Friday, April 29, 2011

Reflections on life as of now

Here I am, sitting on the floor of my apartment surrounded by my worldly belongings:

2 suitcases
1 backpack
1 bag with my duvet
2 plastic storage boxes. 

My roommate moved her stuff out this morning, which means I have no furniture left. Thankfully the wifi comes from the downstairs apartment, otherwise there would be even less to entertain me.

Having all your possessions neatly packed in front of you is both a relief (for finally managing to achieve it) but also a tad unnerving: is this all my life sums up to? Obviously the answer is no, but looking at my stuff makes me ponder about how possessive we are about what is ours. And, really, if they got lost and never showed up in my new place would that be the end of the world? Quite simply: no.

So why do we carry all this stuff around us in life? Do we need it? Well, at some point we decided we did, but obviously many times we think we need something that ends up piled on the shelves somewhere gathering dust. I must admit I'm proud that I am moving out with the same amount of stuff that I brought. The Oslo prices definitely helped ;)

And my brother is visiting... poor him... we will both be sleeping on the floor tonight before heading to Bergen for a weekend in the fjords!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Water divide

In Brazil we call a situation a water divide (divisor de √°guas) when it separates the before from the after. And this is exactly how I felt my week off was: a water divide. Before the trip I was still going about my stuff here in Norway, my job, my new friends here, looking for an apartment for the last 2 months, etc. Not quite processing the thought that I'm moving again so soon.

But during the trip (more specifically during a conversation with A. on the drive back, when the rest of the car occupants were snoring in the back seat) it seems like my ideas fell into place. Yes, I'm moving across the planet! And I better get the hold of it soon! So now it does feel like I have 2 months to finish as much as I can at work, to enjoy Spring since it might be a while before chilly days come by again, to enjoy the time with the people I met here but overall not to fret it things are not perfectly in place by the time the end of June (aka moving time) comes around. I will try my best and the rest... well, it is always about priorities.

It is funny how certain moments can cause such considerable changes in our perceptions. Small things that suddenly shed light on issues that were fuzzy or unidentifiable before...

And when I was googling an image of a water divide for this post the pic above popped up... and it is quite close to where I'll be living in Brazil, which made me smile. Seems like there are good things in store! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are you a planner?

I'm not. If I can I will not decide on whether to go out this weekend until Saturday afternoon. I will not decide on whether to go out next week until the last moment. I do not know what I am cooking tomorrow. And if possible I don't like people pushing me to decide on things ahead of time.

This does not mean that I don't plan ahead for things that do need planning such as buying plane tickets or shopping for at least a week. And in this sense I am much more of a planner than A., who would like to decide whether to go out on Saturday on the same day at 10pm. And my brother is essentially also like this.

And the 3 non-planners ended up on a trip with a hyper planner. The fourth person on the trip was a girl I met in Oslo a few months ago. She was super enthusiastic about meeting me and soon I invited her to one of the weekly dinners I have with some friends here. The fact that she wanted to know what the person responsible for the dinner was cooking 5 days in advance should have set the alarm off but it didn't. And then when I invited everyone at one of these dinners to join us for the trip she was the only one who accepted. Oh, well, since my brother was worried about being a 3rd wheel I decided to take the chance... Big mistake!

During the entire trip she was trying to plan things. Where are we going today? Where are we eating lunch? What road are we driving? What is the weather forecast? What are you wearing tomorrow? What should I wear? This obviously drove us 3 nuts and was quite frustrating for her. How can people plan so much? Doesn't it occupy too much wave length?

Just in case, I'm preparing a questionnaire for future trip mates to fill out ahead of time. This is all the planning I will do :P

Monday, April 25, 2011


Hello hello!

Here I am again after a long break. And a much needed break too! The past 10 days have been an amazing disconnection from internet... and how was I longing for it! During grad school (when you are expected to not have vacations) and now during work (when you sneak in a few days off work but make sure to read your emails several times a day in case someone realized you are not there) it had been almost 5 years of online connectivity. And what did I do these 10 days?

My brother is visiting from Brazil. He arrived on April 18th, just in time to meet up at the airport, rent a car and head our traveling with A. and another friend of mine. We started off with a day in Paris, seeing the highlights in Spring:

The next day we headed to Germany, where we visited one of our cousins who is studying there:
The amazing flowered fields on the way.

Me and the town.

Then we headed to Lake Constance to visit a friend I had not seen for 6 years. We even stayed a second night, since he took us sailing!!

Cheesy Titanic moment :P

From there we jumped to Switzerland to visit 2 cousins living there. 
Amazing scenery on the road.

And then off to another city in Italy to visit another friend:
Castle we stopped by to visit on the way.

And another great lake right where she lives!

We then headed to Italy, but stayed off the beaten path at an amazing National Park:

With little villages perched on the cliffs:

Finally we stopped at a great French city on the way back:
A., me and my brother in a city of style.

