Sunday, August 19, 2012

Intro calc classes at the University of Bergen come in two flavors: easy 101 and hard 111.  Last year as a meteorology student I was required to take hard 111.  It was awful for me.  A lot of theorems, and proofs, and hair-pulling "Ugh! Who really gives a fuck!"  Easy 101 bills itself as a "user's course":  here's your problem, here's how you solve it, and don't you worry your pretty little head about why--it simply doesn't matter.  Guess which one is required for the geology program.

As I mentioned earlier, this past week has been orientation week for new students.  The university does a pretty good job of organizing this event.  I don't really have any complaints about it other than I'm way, way too old to play name games with pimplely teenagers, and I never saw a box anywhere that I could cross off, opting out of the games due to excessive age considerations.  There really should be such a box somewhere.  Anyway, after the games, we had some extra time before the campus tour, so the grad student who was leading our group opened up the floor to questions.

"Anything you guys were wondering about...?" she asked.

They wanted to know how long she took to complete her bachelor's (3 years).  Which master's program she was in (petroleum geology).  Was it hard to get into (not if you have a C or better in all your undergrad classes).  "And which math class did you take?"


"And that was enough?"


"You never felt like you needed more?"


"They don't expect more if you're planning to take a master's degree too?"


"Are you sure."


"Was it hard?"

"Was what hard?"

"MAT101.  Was it hard?"

"Not particularly."

"Cuz' we heard MAT111 is pretty hard."

"101 is easier."

"Are you sure?"


It was just one kid asking all the questions, but pretty much the whole group was holding its breath listening to the exchange.  It pretty much took a collective sigh of relief when it was over.  I already like geologists so much better than I like meteorologists.


Here's a random thought I had while I was waiting for the name games to be over:  All of these kids (including the grad student) are between 19 to 23 years old.  That means that many of them were busy being born, if not gestated and conceived when I was busy suffering through orientation week at Smith in August of 1991.  Now that's some scary, hard math to digest!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer, As Was

Classes start again next Monday. Well, not classes exactly, but that pre-classes, welcome to the new year, tell your new classmates all about your fine self week that precedes the start of actual classes. That starts next Monday. It's obligatory for new students. I did it last year, but last year I was a Meteorology/Oceanography student. This year I'm a geology student. As such, I'm obliged to do it all over again.

Which means, of course, that I did it. I got into the geology program.  I feel a little guilty about this, actually.  There's been a bit of a brouhaha in the papers over the past few weeks involving 500 or so, in some cases, highly qualified students not getting accepted into university because of some minor computer glitch in their transcripts causing them to be rejected altogether.  I agree with the students.  It's outrageous and unfair. And Samordna opptak (central agency tasked with processing and accepting/rejecting all applications to all colleges and universities in Norway) bloody well should be obligated to inform applicants when there's an obvious discrepancy in an otherwise normal application.  I mean, obviously. I didn't work very hard on my application.  When I submitted it last March, emotionally I was more or less done with my little re-education project. At the time, I didn't really want to be accepted. I didn't even bother to track down official transcripts.  I just sent them photocopies; all but daring them to reject me.  Only they didn't.  Now, after a three month break from the horrors of calculus II and linear algebra, I'm glad about that.  But I still feel guilty that I might have taken the place of some more eager, less ambivalent, more qualified kid who, through no fault of his or her own, lost their place to a dusty, fossilized matron.

(I'll get over it)

The impending start of classes, also signifies the inevitable end of summer.


It hasn't been a great one weather-wise.  Not that it's been raining non-stop, but it's been pretty consistently grey and cool.  Not much in the way of beach weather.  We had one glorious week of sun and heat in Madeira.  After that we've been mostly at the cabin.  I've read well over a thousand pages of fictional, strictly non-educational rubbish.  None of them involving bondage, because...I'm going to go ahead and say it...I'm better than that...not the bondage bit...I don't care what you do in the bedroom...says nothing about your character...or mine, for that matter...but the books...they're just...silly...erotica...erotica-lite...It doesn't count as real reading!

(I feel better now)

My greatest accomplishment of the summer has been learning to drive the boat.  Almost.  Docking it is still a pretty tense affair.  And mooring it is, well--I'm still of the opinion that a knot is a knot; Mister emphatically begs to differ.  But I'm getting there.  I know how to turn it on, battery and all. And I'm pretty sure that I could manage to get myself to Rosendal and back without incident as long as someone was with me to grab the pier when I get close enough, because making it stop when and where I want it to?  The dark arts are involved, surely.

My daddy and Boy are so proud of me.  You can tell.

I'm going to do my level best to keep writing and updating this blog, even after classes start.  Share more of the university experience than I have in the past. There are quite a few American in Norway type ex-pat blogs out there.  There may even be one or two students in the mix, already reporting on the vagaries of the Norwegian collegiate ethos.  But when it comes to dusty, fossilized, mothers-of-three?  How many of us could there be left still clinging to the ridiculous dream of becoming a geologist?  In Norway, no less!

Stay tuned.