I Hear You I Just Don’t Agree

People with dogs like to tell you that only a dog can truly love you. Like Coke is any better than Pepsi. They will tell you that a study was done that showed that dog’s brains would indicate a love for their owners.

Of course we have studied how other animals feel about us because. The reason is simple, we’re not about to communicate with them in a common language. So it is a best guess scenario on both of our parts to understand one another. Either of us can only surmise from the others behaviors what the intention is which leads us to this; yes, many animals not just dogs are capable of strong and questionably rational attachment to their human companions.

That means that while I hear your argument, I simply do not agree with your final results.

My cat follows me around when I get up. She doesn’t really want anything material from me in doing this. She wants to be with me. I know this because she often ignores offers of playtime or food, which used to be one of her biggest pastimes until we started to put her on a more regulated diet. She simply wants to be near me, nothing more. She sleeps on my lap when I let her. Usually when I’m watching something or I’m’ playing video games. When I go to bed she sleeps between my legs at first but by the time I wake up she is tucked up next to me under the blankets. When I come home she will sometimes cry. It isn’t like you and I cry, it is more a mournful meow that lasts a minutes if I ignore her. She wants attention, companionship and love. This can be in the form or her cries, but she will also tap me on the arm. When I get up instead of petting she will reach out and try to hold on to me and pull me back.

My mom feeds her and gives her her treats, as far as giving her too many of them for her own good. And yet, even though I am away at work and studying and I am not directly involved in her feeding she shows me a great deal of affection to the point of being a distraction. Everything form: play, grooming, snuggling, need and want of attention and companionship. She doesn’t beg for food with me like she does with my parents, probably because she does not associate me with food. But she still wants to be around me.

When I traveled to Norway for a semester to study abroad she would have probably forgotten about me had she not loved and missed me. Instead when my mom and I skyped she was there and would rub her head on the screen. Missed her a lot during that time for what it is worth.

This is love. And that is not even a colloquially, yes.

Because here is the thing, measuring that for people is not really possible either.

Studying In Norway

When people find out that I studied for a time in Norway, they are amazed. They think that I suddenly speak Norwegian and that I am super traveled. But that is only half of it. I do speak some Norwegian, as in your standard yes, no, thank you, please, which make a surprising number of usful combinations. But in general I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone.

But the colleges in Norway are free.

Uhm, yeah, but only if you look at the tuition aspect. And that isn’t entirely true.

This is an attempt to clear up some of those misconceptions that people have when they ask questions about studying in Norway. This is more of an attempt at collecting useful information than anything else and it will not be up to date. Though I won’t say that it is outdated either. Like everywhere else in the world things change and while they might be minor the criteria may be different. Though I have tried to keep the information general enough that it should still give you some places to get a good footing if you choose to explore this option. This also isn’t for people that want to study for a semester or two, in most cases you can learn everything you need via your own university.

I had initially decided to go for my masters, which it is possible to study for your whole master”s degree in Norway (in English).

If you see mistakes here or I have left a point out you can correct me in a comment and I will try and fix it (after I cross check it of course). Also if you have any suggestions that I left out, again let me know.

Master’s programs in English

You may have noticed that I talked about master’s programs in English. There are plenty of them. And the Norwegian colleges are known for their quality. But it doesn’t mean that it is feasible for everyone.

If you are interested in seeing what is offered her are the English language master’s programs in Norway.

Of course there are even more master’s programs where you need to learn Norwegian to attend them. You can find them here if you know Norwegian.

As with programs her in the States you need to research what is being offered, its quality, reputation and relevance to you in the job market for your field. Just like with your current University you need to research the programs, schools, and faculty before you decide to invest your study time there. Contact the faculty and talk with them. While they are busy they will in most instances speak with you and almost all Norwegians speak English. It will be British English so though so pay attention.

