Journal #18 I’ll be productive in the morning

Sunday 20th of October

I’m in a soft mood today; a mood that calls for soft October sun through the window and old forgotten loves on Spotify. I’m in the mood for hot chocolate breakfasts and hoodies that can hide all the stress of the week in oversized pocket. I’m in the mood for Sunday newspapers, sharpening pencils, and the smell of laundry detergent. A soft mood calls for Trygve Skaug’s beautiful lyrics and playful guitar, and picking old book acquaintances off of the shelves again; those I said hi to a while ago but never remembered to call back. I’m in the mood for handicrafts, for braiding and crocheting.

Uni in Norway starts up in early August, and so we’re about halfway through the semester now. This semester has gotten to me more than semesters prior. I’m one of those people who constantly overfill their calendars; who always tries to borrow golden seconds of nighttime to make the day longer. With multiple assignments every week, sometimes more than one in a day, lectures four days a week, two jobs, one volunteering job and a lot of uni reading I have definitely overfilled my plate. There have been moments these past couple of weeks where I’ve been so tempted to get on the train and go home. Just take off, hide under the duvet in my family home-bedroom and make a cup of tea big enough to last me a lifetime so I won’t ever have to leave the sanctuary of my bed.

Bildet er tatt av Free-Photos fra Pixabay

But I won’t do that.
Because even though these last few months haven’t been particularly great, they’re something I’ve started and they’re something I’m gonna finish, and when you strip off the stress, this degree is something I thoroughly enjoy. And sometimes life’s just like that, right? I’m gonna give it my all, maybe even more “all” than I’m already doing if I can find it in me, and steer myself safely through these last few months of first semester. And when Christmas comes around, I’m gonna go home with my first semester exam marks neatly wrapped in my bag (content no matter how they turned out) and when I melt into my parents’ first “it’s Christmas, welcome home”-hug, I can sink into it, knowing I gave this semester my best.

So yes, I’m in a soft mood today, and I think I’ll cherish that. I’ll get the work I need to get done done in my own time, I’ll make sure to look plenty out the window and if I want to listen to soft Christmas music a little bit too early, I think I’ll let myself do that too. I’ll let that October sun peek in through the windows and I’ll revisit all those old favorites, and maybe even pick up where I left off with a book started but never finished. I’m in a soft mood, soft moods are necessary to get through this semester, cause I’m doing my best, and reveling in this feeling of soft is a way of being kind to myself. I can be productive in the morning.

-Andrea

Journal #17 The Cathedral and its wonders

I love my job.

I work in a cathedral; I translate and interpret, and function as a guide during the tourist season.

I am not a Christian, but no doubt do I work in someone’s place of worship, and there is something quietly comforting about that.
As I wash the pews – soap, water, tools to remove old chewed up gum – maybe left there by bored kids on a Sunday that dragged on – from even older wood, someone is lighting candles for a family they hope to see again soon. While I’m relaying interesting facts to tourists, about the spire that went missing in ’45 and how all Norwegian churches don models of ships, someone is sat quietly in mourning. As I refill the oil lamps in the candles on the altar, I think about how I’m lighting the fire that someone may find their God in today. It is a privilege to work in a place that can bring people peace.

As I find myself in this church for eight hours a day, it is easy to forget the holiness the people that visit will bring to these walls, the wooden domed ceiling, the stained glass windows of old. But for eight hours every day, I get to be a part of people’s journeys. I see them enter through the oak doors, and as the church room reveals itself, I see their reactions; as varied as the people.

Some cross themselves, some take pictures for the annual family holiday album, some just stand. Quietly. Some people enter this room that I put on my uniform and go to work in everyday, and they have to take a second to breathe before they enter.

I’m grateful to be working in this building, with its doors wide open to a bustling city, and centuries of life lived and years passed visible in the wear on the rugged stone steps.Church bells tell me when another day has passed, and on the daily I handle artefacts that have existed more than 200 years longer than I have. Everyday, I work accompanied by organ music, from more than 4000 pipes.
This building isn’t just holy because a religion says it is, its holiness lies in its history, in the people who sought refuge in its halls, in the music and the songs that have seeped through the doors and out into the city for generations. It is holy for the children who sees the aisle as too long a straight stretch not to race down, and for the older generations who made these pews their home when they were still so young that their parents braided their hair at night.

