Tag Archives: norway

Scribbled Postcards (Part II)

A hoy! Globe trotting via postcards:

An update for Postcrossers and more things I’ve learnt about the world through postcards. Click photos to enlarge.

Julie treated me to a cove scene from La Jolla, San Diego, CA. Coves are a great display of Nature as an architect and the powerful erosive force that sculpts these sheltered bays. I love the vintage/artsy feel to the postcard and it reminds me how much I would love to live close to the ocean (and not in the middle of the Canadian landmass, surrendering to its, frankly bizarre, weather systems).

In a word. Stunning. Silje showed me a glimpse of her world, the largest city in the north of Norway, Tromsø. I’m always bowled over by how beautiful Norway is and Tromsø is no exception. This city centre apparently has the highest concentration of historical wooden houses which co-exist with modern architecture, illustrated in the design of the Arctic Cathedral. Tromsø is the perfect place to marvel at the glowing Aurora Borealis skies. Good luck on your travels to England, Silje!

Cute Lakeland Bears postcard courtesy of Mieke from the Netherlands. Lakeland Bears are very collectible and love donning hiking gear and going out on long walks, they’re fully jointed so pose for the camera on their ventures. Some even dress in corduroy and tweed – how very English! I wonder if they like a good cup of Earl Grey. Mieke wanted to send me a bit of the British Isles to Canada and this teddy bear certainly accomplished that and a smile. Textured cat stickers are full of win!

From Steffi of Germany. How can I not like a postcard sent from a lady with a love of chocolate, sushi, coffee and photography, she also encourages me to hit the ski slopes. This art work is titled ‘Verena Kobelkowsy with Amaryll. He begs day and night’. I haven’t been sent many art cards so it was neat to be introduced to a new artist of foreign lands. Which is another thing about Postcrossing, increasing your awareness of the unknown and widening your scope of the world and the things in it.

The Renaissance painters are outstanding and I admire anyone who is brimming with talent and artistic flair. From Texas, sent by Lynn and is of Michelangelo’s The Torment of St. Anthony. I’m in awe that someone could paint like this at 14, at that age my macaroni art was coming together and the objects of my still life sketches were just about recognisable.

From Belarus. Happy flowers, bumble bees and the Cyrillic alphabet. Attempts to transliterate to the Latin alphabet resulted in translation fail of epic proportions.

From South Germany, the town Heidenheimer hosts a flower show accompanied by a herd of 80 sheep. Glass fibre reinforced plastic, these statues are customised by a myriad of designers (companies, schools, artists) who let their imagination flow to make their sheep stand out from the rest of the flock. Kind of like the Cow Parade, for sheep. I think my postcard sheep was sitting in the half way house between bohemian and hobo. The stamp is a salute to Selma Lagerlöf, the first female to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.

From Guangzhou, China. I’ve always found beauty in the elaborate temples and shrines of the world, decorated so ornately. This colourful detailed statue is from the ancient Shuanglin Monastery and contains over 2,000 intricate Buddhist terra cotta  and wooden statues. This specific statue of an armoured general is one of the eight protectors of Chinese Buddhism.

The captivating city of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and a previous capital city of the Roman Empire. The painting is called ‘Entry of the Golden Horn’, with the Golden Horn being an estuary. This mega city has many mosques incorporated into its skyline and appears just as beautiful in modern-day photographs as it does in this artwork.

Geishas are the perfect blend of butterfly-like grace, elegance and poise. As well as physical beauty and elaborate costumes they are highly trained performers, mastering Japanese music, dance, tea ceremonies and etiquette. I remember after seeing Memoirs of a Geisha and getting a sneak peek at this aspect of Japanese culture and traditions, I began seeking out geisha literature and autobiographical accounts so this postcard was very welcome in my mailbox. It’s great that a geisha could continue to entertain well into her 60’s and still be deemed as beautiful as those in their youth. Maybe something to think about in the Western World where getting old is often portrayed as something to fight and not embrace.


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Rise and Fall

Everything else is height and depth, rise and fall ~ Tomas Tranströmer

Three things to share in this humble post:

1) I got granted my Work Authorisation in Canada!! This English damsel is now unquestionably employable and allowed to return to the Canadian wonderland again. I’m on a mission, machine-gunning resumes and carefully crafted covering letters, on a quest to get myself any experience that will bring me closer to my goal to work in IVF. The Biology degree was an almighty leap in the right direction but now I need work experience stepping stones to make the climb to where I want to go. My flight is 4th April, and as you might have guessed I am a little excited! Mainly because it means I will be back to being a busy bee again, I miss having a packed schedule, and activities to build my day around.

I will not waste a minute!

2) Now this scenic landscape has adorned my background for a fair few months now, isn’t it breathtaking?

