It’s a reference to altitude, don’t worry.
20.08.2009 - 20.08.2009
I sat down to write today’s blog, and unfortunately for you, not too much of interest happened today. But luckily, I have pictures to distract you!
I’m not sure if I’ve shown you this mountain before, but it’s called Tromsdalstinden. It’s a big deal around here – stretching up to over 1200 metres, it’s visible from anywhere on the island and is considered sacred by the modern Sami peoples. I’d like to draw your attention to the snow on the top, snow that wasn’t there last week - scary, eh. Winter may not be so far off after all…
THURSDAY AT SCHOOL
Don’t worry, I’m not going to update you on every single class I take – just thought I’d let you know that I had a real two-hour lecture today and that we’ve got our first assignment. (I should really start that at some point…) In other words, the vacation is ending and school is beginning - but seeing as how the classes are SO COOL!, I’m pretty okay with that.
Oh, and another positive: I finally found a bank willing to cash my scholarship cheque! I may still be a second-class citizen, but at least I can afford to live here again.
I headed to the sciences building after school for a little field trip (more on that later). I just want to remark again that every physics / math / chem / comp sci student I’ve met has been spectacular at making me feel welcome – I’ve got a few great examples from the weekend, but you’ll have to wait for the weekend’s posts… if all goes as planned, they’ll be up at the same time as this one (wish me luck!)
HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY
That’s right, it’s cable car day!
The godfathers (student volunteers) were given the right to take their godchildren up the cable cars for free throughout Welcome Week. And so, of course, I took full advantage of this. We went up:
and finally made it to the top!
In the picture I showed you of Tromsdalstinden, you can see the shoulders of another mountain to the front-right. This is Storsteinen, the same mountain the cable car takes. At over 400 metres, you get a pretty good view of the entire town:
…okay, you caught me. I don’t actually own a wide-angle lens. That and the snow may have tipped you off that I didn’t take the picture above.
But I really wanted to show you the whole island at once – you’re welcome.
With my little Canon PowerShot, I was able to capture the University half of the island:
It’s quite pleasing how much of Tromsøya is still undeveloped – nature pervades the entire island and the city planners have taken great care to not disrupt the landscape too much.
(as Mom and Dad both know, that basically means that there doesn’t exist a straight road on the entire island. Or right-angle corners. Or any sort of logical street layout whatsoever.)
I also got a good shot of the city centre half of the island (my dormitory is in this picture):
Oh, and a word of advice to anyone who ventures up the cable car: pay the NOK 10 for the sightseeing telescope. It was exceptionally strong, and really gave me an appreciation of the excellent recon you can do from heights with a good pair of binoculars. For example, we got a great shot of the Norwegian naval vessel seen in the above picture.
Amazingly enough, we could also hear a concert in the city centre – and not just noise, but well enough to pick out the cool notes of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It was pretty cool.
After we finished gazing at the view, we started to explore the plateau we’d been carried to. One of the cool areas we stumbled across was full of loose rock, which a few industrious hikers had reassembled into a familiar Canadian shape:
Like I’ve said before, everywhere I look, there’s a little piece of home. It’s awesome.
The rest of the night was pretty simple; supper, laundry, and a quick jaunt to Super Thursdays with the Germans at their favourite pub. After a thoroughly enjoyable walk home (I should really start doing that more in Saskatoon), I settled in for the weekend!
MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS
In what may become a running feature, we have more thoughts on nothing at all!
- Usually, I have to transfer buses on my way to University every morning. But if the wind changes, and the sun slips behind a cloud, the legendary Bus 36 may appear out of the morning mist...
I’m actually not kidding on this one – they’ve got a bizarre route that only runs about 5 times each day, but when it does, it is the perfect fit – heads directly from my residence to the front gates of the Sciences building. Sometimes, dreams really do come true…
- I’ve had many conversations about Canada in my two weeks over here, and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. Even when the conversation turns to some of our less glorious exploits (Native policies over the years for example – seems to crop up in many of the Indigenous Studies courses), I don’t find myself getting upset. Every country has its high and low points, and I enjoy discussing affairs in Canada and around the world with my new friends.
(don't worry, the perception of Canada abroad is quite good – I’m just using this as a counterexample to my main point below.)
However, there is one discussion I’ve had a few times that has worried me a fair bit. To put it bluntly, the perception of ice hockey in Europe is abysmal. Whenever I speak with a non-player or casual shinny player, the conversation immediately turns to the topic of hockey fights and their supposedly crucial role in the North American game. My friends are consistently shocked to hear that not only have I never fought, I’ve only been in a handful of games that have featured fighting.
I’m not trying to debate the role of the fight in the game, but I just want the record to show two things:
(1) The predominant visual that non-hockey fans associate with the sport is that of fighting, be it on sports show blooper reel or viral videos on the Internet;
(rather the same way that we only see bullfighting on our sports shows when someone gets gored or hauled up by their pants)
(2) Non-fans are consistently surprised and pleased with the speed, skill, and athleticism of hockey WHEN THEY ACTUALLY GET TO SEE IT.
I hope you don't mind my little rant, but it's just something that's really surpised me, especially in Norway (while they're not at the top of the world hockey podium, most every town has a rink and the population is quite knowledgable about the sport).
Signing off from Tromsø,