Some of the other students that I was with wanted to stay in Norway after their studies were completed. This makes things more dificult since you really need to start intagrating into Norwegian society right away. Some of them didn’t speak Norwegian yet, they were too busy studying, which seemed like an odd way to mix with the population once they entered the job market. That means that if you intend to search for a job in Norway once you have finished your master’s degree, spend time researching the job market, see what you have avialable and what skills you need to get a job. Norwegians are very big on education and you need to be very proficient in your course of study to land a job in some fields. As a word of warning degrees in humanities or social sciences are one thing that will be difficult to find a position for in Norway.

Norwegians aren’t snooty about their language. But if you have a weak understanding of the language they will quickly switch to English to be polite. Do you want to work their? Then being fluent in Norwegian is an almost must to find a job. To help you many of the countries universities have Norwegian classes you can attend while studying there.

Another big help to finding your place in Norwegian culture is through networking and summer/part time jobs/internships relevant for your studies cannot be recommended enough.

General Information

I think that we have covered some of the main aspects you will encounter when studying in Norway, but now for some more general information.

Instead of putting it all down here I thought that I would link you to some resources that were very helpful for me when I was making my plans. The Norwegian government and education system have a lot of material for people, both native Norwegians and students from abroad. You can find lots of general information on studyinnorway.no.

Another thing that helped me when I was planning was this fantastic overview of Norwegian Educational System.

Like with every country in the world you will need to file the right paperwork. There are rules for student permits (we call them student visas here) which you will need to adhere to. To learn what you need choose your country and the appropriate information will be displayed for you.

The Big One, Money

This is why I ended up cutting my plans short. It was hard, but I made some mistakes, and over estimated certain aspects. It was mostly because I was almost certain that things would work out. This was wishful thinking on my part. But I am glad that I still made the effort to try. It was a valuable experience in life.

Tuition here in the US can be high. Especially if you want to attend a more reputable school. And perhaps you have read that you can get a degree for free in Norway? Nothing in life is free. Even if it only cost time (the most valuable asset that we have) the cost is there. So yes, Norway offers free educations even into master’s programs (this is extended to foreign students as well), but this is only partially true since as you know tuition is only part of your expense.

As I said before universities and state owned colleges charge no tuition making them essentially free. And no, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are from they do not make a distinction based on citizenship(s). You are still required to pay a small mandatory fee per semester (usually NOK 500-1000, divide this by about 10 to see how much it is in USD. Or just convert the sum here. This small fee goes to the student organizations which are plentiful and quite good.

If you don’t attend a government sponsored university and opt for the various private colleges you will be charge tuition.

As I said money plays a big role. Even if you are not charged a college tuition you have other expenses. You will need to pay for rent, food, local public transport (forget owning a car), transportation to and from your home country (prices weren’t high but they can add up if you visit home), health insurance, course books, clothes and anything else that you might need. Beer is very expensive in Norway so don’t expect to have a wild party life.

Did I say beer was expensive? Actually, depending on where you are from expect to be shocked at the cost of living in Norway. Here is a hint, it is high. The good news is that under most circumstances you are probably eligible to rent housing from the student welfare organization (Remember this name: “studentsamskipnad” they are a huge help and generally very pleasant people, oddly enough). The studentsamskipnad can help you find a place to stay that is a bit cheaper than the general housing market (I am speaking of apartments here, don’t even dream of owning a house).

As I learned it can be very difficult to get a part time job in Norway. Though that isn’t the same here for a student there you need to overcome several hurdles the main one being that you should be fluent in Norwegian and you do not’t know anyone there so networking a position is also out. With that said, do not expect to find a job quickly or even at all. This means you need to take your financial situation into account and see if you really have enough money to live on.

Unlike the Norwegian students who get loans and scholarships from Lånekassen (Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund) you will not be so lucky. I didn’t meet any any foreign students who were eligible for such loans, but you can check on the Lånekassen website just in case.

One of the exception that I know about is that they offer certain students from developing countries access to a quota program. I wasn’t eligible but here is more info on how it works. Also if you intend to stay in Norway you are not eligible since the quota program is for students who go back home to their countries of origin after they have completed their education.

I was also told recently by a friend that is still there that you can now apply for scholarships on studyinnorway.no as well as on the Norwegian embassy in your home country.

I hope that helps.

