On the first day in August..

…I want to wake up by your side

How is it September already?
August really flew by this year, and I feel like the months just slipping through my fingers like sand in an hour glass (or something else equally poetic) has become the theme for these wrap-up posts. To be fair, come November I’ll be screaming “can’t it just be Christmas already??”, so not really sure I can be the one to talk, but right now at least, I feel like the days are passing just that bit too quickly.

August has been great though, and I’ve gotten to:

  • Start the month in France, plus stay in both a little gite + a tent in a campsite
  • Go swimming in a French lake + “float” across said lake on a homemade raft
  • Explore Tence and Chenereilles with Harvey
  • Bring Harvey back to Norway with me for three weeks, and show him my home in proper summer-gear
  • Spend more time with my nephew, plus introduce him to Harvey
  • Start my third year of uni!
  • Meet a lot of wonderful new people
  • Translate a few more services
  • Get back into my guide job and start a new part-time cleaning job on the side
  • Get some more writing done for the business
  • Receive 38 postcards through Postcrossing (!!!)
  • Spend Friday-Sunday at a hotel in a neighbouring city, basically being thrown into the deep end with student politics, at my uni’s Student Parliament’s kick off-seminar
  • Sleep in 7 different beds; in Chenereilles, at the camp site, at home-home, on an air mattress in the flat, in my own bed in my own flat, in a hotel with Harvey and in the hotel with the Student Parliament

What a month! Thanks for stopping by and having a look, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

-Andrea

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April, come she will

Exam season has hit my course (and me) like a freight train, and so April has passed in a daze of study group sessions, terminology revision, and general exam practice. I can’t believe we’re in May already, but May is my favourite month of the bunch, and so I’m excited about spring finally having taken a proper hold. It’s May 1st today, and some friends and I made a day of bussing out to a little water outside of town. It became the day of the first swim of 2019, of water-side food and of trying and failing to befriend a duck. A good day, in other words.

However, April waves goodbye and leaves in its wake:

  • More translation/interpretation works
  • A new job!
  • A new crochet project
  • Study groups en mass
  • Lots of new knowledge
  • A wonderful little trip home for Easter
  • Great friends
  • Some experimental dinner decisions
  • So many sunny days!

-Andrea

Wordless Books; reading the illustrations

It should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog, that I like words. I love reading, I’ve got a writing degree done and dusted, I attend poetry readings and sometimes perform my own work. I really like words, language and stories, and I talk a lot about them.

Another thing I talk a lot about, is the job I really like at the library. I love it because it lets me talk to a lot of people, I get to learn a lot of cool things, and it’s introduced me to books I never would have found on my own.

One type of book I’ve fallen completely in love with, I found when a lady came in and asked for “the book about the cats”. We should be able to find that, i said, there are lots of books written about cats, but no, she said, it’s not written. It’s just about the cats. I didn’t understand what she was looking for, however, the actual librarian who was also there, knew exactly what book the lady wanted.

Where Shall the Cats Live by Torill Kove. Published by Gyldendal in 2018, it is classified as a “wordless book”.

Wordless books have no words (as it says on the tin), and even though (as already mentioned) I love words, I’m so here for them. On Gyldendal’s webpage, the publishers write that wordless books can be read both by those who love to read and those who struggle a bit more, but they’re purpose is to give kids who struggle with reading that feeling of reading an entire book all by themselves. This is because the wordless books aren’t read by reading the words, but by “reading the illustrations, discovering details, patterns, feelings and actions – solely by watching and understanding the visual cues; an ability our youngest readers already have.”

Yes, these books are absolutely wonderful for children. But the reason I fell in love with them is the wide audience they can appeal to. The illustrations in these books are colourful, vivid and vibrant, and not necessarily just for children. The book I’m running away by Mari Kanstad Johnsen, for example, is an example of a wordless book, that utilises a darker style of imagery, while still maintaining the vivid, emotional and thought-provoking nature of these books.

In an interview with BOK365, Johnsen says that “I wanted to explore the possibilities that are hiding in a book without any text. I wanted the pictures to invite different readers to read diffferent stories.”

