Swedish lessons

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 18, 2006

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Monday, October 9, 2006

this conference has been really good for helping me to realize some important things... one is that i really have to start believing that i belong in these settings, so much of success as a researcher is confidence. i bought some snazzy new clothes to help me feel the part, and tried to get a decent nights sleep each night, both which helped a long toward feeling more together and mature. the first day at lunch, i sat beside a woman who looked like she couldn't be over 30, and it turned out she was canadian, we started talking about hellish connections and stopovers, and then i discovered she was a professor from the university of ottawa! but how could she be, she was so young, so ... normal, so much like me...! oh, wait, right, i want to be a professor too, and i am already a grad student, no matter how little i actually feel like one. haha, but see, i am slowly getting past this mentality! it also helped that on our last night in luleň, a nice city from what i saw, which given the busy conference schedule, was not much, i ended up out with a few of the "young researchers" of the forum, mostly PhD students or recent graduates, and in particular one professor from McGill who i cited in a paper last year, who i was now helping to rally people together to go to a club... ya, the rumours are true, professors are just normal people. what people have been telling me again and again recently is that you just have to talk to people, make connections, don't be afraid that you don't know enough or aren't smart enough, just do it, good advice afterall i guess.

and the other super important thing i learned in sweden: how to lock the bathroom door in my flat. see, when we first moved in, i thought weird, there is no lock, just a handle (handle, not knob, that is key). i accepted it (you get used to just accepting things when you are living in a foreign country) and moved on. skip ahead a month, i am in sweden, and in the public bathroom there are little signs above the door handles explaining that to lock the door, you lift the handle up (to open the door, you press down). neat! i think, and move on (anyone who has travelled will know that there is rarely a bathroom that doesn't have something new about it, how the toilet flushes, how the door locks, how you pay to get in, or something less pleasant...)

so i get home to my flat today, go into the bathroom, close the door and have an epiphany! do you think, maybe... no, it couldn't be a swedish door in finland, could it? i tentatively try pushing the handle upwards, and... it LOCKS! i was pretty damn excited ;)

i do love this level of adventure that living in another country provides though. its definitely not extreme, buying what you meant to at the grocery store, but it makes little things feel like real accomplishments and helps me to notice and appreciate subtle details that just blend together into the haze of daily life back home. i mean, when was the last time you felt proud of locking the bathroom door?
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