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We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

March 7, 2010

NHH staff and Norwegians should avoid this one.

Close friends and family following this blog will probably have noticed a trend in the last months posts and ask, “Nick, you’re in Norway!  What are you doing blogging about some zany diet instead of showing us your travels?”.  Good question.  Let’s explain it the long way.

I think that I’ve finally reached a stage that every single cross-cultural management text examines to some extent.  Right after the honeymoon and adjustment period to a new culture, you get something along the lines of homesickness.  Yeah.  I miss my friends.  I miss the life I created back at Ivey.  I miss single-malt scotch and the Globe and Mail in paper.  And, worst, I know that I will miss graduating with some of my best friends.  For what?

Coming here hasn’t turned out the way I thought that it was going to be.  A crash-course in environmentalism.  A welcome change from the Ivey case-based system.  Me courting gorgeous, tall blondes (OK, so I really wasn’t actually thinking that one would turn out, but I need to lighten up the post somehow).  None of that’s come true.

Norway does not have a culture of environmental activism.  Yes, they care about hiking trails, what happens to fish stocks, and air pollution – but at a very local level.  Yeah, you’re going to care about parts of the environment when one of your national pastimes is hiking and fish is one of your largest exports.  Sure, they recycle.  But the resident Norwegian on my floor also keeps on asking why I’m keeping trash whenever I wash and keep empty plastic containers.

A welcome break from Ivey?  Oh, the grass is always greener on the other side.  Never have I felt smarter in my life than in my two years of the Ivey case system.  I feel stagnant here.  The NHH is a 20-min bus-ride from the rest of the university downtown, resulting in a lack of cross-functional thinking.  That, and me being trapped in the purgatory of all university microcosms: classes, a grocery store, and residence all within a stone’s throw of each other.

Economics, I’m learning, is in itself a toothless path of study; completely mired in the theoretical and how things ‘should be’ instead of providing action and true progress.  You can go bang heads about optimality AFTER we put the world back on the right course.

Don’t be fooled by my review of my communications seminar.  It was pass/fail, and other than being retold common sense, the negotiations were an hour each.  In CSR, my prof pussy-foots around the issue of global warming, still leaving it up in the air whether or not it is a fact (it is).  I’m taking a course in economic development history for non-history students while I have two years of an international relations degree under my belt.  The paper is also pass/fail.  Delightful.

Granted, there are a few interesting bits in class.  Learning physics and how machines work in Alternative Energy is interesting, but I’ve also learned that energy (or fish stock optimization, for that matter) just doesn’t make me squeal like a little schoolgirl.  It does for Jason though, and I’m quite jealous that he’s found his passion here.  OK, learning to speak Norwegian is pretty interesting, and I’m glad I’ve finally found a knack for at least this language.  So, 1.5 courses out of 5?  NHH, you must be hoping for a bell-curve to pull that mark up.

And while I could probably sleep my way through the exams at this school, work is still important to me (curse you, Ivey work-ethic!).  So skipping classes to wander the Scottish Highlands in search of the perfect dram, then hoping over to Germany for schnitzel just isn’t feasible.  Neither is spending horrible amounts of money of weekend affairs, especially since that money really isn’t mine.

So I stay in Bergen.  With a few exceptions, Norwegians are collectively a reserved bunch.  Unless they’re drunk.  And beer is expensive.  My salvation is the international student crowd, where I’ve found some good friends and interesting people.

So I gave up graduating with my friends at a great school, job hunting in Canada,  single-malt, and a hefty amount of cash to climb mountains, eat expensive groceries, drink expensive (yet piss-poor) beer, twiddle my thumbs in class, and learn Norwegian.  Oh, and blog about going primal.  Brilliant.

But I’ve found my passion.  Food.  It’s effect on our bodies, where it comes from, the implications of growing and eating the way we’re doing.  Why some parts of the world are obese at the same time that millions go starving.  Food.  As a silver lining, affirming that passion has felt pretty good.

So since I miss my friends, and food is my passion, I’ll share that passion on this blog.  And workout.  Maybe hike a double-digit number of mountains.  Then spend a drunken week in Poland, return and destroy the competition in exams, and get back home.

Well, at least I’ll have six-pack abs when I get home.

Vi sees.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jordan Zhang permalink
    March 7, 2010 9:08 am

    Hey Nick,

    Just got a chance to read your latest blog post. My only words of consolidation are, “cheer up!”. I’m sure you’re gaining a lot of valuable life skills over there even if the courses might not be as engaging. That’s something staying at Ivey certainly wouldn’t have done, and I certainly think you made the right decision to go. Things over here are just the same as usual, people freaking out about projects (hey, at least ICP is done on Monday!) and whatnot.

    All the best,

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