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Miles: Pizza, brought to me by HECUA

January 9, 2011

I am going to preface all of this by saying that I still am in a “too much input/no brain space for output” mood. Also, my luggage got here! (Of course, right after I bought a ton of emergency socks and boxers…)

Last night, as I was about to pass out in my room and watch tv via my computer, I heard a bunch of people talking in our flat’s kitchen. Okay Miles, I thought, be a big boy and go make friends. (What, doesn’t everyone need to give themselves pep talks sometimes?) So I walk in and introduce myself. One woman asks where I’m from. “Minneapolis,” I say.

“Oh, two of us are from Minnesota,” she says. I scan the room, count four women, and think for a second.

“You all are the HECUA group, aren’t you?” I ask. They nod. Yusssssssss.

Backstory: Last year I did two off-campus study programs sponsored by HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs). My programs were all about arts and creativity and using them to make social change. HECUA programs have many different foci, but all are seeped in the idea of social justice and making change. I could say so much more, but I’ll leave it at this: I love this organization like I love my mother.

When I signed up to study in Norway, I knew there was a HECUA program in Norway. I knew I needed to do something different, so I didn’t sign up. Still, I knew since HECUA was so awesome, they’d surely let me meet the HECUA group. I even knew that the group this semester (a program called Divided States of Europe or DSE) was four women.

I did not know I would find them in my kitchen. As it turns out, I live with two of the women, and the other two are essentially my next-door neighbors. After talking for awhile, they convince me to come with them the next day to get my Norwegian cell phone.

So today the five of us met up with their TA, Jenn, and I got to see Grønland, the immigrant neighborhood, and get my cell phone. Then we all met up with Margareta, the professor, and had pizza. I was entirely expecting to pay for my pizza—after all, I’m not actually in their program and they aren’t in any way responsible for me—but Margareta said it was on HECUA.

In short: Margareta is very very cool and sweet. Also, HECUA takes great care of their alums. It’s the entire attitude of the organization. It’s incredible.

Things I have already noticed:

BABIES ARE EVERYWHERE. It’s common to take your children, however small, anywhere public. Families are everywhere. Young couples with tiny children and no wedding bands. (Yipes. Don’t tell my friend Caitlin.)

CONVERSIONS WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY. I need to stop dividing the price of everything by six. It doesn’t help me to know how much money I’m spending in US dollars.

Also, the most interesting thing that’s happening to me right now is that I don’t feel grounded yet. I keep trying to convince myself not to leap into vacation mode, but without any sort of responsibility I’m having a hard time. (Yes, I understand quite well that I’ve only been here a day.) I’m just curious to see how I feel when I allow myself to fully be here. I think school will help.

More tomorrow? Clearly I’m avoiding writing anything on paper. Must. Fill. Notebooks. With. Feelings.

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