A Semester in Norway

A photo of the coast of Stavanger with a ferry in background. The sun is setting.

It’s been 5 months since I posted that I was moving half-way across the world to Stavanger, Norway, to do an audio post-bacc at the University of Stavanger, so I felt that I should give a little update.

The city of Stavanger reminds me a lot of home. Like Victoria, it is a coastal city known for it’s old streets and wet weather. Sometimes, when I’m out for a jog, I forgot entirely that I’m not in British Columbia… and then my ears turn to the different sounds– the language, the soundscape– and I am reminded that that’s not the case.

Stavanger is a known for its street art which is celebration at the NuArt festival each fall. Wandering through the city there are playful and challenging images everywhere in all sizes– from the size of your thumb to the entire side of a a building. Mixed with the traditional white wooden Norwegian houses, it creates a city vibe that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This has mostly been my impression of Norwegians in general. Nothing is so serious. Just enjoy.

The audio engineering program itself has not been entirely what I’ve expected. There is a lack of structure to the program which in some ways is creatively liberating; but, in other ways, is uninspiring. No one is telling you what to explore; but, no one is guiding you to be better. Because of this, it’s been difficult to fully engage with the research I’ve wanted to do and I haven’t felt as challenged as I’d like. That’s not to say I haven’t found some great opportunities while I have been here. I have worked with some extremely talented student musicians, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and visiting performing artist Julis Smack. In addition, I have been working along with Sonovo Mastering in experimenting with 9.1 recording (I’ve linked my project report here), and also getting an insiders view of the world of mastering audio. In December, I started working with the Norsk Lydinstitutt (Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound) in digitizing some of their massive collection of audio, which is one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe.

I’ve also had the privilege of being exposed to a global group of engineers and producers– my class itself is made up of people from Iran, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, United States, Norway, Colombia, Serbia, and Mexico. Anything I’ve learned here so far has been from my classmates– whether about audio or about life– and it’s been great to collaborate with a diverse group of people. It’s also been great to get back into working with music.

We’ll have to see what 2017 has in store… but hopefully this is all leading somewhere.

S.A street in Stavanger, Norway. The sun is setting in the background.