Velkommen til Norge!
I spent the first week of June in Bergen, Norway, attending the University of Bergen Staff Mobility Week. The trip was funded through my university’s participation in the Erasmus Staff Training Mobility programme. I will be blogging each day separately, as it was too large an event to summarise in one post. I arrived in Bergen on Monday 3 June, and this will form the first of these posts.
This was my first solo arrival in a foreign country, so I was nervous and excited. I get a bit nervous flying, so I was glad I have my row of seats to myself on the plane, so no one could see me practicing breathing exercises!
The airport is about 25 minutes from Bergen, and these 25 minutes were what I was most nervous about. I don’t like getting an unknown bus route in England, let alone in Norway. All was fine though, and I apparently looked like I knew what I was doing, according to someone I later met who recognised me from the flight/bus. Bergen’s lovely, though my hotel was up a very steep hill, and I had to drag my suitcase up it! Despite the hill, and taking three wrong turns, I arrived at the hotel with time to spare, so decided to take a stroll in the botanical gardens of the University Museum before registration.
Registration was in the very snazzy Student Centre building. They handed out umbrellas with registration packs. This was the first clue to the Norwegian obsession with the weather – they are more obsessed than the English!
Tea and coffee meant an opportunity to meet other participants. One of the first people I met was someone from my own institution! Neither of us knew the other was attending, proving it is indeed a small world. We then moved into ‘Egget’ – The egg-shaped lecture theatre, where we were welcomed by Vice Rector Astri Endresen. She gave us an overview of internationalisation at UiB (University of Bergen’s Norwegian acronym), and background into the University. Following Astri, co-ordinator Signe Knappskog welcomed us to the Staff Mobility Week (SMW). Signe’s presentation aimed to get us up to speed with Bergen, with photos of the rain (second clue), a list of the many, many fires Bergen has experienced, and a quick course in Norwegian.
Next up, an enjoyable and informative presentation from Atle Rotevatn, Associate Professor at the Department of Earth Science – Black Gold in Norway: History, controversies and the role of science. Oil is one of Norway’s largest exports, and Atle covered why it has such rich oil and gas reserves in the North and Norwegian Seas, and the economic development of the industry. This led on to how research at UoB has and is informing this industry. Although I know very little about Earth Science, geology and the oil industry, I found Atle’s presentation interesting and enlightening.
Following this, presentations from the organisers, running through the individual group programmes. We broke out for lunch, which involved much chatting and getting to know others in our group. It involved the most incredible cake – the size of A1 paper, half cream, half sponge. It was certainly a talking point.
There was an evening activity each day of the programme, and Monday’s was a guided walking tour of Bergen. Our guide was knowledgeable and entertaining, taking us into alleys and hidden streets – a lovely start to my week in Norway.