This place is holy because of the woman that comes in everyday. The woman who walks quietly in and lights four candles in a little cluster, where others normally just light one. She lights them like a family holding around each other, flickering together.

I’m not a Christian, but no doubt I’m working in a holy place.

-Andrea

Journal #16, Reconnecting with a language

It’s a Sunday morning, and I’m in bed with a cup of tea.

My Norwegian Language and Text book is laying discarded on the floor. I’ll pick it up in a moment, I think, I just need to sit here a little longer. Slowly, tired hands reach for all the notions I take for granted when I speak, notions I’ve now worked to put names and categories and theories to.

Learning the in depth grammar of your own language is a strange experience. Suddenly you start to question the syntactic structure of every sentence before it leaves your lips. No words are uttered without scrutinising and analysing their semantic meaning, and you start to think about the oddities of the language you grew up with.

One part of me isn’t too sure about all this “thinking”. It wants to keep the intuition of language alive, wants me to not think too hard about anything, really. Another part of me loves it. It feels like mindfullness, like I don’t take any words for granted any more, like I’m actively appreciating every sentence.

Cliched and a little pompous, I know. But for the last 5 years, I’ve been so caught up in “perfecting” my English, so adamant to drop my accent, to never have to stop to look for the right words, that I feel like I’ve neglected Norwegian a bit. Like I’ve shoved her to the back of my mind, given her a ragged blanket and said “I’ll be back for you in a second,” only to forget about her as her tea has gone cold. But now, as I’m revising for this last exam of this degree’s first year, I’m gently untangling the cobwebs from her hair. I’m taking the cup from her hands, refilling it with piping hot tea, and giving her blanket a good airing out.

Norwegian is the language in which my grandmothers sang me lullabies, and my parents wished me luck before every first day of school. I wrote my first stories in her, and read my first books. When something shiny and new came along, I neglected her for a while, thinking this new language was so much prettier, much more interesting and useful, but studying the science behind how she works as a language, has really made me appreciate her again.

The last couple of weeks have been intense, stressful and honestly really nice. The study group have gotten together to exam-revise, and we’ve made sense of a lot of confusion. We’ve read, we’ve asked questions, we’ve done our best. Copious amounts of tea have been consumed, we’ve bickered and gotten frustrated, but we’ve also left with more questions answered than asked. Throughout this year together, we’ve taken on British and American politics, international communication, English language history, a lot of in depth grammar and linguistics; all things we knew embarrassingly little about before starting this course. Now we know a lot and I’m proud of us.

And so when I take my Norwegian exam tomorrow, I may stumble over some questions, because Norwegian is a stubborn language, and with her tongue stuck out, I think she wants to get back at me for leaving her in her corner for so long. I may mess up some verb forms, some tempus and modus-conjugation, maybe confuse “konjunktiv” for “indikativ” or something else with a complicated name. But that’s okay, cause I’ve finally caught up with my language again, and from now on, I’ll make sure we won’t grow apart.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Journal #15, Some days

Some days, “exam revision” turns into “the weather’s so lovely today,”
and “I should really finish this paper,” becomes “you feeling ice cream?”
Long hours hunched over books have to make space for hours sat in silence on the docs, phrase structure grammar admits defeat to sea gulls and the sound of lazy waves, and I can feel myself take a deep breath.

Some days. Some days. Days like today.
When hands clutch ice cream cones instead of pencils
and “to do” lists are called “today I may” lists,
those days I like to stop for a second,
lap up some early April sun with closed eyes and a relaxed jaw,
and remind myself
that life is pretty great.


-Andrea

Journal #14, The sounds of a new home

I’ve gone to sleep in a new bed tonight. I’ve moved houses again; another student flat, another shoebox room. There is something mindful about the process of moving from one space to another – about taking all of your books off of your shelf and putting them into boxes, holding onto some you may not have looked at since you read them and receiving gentle reminders of future reads you may have forgotten about. Folding every item from your closet, and carefully lifting all the pictures down from your walls. Taking a second to really look at all the things you surround yourself with every day, and properly contemplate on what elements are gonna be allowed to come with you to this new home.
That is, until you feel like you’ve done nothing but pack for the last week, and just chuck everything in a big box labelled “unsorted” to finally be able to move on with your life.

