Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ryan's Norwegian Adventure Blog

The Nidelva River in Trondheim

Greetings and welcome to the blog about my European travels this Fall 2013. This is my first blog ever, so please bear with me. A little background: I am studying in Trondheim, Norway for 3.5 months funded by the National Science Foundation and Research Council of Norway; my host scientist is Dr. Lars Wichstrøm at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. While I am in Norway for 3.5 months, I will be working on my dissertation using Norwegian prospective, representative data. Dr. Wichstrøm will mentor me and help further my program of research. While I am in Europe, I will be traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland for the European Conference on Developmental Psychology (Aug 30-6) and take short day trips to Zurich and Bern. My Aunt and I will also travel to Germany for a week and visit Frankfurt, Munich, Rothernburg, and other small cities.

First impressions of Norway

The view I had walking to buy my groceries
I arrived in Norway on Thursday, August 15th around noon. This was a particularly tough time to arrive because I had been awake 30 hours making the long journey over. I know to stay awake until at least the sun goes down (well, that is 21:45 here right now), but I was so exhausted I fell asleep. Oh- and forgot to mention my luggage didn't make it from Amsterdam. So- I was without a toothbrush and clothes for another 24 hours. I immediately noticed how beautiful and green Norway is; there are rolling hills of forests that stretch to Russia and across Norway. Trondheim is situated further north than the capitol (Oslo), and so it is a little colder and lighter/darker than Oslo (depending on the time of the year). The buildings are gorgeous; you can see the main river that runs through the city in both of the photos I have posted. I was also impressed with the Norwegians' ability to speak English - while all conversations are in Norwegian by default, as soon as someone hears me speaking English, the entire conversation (including others' side conversations) turns to English. My next observation was how much everything costs - I was so thirsty so I got a bottle of water. "30 kr" said the attendant, which I didn't realize until after is a little more than $5! A Big Mac meal is $18, one-way bus ride is $5.55, ~$66,000 for a Honda Civic (cars are heavily taxed) and Converse shoes are over $100.
Tax is 25% on most items, but 15% on food at the grocery store. The alcohol laws are quite different than the Pacific west coast of the USA; only the vinmonopolet (wine monopoly) sells hard alcohol on M-F until 6pm, and a few hours on Saturday. The prices are also very high. When a mixed drink is made in a bar, there may be no more than 1.3oz of hard liquor included by law (try making a Long Island with that law). Beer and wine are less regulated: the beers served are typically larger than in the United States and can be served in grocery stores under the same hourly laws followed by the vinmonoplet. Unlike in the US where grocery stores play some type of music, the stores here are silent and a bit eery. That will take some getting used to I suppose...

Norwegian people and my studies

Cathedral two blocks from my house
The Norwegian people are very friendly. While there is less small talk in retail shops (e.g., cashiers in the grocery store do not ask how your day is or tell you to have a nice day), friends are very helpful and available to hang out. I have already made about a dozen local friends who I've gone on walks and to dinner/bars with, which is telling of the student culture found here in Trondheim. Most of these friends are Norwegian natives (from Hammerfest [very North], Oslo, etc.) and others from Russia, the US, and Finland. Norway also seems to represent the epitome of self-care; many people work 9-3:30 and take their free time seriously.  
     In terms of work, Dr. Wichstrøm was able to provide me a private office to work in. We have met to discuss what types of research questions I can explore using the data he is generously offering to me. The dataset is one-of-a-kind and provides the ability to trace developmental trajectories over the life span; in my case, I will be investigating mental health disparities and stability of identity over time
I had to ask 3 people
whether this was mustard
(in terms of behavior as well). I plan on organizing the data and developing my conceptual models the first couple weeks. During this time, I will work on my dissertation proposal and potentially propose my dissertation to my committee via Skype while I am in Norway. The idea is to begin 2 out of the 3 required manuscripts that will eventually become my dissertation.

I will plan to update the blog weekly to report on neat findings and share exciting photos from my journeys. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome mentality - I love the 6.5 hr. work day! I had a friend who did her med-school in London and said it was a similar mentality. While med students in the US are spending 12+ hrs a day working, the students in London only worked 9-5 on M-Thurs. Friday was what they called "POETS" day....standing for "Piss off early...tomorrow's Saturday." They only worked half-days on Fridays. LOL. Although the idea seems a little scary for those studying medicine (maybe they could benefit from more hours studying???), I LOVE the idea for the general public!