I guess it’s time to join that less than exclusive club of those with a blog and write those ever-optimistic words ‘I know I haven’t updated my blog for a while, but…’ In my defence, however, not much more could have happened to me since I last wrote something back in September 2011: after nine great years as a student at Aston University, and 4 years in our poky flat in Banbury, I now live and work in Norway!
Between September and January I was working both my postdoc at Aston, teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) part-time at the Høgskolen I Oslo og Akershus (HiOA) , had a one-day-a-week Researchers in Residence (RinR) teaching placement at the Worcester College of Technology, and was still doing odd bits and bobs like school visits as a STEM Ambassador; but more on each of these later. (The irony of the unbridled optimism of those words in a blog update five months after the last is not lost on me, trust me). Having all these jobs meant that every second week I was in Birmingham for two days, Oslo for the next two and then back in the UK to be in Worcester for the Friday. I am in no doubt that that was the most stressful period in my short, and all told, undeservedly comfortable, existence this far. At least that’s my excuse for a reason not to write much, anyway.
The move to Norway had been planned for months, but felt like it came so quickly. On January 11th I left our flat behind to the vagaries of renting tenants and flew myself and our two cats, Schrödinger and Socrates, to finally join my wife, who made the move 4 months ago, and set up our new lives in Lørenskog . Two weeks to the day after the move, I now have a Norwegian ID number, bank account, phone number, library card and soon driver's licence too (just a dentist and optician to go!). I now also have a more concrete time table for my EAP and mentoring duties at HiOA and a better idea for what is in the pipeline, at least for the next few months. With all that out of the way, and with the dust (or maybe snow) finally settling, I now feel settled enough to start up extra-curricular time-vampire activities like blogging again.
I started Scicommbobulate largely to write about science-related things, but my intention is now for it to be about more general things, including my humanist activities, life in Norway and EAP teaching, which is the profession that’s paying the bills for the time being. Other random additions like the occasional book/film review will also crop up, I imagine. It’s probably the best way for those people remotely interested in any of these aspects of my life to keep abreast of things, and serves as a necessary outlet for all my half-interesting brain farts.
Home is now at 51m
one bedroom flat in Lørenskog sentrum, about half an hour on the bus from Oslo. Mae found and bought the place back in November and has been busy since buying, building and installing all the furniture, ready for my arrival (God, I love her). If picked anywhere in the whole country for somewhere to live, I couldn't have bettered Mae's choice. From our kitchen window, in direct eye sight, is the bank; bus station, with buses every 5 minutes to Oslo and work; several supermarkets; a giant mall; the shiny new Lørenskog Kulturhus, which houses the library (my home away from home), theatre, cinema and restaurants, the vets and a Peppes Pizza. On the other side of our building, not less than 5 minutes walk away is the gym, the post office and another mall with, thankfully, a Vinmonopolet (wine monopoly; a state controlled shop for ridiculously priced liquor).
I have spent the last two weeks buying the remaining bits and bobs for the flat and cramming as many gadget and bits of technology as is humanly possible into the place. (I'll put some photos up as and when.) Getting the bus around and shopping has been a great way of finding my feet and settling in, and I haven't broken down in tears at the prices of things as often as I had anticipated. I have a tendency to drift into a rambling stream of consciousness, so I will save writing about acclimatising to a new but familiar place for other posts, where learning the language (I start a full-time course which starts on Feb 6th ) and things like having to treat a trip to the shop like an Arctic expedition, are likely to feature frequently.
I haven't wasted much time taking up another of my hobbies which is to get involved in humanist activies. It is to my unending shame that all my other jobs left me with little time to keep the Aston Humanist Society going, or to properly fulfill my duties as a regional National Federation for Atheist Humanist and Secular Student Societies representative, so I am going to try and make up for it here by doing my bit for the Norwegian Human-Etisk Forbund which is the equivalent of the British Humanist Association (but with membership of around 80,000, by percentage of the population, much, much bigger). I nipped into the Humanismens Hus(HEF HQ), which happens to be a block away from work, and there are lots of opportunities for me to get involved as a member with an 'international' background, not just with the HEF, but also Skeptics in the Pub in Oslo, the Humanistisk Ungdom (the humanist youth group) and Kritisk Masse, an upcoming conferences for skeptics, with Richard Wiseman as one of the speakers. I've even managed to arrange to have a coffee with Levi Fragnell, one of the early leaders of the HEF and former president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
The first event I'm attending is this evening, on 'the weaknesses and strengths of the climate debate'. The talk will be in Norwegian so I don't anticipate understanding all of it (although my problem with the language is mostly speaking and generating sentences, I can pretty much understand everything), but really I'm just looking forward to meeting the people and making some friends.
If you've managed to read this far, you have my respect and deserve a thank you for being interested in my new life in Norway. Posts from now on will be short, sweet and frequent, I promise. Although anything more than a post before May will count as frequent if the last half year is anything to go by.