Sunday, March 16, 2003

Students visited
One of the fun things I do is visiting the students in their internships. They spend two months in the information department of some organisation, anything from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by way of Burson-Marsteller to the Norwegian Church Aid.

Most of the time it's just nice, I get an update on how information- and public relations departments are organised these days, I get to meet a lot of people knowledgeable in the same things as I work with, I have a lot of nice cups of tea and coffee, and get to stay a few nights in Oslo, which means a little bit of shopping and some nice meals. Some of the time it becomes hard work: occasionally I need to negotiate between the students and their supervisors, or interfere with the internship if I see that the student is suffering/misbehaving. Some times I get new, different and fresh experiences. This time I visited the Romanian Embassy, where I have a student. Getting the appointment was surprisingly complicated. At first I didn't find their phone-number anywhere. When I finally did, by way of the cell of the student in question, I did not get a reply from the embassy as to when I could come and visit. Talking to the counsilor on the phone was totally out of the question.

So you imagine, it was with mixed feelings I went to see the student and her in-house supervisor, the counsilor. It turned out that I was not just expected, but the expectations were expressed through the etiquette of international diplomacy. I was received in a very elegant room, conversed eloquently and politely in a German which I am now quite happy that I once spoke frequently enough to have been fluent in it, invited to think about options of cooperation between Volda University College and Romanian Universities which I had not offered a thought until that point (Oh yes, that was one professional diplomat), and then escorted out - all the way to the sidewalk - with a warmth and enthusiasm about our mutual friendship that can compete with any other latin country.

For a while there, I really was out of Norway and in Romania. I guess that is what an embassy really is. I just didn't expect to make the journey by stepping from the clear, sharp spring sun of March in Oslo into the cool shadows of one of those elegant Villas in Oscarsgate, behind the Castle.

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