Thursday, 28 May 2015

The end, yet again

Another semester is coming to an end. All my assignments are completed, the deadlines have passed, and I've swapped my healthy diet in favour of a not at all one. But it's exam season and totally justifiable.

Last semester there were times where I honestly didn't know how to get through it all. The workload was out of this world, with assignments all over the place.

This semester has definitely been a calmer one but the requirements have once more leveled up. I've handed in my dissertation proposal and in less than a year I will have handed in my longest, biggest, most extensive work yet. At this point I'm calm about it and I have promised myself to read during the summer. Maybe it will actually happen too.

I only have two exams left ever at Brookes, so I'm now doing my second to last exam revision. But before I return to the revision, I just wanted to tell you about a service Brookes offers. A pretty good service too, objectively speaking.

                                                                                Photo: ISAT

The International Student Advise Team (ISAT) is hosting a Meet and Greet Service during arrivals weekend in September.

If you are arriving at Heathrow on either terminal, on 13th or 14th September between 9am and 8pm on the 13th or between 9am and 5pm on the 14th, look for Brookes students wearing green t-shirts. They are called international student helpers and will be present at Heathrow, at Thornhill Park & Ride and at halls of residence.

At Heathrow you will be guided towards public transport taking you to Thornhill Park & Ride, where you will be directed towards a free shuttle bus taking you to your halls of residence. During arrivals weekend you will probably see green-dressed people around campus, whom you can ask if you need any help. You can read more about it here

Don't worry if you're arriving outside of arrivals weekend. There is lots of information on the Brookes website about how to get from the airport to Brookes.

Enjoy your summer, and I hope I'll see you in September :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

What half a bachelor degree has taught me

When writing this it's 561 days since I moved to Oxford for the first time. During these 561 days I've learned much more than I ever would have, so no, I still don't regret my decision of studying abroad. Sure, there's been times where I've wondered if it's really worth paying thousands of pounds in tuition fee for a degree that I could've gotten for free in Norway. But then again, I couldn't have done so because Norway doesn't offer my subjects. And that's a big part of why I chose Brookes in the first place.

So what have these 561 days taught me? Well for starters I've learned that the British people do not eat nearly as much potatoes as Scandinavians do. Up until a couple of years ago a proper dinner for me had to involve potatoes in one way or another. So that British people don't seem to value the potato is probably equal to my lack of understanding for the British pub culture. Go to a pub in Oxford during any time of the day and I guarantee you there's plenty of people there. And not just one type of people, there's all kinds! Young, old, business men in suits with briefcases, and my favourite; football players straight out of football practice. It's beyond my understanding.

And whilst talking about food. Another thing these 561 days have taught me is that I'm a weirdo for bringing lunch to school, slices of bread in a lunchbox to be precise. I've always done so, and it's seen as a waste of money to buy food at the store or café while you could've saved money and brought it with you. And because everyone in Norway do so I've rarely been tempted to buy something else, but now I'm getting depressed around noon when I'm eating two dry slices of bread with ham and cheese while my friends are eating freshly made baguettes, panini's or delicious soup. At the end of the last semester I caved in and started buying lunch as well, and it was delicious. And expensive. Good thing I don't have any long days at campus this semester requiring consuming of lunch.

The half a bachelor degree has not only taught me that Mexicans don't wear sombreros 24/7, a couple of Italian words and phrases, and the deep-rooted problems in the US, it has also taught me a great deal about currency. You see, 561 days ago 1 pound equalled 10 Norwegian kroner (NOK). In other words, I was living the dream and felt quite rich. 561 days later, one pounds now equals almost 13 NOK. Not so rich anymore. So I've been forced to pay attention to trends and patterns because I lost so much money when I transferred money between Norway and UK. So please, from a soon to be broke Norwegian student, buy some Norwegian oil and help out my limited bank account.

To sum up, 561 days, or half a bachelor degree if you want, have taught me that British people don't value potatoes as much as I do, nor do they eat homemade lunch brought to uni in a lunch box. I've also learned that it's perfectly fine to go to a pub straight from the gym or football practice to have a pint, and last but not least, that the Norwegian oil I once loved so dearly has now become a huge pain in my backside. And because I've also learned that the British are polite and don't use unpleasant words, I had to change out that three letter words in the last sentence. 

