Random Thoughts on the third day of the REL600 PhD Course in Scientific Theory and Method

I haven’t decided whether I will start a new category tentatively named as "Norwegian Notes" yet.  But for now, I’ll use random thoughts since this is random.  I’ve only managed to post my Project 365 photos up.  But images are never enough to convey the greater depth of the experiences thus far.  So, even if this is random, it’s an update, so be it!

Finishing my morning coffee here while chatting with my lovely long suffering wife who’s with the 3+1 kids at home.  One of the joys over lunch yesterday was the Skype video chat I managed to have with Gareth, Elysia and Ewan.  I could feel their energy, and it was a great comfort to finally manage to talk with them.  The schedule since my arrival has been pretty packed.

The flight from KL to Amsterdam was better than I expected, even though there was some slight turbulence here and there.  The long wait at Schipol airport was cushioned by the fact I could have free wi-fi access for about 1 hour. Pringles chips helped and finishing a book!

The landing at Kristiansand was soft and smooth. It was nice to come in from another angle as the last round I came pass the river and bridge.  This time I came pass the mountains and forests. 

David one of my PhD supervisors was kind to pick me up from the airport so that helped. I’m still sitting here and soaking all this in as this is still my first week here and settling in.  There’s still some practical matters which I think will only be sorted out by next week.  But the good news is, the entry was pretty uneventful … well almost! 😛

* * *

The first night was a total joke.  Fell asleep in the room as I was exhausted.  Then suddenly the fire alarm was set off.  And guess what this Malaysian will think? "What did I do wrong? Was it me? I just had Maggi Mee earlier!" The fire brigade came pretty fast (about within 5-7 minutes I think).  A student was nice enough to confess with his hands raised that it was him who set off the alarm.  Later, the university security came to disarm the alarm.  Welcome to Norway!

* * *

The trip to the police station to "report" my arrival was cool.  I was advised to be there early.  I was there very early as in 7am! The office was supposed to open at 8.30am.  It’s complicated to describe here.  In short, it only had two counters to handle loads of immigration issues.  I went on Monday but was advised not to waste time even when I took the no. 39 from the ticket machine.  This time I was really happy because for once in my life I got, "No.1"!!!!

Had a nice chat with a Romanian worker who got "no.2" and it was a good introduction from his point of view on Norwegian life and society.

When I my number came up, I was happily walking to counter no.1 which was in a glass surrounded box.  But suddenly, a tall man cut me off and barged in claiming he had an internet appointment. I say, "What? I waited here since 7am!" I was then asked to step aside for this man who spoke in English then rambled in Norwegian. Looked pretty educated and sophisticated. My new Romanian friend just looked at me with a "this is what it is here sometimes" kind of look.

Anyway, long story short, I was the third person even though on paper I was "No.1".  The kind "No.2" Romanian made sure no one cut me off after his turn.  And all is well.  so I decided to have a nice long walk of joy to my day one of the PhD course.

* * *

The course has been very good for me thus far.  A good mix of quality lectures and a few small group of 8 peer discussion sessions. The climate is very open. Q & A sessions having both critical and curious elements. Overall everyone is very courteous. I’m very obviously the "other" here.  I don’t mind.

Loads of thoughts were floating in my mind throughout the lectures.  It’s like I’m having these conversations with my imaginary "Sivin in Malaysia".  For example, what caught my attention was the phrase and content of what "the collective intellectual" means for a researcher. It’s not hard to first grasp how that works here in Europe and the west in general where there appears to be a consensus what that might look like.  But it was glaring for me as "an-other" "collective intellectual" perceived by some scholars in Malaysia or especially one which maybe reacting against the Western tradition is trying to emerge and establish themselves.  How would these two engage each other? What happens when two "collective intellectuals" are in conversation?  Is that even possible? would there be clashes? if yes, how do we deal with it?  If there’s convergence, what’s next? Questions abound.

* * *

I’m enjoying this "space" in my life.  A good start of a new chapter.  I love being a student again.

Tough of course, as I miss the Kit Kids and May Chin.  Skype, Gchat, Facebook has all been helpful.  Soon we will reunite.

I’m excited on their life here with me.  This has been a much needed "Sabbatical" for them and especially for May Chin.

I was also very encouraged to see a number of women PhD students here who are also mothers of 1 or 2 children.  It’s pleasant to know that just because one has children it doesn’t mean that their learning has to stop.  There were one or two others who are closer to retirement age. Again, why does age need to be a deterrent for learning?  Gender and Age often in Malaysia are perceived perhaps as a hindrance to the pursuit of learning. I think we can do better than that!

Well, back to the family.  I miss them. They miss me.  Elysia told me she has done a special card for me to welcome me home to Malaysia.  Gareth is doing so well as big bro.  And Ewan’s smile just melts me.  And May Chin is ever the anchor for the vessel we call the Kit family.

All the above are reasons to be grateful and thankful!

* * *

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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