This brings us back to the lady who wanted the book about the cats, again. She had moved to Norway from Sri Lanka a couple of years ago, and when her grandchildren came to visit, they made a game out of reading the wordless books together. How many different stories can we make out of these illustrations today? How many words can we point out in Norwegian and how many words can we name in Sinhala?
She said that sometimes she even read them on her own, just to practice using Norwegian in her head, without reading words off the page. Difficult, she said, but helpful.

To understand more about these wordless books and what they can offer, I read a study called “Using wordless books to stimulate language: Why, how and which ones?” In said study, language scientist Monica Melby-Lervåg points out that creating the stories on their own, helps build children’s understanding of narrative, which is an important part of understanding language and grammar, and also later, reading comprehension.” She also references another study, “Cognitive stimulation of pupils with Down syndrome: A study of inferential talk during book-sharing” done by Kari Anne Næss, Liv Inger Engevik and Mette Hagtvet, which states that reading wordless books are a great way to help children develop and use their vocabulary and to help them express themselves; they recognise what is happening in the illustrations and learn by putting their own words to what they’re seeing.

How wonderful is it that a little book of maybe 20 pages can be so valuable to such a wide and varied audience? This is a little niche market I had no idea existed up until a couple of months ago, and now I’m getting really into and interested in it. It is going to be interesting to see if these books manage to catch some ground in the Norwegian book market, and if there’ll be done more research on it in the future. And on the bright side, if the authors of books such as these have to branch out internationally to reach an even bigger audience, at least the translation costs won’t be breaking any banks!

What are your thoughts on wordless books? A little bit silly or really, really cool? It would be great to hear what you guys think about this!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Journal #10

Written 14th of August 2018.

It’s close to ten on a Tuesday morning and this week has already lasted a lifetime. Not a bad kind of lifetime, yesterday was just a day full of information, impulses and experiences, of new beginnings and new people. I moved into the new flat on Sunday, and then uni started yesterday. Lots of awkwardly shaking hands before we got a bit more comfortable with our course mates, and what started off as a guided tour around campus where only the guide did the talking, soon became us chattering excitedly over a couple of beers later last night. We sought refuge in a tent, huddled in jumpers, while Cezinando played on the stage a hundred meters away and the sun was setting behind us. 

I’ve gotten the buses down in this new place now. I know that wherever I am in this city, the M2 is always 20 minutes away, taking me either to uni or back home. I’ve figured out where the food shops are around the area I live in, and I’ve gotten lost on some new street corners. Only for a couple of minutes, of course, I did quickly find my way back, but you know, it wouldn’t be “Andrea Moves Into A New City” without getting a bit lost on the way to the shops once or twice. 

The flat is wonderful. A fully furnished, proper retro piece straight out of the 70s. I’m renting it from some lovely people who only live here a couple of months every year, and it has a vibe of instant cosiness the minute you step in the door. I really lucked out on this one, I’m aware, but after living in rather noisy uni halls for three years, having a kitchen all to myself and knowing that the only noise I’ll hear is my own, is such a blessing. It’s also nice to be able to move from room to room; to eat at a kitchen table, relax in a living room, do work at a desk, and sleep in my bedroom, not having to cram everything into my tiny bed like I had to do in halls. I know living small in tiny shared spaces is the student experience, and I am glad I got to experience that for three years, but having this space and the feeling of solitude it brings with it, is absolutely wonderful. Also, not going to lie, I’m a little bit done with sharing a kitchen with nine other freshers. 

It’s almost ten on a Tuesday morning, and here I am. Still chilling under the duvet, in a room brightly lit by a nice window that I can keep open at night because of how quiet this neighbourhood is. Harvey is here too. He’s been wonderful to have around, what with the wedding and the moving and now getting started at a new uni. A constant, something safe.
I don’t have lectures today, so instead, I’m ticking things off my newly started checklist, and I’ve made a cup of tea. In a minute I’ll get up, shower, have some breakfast and totter around a flat that I’m not sharing with nine first-year students. Then I’ll get on a bus I’ve gotten familiar with and drive a really pretty route to the uni. I’ll meet nice people, figure out some more practics of this academic year, and later tonight, head to another party to keep getting to know people.

Life’s pretty good today and I have a feeling it’ll stay that way for a while.

-Andrea