NYU

Prairie Bound

Good afternoon!

I’m on my way to school (on a Saturday, yes) to edit my film, but I wanted to share some exciting news first.

I’ve known about this for several months already, but I just realized it’s coming up so soon I better let you know — I’ve been invited to guest speak at Augustana University in South Dakota!

If you’ve followed the blog from the beginning you already know that Augustana has a very special place in my heart, and that I graduated as a proud Augie Viking after precisely 1000 days on the prairie.

Photo: Jessica Ruf.

When I, as a teary-eyed graduate, packed my suitcases and headed for the airport last May, I thought I had said goodbye to the magical place of Sioux Falls for good … or at least for several years. The geographical position of South Dakota just doesn’t allow for random visits and accidental layovers, so I didn’t know I would have the money nor opportunity to go back next time.

Parts of “The Fam” posing in front of the Sioux Falls. Yup, this is where the city got its name from, haha.

When I earlier this year received the invitation from Professor Mike Nitz, I was — naturally — beyond thrilled. The fact that my schedule later filled up with an additional five guest-speaking requests and tons of catch-up coffees, dinners, breakfasts and hangouts just makes me more excited about the trip.

I’ll be there from April 26-29th, and I’ve already told you I have to move out of my current apartment on May 1st, and that my film has to be done by May 11th, and that I’ll fly to Norway a couple days later, and that I also have 25 hours of classes to attend every week and a load of grants I have to apply for. So quite frankly, I have to wrap up this post and get to work.

But since we’re talking about Augustana: my Facebook just reminded me this happened on this day last year. I can’t believe how time flies!

Talk to you soon!

Blessings,
Maria

Catching Up

Good evening!

I must say that this very moment is a special one. You see, the fact that I’m writing this post means I have 30 minutes to spare, and as a grad film student at NYU that is rare. Very rare. It’s actually so rare that I can’t waste any more time telling you just how rare it is.

Since classes started last week, I’ve spent more time at school than at home, and I’m not joking when I say that we’re talking about 2:1 ratio, but after a very productive Saturday I’ll indulge in a night off; an evening with just Netflix, Pizza and I. Ahhh!

Anyway, besides writing the script for my next narrative project, and attending 29 hours of class every week, I’ve been editing the Viking-documentary I mentioned last time. I don’t know what it is, but editing has a soothing effect on me, and I really quite enjoy the process of piecing together a story, frame by frame. It’s a nice way to relax while also being productive, so even if I’m busy I make sure to enjoy myself.

Follow me on Instagram: Lanoet

But I have taken the time to socialize outside the Tisch building too.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of reuniting with one of my Augustana-sisters, Irene! She goes to grad school in Texas and was in the city for a track meet, so I jumped onto the train and headed for Columbia University where she raced.

For a moment, as we sat on the bleachers and talked and laughed, we traveled back to the time when we were both overwhelmed international students competing in our first college meet in the US. We had both arrived on campus a week before the rest of the school that first fall, and as two European girls with American dreams, we shared our joys, frustrations and English-issues in-between the grueling workouts and ice baths. So to catch up, almost four years after, in New York, at a track, was pretty special.

Have a blessed weekend,
Maria

From Dakota with Love

After my previous post, “Expectation vs. Reality in NYC” some of you jokingly asked how I could possibly like this city when I made it sound so awful, so in this post I’ll try to explain how I really feel about this place called New York.

First of all, the post was meant as a satirical, yet accurate, depiction of the New York-lifestyle. It’s not comfortable, it’s not easy, but in return — so incredibly rewarding.

I realize that living in a closet-sized room on the fourth floor with no elevator, not owning a car and wandering in crowds of thousands inside dirty subway stations and smelly alleys may sound intimidating to some. It’s inconvenient, busy and yes, at times smelly (I thought so too when I visited the city for the first time in 2014.) I even told myself I would never ever want to live here. Read more about my first encounter with the big city HERE.

But crossing the Atlantic Ocean at 20, followed by three years in South Dakota changed me in ways I never anticipated.

Sioux Falls was amazing in every possible way (minus freeeeezing cold winters) and I believe my time there gave me the best possible preparation for this new chapter.

With Augustana president Rob Oliver and the incredibly talented Kofi Gunu & Matthew Watt. Photo: Becky Blue.

I had three of the best years of my life, thus far, at Augustana, and I’ll be forever thankful for everything the Augie-community gave me. I actually enjoyed it so much I was unable to see myself living anywhere else — until I suddenly one day could no longer ignore my heart’s whisper to apply to NYU.


With some of the finest people in the state of South Dakota — also known as “The Fam”

While I’m convinced Sioux Falls was the right place for me to be during those three years, I often felt a little restless; as if God was working on something with me. I always seemed to live in a pace of my own, in a constant hurry, working on a never-ending stream of projects with a calendar fuller than stomachs on Thanksgiving. It was exhausting, but in retrospect, I see that had it not been for all those projects I would never have gotten in to the grad film program at NYU, and had I not gotten used to having packed schedules I would likely have disliked the NY-lifestyle.

