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Week 18: Exam Season

I wish I had more to write about, I really do.

After the weekend’s festivities my nose went straight to the grindstone: I had two finals and a number of trips to pack for (more on those in the next post). Always resourceful, I kept the days packed with group study sessions:


(Vit was a little tuckered out…).

I also took care of my Christmas shopping – resisting the urge to buy cheap hockey gear (there was the business of packing my own to worry about) and overcoming the shock of twenty dollars for a Thomas the Tank Engine figurine, I managed to pick out more than a few unique presents. Two of my favourites are hanging on Christmas trees back home this year: a pair of “God Jul” baubles dangle on ours, while a silver dove blends in perfectly with the themed tree of one of my more avid readers.

Though decidedly more subdued than their North American counterparts, the Tromsø retailers did their part to encourage the season of giving. The Coop next door got in the holiday spirit by installing an animatronic Santa Clause. What was so bad about that? Well… he was lifesize, continuously moving, and right by the front door - so much so that you could see him in there... moving... all night long... every time you walk by.

It was quite unsettling. Trust me on that one.

One final Christmas story: I received a quick note from home this week that Jim the Librarian had dropped by our family home in Wilcox with a five-pound bag of mixed nuts: "These are for the boy. I won't be here when he gets home."

By far one of my favourite presents last year.


Tip #1: All exams to be filled out in black pen. No exceptions.

More on the Norwegian exam rules next week – in the meantime, it's worth noting that my bag of Notre Dame College pens (brought over as little gifts for my friends) were suddenly in high demand. (“Adam, your pen saved my life today!”)

Tip #2: Find a distraction or ten.

I'll admit it, I'm a curling junkie – during this week the Olympic Trials were on, and it was the one of the first things I did every single morning. I even refused the check the standings before watching, preferring to let TSN’s recap buffer across the Atlantic.

In addition, my “buddy’s buddy” Michelle provided me with a little more exam distraction, as she recommended Sesam Stasjon for the Norwegian take on the childhood classic of Sesame Street (Trains AND “Erling og Bernt”? I’m in!). The Muppets helped keep my mind off the guitar chat Michelle and I had shared – as Christmas neared I was missing mine something terrible.

Tip #3: Find humour in the little things in life.

For example: I learned a new German word when Raimo expressed his need to borrow his neighbour's "dust suck". Literally translated from the German for vacuum – the little joys of such a rich linguistic environment.

It also occurred to me how strange it was that I had been carrying two cell phones around with me all the time – my Canadian one as an alarm/watch/scheduler, and my Norwegian phone (courtesy of Vidar) as an actual phone. A little odd, but more than functional.


Or so it seemed.

In the early hours of December 9, a strange, spiralling, blue glow was seen in the Arctic skies north of Tromsø. The locals scratched their heads, the theorists proposed anything and everything, the photographers snapped away rolls of film, and the papers scrambled to stay on top of the story:

Nordlys article (translated)
Sun article

but at the end of the day it turned out to be a missile test by the Russians (of course the Russians – who else?). In a nutshell: instead of combustion with tail-exhaust, the missile cracked a hole in its side and introduced a lovely side-jet, causing a beautiful tumbling pattern.

In other words, the same technical problem as this rocket launch: Failed Student Rocket
(that’s from Andøya Rocket Range and is a sister model to the rocket we launched – apparently there’s a reason we’re all under safe cover for launch.)

Oh, and I suppose this can technically be filed under Tip #2 above, but my goodness it deserves its own section.


Hmm, that post actually turned out longer than I thought – guess I did find some time to have fun even in the midst of finals.

…Oh and the exams themselves? They went smashingly. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, both running through Professor Brekke’s geophysics and illustrating to Professor La Hoz (with great enthusiasm and hand-waving) precisely why a geosynchronous satellite with a non-zero inclination traces a perfect figure 8 on the surface of the earth. A pair of successful classes, and I owe much to both of those professors for providing me with a store of information that remains pertinent, useful, and above all exciting.


Posted by adamvigs 18:24 Archived in Norway

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