I don't know what the rest of my bachelor degree will teach me, but I'll make sure to update you when I find out! 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Dream big or go home

Have you ever thought about what your future will look like after uni? If you'll be successful or not? Whether or not you'll reach that high goal of yours? I have from time to time, and I guess we all do at some point.

The first week of the second semester is already over, and by looking of the pile of books and my calendar I'm pretty sure this semester will be harder than the last. In five weeks I'm handing in the title of my dissertation, and although I have a pretty good idea about what I want to do, I don't know if my supervisor shares that opinion. I guess I'll have to wait and see!

At least one thing is for sure; I've chosen the modules of my dreams. There's no secret that International Relations is my passion, and particularly security, so when I realized that all the modules I've chosen for this semester more or less are concerned with security, I was really pleased. Although I know it's a lot of hard work throughout this  semester, I'll at least have fun whilst reading and writing those essays! 

Another thing that's probably going to affect the next couple of months, at least in terms of excitement, is an internship that I've applied for. If I get it, it will be like a dream come true. It's exactly what I want to do after my masters degree, so I'm keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed. I know I've got what it takes, but as they're only offering two internships I know the competition will be tough. But dream big or go home, right?

Anyway, whilst I was back in Norway for Christmas, I got an email from Brookes saying that the flat we currently live in won't be available for students next academic year. Thank God I popped into the accommodation office as soon as we got back to book viewings of other flats. I have probably mentioned this before, but as a Brookes student you can choose between halls, shared, and private accommodation. Shared housing basically means that you live off campus with either Brookes as a landlord or a private one. When this list is published the flats get taken super fast, so if you want one you need to be quick. When I walked into the accommodation office there were students everywhere applying for halls and shared housing, and luckily for my boyfriend and I the flat we originally wanted when we first moved to Oxford was available. Can I just say that it's the most amazing flat ever?! It's right next to Headington Campus, and the bus stop is literally right outside the door. I can't wait to move in and write my dissertation in a really spacious room.

So if you're reading this and you're thinking about applying, hurry up! Now I'm going to celebrate with reading the UN Global Governance Report. Yay!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A year in pictures

 I'm having trouble realizing that we're already approaching February, and that I've been blogging for over a year. Right now I'm still in Norway where the roads are covered in snow and it's impossible to walk or drive. So to acknowledge the fact that it's actually 2015 and that I have 1.5 years left at Brookes, I thought I could share some pictures of the past year.

So without further ado, here are some of my highlights from 2014


The John Henry Brookes Building finally opened    


A visit from Norway included a tour followed by an happy hour experience at our local pub 


You know you live in the UK when it's a highlight that the spring arrived and you got to enjoy a whole day of not only no rain but sun too! 

March was also the month when Brookes hosted an historic event at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The event marked the start of Brookes' 150th anniversary. My favorite was definitely the talking robot on the left. 


In April, during Easter, I went totally crazy with cultural stuff and visited both the Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon. 

 Another highlight of April was this afternoon tea. Looks delicious, right?


Need I say more? Don't think so. 

June, July, August 

This pretty much sums up my summer.


The transition from being a fresher to a second year student made me crazy. The list on the right just kept on expanding until the very end.  


Another visit from Norway and of course a mandatory trip to London, which in this case also included a trip to the Emirates Stadium. 


This picture is actually pretty international. Taken in Oxford, by a Norwegian, with a Mexican, and a German dog. 


No caption needed I guess. 

I just want to end this by thanking you for reading my blog. I hope you at least find it somewhat useful. 2014 was definitely a challenging year but I've also experienced so much fun stuff. All in all, a pretty good year!

Let's hope 2015 is even better!