So, who can guess where we went?? Come on... the first one is easy :P

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thought of the day

Q: How do you know you are at a high level meeting?
A: The line in the women's restroom (during the short break) is smaller than the men's.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today I just do not want to be where I am at. Today is one of those days that being an expat sucks, big time.

How can the first warm (17oC/63oF) day in Oslo after a (way too) long Winter feel so shitty? When there are finally birds chirping, plants sprouting and flowers beginning to bloom?

Well, I think I have taken Norway well, not much complaining about the country (despite some that sneak in here and there) and no big low. Big low being the times when you doubt yourself for the decision to move to the place, when you cannot see the positives around you and choose to focus on the negatives. But now I finally hit the low... But at least I think I can blame it on 3 main reasons:

1) Having 7 days left in Oslo to find an apartment in which to move into on May 1st. This means browsing the only website available for anyone willing to rent something furnished out for 2 months and then visiting them and realizing that this is going to be much harder than I first expected. Today I went to see this apartment. It is in a great location and although I was hoping for a private bathroom I went on to see it. As I went into the building my stomach flipped... the place was like a super old hotel that had not seen renovations for the last 50 years (at least). The room was minuscule and the whole building smelled of stale cigarettes. Pass!
The next apartment seemed more promising, including an own bathroom... but the place is smaller than A.'s bathroom in Paris! The furniture is all small, which makes the pics look good and the place look larger... but there is definitely no space for even a bed! And the apartment trash dumpsters are right outside the window... Just in case you think that I am being cheap, I have searched for apartments from €550/USD1200 (the room mentioned above) up to €1800/USD2500. Oslo is definitely a renters market...

2) I am tired of getting all types of information in Norwegian. I understand this is the language of the country, but hey, please send me the mail you know I need to read either as a) an email (which allows google translate to save me) or b) in English. Or just give me the phone number to a person that speaks English... This website gives an idea about how interested they are in serving English speaking customers. And in the same lines... I have 3 tax returns to fill out: one for the USA, one for Brazil and finally a Norwegian one as well...

3) Too much to do. This is not news, but when the apartment bomb exploded on my head I could definitely have used a little time off to look for alternatives. The time I take off work to do this is precious and I'm sure I will have to work my a** off some other time to make up for it.

Not good... not good...

Friday, April 8, 2011


Wow, a week just flew by. Yeah, I know this sounds cliché, everyone's life seems to be running ahead of them these days. But I have no other excuse except for nothing amazing to write about.

But here I am, at the airport once more, ready to fly to Paris for the weekend to see A. Paris is always about 10oC warmer than Oslo which makes these trips even nicer, especially in the Winter and now, early Spring. While Paris already had flowers and little leaves on trees since about a month ago I finally spotted the first garden flower in my neighbor's backyard yesterday. They were quite small, but beautiful, especially after a long harsh Winter and many days of wishing Spring would finally arrive.

Just like the neighbor's flowers.

There are also some daffodils springing up, but no flowers yet. On the other hand the Oslo Fjord is still covered with pieces of ice... at least not completely frozen, but still very far fro swim-able. 

The port in Oslo last weekend: definitely not quite Spring yet.

I took this picture last Saturday, when walking through the city with 2 Dutch friends that came to visit me. We are actually an interesting story: we were good friends for a year in 1991 when we all lived in Nicaragua. After that we moved away, and only met when I visited them in Amsterdam. When we met again after 12 years it seemed like time had not passed that much. We got along great and vowed to meet again soon. Now they came to visit me in Oslo, 8 years after that visit to Amsterdam. It is funny how time is flying by, how life experiences are different but still quite similar (like we all did PhDs... but each in a different field). Here is the pic we took 8 years ago and an update from last weekend:

2003 in Amsterdam.

2011 in Oslo.

It is good to have friends! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011


After this whole series of moves and the promise of the beautiful apt#2 always around the corner I am still living in the not-great apt#3. We were supposed to move to apt#2 in March (after several postponements) and by the end of Feb I asked for a confirmation from my roommate and she replied that no, we could not move yet because there was a lot more renovating needed at apt#2. So I settled into apt#3 indefinitely, confident that day for apt#2 would eventually arrive.

And just now I get an email from my roommate: apt#2 is not ready but she has no more money for more renovations, lease on apt#3 is expiring April 30th and basically I am homeless from then on. Just what I needed... Quite inconsiderate on her part not to tell me earlier, but I guess at this point I should have expected the worst. I will not be in Oslo for half of April, meaning that I actually have 2 weeks to look for a place and move. And I will only stay here until July (yes, decided to move to Brazil) meaning that it will be hard to find a place for 2 months. It helps that I don't own anything more than my own stuff, but that also makes it impossible (more like impractical) to furnish and set up an apartment for the time being.

Not good... not good.