One of the biggest recent developments is the fact that I am now the proud temporary owner of a guitar. Rachel and I have been attending weekly Christian Union meetings with a bunch of other Christians who are interested in eating and communing together. This has provided a means of getting to know new people, especially Norwegians who are otherwise a bit difficult to get to know (or find, for that matter, since we live in a student village populated mostly by fellow international students). Anyways, one of the Norwegians, a nice fellow named Jarl, which is pronounced with a soft "j" like "yawrl", told me that he had a guitar that he did not play and he proceeded to offer it to me. I can only interpret this as a blessing and a gift, since the ukulele has not fulfilled my desire to make music and just recently I had been really wishing I could have brought along a guitar. It is a black, non-distinct classic guitar with a muted timbre, but it plays and sounds pretty decent. Needless to say, I have wasted (or invested) a lot of time today welcoming this new thing into my life.
For my master's program we have a gargantuan amount of reading every night, although we meet for my two classes maybe five times total every week. We also have Mondays off, strangely enough. Lately, our friday classes have been seminars in which we students are supposed to display our new understanding in a performative manner. These have taken the form of debates and rhetorical analysis, which I have found to be both a bit nerve-racking (I still get nervous when speaking out in large groups) and also intellectually stimulating. Once I accept the increased heart beat and get over the slight tinge of nervousness, I really enjoy participating in the debate, rebutting another's remark here, trying my hand at a critique there. I have found it rewarding to express my opinions and open up my position to critique. Plus, my fellow students (half of whom are Norwegian) are nice, amiable folk, none of whom make the seminar unpleasant or awkward.
The classes themselves have been so-so; they are Research & Methods and Key Issues in Development and Environment. Though the methods class can be a bit boring and technical at times, I like that class better than the Key Issues class, mostly because the key issues class focuses on specific problems for two weeks at a time. This first module has dwelt on REDD+, a global reforestation program involving capitalism and market incentives, none of which I had never heard about and frankly do not really care about. The Methods class has addressed more basic issues, like meta-debates in the social sciences (naturalism vs. constructivism) or the differing methods used by researchers in various fields. With some philosophic topics mixed in, this class has sparked a lot of thought and gained my approval. Overall, my experience at SUM (Center for Development and Environment) has been positive.
Here's a story: I had volunteered to be the class representative for our year and everyone had said yes since nobody else wanted to do it (which is why I stepped up). But after a day in the position, in which I did nothing but brag a bit to Rachel, I was deposed. A coup d'etat, regicide, call it what you like, but I am class representative no longer. An authority at SUM told me that class representative must be able to speak and read in Norwegian, which rendered me incapable of fulfilling my official responsibilities. Another guy, a Norwegian named Jorgen, stepped up to take my position, pretty big shoes to fill considering all that I had accomplished in such little time. I have considered filing a discrimination lawsuit, but once the brimming anger, nay pure rage, subsided, my good sense got the better of me. Actually, I am both a little relieved and a little bummed at the same time; it would have been nice to have a role that would facilitate new relationships with interesting people with my department, but it would have also been another responsibility. Oddly enough, Jorgen, the new class representative, also just recently got married, as did two of the other guys in my program and one other girl. Out of the seven guys in my class, four of us are married.
Well, I think that is enough for now. I covered less ground than I had originally hoped, but it is late and I am content to let this suffice. I plan on periodically posting on this blog. I used to have my own blog, but found it to be too onerous a task to sustain with any degree of success or feeling of accomplishment. If you have any questions or would like to know about any specific in my life, please post your questions, to which I will try to respond in a timely fashion.