getting a lot of work done.  The blog title mindset was the plan, but didn’t come to be.  I occupied my time by being productive on things other than my ISP: sleeping, Skyping, and the assigned readings for class the next day (today).  So, at least I did the work that demanded my immediate attention right?  Anyways, this is my first time being out of America for daylight savings, so I got to see all over Facebook how people were feeling about springing forward and also made sure I was online an hour early than planned for Skyping because of the now eight hour difference instead of nine.

Long entry, wow!  I’ll pass on a conclusion, here are photos!

Posing with Peter (he’s in the suit to the left)

Outside Stortinget

Proud new book owners: Erica and me

Kathryn Bolkovac

Peace for free!

Pretty day on the waterfront with city hall in the background

The lush voting chamber I saw today

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