When I’m Away

When I am away for longer periods of time my cat can get pretty lonely, she is not alone, but I think that she is the most attached to me.

She is normal when I come back, save that she wants to spend even more time with me. I end up snuggling her in bed, and she is nice to spoon with. Even if she does enjoy touching your face while you sleep.

When we first left on vacation I was expecting to return to a super annoyed cat that wanted nothing to do with me. When we can in the door she was waiting, and after a wiggle she jumped up onto my sun burned arms. It was painful and heart warming at the same time.

She has never taken “revenge” like some people have suggested she would. Which I think means that she really loves me as much as I love her.

Most People My Age

Most people my age are living on their own in facial peril that could either go wrong or work out in the end. I am still at home. And so is my fiancee. This was a conscious decision on both of our parts and our parents supports us.

We both attend school and work 30+ hours a week. The money that we save will be put toward our future together, and we will avoid the stress that a lot of couples go through. We are also not planning on having such an elaborate wedding. That does not, however, keep me from window shopping. Which has turned into a little bit of a guilty pleasure and a way to work off some excess stress.

One thing that we have agreed upon focusing on our strengths. This means that I will be the one that does the majority of the planning since I love the aspect of working out detailed plans. Then when it comes time to deal with the various vendors and the actual setup on the day, I will deferred these tasks to him.

We intend to given the other a say in the choices that we make independent of one another. But we have still clearly defined the roles that we will fill.

For example I had been in invitation mode for a while and I wanted something a little bit simpler, maybe more elegant than the general invitations. I found a site called Galet (this means pebble in French) Press which has some really cute options. Then I found that they had some more elaborate ones that took it in a different direction. I thought that they were absolutely gorgeous, and my fiancee like them, too. Then he voiced the concern that by making them so decorative, they may feel dated in some time.

I thought about this, and though I feel most wedding invitations look dated, some could look more dated than others. So we are leaning back toward one of the simpler styles that they offer.

It is small things, this back and forth, I guess you would say talking with your partner that makes the whole process rewarding.

That means that I can also really get into talking about options, details, and planning and he will sit there and listen to me. One day I wanted to go over some things with him. We started the conversation with flowers and a couple of hours later we end with the music. I think that for a lot of men that would be more than they are willing to do, they would get confused because they were bored and just not follow along. When I try to do is ask him specific questions, get his input, as we go. That way just one element is under discussion at a time, he does the same for me, and we have found that this can help a lot.

We also figured out that it was better to talk about this stuff at more defined times, so that it wasn’t constant. I would ask him if he was up for talking about some wedding stuff and we would both stop whatever else we were doing and try to make some choices together.

According to patch.com the number one reason couples break up is due to a lack of communication:

1. Lack of communication. This is one of the major reasons why divorce happens. Distance is created quickly if you don’t share your feelings, don’t tell your partner what’s happening, and keep your feelings to yourself. A successful relationship constantly keeps the lines of communication open.

When it comes to the cost, we are in totally agreement, affordable. And affordable does not mean cheap. Now I know how some people in the wedding scene might take that. I call it the wedding scene because I get the impression that some treat getting married like a hobby. That is not how I perceive it, but then I do spend more than a little time on it so people from the outside might see it as my hobby. I typed all of that because I think when people here me say cheap, they imagine some weird wedding where the guests don’t get anything. Granted that would feel strange, but it isn’t what we mean. It means shopping around, weighing each option and generally informing ourselves about what is coming. That gives us room to plan some ways to make the wedding special, nice and at the same time affordable. This goes for everything including the decor we’re going to pick as well as our plan for the wedding ceremony itself, everything.

So no matter what you are going to be doing, I’d recommend stepping back. Take an honest look at who you are any spend time and determining what your strengths are.

We knew that we were patient. Some of our friends have gone ahead and gotten married before they finished. And I know that they are having a hard time, both financially and through the stress. I know that they will be able to work through it, but it is stress that nobody needs. So define your strengths. Find a good balance of time that you can dedicate to your strengths and then work without it becoming overwhelming.

If you want make it fun, that is what I did. And I seriously look forward to doing it. For me this was a great way to work on it without the anxiety.

