torsdag 8. september 2016
Return to Nidrosia
I once read a quotation attributed to Jorge Luis Borges that the greatest joy is not in the reading, but in the re-reading. To a certain extent this holds true of travelling as well, and a happy return to a beloved place that was once new and uncharted can in several ways be more pleasant than the first discovering journey. In part, such a pleasure owes its being to the invocation of memories, and to a nostalgic person such as myself memories have a particularly strong grip one's heart. In part, the pleasure comes from the familiar, and the knowledge that one can move about in the area with great ease and not get lost, yet at the same time still be able to discover new things and see beautiful details one has previously overlooked.
This month I'm immersed in this joy of revisiting. Two years after I left Trondheim to begin my PhD in Denmark, I am now back to spend some time as a guest at the department for historical studies at my old alma mater, the Norwegian University for Science and Technology. I have spent seven years of my life in this city, receiving both my BA and my MA here, and I have many friends and acquaintences who in various ways, big or small, have helped me becoming the person I am today.
I arrived in Trondheim on Monday afternoon and have already spent a few days catching up with people, getting settled in at my temporary office at the department, and sauntering about in the old city centre, trodding the familiar streets, viewing the familiar spots, and enjoying my first Norwegian September since 2013, September being a particularly crisp but often sunny month in my home country.
The reason for my return has mainly to do with a requirement in my PhD contract which stipulates that I have to spend a minimum of three months at another academic institution. My choice of Trondheim was an easy one. The primary reason is that I'm working on the cult of Saint Olaf of Norway, whose shrine was situated in the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim, the seat of the Norwegian archbishop. For this reason, there are many colleagues here who have worked on material relating to the cult of Olaf, and new research is continuously being carried out. I'm here to immerse myself in this research, and to draw on the expertise of friends and colleagues, who have been very welcoming in sharing and wanting to share their knowledge with me, in the best fashion of academic kindness.
The academic network is my primary reason for returning to Trondheim, but a significant pull factor has of course also been the fact that I can now return to a beloved city and beloved friends, a combination that is a joy without measure. Part of this joy comes from the fact that ever since I began working on the material for Saint Olaf, I have had to do a lot of research into the history of the city and its medieval past, and I have a greater knowledge of this now than what I had when I studied here. Therefore, when coming back to the city, I return with a new understanding of the different medieval survivals and the different localities, and this helps me to see the familiar through new eyes and to appreciate even more the many remnants of the medieval past.
I have only been here a few days, but I know that when I leave for Denmark again in October I will leave with an even greater understanding of the material on which I'm working, and of the city I called my home for seven years.