I was excited about this move. Tomorrow marks the first day of semester two on this “new” BA, (I’ve got to stop referring to it as new at some point, but today is not that day), and I’ve moved back into student accommodation. It’s nice to be closer to campus, and in a weird way, it feels right to be out of my little house, to be living in just one room again. I absolutely loved living there, but this feels more student-y, more like a cosy little space that’s 100% mine, and suddenly all the things I longed to get away from about student accommodation a year ago, feels oddly comforting.

But this little flat has a lot of new sounds in it, just like all new living spaces do. There is creaking in the walls, and a sort of drone coming from somewhere in the ceiling that I’ve yet to identify. There are new people walking outside, new voices and thoughts, and different winds whipping. Also, I’m back to having a flatmate again, and though the soft sounds of someone moving around in the next room are comforting, it’s also something you need to get used to again, every time you’ve been living without it for a while.

This semester is gonna be good, and living in this flat is gonna be great. My flatmate seems lovely, and in contrast to my last flats that I’ve shared with 9 other people, it’s just me and one other student this time. I also really like how my little room looks and feels, and it’s a nice space to make cosy and homely, but the first night in any new place is always weird.

So for tonight, I’ll put on a playlist with songs that sound like a Tuesday evening at home, get some fresh pyjamas out of a soon-to-be unpacked suitcase, curl up in familiar bedsheets and let myself feel a little bit small for just a moment. It’s not a bad feeling, not like being scared or unsure or really homesick, it’s just the feeling of things changing around you. Nothing marks change like new living spaces; a new degree or a new job, a new city, maybe even a new country. But I’ve made many a flat feel like home before, and this one won’t be an exception.

I’m excited for what is to come.

-Andrea

Journal #13, The magic of the Ginger Bread

The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.

Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.

Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.


Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.

-Andrea

Journal #12

Lazy Sunday mornings are for warm beds and woolen socks, for stretching and for relaxing. They are for opening the curtains and letting the sun in, for cracking open the window, just a little bit, to feel one of those fresh October breezes go past. They’ve got time for long breakfasts and jazz on the radio, for twirling around the kitchen while your toast is getting ready.

Sundays are for soft shirts and your hair in a bun. They are for no makeup, for being cosy in the corner of the sofa, for blankets and cushions and for scented candles. Sundays are for cups of tea. Steaming, fresh, Indian chai, blueberry muffin, cinnamon and apple, all those flavours you need to sit down and savour, that you can’t just rush in a travel mug on the way to uni. Sundays are for writing lists and plans and notes in multicolored pen, and hanging them all around your flat for yourself to find later on in the week. To do lists are always kinder when written on a Sunday.
They are also for music. For songs that make you feel like home, for songs where the bass hits your spine and makes you jump on the sofa, for songs that make you sing so loud the neighbors might come knocking.
Sundays are for catching up. All the things you couldn’t do during the weekend, Sundays are ready to pick up the slack. Sundays see buttons sown back on shirts left waiting, missed reading done and laundry finished, folded and put into neat piles. Sundays see bedsheets changed and floors hoovered and books picked up that have been discarded for too long.
Sundays have got time for walks. For dressing up warm and holding hands, for finding places you’ve never seen and exploring areas you know and love.
They are for rosy cheeks and chilly noses, and blowing on your fingers to keep them warm.

And at the end of warm Sundays you get the lazy Sunday evenings. Sunday evenings are clean sheets and fresh pajamas and curling up in bed with your favourite podcast. They are your bag ready to be packed for uni tomorrow, fairy lights taped to the wall behind your bed and lavender candles lit on the dresser. Lazy Sunday evenings are gratitude for the week that has passed and anticipation for the week to come. They are for that last cup of tea, for face masks and aloe vera moisturizer and skype calls with your sister.

Lazy Sundays evenings are a good night’s sleep, and wishing a new week welcome.

-Andrea