You see, New York is like a wave of fast-paced people trying to catch trains — but literally and figuratively — and inside that wave I find peace.

I suppose the city’s pulse beats in the same rhythm as my heart.

I cannot describe it in any other way, because it’s not logical. In fact, nothing about my journey to New York was logical; the strong calling I felt towards coming here went far beyond my own reasoning.

Looking back, I’m sometimes baffled by my decision of only applying to one grad school, especially since that very school also happened to be one of the most competitive ones in the world.

I’m not trying to pump my chest and give myself credit for taking a leap of faith, I’m just saying that the gravitation I felt towards New York was rooted in something much deeper than my own desire.

I believe that God led me here, and for what reason I have yet to know. In the meantime, I will embrace this journey and praise him for His grace.

I would not be here without Him, and I’m determined to do everything I can to glorify Him on my way.

Have a blessed day,
Maria

A different kind of finals week

First, thanks so much for the response on my previous post “Everybody’s Grown up. Then there’s me.

It’s been a while since one of my posts has generated this many messages and uplifting words — thank you!


After I finished my last shift at the newspaper on Thursday, I thought I’d have plenty of time to be bored, but the amount of stuff I have to get done in the next six days reminds me more of finals week at Augustana than anything else.

I won’t put you through my whole to-do list, but the most important thing is that I’m applying to all the grants possible so that I’ll — hopefully — have enough money fund my second year at NYU. The process, however, turns out to be slightly more time-consuming than I expected.

I’m also looking for housing in NYC — which is a draining and entertaining adventure in itself, so please let me know if you know someone who can fit two students into their apartment in East- West- or Greenwich Village, haha.

With just two weeks left until school starts, I’m trying to master a new film editing software that we’ll use at Tisch, while also attempting to plow through a list of 100 movies assigned by the faculty. Okay, okay, I started the viewing-list months ago, so I have that one under total and complete control, but the rest is a handful right now.

However, I have allowed myself some time outdoors, I promise. I can’t use any tan lines as proof, but here’s a picture for ya. The green stuff in the background is real nature.

Photo: Mirjam Lavelle.

Well, anyway, I wrote this post for the sole purpose of telling you to stay tuned for my next post. So I better get to it — STAY TUNED!

Who knew I’d ever do jewelry modeling?! I’ll tell you all about it later this week.

Have a blessed day,
Maria

Eveybody’s grown up, and then there’s me.

Seeing how many of my former classmates are all “grown up” with boyfriends, fiancés, husbands, kids, houses, cars and down-paid student loans have made me think thoughts that felt distant when I was at Augustana, but suddenly very close now that I’m here in Norway.

I’ve felt a combination of relief and gratitude for the freedom of not having to “grow up” yet; of not having to worry about buying a station wagon, finding a job, planning family vacations or weddings, arguing about how to raise the kids, and about making secure, logical and reasonable life choices.

But in between that relief and gratitude, there’s doubt. Logical doubt. Tempting shortcuts rooted inside comfort-zones. So many easier options, secure options, reasonable options.

“Am I making the right decisions with my life? Is my dream worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Am I the only one in the world not wanting to settle? Should I settle?”

Photo: Mirjam Lavelle.

You see, Norway is a paradise for secure, logical and reasonable life choices. I’m surrounded by people who’ve done it all the “right way.” You know, the way banks, parents, teachers, coaches and neighbors have advised you to do things from the day you were born.

The Utopia for comfortable and predictable lifestyles is right here in Norway — everywhere I turn I see logic screaming for attention.

Still, I choose not to listen.

Please don’t get me wrong; my heart bubbles of joy when I see people who found their way, their job and their loved one. I’m thrilled to see that their relationships are thriving, that their coffeemaker was on sale, that their station wagon runs well, that their honeymoon-tickets were cheap, that their baby said a word, that the lawn is recovering from the winter and that their student loans are paid down. I’m happy for them, I really am.

But I also know that behind my occasional moments of doubt and temptation for “the comfortable,” I have to continue working towards my dream; the dream that won’t be satisfied by having a house, a car, a coffee-maker and a nine-to-five job.

In the midst of all the noise, I need to follow my heart and trust God.

Photo: Mirjam Lavelle.

So, what am I trying to say?

– In my head there’s nothing logical about NYU Tisch, or even attempting to apply to the program. Less than two percent gets accepted, and it’s so expensive that regardless of how fast I say the number, it still takes a great deal of syllables to pronounce the cost in its entirety. Meanwhile, I could have studied for free at a Norwegian university, settled with my journalism degree, gotten a normal job and started saving up for that station wagon — but once again I ignored logic and went with my heart.

Sometimes I feel confident in the decision, and sometimes I ask myself what in the world I’m doing.

Yesterday fit the latter description. I felt freaked out when I thought about the tremendous amounts of money that goes into my dream, and about the things I sacrifice.

But I tell myself that even if I’m not close to buying a house or a car, and probably can’t afford anything big enough to earn the name “apartment” for quite some time, I’m at least fueling my dream the best I can.

I don’t need a perfect lawn or a nice coffee-maker for now, I need to make films.

The rest is up to God.

Maria

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