Thursday, September 16, 2010

My boyfriend

I feel like now that I got married I got myself a boyfriend!

Ok, let me explain... A. and I moved in together after a few months of dating. Actually, it was 3 months of dating and then 3 months of distance (while I was in Brazil for work during the Summer). Before leaving I had sublet my apartment for 3 months and left my stuff in boxes at A.'s place. While in Brazil our relationship evolved quite a bit: the first 'I love you' was over skype, and then after a while A. suggested that I should move into his place when I'd return. I never said yes, mostly due to uncertainties regarding where we'd be (in terms of the relationship) after such long distance. But when I came back... things fell in place again quite fast and when I asked A. whether I should unpack, his silence and quirky smile were answers enough. I moved in. And then we lived together in Raleigh for almost 3 years. Overall marriage was not a big deal to us, we felt it was more life making whatever we had official rather than changing anything. 

Well, let me tell you... marriage didn't change things but living in different countries sure does. How I miss the easiness of finding each other for conversations, more like bumping into each other in the closet or hanging out doing nothing! Now that he's in Paris and I'm in Norway, communication is much harder. I start work at 8am, he starts class at 8:30am, so we catch up for a few minutes on skype in the morning. At lunch he might or not make it home, and I might or not be at my computer when he logs in. The evenings should work... but for now I don't have a computer at home (waiting for my ordered laptop to arrive...) and neither of us has gotten a phone yet, so there's no way to communicate. Also, his MBA is starting off quite busily, he's got more to do by the day! 

So here we are, married and back to dating! Seeing each other on weekends, talking each other day, etc... Definitely not easy, but we both hope it is worth it in the long term...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Paris... ah, Paris

The weekend was amazing!
It started off by A. finding me at the Jouy en Josas train station... I had just gotten off the train and was starting to look for the bus stop when he came running behind me and gave me a big hug. He had also just arrived and was waiting for the same bus. It was quite a coincidence since I thought he would've been at the university much earlier. We spent the day going through necessary stuff like getting the apartment key, opening bank account, signing up for classes, etc. Mostly A. was doing it and I was tagging along. In the evening there was a big welcome party on campus (they even have a bar on the 1st floor of the residence hall!).

On Friday A. had math and finance classes and I worked on my laptop... not much there.

The apartment is not big, but if I found anything like it here in Norway (at a reasonable price) I would surely take it. It is about 35m2, and has a bathroom, a bedroom and a living room with a hot plate, small fridge and sink as kitchen. It is also well furnished (bed, side tables with lamps, 2 desks with chairs, table + 4 chairs, couch). Overall it is quite a good deal for 2 people, especially considering that the individual rooms are about half the size, no kitchen and only 100 euros less per month. A.'s colleagues are already planning parties there...

Saturday A. had classes again and I went shopping for apartment essential such as bathroom mats, and all kitchen stuff (from pots and pans to dishes). It was a day excursion and I would have gotten a lot more if it wasn't for the fact that I had to carry everything through 2 train changes and a hike up the hill to the apartment... But that meant that we could cook! The cafeteria at the university sucks big time (seems like they boil everything down in water, so it is pretty tasteless) but VERY cheap (lunch for 2 people costs about 3.5 euros). I love bread and cheese, and since these are the sides at the cafeteria I don't mind eating there... but the spice withdrawal was already apparent in A.

In the evening we had a nice bbq by the university lake. As with the party the day before, the previous incoming class organized it for the newcomers and it was quite nice. The MBA class seem to be an interesting mix, and the answer to "where are you from" usually starts with  a "it's complicated...". People that have lived in many places, done many things (from the usual finance guys to doctors, translators, IT...) and somehow decided to all take a break from work (to... ahem, study) at the same time. I do think their reaction to my reply when they ask what I do is quite funny. "I'm a postdoc at a university in Norway." Blank faces look back at me, with no resemblance or recognition of what that means... definitely a different world than mine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paris, a break from Norway

In the wee hours of the morning I'll be on my way to Paris. A. just arrived there today from Hyderabad, and I have not seen him for 3 long weeks. Now, in writing, 3 weeks does not seem like so much, but the first three weeks in a new country and culture take time!

What have seen/ been told/ learned so far here in Norway?
- You are nothing without a "personal number" (something like a social security number in the US or a CPF in Brazil). And it ain't easy to get. First register at the police (detail: have to come when there is an officer on duty, which is between 9:00 and 10:30). Finally got that done after the third try. Then need to go to next town to apply for the number... takes about 1/2 day. And then wait... I've been told it takes 2-3 weeks but a housemate here has been waiting for his for over a month. And until then?? No bank account (meaning I cannot be paid either), no cell phone, no enrollment in medical services, etc.

- Housing is scarce! Both in Aas (the small village) and Oslo the school year is starting and tons of students are looking for similar lodging than me. As a result, nothing good is available for more than a couple of hours and then... gone/ rented! I did decide to live in Oslo though and for a couple of extra thousand Kroner I found a quite neat place to share with 4 Norwegians. I'm moving in mid October and will have more updates then!

- I admit: my expectations were quite high. I did expect virtually everyone to speak English... Not so. I've quickly learned to select people to ask directions on the street based solely on age: 40 is the cutoff, the younger the better. And yesterday I went to a afternoon seminar session in which one of the organizers asked if there was anyone that did not speak Norwegian and 2 people raised their hands, she was astonished... and continued speaking in Norwegian! Knowing German helps a bit... a bit.

- Decided to be pro-active and invited everyone I've met so far for a Brazilian dinner at my guest-house. All international people I invited accepted and all Norwegians declined. The dinner was a big success. The absence of Norwegians was explained by several people as "normal", that they tend to hang out with their own groups. Let's hope it's not always like this...

- It cools down fast... Nowadays the highs are in the 50s and 60s (teens to low 20s in oC). How will it be in November?? And it gets dark even faster... When I arrived it was getting dark around 10:30pm and now it's 9pm. I admit that the darkness is one of my greatest Winter fears.

- The amount of fruit is amazing in the Fall. And all free (from kind neighbors' gardens)! I've made raspberry and apple cobbler, rose hip jam, knoedel with plums...

I'm really glad that A. will be in a similar situation now (though I hope/think his will be easier as he was housing sorted out and being a student also gives you an extra hand of support). While he was back in India traveling around my life over here was a little too foreign to easily relate to (and phone connections not that good). And it's not THAT far... 2 hours flight (let's see how long the overall commute takes) and I'll get to see him! Wohoo!

See you next week!