My Cat Knows Better

When people hear me say that I love my cat, they snicker. I don’t care, let them. She really is special to me in ways that they will never understand. Of course she has her quirks, not that they are bad. One example is that she will knock her food bowl over, she will also push the cup I use to scoop her food into the bowl onto the floor. She does this when she’s hungry and it is her way of communicating with me.

She used to be thicker when we adopted her, but over the time she has been able to slowly loose some of that weight.

In general she is a lot healthier now, save a birth defect that doesn’t actually inhibit her.

When little princess heart is thirsty she knows that I will give her water. So how does she communicate this? She will topple over empty water bottles and plastic cups if she can find them. One point to note here, just like with the bowl and measuring cup she has never knocked over anything with liquid in it nor does this apply to anything made of glass.

I think it’s a pretty smart, but then she is my cat, and it is her way to communicate with me. Sure it can be annoying in the middle of the night, but it is still benign.

Another thing about her, she is cligy. Not in a bad way. She just loves being around you. She will follow me around everywhere, but she just wants to be close, she is not overly affectionate which could lead her to get into the way. No. She’s an independent little girl, and this might make you think that she is stand-offish but she is not. A nice example is when I go into a different part of the house. She will get up and follow me if she knows that I am not coming back right away.

We used to have a little game.

The title of the game is “I Want To Pee In Peace.”

The rules were simple. When I would initiate a game of “I Want To Pee In Peace” by actually trying to do so in peace her part was: “I want the kitty cuddles, dammit!”

The fun doesn’t stop there though. We have another game. She is a big hugger. And she will do so with her claws out. This has brought way to another game call: “Pass the Princess.” The reason is because it is actually easier to pass her to someone else that put her down on the floor. It doesn’t matter who it is, she loves to cuddle, she is like a little baby. Here is how our little game works. If you find yourself in possession of Princess you have to sneak up behind somebody, lean over, and then like a facehugger she will latch on to the next person. Then she will spend time cuddling with her.

The only time that this is really a problem though is when you are wearing a sweater or something like that.

Her previous family actually had her certified as a therapy cat, but we never took her anywhere because you would need to get her claws capped.

I Grew Up On GBC

For most people the GBA is the real first Game Boy that they ever knew. Then the Dual Screen up to the current generation. But for me the Game Boy Color is where all of those fun childhood memories come from.

I was a little older than the majority of my pier group, and maybe that is why the GBC is where my fond childhood memories reside.

I got the GBC as a hand me down from my cousin. He had a bunch of games including Metal Gear Solid which was deemed too mature for me and I had to play it by sneaking it out of the cabinet where it was kept hidden from me.

Alas my handheld has long since passed away but I still have the games.

Which led me to make a purchase a replacement.

Somehow it didn’t feel right when I had it in hand but it plays like I remember it but it still feels some off. Though I was told I was just remembering it wrong.

I would disagree, however, about it feeling like my old Game Boy.

Things that I have noticed:

For one, and I do not believe that this should work, you are able to press opposite directions, good, but not at once. I think that this is due to no pivot mechanism, when you press on the D-Pad. This is due to the missing pivot under the pad. What I have found is that this makes it way too easy to press your diagonals. But what it also does is that it guves you this experience that is overall feeling more than a little cheap. Plus it offers you a lot less control than the old D-ad.

I once read that the amazing D-Pad that you find on most Nintendo consoles is because Nintendo owns a patent on the pivot mechanism.

On top of that, all of the on device buttons as well as the D-Pad feel rather stiff and click when pressed. I think that this is mainly due to the amount of travel, Game Boys prior to the SP had a much softer travel that wasn’t clicky in the slightest. Even then the SP as well as the other consoles that Nintendo produced after it that did use this clicky button method had virtually no travel which countered it out.

Next the screen that comes with this one is also prone to scratches something that none of my old Game Boys had a problem with.

But being able to play those old classics, I still have MGS for GBC, is really nice.

Students And Elderly Co-inhabiting Nursing Homes

More retirement and nursing homes are asking college students to move in, an arrangement that benefits everyone.

