California calling!

As I am writing this, I am about halfway into my stay as a Fulbrighter and Visiting Student Researcher with the Department of Film & Media at UC Berkeley, working on my doctoral dissertation, and it is kind of a strange feeling to be writing this letter. Over a year ago today, I was ready and set to travel here in the fall, but when the go part turned to stop due to the virus situation, I was sure it would not happen at all. Dreams do come true, however, and through invaluable support from both my host institution and Fulbright Norway, plus a good amount of my own stubbornness, the new year came and became when mine was realized.

Following a couple of weeks in quarantine, I have readily been able to explore and to enjoy more of both the beautiful campus and city of Berkeley, as the state has steadily moved from a stay-at-home order to its purple tier and now to its red tier. Since this means that springtime will have both a more open university and community, that is great news in general, but it is perhaps even greater news to me since it means I may soon be able to go to the film museum and the film collection at the library, which for a film researcher is a pretty big deal. So, like Bjørnson did, I will happily choose April as my favorite month of this American life.

All the while my stay may not be ideal in the sense that it would be even better if I could go to even more events and meet even more new people, more of those face-to-face encounters that I am sure we all miss, the alternative is also good. In fact, this week I have attended both the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference and the Fulbright Community Day, and have therefore been able to engage with and exchange ideas with a range of researchers from different academic and cultural backgrounds. These connections have been another excellent part of a rewarding experience so far, and I am very excited since there is yet more to come.

If there is anything I am unhappy about it is that my stay is going by way too fast, and I wish I was able to stay longer, especially now that I have also located the love of my life – namely salty Nordic-style licorice – where I never thought I would, but I am so happy to be here and thankful to the Fulbright Foundation for helping me make it happen.