A journey in Lillehammer

The Safe & Sound project har started its exchange activity. We are delighted to welcome the first VNU-UeD PhD candidate Ho Ha to Lillehammer, arriving the 4th of January. Below, she writes about her first weeks in Norway. Enjoy her sharing of thoughts and experiences!

I took this photo in front of the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Lillehammer. My friend said it looked like Hogsmeade – the wizarding village in Harry Potter series. Looking back to my experience in Lillehammer, I just feel that her comparison is so true. I don’t intend to say this town has magic: there isn’t any witch walking around or any enchanted shop selling magical instrument (or maybe I did not find it yet). But I might say, this journey here is full of novel things to explore, which could bring you the same feeling of excitement as you are a first-year student stepping into the world of wizardry.

Lillehammer welcomed me with snow, ice and wind. To be honest, it was freezing cold, and I slipped and felt a dozen times (before I was saved by the right shoes, fortunately). But believe it or not, I was never upset about it. Even when I clumsily took a wrong bus and was taken out of the town in a cold snowy day, I enjoyed walking back to the university in a mesmerizing scene of snowfields and frozen lake brightened by the sunlight. Just be open and explore, little things could bring joy: having a local after-Christmas dinner, spending the evening watching an emotional documentary in Norwegian – luckily with a special translator, hiking and enjoying the great view of the town from Balbergkampen mountain peak, or even having a stranger kindly showed you which side would be less slippery as he saw you moving at a snail’s pace.

I can ramble for hours on the lovely life here in Lillehammer, however, it’s time to come back to work. The main goal of the trip is to finish my PhD dissertation, that’s why I’ve imagined myself sitting in the office and just writing and writing. I was wrong. There wasn’t any course to follow, but I was delighted by every activity that I had joined. The PhD day was so interesting with all the ideas around our well-being as PhD candidate, and more refreshing with an actual walk outside as recommended for our physical and mental health. I love all the discussions and small talks with other PhD candidates and members of the faculty, on various subjects from everyday natural phenomena or cultural differences to diverse perspectives on child protection or social mechanisms under political decisions. Yes, I know I’m distracted again, but I’m happy for it, and we all know happiness is a key factor of a good PhD journey.

I started writing this post on the first day of Lunar Year 2020. I certainly missed home. But I didn’t feel lonely, as I had a special and unforgettable Tet celebration in my second home here in Norway. So, for the coming year, I wish all the best to my colleagues who will be the next in the project of Safe & Sound. Don’t be afraid and try to explore as much as you can, as there’s always support here for your safety and development.

Ho Ha, 29th January 2020