Monday, 15 December 2014

It's that time of year again

It’s that time of year again. You know, when you easily can separate the locals from the rest. And by locals I mean British people, in general. How come, you say? Well, when December comes and it gets colder, an easy way to spot the locals is to watch out for flip-flops, shorts and non-wool sweaters on a windy, cold morning in South Park. When I wake up it’s usually so cold outside that the inside of my flat is like a freezer. So it’s only natural then that I bring my huge, warm winter jacket to Brookes along with winter boots and gloves. My cheeks are so red when I arrive at the lecture that it looks like I’ve been out playing in the snow for hours. And I'm from Norway and probably have viking blood running through my veins. 

The locals, however, don’t seem bothered at all. I have spotted guys wearing flip-flops and shorts on their way to Brookes in the middle of December. I have seen girls walk by in ballerina shoes and v-neck sweaters when it’s raining outside. And I have seen people with huge jackets and  scarfs. And those people with jackets and scarfs are the international ones.

Another thing I’ve noticed since writing my last British vs. Norwegian culture entry on this blog, is that my non-local friends living with the locals freeze their behinds off when their at home. Their British flat mates simply don’t allow these cold poor human beings to turn their heaters on, because god forbid, the electricity bill could get high. Do you know how cheap the British electricity actually is? It’s ridiculously low compared to many other countries! I thought the Norwegians were the stingy ones, but it turns out to be the British. My whole “British people are so much better than Norwegians” thesis should be edited. You cannot be warm hearted people when you must be cold all the time, can you? I don’t know anymore. I do know that I like it nice and hot inside my flat though. And that I still like to be called darling and honey by strangers.

 Speaking of Norwegians. This is probably totally irrelevant to all non-Norwegians, but have you heard of ANSA – Association of Norwegian Students Abroad? They have recently started an Oxford branch! If you’re a Norwegian student studying abroad, being an ANSA member is something you should consider. They can help you with almost anything, from personal issues to discounted flight tickets and insurance. You can find their Facebook page here and their website here. The cost of a year’s membership is £39 and the advantages are too many for me to list them all. Have a look, sign up, and like their Facebook page. ANSA Oxford host regular events for Norwegian students, so keep your eyes open!

Now I'm returning to my revision of political thinkers from the stone age. Yes, it's as boring as it sounds. But when writing this it's exactly 2 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes left until Christmas. Yes, that's how excited I am for this semester to end. 

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Thank you for reading my last blog entry in 2014 - see you next year! 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brookes 2.0

"If this is what uni is like this will be easy as pie", I remember thinking after my last exam in May. Little did I know what Brookes had in mind for me as a second year student. It's like we've gone from a stroll on a sunny, lazy Sunday to a high speed run on a rainy Monday. No fun, in other words.

My first year timetable was no more than two hours a day with every Friday off. Now it's  9am to 4pm several times a week. To finish on a Friday at 4pm with a heavy lecture on something you can't wrap your head around is challenging, and my brain feels like it's boiled. The modules I do this semester also happen to be exhausting. All of my module leaders are like "this is not an easy module, it will be hard. Be prepared".

I have 9 deadlines this semester and 1 exam, so it's "only" 3 more than last year, but the expectations are so much higher. And if that's not enough it's twice as much to read. I have so much reading to catch up on after writing my last essay where I was forced to just finish the damn thing and skip some of the readings due at the same day as my essay, where I completed the readings several weeks ahead of all my modules last year, I'm now way behind on two out of five modules. The day just doesn't have enough hours for me to finish it all. And with all this I'm really starting to lose motivation. The first semester at Brookes felt like a month or so, but this time it feels like a very, very long year. I have never looked more forward to Christmas.

With all this too-much-to-do-too-little-time thing, my boyfriend suggested online grocery shopping after speaking to a friend of his about it. At first I was skeptical but we gave it a try, and it's truly amazing. I feel ashamed admitting to it though. At least it saves us some money when we shop for the whole week and don't get tempted to buy unnecessary stuff. However, there are disadvantages. When I was doing the online grocery shopping last week my boyfriend wanted some crisps for the weekend. As it was a two for one offer on those particular wanted crisps I bought two. The thing I missed was that it was a 20 pack bag and not a 6 pack bag. So now we have 40 packs of crisps in our relatively small kitchen. I'm wondering what the delivery man thought when he saw that we've ordered 40 packs...

