Transitions are slow and steady business. We have been in Norway for a few weeks, and now I can take a breath, look back, and marvel at the steps along the way in getting this family to the point and place we find ourselves in now. In short, moving house and home is no small feat. A lot comes up along the way. Questions about what what to bring along, what to throw out, and what to store away. Suddenly, your life (and your life story in objects) becomes a vetting and sorting project. It is a kind of psychic labor. Simply put, there is no real comprehensive way to prepare for big life change, …but you must take a requisite bunch of steps. You muddle through it. So far, the month of August has been just that.
We now find ourselves in a cozy antique wooden house in lovely historic Bergen, Norway. We find ourselves in a neighborhood filled with winding cobblestone streets and welcome gardens; playgrounds with trampolines, ropes courses, and laughing children; fat cats lazing on stoops; and tiled roof tops piercing the Norwegian mountain forest just adjacent. It is a place of beauty and content, a place with a different pace. And we are happy here.
I have found that the transition to a new culture, new language and a new society is not as jarring as it could be. In part it is because Norway is a welcoming and “radically humane” kind of place, but it is also in part due to the digital age. I can text my friends any time, Skype my colleagues wherever they may be, post new pictures on Instagram and Twitter to share in passing, and call my family on Whats App. In short, the world is a different place than it used to be.
Years ago when I graduated from college I had the audacity and vision to trek across half the globe for a year on a shoestring. Things were different then because the digital network that we know today was in its infant development stage. Information at your fingertips was not yet a part of everyday life.
I remember waiting to pick up letters written to me by hand at the American Express mail-pick-up offices located in the central cities along my travel route. There was such anticipation, a flood of pleasure and emotion to hold that small stack of missives in hand. Today, with a click of the screen we can communicate in real time. It is a different orientation in both time and space. And there are aspects both precious and challenging in both communication realities.
— Mia Zamora (@MiaZamoraPhD) August 23, 2017
I am here during my Fulbright sponsored sabbatical year to research digital networks and digital storytelling. I am interested in the ways digital networks have transformed our ability to tell stories. I will be teaching two courses this semester at University of Bergen. The first course in the Department of Digital Culture is an introduction to both reading and writing Electronic Literature. The other course is a Digital Culture graduate seminar called Networked Transformations. How have networks transformed our ability to tell, share, and participate in stories in the digital age? This seminar will look closely at networked forms of digital writing and art, political activities, and identities emerging from the practice of participatory culture. My research will be inspired by my pedagogic practice here as we use our digital professional learning networks to explore such timely questions with a global host of other scholars, artists, and friends.
Much has changed since I backpacked after college across the globe. But what has not changed is my curiosity to learn from societies that have a different way than my own. People often say I have been bitten by the “travel bug”. But I know that this will “to move on” is rooted in a genuine desire to know more, and to learn from people quite different than myself. This is in keeping with the Fulbright spirit, which is devoted to reconciliation of transnational differences through greater understanding. I can’t think of a better place than Norway to encourage my own sons’ growth as more global citizens. For me, this Fulbright year for research, thinking, exploring, and discovering is an eternal gift, and I am quite sure it will germinate countless new seeds of personal growth and knowledge that are still unforeseen.