If at first you don’t succeed…

January 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I subjected myself to the torture that was the university level Norwegian exam. There was no level of preparation I could have completed on my own that would have prepared me for it. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. Up until yesterday I had found my level of Norwegian to be enough to keep me active in daily life and somehow believed that my competence translated to an educational level. Now I know better.

The test was composed of five different sections, each of which took about an hour to complete. Some of the sections were reading comprehension, some required listening to statements and answering questions, and finally the last section was free-writing. One section required us to listen to a five minute interview with a representative of an organization in Oslo and then write a summary of it, including points on funding, financial background and business function. Though I actually found this to be much easier than I expected, I was irritated that the interviewee had a very different dialect than that of Oslo. Norway’s dialects are almost like that in the US, but can occasionally be much more difficult to understand. Sometimes it is just like taking a person from California and one from New York, same English just different ways of saying things. In Norway, not only do you get that, but you can get entirely different words and pronunciations that sound nothing alike. For example, the word not, ikke in Norwegian: in Oslo, it is said like, ick-keh, whereas the guy in the interview said it like, isssh-heh. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but when you are already taking time to translate from Norwegian to English you really don’t have the time, much less the patience, to first translate between the dialects.

The two most difficult parts for me were actually one of the reading comprehension articles and then the two-hour essay at the end. One of the articles was a psychological evaluation of parental leave allotted to new parents. Not only was the article quite dense, but the questions were structured in a way that you could not simply repeat certain passages from the article. When I got to the essay, I almost laughed. I got to choose between politics and health. I decided on the politics question, assuming it would be easier. The question: What it right to give Barrack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize? I proceeded to write, what I considered to be, the worst essay I have ever written. It was so bad that I feel it almost insults my education. For the life of me I could not think of the words needed to form a functioning thesis statement, much less organize coherent body paragraphs. Seeing as the papers were written on carbon paper, we were lucky enough to keep a copy of it. I shamefully allowed my boyfriend Skjalg to read it. His first comment was actually laughter proceeded by an inquiry as to why, considering my lack of Norwegian vocabulary, I chose to seal my fate by insulting the very country that both grades the exam and awarded President Obama the Peace Prize. My response was that I was going down anyway and might as well go down saying what I believe, whether or not I did that successfully.

So I sunk into a bit of a depression last night. I feel like the progress I thought I had made is all just an illusion. It looks like it will be taking me another year before I will be able to start school here. I guess that, in the end, it is for the best. I do not feel comfortable enough with my Norwegian to take the what remains of my Pre-Med courses. At least now I know the level that is expected of me. Skjalg recommended that I sign up for a Norwegian course. My only issue is that I am already a Norwegian citizen and I therefore do not qualify for the language classes that they offer to immigrants. My option is to sign up for a course that costs 12,000 NOK, the equivalent of $2,000.00. I am going to try to research any other options, but I’m beginning to believe that I will be able to do this on my own, and of course with the help of friends. The test dealt a lot with history, politics and current affairs. What better place to look than the newspaper? I’m thinking that if I can try and read the paper everyday and then write summaries on the articles, I will cover the majority of what I will need to learn. Everything that’s worth it takes time right?

The only thing I can do now is categorize this experience as another hurtle in the journey of eventually becoming a doctor. It feels so far away something that I feel as though I will never get there. All I can do to keep moving in that direction is break it all down into smaller steps and keep my spirits high. I guess one good thing about all this is that once I get there and turn around to look back on the journey, it will be one hell of a story to tell.

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