Just looking at it gives me a sense of serenity and leaves me in awe of how striking nature can be. The lake acting just like a mirror, perfectly reflecting everything. Imagine living in that little white house and having the privilege of being greeted by such a picturesque view every time you gazed outside your window. Maybe row a boat out into the blue and let your troubles and the world melt away. I think I could be perfectly happy living out in this ‘rise and fall’ – hiking and picnicking when the weather is fine and taking in the surroundings, then when the weather turns cosy up inside to read by the window or watch as the droplets of rain splash down comforted by a mug of tea. It is so easy to daydream when I see an image like this.

Unfortunately I cannot take credit for such photo mastery. After much googling I cannot find the original source but I thank the photographer for bringing a slice of Norway to my computer screen. I can attest to the idyllic form of the Norwegian landscape having seen it through my own eyes, it’s hard to believe you aren’t part of a postcard scene. Mesmerising. I can wholly understand how the Norwegians could be an ‘outdoorsy’ nation when they have this as their playground.

3.  On the theme of rise and fall of the landscape is a poem written by Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer which I think perfectly describes this Nordic topography of mountain ranges and fjords. Proof nature is a fantastic and versatile architect. I translated it from the Norwegian (found here) as part of my language learning, it won’t be spot-on, probably shaky in parts but then again poetry doesn’t always make sense. So maybe I let my imagination, logic and interpretation try and fill in the blanks.

After a long drought

Summer is gray just now a marvelous evening.

Rain sneaks down from the sky and lands silently

As if to outwit the sleeping.

Water rings swarm on the sea surface and it is the only surface there is
Everything else is height and depth, rise and fall

Two pine stems shoot in the air and continue the long hollow signal drums.

Gone are the cities and sun
Thunder exists in the long grass.

It’s all right to telephone the island of mirage.
It’s all right to hear the gray voice.
Iron ore is honey to the thunder.
It’s all right to live by your own code.

It might be a bit cryptic in places. Heck, you might not even like poetry. But for me the final line really resonates. It’s alright to be you, live by your own rules.

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Strength lies in tenacity

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination ~ Fitzhugh Dodson.

Plans, big ideas and ambiguous to-do list, sounds familiar? It’s too easy to get caught up in life and lose sight of the goalposts in the blur of everything else that clamors for our attention. I sometimes worry all my goals will remain dreams dancing in the wind and out of my reach. So what’s one to do?

I learned the art of goal setting at University. It was often a case of ‘do or burn’ when multitasking reports and the secret of averting crisis: dismal grades. Taking ideas out of the mind and writing them down really helped me, simple enough. They’re now concrete words and no longer just passing thoughts. All the better if you put them somewhere you can’t avoid seeing, so they can guilt trip you into acting. Plans of action are vital, writing along the lines of ‘complete Toxicology report’ is so unspecific it makes me feel lost in the task before I’ve begun! So I set myself little stepping-stones (‘read research paper X, make diagram for concept Y) and would celebrate each little milestone with a self-congratulatory mug of Café Nero white chocolate mocha (so good!). The greatest difficulty is always committing yourself but once you gain momentum it’s easier to stay  on course as you see the tracks of progress left.

A whole month and a half has passed since being back in the UK and living with my parents again. If only I could conjure my Canadian work visa here now – viva Calgary city life! It’s hardly the most exciting existence being in a small town, middle of nowhere, East Midlands. All the colourful characters in my life spread across the country, and globe for that matter. I won’t even mention the lack of opportunity. ‘Unemployed science graduate’ (USG) I might be, but lazy I am not. I’ve been possessed by the busy bee mentality I must keep busy, must keep brain stimulated for fear of suddenly hemorrhaging all gained knowledge, must figure out some direction, must get on career train. Strangely I miss the structure University gave every day with lecture mornings and lab afternoons. I miss the coffee date rituals in between and the conversations they fueled. Grabbing research papers from the library, studying away and feeling like I had a student-y purpose. Now I feel a bit lost.

Which brings me back to the theme of goals. I want to set myself some focused goals for February through til Mid-March. In addition to the job hunting of course!

Improve my French – how? complete my Fluent French in 30 days book.

Kick-start my Norwegian –  how? complete Teach Yourself Norwegian book with audio podcast exercises, and be able to ace the pronunciation.

Get work experience – Since my return I have applied to 3 hospitals for clinical lab experience. The tricky thing with work experience is I must travel to it via public transport (license – yes, car  – no) and I am in the black hole of opportunity. I have also applied for volunteer work at an exotic pet refuge (monkeys!). I’m going to chase up all these chances as my goal, as so far only one medical lab has got back to me to say they don’t do their diagnostics on site. I’m practically offering free labour here!

Reading Goal – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and The Good Women of China by Xiran. The book nerd within is excited about these.

Journal of Clinical Embryology – could be useful at future interviews when I’m grilled about breakthroughs and research trends in IVF (dream job alert). Promise to read the journals from 2006 onwards. I have a terrible case of Masters course cravings now.

Hopefully that will keep me occupied before I morph from USG to savvy city girl using brain cells to maximum capacity.

Well I live in hope huh!

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Filed under Bibliothèque, Building my CV, Career, Graduate, Languages, Musings and Aphorisms, Personal Development