a clear 50/50

Studying and working abroad sounds wonderful. No matter what country you’re in, going somewhere else to live for a period of time sounds amazing, whether it’s to America or Germany or Egypt. I think it counts especially if you live in Norway, a country of few options compared to some others.

Expectations can sometimes fall flat, though. In the case of studying and/or working abroad it seems like a clear 50/50 that you’ll enjoy it or not. It all depends whether you think the good sides outweigh the bad ones, or the other way around.

The positive sides can include:

Getting to travel – You will experience different cultures, eat a different cuisine, meet a lot of interesting people (New York, for example, is a city of diverse personalities).

Getting more social – Being in a city, either by yourself or just a few people you know, will require socializing. Things as small as asking where a certain cafe is can lead to close-knit friendships, and if you are in a big city (or even a small village), you might need someone to lean on.

Looks good on the resume – Whether you apply to schools or to jobs, the fact that you’ve lived somewhere different from home country proves you can adapt well to different situations and settings. It also looks really impressive.

There are some negatives too, of course:

Different time zones – If you’re somewhere far away from your family and friends, communicating with them might prove to be difficult. They could try to contact you while you’re in deep slumber, you might call them in the wee hours of the morning.

Homesickness – Linked with the point above, you might start feeling homesick. Even if you make new friends, you will still miss your old ones, and that can put a damper on the excitement of being somewhere new and exciting.

Loneliness – If you, like me, aren’t very good at making friends or even acquaintances, it might be hard to handle. No matter what, things are easier to deal with when you have someone on your side, someone you can confide in and who can comfort you. Without that, you might be happy.

However, if you think studying abroad sounds amazing and is something you would want to do, there are some websites that can help you get going.

http://no.studyacrossthepond.com/home.asp

http://www.gseabroad.com/

http://www.studyabroad.com/

http://www.sit.edu/studyabroad/

regrets take the place of dreams

The Raft was written by Peter Orner back in 2000. It’s about a boy who gets told a story by his grandfather about something he did back in World War 2 that cost the lives of many civillians.

The story is told in the point of view of the boy, who we know has heard the story before. The grandfather obviously regrets it (“the story is the same and different — like last time except this time his tears come so fast…“), but seems to think it was inevitable (or maybe he wants to think it was inevitable, so he won’t feel so bad).

“Phyllis doesn’t know” is the line that tells you something serious is going to happen. It builds to a climax (the climax building is actually pretty short) and it reaches climax when he writes “BLEW IT UP” on the phone-message pad.

The big theme in this short shory is regret. The grandfather has told this story several times to his grandson, but his wife never knew. Maybe he didn’t want her to know something about him that he hated? Maybe he felt his grandson wouldn’t judge him and would hopefully understand? He is quite obviously remorseful, even if he tries to justify it to himself.

I guess it’s the kind of thing you can never forgive yourself for.

thinkb4u

Today, I checked out a website called thinkb4u, which was generally about electronics, but more specifically about being safe when you share information and the like on the internet. It had a pretty cool layout, very interesting, and contained several videos displaying the clever use as well as the unsafe use of sharing (they say sharing is caring, but who says you have to care all that much?). There are several options on the videos as well. You could pick what you want the “Parker” family to do, and they showcase the different scenarios that arise when you make that choice. The website seemed like it was supposed to be aimed for both a younger and older audience (the website was a dead giveaway), but I doubt teenagers would be very interested in the site. Not to mention the fact that parents are more worried about being safe than teenagers are.

a visit

A visit from the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Today, Tuesday 03.09.13, we were fortunate to have the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, as a guest at Sandvika School. Around 200 students gathered in the big gymnasium for this special occasion. Barth Eide was here to talk about Norwegian foreign politics, and what role we play in global issues, such as the civil war in Syria.

The Syria-conflict
The foreign minister told us a lot about the ongoing conflict in Syria. How several oppositional groups fight against the government. He presented some facts and figures about the war in general, but also how the international society deals with this issue. How all the members of the UN Security Council disagree. They don’t seem to reach agreement on what is the biggest problem in the war, and what to do with it. The question of whether the UN should intervene in the civil war in Syria is an example of how difficult it can be to reach a decision in the Security Council.  After the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria night to the 21 August, where hundreds of Syrians died, the UN had their chemical weapons inspection team collect samples. Nevertheless, the question of intervention still divides the Council.

As Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barth Eide also focused on the part Norway plays in the Syria conflict. After the use of Chemical weapons for the first time since the First World War, Norway thinks it is important for the Council to decide how to punish the use.

Chemical Weapons
He also mentioned the probable fact of there having been used illegal chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. The CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) was an agreement signed in 1993 that outlaws development, production, stockpiling, transfer as well as use of chemical weapons, and Syria is one of five states that haven’t signed it, and one of seven that hasn’t ratified it.
It is not 100% certain that chemical weapons have actually been utilized, but many tests have been made of things like soil samples and bodily fluids. Several people have reported witnessing the use personally as well.
Samples have been collected and tests are currently being made.

What role does Norway play in foreign/ global politics?
Our minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, answered our question with the following:
Quote: ” He said for us Norwegians, it’s important to pay attention to the bigger picture of activity around in the world, and not just the toll areas in this country.”
Furthermore, he said that because we in Norway have such high living standards and more than enough jobs, we also have to think about other countries in the world. There comes responsibility with being a wealthy and stabile country, and one of those responsibilities do concern the current situation in Syria amongst other countries’ as well.
For instance in Syria, the Security Council doubt on whether chemical weapons have really been used. Now, Norway and many other countries are almost completely certain that such action has taken place, and what they’re currently doing is collecting anything that can prove this wrongdoing. In fact, just yesterday, our minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and his fellow Nordic and Baltic colleagues were in a long conversation with the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, on working together on proving this. Sergey Lavrov had also been one of their collaborators when the foreign ministers were making the policy on the use of chemical weapons.
Espen Barth Eide made it clear to us that he and his colleagues were trying to convince Sergey into taking action with them.

Consequently, based on these statements, we learnt that as a strong but small nation in this world, it’s very important for us to pay attention to all activities in the world. We must do so, because we have to make decisions as to what is best for Norway, but also what is best for the country the subject revolves around. After all, Norway is one of the major contributing countries and one of the biggest humanitarian countries.

The fact that the Minister of Foreign of the country took time off to visit Sandvika Videregående Skole is important. Even though the parliamentary election is only seven days away, he chose to spend a couple of hours here. We learnt a lot about how the foreign politics work, and what role Norway plays in global politics. He addressed a very relevant subject (the Syria-conflict), and how Norway handles the situation. He emphasizes that the people of Norway have to think more about the foreigin politics, especially in these election-days. This is an important issue, and really made us as students think that politics in Norway affects more than just the people of Norway.

redemption day

Erin Brokovich was a woman who, along with the Lawyer, Ed Masry, managed to construct a  case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California back in 1993 for polluting the town’s water supply, causing many to be born with birth defects, such as missing an ear, cleft lip, palate and slight retardation which she did despite her lack of legal education.

The movie adaption made in 2000 starring Julia Roberts as the titular character (earning her an Oscar) and Albert Finney as Ed Masry (for which he got an Oscar nomination) is similar in many ways to the real events, but, as any movie, has overdramatized some events, examples being the amount of money given to the victims. Roberta Walker (Donna Jensen in the movie) wasn’t given the 5$ she was in the movie. Instead the victims received on average about $300 000 each, with dissatisfaction due to the uneven distribution amongst the plaintiffs, with there even being said that “if you were buddies with Ed and Erin, you got a lot of money”.

Additionally Masry had been contacted by Walker, and he brought Brokovich along, unlike in the movie where Brokovich found some medical records in the file regarding PG&E wanting to purchase Walker’s home and decided to visit. I’m thinking the change was made to make it seem like Brokovich was the one who did everything start to finish. She did, however, help gain evidence and testimony, adding up to 650 plaintiffs.

Another thing they didn’t mention in the movie was that “George”, Brokovich’s love interest, tried to extort money from her and was arrested following the release of the movie.

The point is, even if she was less amazing in real life than the movie made her out to be, she did still do what she did almost single handedly, even with all odds against her, even while being a woman with no husband, three kids and very little money, and I think that’s admirable.