Jack: Back in New Zealand

After being back home for a little while I have had some time to reflect on my time spent in Trondheim.

While it is hard to beat the Waitemata Harbour in terms of having nature right outside the city, I certainly miss the forests and lakes just in walking distance of suburbia in Trondheim.

One other thing I appreciated about living in Trondheim was the size of the city, on a day to day basis it was very easy just walking around, so I found myself getting the bus maybe just every few weeks. That being said the price of the busses somewhat incentivized walking or cycling; a 90 minute bus ticket in the city cost slightly more than $7. Point Auckland.

Most of the roads around the city except for the more main roads had a limit of 30, which people stuck to. It made a surprisingly large difference as a pedestrian in terms of feeling a bit safer but it meant that the cars were a lot quieter too.

Since I’ve been back I have made an effort to keep up with my Norwegian, I made friends with an exchange student from NTNU which has allowed me to keep practicing as well as making a new friend along the way.

While the cost of living in Trondheim is relatively similar to that of Auckland, one thing that is way more expensive in Trondheim is going out; whether for food or drink. The reason for this is the high wages in Norway, so you aren’t really paying for the food or drink, but instead to have someone serve it to you! A tip to anyone going to Norway wanting to save money is to make an effort not to eat out!

Day to day the biggest influence being that far north has is on the climate and the amount of light in a day. I really miss the long, long summer days of Norway, but not so much how short they were in the midst of winter. I got a real shock from how bright the sun was when I got back home. The climate though I very much preferred, I am much more suited to the cold rather than the warmth and at least during the time I was there I thought the climate was very well suited to me.

One thing I am sure of is that I will be back, and hopefully to do a PhD or some form of further studies. While 8 months was a good amount of time, and certainly enough to explore and have a good time, I was still always aware that I was leaving in a few months. As well as that I still feel like there is a lot of Norway I haven’t seen (I didn’t even get to Oslo!) I also understand that spring is the best season for Norway; you start getting the longer days but you still have the snow! So yes, I will be back!

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Jack: Final Two Months – Physics, Skis, and Saunas

With my courses finishing at the end of December I was lucky enough to find a part-time job working at the university in a quantum physics lab for January and February. This arrangement gave me a lot of time for going on adventures both around Trondheim and out of Norway.

As winter has properly hit Norway in January the nature of what I did in my free time changed quite drastically! I could now walk just a minute from my flat and put my skis on then disappear into the forests around Trondheim. The cabin trips continued too, but now we skied to the cabins instead of walking. This was not only faster, but much more entertaining too, especially with the exchange students who weren’t as sure footed as the Norwegians!

Time spent up at the cabins was great; after up to a five-hour hike there, there aren’t many things better than relaxing in a wood fired sauna. While certainly hard to do the first time, making snow angles immediately after being in the sauna was reasonably pleasant. The same however cannot be said of dunking yourself in a hole made in a frozen river…

After the sauna we would stay up late playing cards and other games, then got the sleep required for the journey back the next day!

In February I went on a week-long trip to Iceland. In a lot of ways, it seemed to me like an interesting blend of NZ and Norway. Volcanoes, ice, glaciers and Vikings. One thing that I noticed very quickly was the sheer lack of trees… aside from some small isolated pockets, the entire island is devoid of trees! There were many highlights of the trip including seeing the edge of the North American tectonic plate at Þingvellir National Park, the massive glaciers along the South coast seeing wild reindeer and finding remote isolated hot pools!

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After getting back to Norway and working for a few days my last weekend had finally arrived! Along with a few close friends we donned backpacks and skis and headed off the beaten track. Unfortunately on this trip a lot of the snow had melted, so we had a long walk before we could put on our skis. After a night outside with a fire and good company we all slept like logs. As is tradition, in the morning we had pancakes with brown cheese, then we were treated to some supposedly authentic inuit snow goggles, made from tree bark by one of the Canadians on the trip.

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As always, the view out of the cabin was great.

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My tip to anyone else going to NTNU is to make as much use of their network of cabins as possible as they really are incredible and certainly not like anything offered by universities in New Zealand.

Just days later with a heavy heart, lots of new friends and great memories I made my way to the airport for the last time. See you later Norway!

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