So, as I sit here with my Norwegian roommate and Norwegian classmate asking me to embrace my inner Norwegian identity, I am amazed at the progression of events in my life. As an Indian, I was never taught to give much thought to Scandinavia; Europe mostly only meant Western Europe. And now here I am, studying with Scandinavians in India.
So as an Indian, I’ve grown up pretty much glorifying the Britishers and never gave a second thought to the Scandinavians. To be honest, most Indians would not even know which countries make up Scandinavia. Kulturstudier however, led me to spend 10 weeks of my life with Scandinavians and I say this without any hesitation that it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
From scouring for chips and soda in the middle of the night with my roommate, to making tacos on Fridays, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend these 10 weeks with. It was amazing how they were willing and even enthusiastic about not only learning about Indian culture but also trying to learn from it and imbibe it while they were here. From their excitement in buying sarees for India Day (Yes, that happens too), to their adaptation to the spicy food, as an onlooker it was fascinating for me.
Doing classes with them was enriching in many ways but mostly in the way we could see them react to the realities of India. With free health and education in their country, we could see the difference in our approach to education and theirs. A good education is expensive in India and many students cannot study further due to lack of funds. Considering this, we could see the benefits of having free education. They were more appreciative of education for the purpose of education as opposed to us Indians, who mostly appreciate education only because it will get us a job.
As people, I must say, the Scandinavians are an amazing lot. They will help you out when you need it and then be there for you when things go wrong. They are up for both 2am crazy and 6am hard work. Most importantly, I think, what you take back from these experiences is the realization that we are all different and yet only human. We all feel the same feelings and have dreams that we all want to achieve. Homesickness is the same everywhere. My roommate would speak of Trundheim and I, of Calcutta. Having said all that, I would love to visit Scandinavia now and see it from their eyes.