As you probably can tell I'm a bit unmotivated this semester. November has been a very long month. But to end this on a good note, there has been some pretty good things about this semester too! My friends have become even better friends, and the parties have definitely been taken to another level.

I've also attended a British Sign Language class which was really fun. It only lasted for 6 weeks but if I down the line meet a fellow signer I can at least spell the words!

And last, but definitely not least, the weather has been decent. Last year I remember November as an awful rainy month, but this time it has actually been pretty good. You know you live in the UK when three days in a row without rain is something to be happy about.

I guess I just have to pull my self together, find that long lost motivation and keep going - pedal to the metal I guess. At least Christmas is slowly but steadily approaching :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I run on insulin

Ever since my first entry in January I've felt like there's a specific topic I should write about. I don't know why I haven't done it already or why I'm even writing this one now, but I feel like I should.

I have type 1 diabetes, and have been a diabetic since 2007. Type 1 diabetes is the kind you're born with but no one is entirely sure why for instance I got it but not my sister. Type 2 is the "famous" one often confused with type 1, which often is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genes. Being a type1 diabetic means that my body no longer produces insulin, a hormone helping my body to use the glucose in my blood to give me energy. If you're interested in the details you can read more about it here.

The older generation sometimes say that the youth is a bunch of lazy people whose brain is barely challenged. Well, fortunately for me, that's not the case. My brain is constantly busy with counting carbs for my meal, calculating possibilities of unforeseen events likely to affect my blood sugar and when my next meal will be. It's never a dull moment for my brain I suppose.

 Since 2008 I've used an insulin pump, which is a device which purpose is to copy the human pancreas. I wear it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except from when I'm showering. I also wear a device shaped like a large button monitoring my blood sugar levels every 10 minutes. You just got to love technology! This button and a juice box has saved my life so many times, as I've stopped waking up during sleep when my blood sugar gets too low. Basically, low blood sugar equals death. And high blood sugar (over time) also equals death. 

Having a diagnosis like diabetes has it's pros and cons, mostly cons. The only pros I can think of is that I'm a hell of a multi-tasker, organizer and mental calculation. The cons are an endless list. Like having a low blood sugar needed to be treated immediately during a seminar, or a high blood sugar during a two hour exam causing you to start day dreaming about going to the toilet. 

Wearing an insulin pump also has its pros and cons, and the pump has gotten me into strange situations. Like when people think I in 2014 am wearing a phone in those old fashioned belt purses attached to your pants, or when they think I'm wearing a phone in my bra even though I have clothes with pockets. I have also been forced to explain that no, I don't have three breasts, it's just my insulin pump. And of course the inevitable "no, I'm not touching my breast, I'm touching the buttons of my pump".

Being at uni with diabetes isn't easy, international student or not. It affects your level of performance during exam, your mental presence during seminars or lectures and a whole lot of insecurity. You don't really want to show off your pump or blood sugar device to your new friends right away, but you are at the same time forced to inject insulin if you don't want to run to the toilet 24/7. I have actually just told one of my friends from Brookes that I have diabetes, but I think many of them have figured it out already. When I have to measure my blood glucose level I "hide" the whole process in my purse, but I guess it's pretty obvious what I'm doing in there. And if they haven't figured it out they probably think my phone is attached to my body with a plastic tube and that I wear my phone in my bra.

Alcohol and diabetes isn't the best combination either, most things are in fact not good in combination with diabetes. Except for vegetables and exercise. But you can't stop living either. That's why diabetics do the same as non-diabetics. And yes, we eat candy. And drink soda. And eat cake. But the thing about alcohol is sometimes tricky. The police or your friends might perceive you as wasted, at the same time as you're actually having a low blood sugar. So if you don't want to tell all your friends that you have diabetes, at least tell one of them. Just in case. There are cases every year where diabetics die because of the misperception between being drunk and having a low blood sugar.

And also know that Brookes has an excellent medical team ready to help you if you're having any kind of trouble.

Now I really have to go to the bathroom. Again.

All pictures from