Letter from Norway

Dear Eskanza,

I hope that this finds you well. Let me begin by apologizing for taking so long before getting in touch with you. To be honest, I cannot even remember when we last talked. For that reason, I’ve chosen to deliberately put pen on paper so as to reach you my dear friend…ย But then, this is not an apology letter but an update; a small way of bringing you up to speed on what has exactly ensued since we last talked. I have vivid memories of the last encounters we had together prior to my flying to Norway and truly speaking, it was difficult for both of us. I was even more confused when I considered the possibility of not seeing such a dear and caring friend like you for over two moths, let alone the actual ten months. I know that while I was there, I kept posing as being strong, but the fact of the matter is that I was just as shaken as you were. What kept me going is the assurance that the Lord who had begun the good work in me would ultimately bring it to completion. And so the new adventure began…

I have a lot to tell you but time doesn’t allow. Neither does the space for scribbling permit. So, I will just get into the meat of my writing. I truly had an adventurous journey to Norway from Kenya with lots of new experiences; most of which are still fresh in my mind. Over here, there have been quite many different realities ranging from the culture to the language, to the people and manner of behavior. So, in this short letter, I’ll endeavor to highlight some of the highlights that have helped define my moments in a new context.

Let me begin from the very beginning! Writing had become my new-found pass-time hobby, and I loved it. But then, in the past four months I have been very lazy! Just taking time to sit down and write something has become a great challenge. As such, what I am doing right now has taken both courage and dedication on my part. That having been said, it is also worth noting that writing has never been easy! It is usually the taking of the time to put thoughts on paper in the form of legible and comprehensible words that remains to be a very slippery concept. It always comes with the mammoth task of sifting out what to include and what not to. A time span like the one I am considering could easily take days of narration and upload of pictures. So, pardon me when the ideas and issues I include don’t seem duly congruent! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am now seated in one of the favorite rooms for most of my colleagues at Hald called the “internationals office”. This room is so-called because it is where nearly all the non-Norwegian students gathered whenever they needed to use the internet. It has about nine desktop computers; all quite fast and easy to use. This is the place where movies could be watched, songs played and chats held. It wasn’t a wonder to miss seeing students everywhere else, and find them waiting on each other to have some computer time in this room. It is where most internationals could connect; resulting in a number of alliances! ๐Ÿ˜‰ This was, however, the case in the fall course. Now, in the spring course, the room has become notably deserted. Most of its former diligent users have gotten gadgets that suffice in its place! I am, therefore, glad to inform you that I am penning to you in the secrecy of solitude…

Norway is a diverse country with lots of different things to experience. While here, I have had opportunities to go out for camps with children ranging from 10 to 15 years. And I have loved what I have seen. The children here not only have rights but they are also aware of them. A child knows how to ask for what is deservingly theirs. It is not shocking for a child to ask some very direct yet genuine questions! There is a serious commitment in the education system to ensure that the children get to know their dues, and learn how to ask for them in the event that they are infringed upon. In addition to that, they duly have all the “toys” that they desire. In this case, it is vital to note that “toys” may not have a similar meaning as that in Kenya. Whereas an iPhone is considered great an achievement that takes both planning and dedication, it is simply a “toy” that a child as young as 10 years could have. But that’s not the point for raising this issue. I actually wanted to highlight the care and concern that is evident from the parents to their children. It’s quite noteworthy that every child is either personally brought to the camp or dropped at the nearest public transport pick-up point. It is done very personally! And I love this!

Time is very central in this society. Nearly everything is given in terms of time. If someone is to tell you how far a place is, it will not be strange to hear them say something like “It is five minutes drive away or thirty minutes walking!” The system of time is so integrated in the people such that the bus goes not because it is full but because the time has come. It was a shock and a concern at first for me to observe many buses on the road from one stop to the next without any passengers! I thought this might be very insolent until I listened to the reasoning… The argument for this is that, people operate on time! If the driver chose to stay at one stop waiting for more people, he’d most likely interfere with another person’s time most likely in the next stop… I must attest that this was not easy to integrate into my Kenyan way of thinking, but am glad to state that I have learnt both through experience and observation… Running after the bus and the train; or even ultimately missing them marked a great deal of my rough and solid exposure to the time system. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It will definitely be an injustice of great magnitude for me to talk about Norway and not mention the beauty that comes with the most amazing landscapes. This land has an outstanding display of fjords, beautiful numerous mountains, a wonderful presence of the ocean and other water bodies including lakes and rivers, many swamps and a vast forest cover. I think I have not been to a place with such a very large forest cover as it is here in Norway. All these put together see to it that Norway stands out as one of the most beautiful places especially when there is just enough sun to ensure that everything sparkles in its own way and nature! I guess this explains the outdoors culture amongst the Norwegian people. It is truly inevitable to resist going out to enjoy such a spectacle… ๐Ÿ˜‰ SAM_0527

It is in Norway that I have come face to face with the reality of seasons. I have now gone through nearly the whole cycle of four seasons and I have loved it. It is one outstanding display of natural diversity. It is great to see the various transitions from the summer to the autumn to the winter, then to the spring and finally back to the summer again. Varied things keepย  taking place as I mentioned in my earlier blog on seasons. I have gone through the last phase of the brightness and illumination of the summer; the yellow-ness and shedding of the fall; the darkness, cold and snow of the winter, and now experiencing the amazing budding and bloom of the spring. Of all these seasons, the winter can be quite a crazy season! It can be very fun going out skiing or ice-skating but also very dark at times with only about two hours of the sun in some places… And people tend to be more indoors; so if one has no friends, they could end up being so lonely and depressed! It takes a lot of courage for one to remain afloat in this season. What fascinated me is when the clock is adjusted one hour back in the advent of the winter and readjusted back in the spring… It is a technical borrowing of an hour and repaying it back afterwards… ๐Ÿ˜‰ This comes at a price that one has to pay namely sleeping more when you get an additional hour but then having to sleep an hour less when it is taken back… ๐Ÿ™‚

I still remember that you had a heart for pets, especially the kitty that you kept for three years. It is with this in mind that I think it may suffice to mention that pets are quite significant in this society. For those who keep them, they have a personal touch, definitely more than you had with your own. The pets here are considered “part of the family”! They have rights! I was shocked to realize from part of the legislations that if “one keeps a dog, they must take it out for walks.” It is, therefore, a responsibility to keep a pet and it is a bit different! There are not many mice or rats for the cat to chase over here ๐Ÿ™‚ I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the cats didn’t even know how to hunt! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I now realize that my time has really run out; and now that time always keeps going in this society, I have to go. I am a bit sleepy at the moment and need to catch a wink of sleep so that I don’t start writing gibberish to you! Pass my kindest regards to all our mutual friends and acquaintances. Special kindness to Towa, our very funny colleague; I still remember his infectious smile and big heart. I can’t forget my lovely brothers and friends, Gesi, Gewa and Danga; please give them much regards. Inform them that I still remember about our deal and I am looking forward to meeting them in person. I also heard that my neighbour June gave birth to a bouncing baby girl! That’s so awesome; it broke the rumors that had started going round and am really glad for them. I hope to see the child soon too! And of course, my mother; this amazing diligent woman! Give her a big hug for me and remind her of how grateful I am for her upbringing! Everything she did has not and won’t go to waste at all…ย  Assure her that I am still in the business of becoming a better me as per what she taught me. To sum it all up, don’t forget my one and only sister. As you see her, please look her directly in the eyes and tell her that am proud of her. Not forgetting my father! Let him know that he is still good at what he does; and he should keep doing so. Assure everyone that God-willing, I am coming soon!

Yours sincerely,
Simiyu.