GIMME A PINA COLADA, PLEASE!
I just had my first test in ten years. I would rather be live on national television ten times.
As I woke up this morning, I did not want to get out of bed. It was THAT day. Could it just disappear if I kept closing my eyes? I tried, but it did not really work. I reached for the light switch. On the third attempt, I realized that the electricity was out. The night before the internet was not working when I was trying to read for the upcoming test. Now, I really did not want to get up. But hey, a shower could help! I tiptoed on the cold floor to the bathroom and switched on the water. Freeeezing cold. Great! It was just one of those days.
After procrastinating to take that shower, I went for a run, had a very cold shower (at least it woke me up!), bought a coffee down the street, and mentally prepared myself for my first test in ten years. The last one I did was in journalism school, in a beautiful, mountainous, but also very rainy place called Volda in the West Coast of Norway. This test was going to happen in sunny Cape Town, South Africa. But I did not feel very sunny inside this morning.
When I say Gramsci and hegemony, problem-solving theories, liberal institutionalism and marxist IR, what comes into your mind? Well, three months ago I had no idea what either of these things were. "Say whaaaat?" But today I had a two hour test on these topics. As the test day came closer and closer the past few days, I just felt like disappearing into a big, black hole in the ground. Unluckily, there wasn't any of those around. Maybe I could climb up on Table Mountain and just hide there for the next few days?
Something happens to you when you go back to studying after working in television for ten years. I am used to thinking about how I use my language and my words, and talking about complex issues. But in academic English? No. This is definitely not the sort of English you speak when ordering a piña colada on a Greek island. The language I was doing a test in today almost felt like a different language. A let-us-say-it-in-the-most-advanced-way-possible language. I would rather be live on television many, many times, than to write about Gramsci´s hegemony from my own memory.
Do not get me wrong, I love learning. I feel like I am growing so much everyday. I am learning how to see the world with different lenses on, about conflicts in Africa and about mechanisms that can improve peacebuilding around the world. I would not want to be anywhere else, doing anything else at the moment. But sometimes, it just feels like my brain is overloaded. Like when you cell phone screams "please charge".
I am used to talking to many people. Sometimes even almost a million people, live on TV. But I haven't done presentations in front of people in a while. Real people, where you can see their reactions in their eyes. When I did my presentation in peace building-class last week, I prepared my brain by thinking the presentation was sort of like being live on television. I am not so sure the same strategy works for the other students. "Hey, just pretend you are on TV. It really helps!"
Reporting outside a burning tunnel near Oslo.
There are a lot of challenges you face as a student in a new country. Not just the practical things, such as in my case was living the first month of University in a hostel dorm room with 19 year old backpackers, then moving to two new places after that. Since journalism school was rather practical, I find it hard to know how to write academic articles. I have never studied international relations before. Most of my classmates have done three years in that field of study, and many of them have English as their first language. Three days prior to this, we had a study group, where we prepared for our upcoming test in theories in international relations. My brain shut down after two hours of talking in academic English. Inside, something was screaming "speak Norwegian!". But unfortunately, it was not really an option for my friends who are from the US, South Africa and Kenya.
As I sat down to write my first test in ten years today, I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to get out of there. A toilet break was the closest I got to escaping. I was one of the last ones to hand the test in, and my hand was hurting by the end of it. I guess I haven't practised my hand writing that much either for the last ten years.
So now it is Wednesday afternoon and my brain is fried. I am supposed to read about the genocide in Rwanda. Instead I am writing a blogpost, on how it feels to be a foreign student studying international politics at the best university in Africa. Sometimes I just want them to explain things in my own language. Or at least in an type of English that I understand. But right now I just want a break from it. Because again, this is certainly not the sort of English you speak when you order a piña colada on a Greek island. Maybe I should just forget about that academic English for a while and just go to the nearest bar tonight. Because tomorrow is yet another day, with six articles waiting for me to read. The topic? "How are actors in conflict defined? Why does humanitarianism in the case of Darfur attract so much criticism?" Tonight my brain needs a holiday. Gimme a piña colada, please!