Category: Travels

Dear Norwegian, our thing is over

Dear Norwegian,

I am a frequent traveller, and I have been one of your loyal customers for about ten years. I have always experienced excellent service from you, and I have always recommended you to all my friends and family. I used to be one of your greatest fans. At least this was the case until I came to the gate of flight DY1550 from Oslo to Budapest on 25 September:

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Six months in Oslo—Life of a researcher in the capital of Norway

26 November 2012 at 3:00 in the morning. I was sitting on the bed of my bare room in Bergen, overwhelmed with fear and excitement, looking at my life packed into suitcases, backpacks, and boxes, and staring at my one-way ticket for the earliest morning flight to Oslo: “Will I like Oslo?”, “Will I enjoy my new life?”, “Will I miss Bergen?” Now, after six months in Oslo, I can finally answer these questions.

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Four months in Madrid

Shipol Airport, Asterdam. Two hours left before my connection to Bergen. I am not coming back home from a business or leisure trip this time, but from a four-month exchange stay in Madrid.

Research fellows at the University of Bergen are encouraged to spend from three to six months abroad to get in touch with another research group and work in a different environment. During the MoDELS 2010 conference in Oslo, my supervisor and I discussed the possibility of my exchange stay with Juan de Lara and Eshter Guerra from the Autonomous University of Madrid. The idea of staying some months in the south of Europe after three years in the North was appealing to me, and Juan and Esther seemed positive as well. Eventually, the idea became a plan, and I came to Madrid in February.

I lived in the centre of Madrid, which happens to be the centre of Spain as well, historically speaking. My flat was located 200 meters away from the so-called Kilometre zero, the ancient starting point of all the measurements in Spain. I loved the atmosphere of the city centre, incredibly lively and dynamic. I even loved the noise that you hear in the bars… Yes, the noise of people speaking and toasting and laughing and enjoying life, something that reminded me a bit of Italy and that I missed so much in Norway, where people are usually scared of speaking too loud or too much.

Juan and Esther have been very kind to me. They helped me with the accommodation and the transportation, provided me with an office and a workstation, introduced me to the campus and the city. It has been a rewarding experience to work with them, both scientifically and personally, and I sincerely hope that we will continue the cooperation in the future.

But my stay in Madrid would not have been the same without the people I met there. Thanks to Serena, I got in touch with a group of people from Italy, France and Spain. It was a pleasure to meet Federica, Antonino, Mathilde, Vani, Ysa, Clara and Jose. But above all, it was fantastic to meet Lucia, Teresa and Daniele; lovely people, who treated me like a close friend since the first day we met. I wish most of Italians were people like them; I would consider moving back to Italy.

The big 3-0

Yesterday the universe had plenty of happenings: a winter solstice, a total lunar eclipse, the darkest night in 400 years, and, last but not least, the last day of my twenties. Yes, it had to happen: I turned 30 today. “What is important is to be young at heart”, some might say… Bullshit! I honestly hate this big 3-0 and all the social expectations that it implies. Anyway, entering a new decade always triggers some self-reflection. I have looked back at the last ten years of my life, and, inspired by the novel Caos calmo, I have written down some of the things I have done during these years:

Countries visited

United Kingdom

Mountains climbed

Fløyen (400m)
Ulriken (640m)
Rundemanen (560m)
Sandviksfjellet (417m)
Lyderhorn (396m)
Damsgårdsfjellet (350m)
Løvstakken (477m)
Corno grande (2912m)
Preikestolen (604m)
Kjerag (1110m)

Airlines taken

Estonian Air

Laptops owned

Sony Vaio PCG-FX801
Toshiba Satellite A100-703
ASUS Eee PC 1101HA
Dell Latitude E6500

Mobiles owned

Nokia 5110
Nokia 6110
Nokia 7110
SonyEriccsson Z1010
Siemens MT50
Siemens C55
SonyEricsson K610i
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

Camera owned

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P72
Canon EOS 350D
Olympus μ 1030 SW

Cars owned

Škoda Fabia 1.9TDI (2001 ed.)

Motorcycles owned

Yamaha FZR600 (1994 ed.)

There are many other things I could write down. All in all, I have been lucky to have had so many opportunities. I am curious to see how these lists will look like in ten years time…