The idea is simple, elderly need to live in nursing homes because they need the care. Young people live in nursing homes because they need an affordable place to stay while they are studying.

A Dutch nursing facility was suffering from high vacancy due to a law that had been passed which excluded people that were 80+ but in good health. I see why this is a thing though, if I am in good health I wouldn’t want to live in a nursing home.

But for those that need to live their the environment can become monotonous. I understand that too. Living in a hospital or a long-term care home can be very disorientating experience that leaves residents in a state of mental decline. Could you imagine, your world, once big and full suddenly shrinks down into your room, your bed, and if you are still in good enough health the lobby? This type of monotony blends one day into another, melting the last years of your life away. That is why this arrangement is so beneficial to everyone. Any mental stimulation can be useful, it helps stave off depression which is common in nursing homes, and it might even hold some forms of dementia at bay.

I once stayed for a full month in a hospital, most of it was in this dream like state, yet when I was awake I literally do not remember what happened during those four weeks.

Some of the questions that I was asked were: “do you know you name,” “do you know where you are,” and “do you know what day it is?” These are all standard question caregivers ask to check if you are confused. Honestly I had trouble recalling the date, even when I would see it on my phone.

Since I was young they didn’t worry too much. The nurses told me if I were a more long-term patient they might have had to do something. But since I would be leaving they considered me to be mentally fine when I got the year correct.

When I’m 80, if I get to live that long, I want to be in my room playing games and spending time with my friends even if it is in some sort of VR. When my grandmother got old and couldn’t move around that much she watched Wheel Of Fortune, later she would sit in the lobby of the nursing home and watch the people that came in through the front door.

I won’t have that luxury in most cases since I don’t see myself with a retirement plan that can afford it.

This is my fear and I am a 20 something.

Super Bugs Aren’t Invincible

Researches have found that super bugs can still be killed, one only needs to modify the existing drugs. Scientists have discovered a way to modify the currently ineffective antibiotics to make them work once more.

One thing that I am concerned about is that they will continue to modify themselves. This will bring us back to the same impasse that we are now in the near future. Over a number of generations (how many is irrelevant) they will be able to once again beat the drugs that we have to treat them. While I don’t know a lot about the topic I do know that as they become more resistant they also reproduce at a slower rate than the less resistant ones. While resistant bugs have to spend extra resources becoming resistant, these factors are still less of a hurdle than finding new forms of treatment.

What this means for us is that while it isn’t an immediate fix we’re still gradually winning the fight.

Trapped Inside

I spent a horrible two weeks in an almost sedated like state when I had pneumonia. I felt like I was trapped in this half waking, half dream like state that was both nightmarish. I thought that it was a side effect of the illness.

Years later I was fortunate enough to hear a talk from a doctor, who I respect. She told about how she spent four weeks on a ventilator after an injury. Much of the time she was on the ventilator she was sedated and throughout the ordeal she was paralyzed. Like with my experience she could intermittently hear things, sounds that were familiar, fragments of conversations, but in this same dream or nightmare like state.

Fortunately for me I had a less nightmarish version of the same experience. Due to the nature of the injuries the nurses and doctors would often need to do painful things to her. THis included changing bandages and various surgery. Over the course of the time these people’s voices started to become part of the nightmare. These were colleges that she had known for a long time, some for as long as twenty years. Since she was aware the were also able to hear what their state was like. They would constantly hear the diagnosis and prognosis about themselves – things that would haunt them when the voices were gone. Kidney failure, organ failure, and that they had died for a moment.

While the voices were present, not all of them were bad. She remembers warm hands on her, reassuring and loving voices from family and friends. Voices that were almost angelic and encouraged them to come back. Her brother even confessed a wrong that he had done to her while they were growing up and because of that they were able to restart their relationship that had broken off years before the accident.

While you may be asking yourself why I am telling you this, I wanted to share two experiences that show you that while they may be unconscious they can still perceive your words. NO matter how scary you think that it is – please talk to your loved one as if they can hear you! Otherwise they may be more alone.