From hot to cold: Les Anciens member Carla Parra Escartin (28) moved from Zaragoza to Bergen a few days ago – and really enjoys her new home. The researcher and teacher at San Jorge University will spend the next three years in the Norwegian city in order to teach, research and do her PhD there. “I just love Bergen. It is a really charming city,” says Carla about her first impression. The founder and former president of AEGEE-Tübingen, board member of AEGEE-Zaragoza and AEGEE-Academy trainer told the Golden Oldie about her new life in the Far North.


Golden Oldie: Carla, you just moved to Bergen in Norway. Why did you choose to go there? What are you doing there?

Carla: Well, I don´t know if I chose Bergen or it chose me… I saw a very nice and tempting Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher position which matched with the research I am doing for my PhD and decided to apply for it. I didn’t know how high my chance was to get it, but it turned up they offered the position to me. And I guess this answers your second question: I came here to continue with my research and write my PhD dissertation.

Golden Oldie:
Is your research in Bergen different from what you did in Zaragoza?

Carla: Well, yes and no. I have been working in the same field for the last three years. My area is research in computational linguistics. First I worked for two years in Barcelona as researcher and this last year I moved back to my hometown, Zaragoza, to lecture at the University. However, I was not researching as much as I would have wished and that is also why I decided to apply for the fellowship. I will mainly research now and only give lectures from time to time. Besides, being a Marie Curie fellow has a lot of advantages, as we have to travel to different seminars and training activities around Europe. It is a great opportunity to get research experience and to broaden my professional network.

Golden Oldie:
What are your first impressions of the town?

Carla: I just love Bergen. It is a really charming city. The fact that it is just at the entrance of the Norwegian Fjords and that at the same time it is surrounded by mountains makes it really unique. If you feel like going for a hike you just need to start walking almost directly from downtown. I have only been here for 10 days, so I cannot actually foresee how I will feel as time goes by, but I hope I will still have this positive feelings, as this will be my home for the next three years!

Golden Oldie: How do you like the people?

Carla: Norwegians are generally very friendly and I did not encounter many cultural problems.

Golden Oldie: What’s positive, what’s negative compared to Spain?

Carla: There are a lot of positive things such as being able to go to the mountains and hike or ski. Negative things are of course prices, I am still trying to get used to them, the colder and rainy weather and also the social life activities differ greatly from those in Spain. However, I think the biggest challenge for me will be the lack of sun-hours in winter. I do not really know how I will deal with that.

Golden Oldie: So you are worried how you deal with the very different lifestyle and mentality?

Carla: Well, even though I am Spanish I have travelled a lot, greatly thanks to AEGEE. I met a lot of people from many different cultures, with different lifestyles and mentalities. And I lived in Germany, and the things like eating times are not so different from those here in Norway. I guess it is also something we share in AEGEE that we are really open-minded and flexible. Luckily I am not a hard drinker or party animal, so the high alcohol prices are not really something worrying for me. I have other kind of cultural problems as not eating something warm at midday or getting up really early. I am more the kind of person who likes waking up late and going to be also late.

Golden Oldie: Had you ever been to Norway or Scandinavia in general before your adventure?

Carla: Actually not! The nearest place I have been is Tartu, the place of my European School 1, actually. However; I plan to travel around as soon as I am settled down.

Golden Oldie: Do you want to learn the language? Or can you stick to English?

Carla: I love languages, so the answer is: Yes, of course! I already started with a “teach yourself book” on my own and in August I will start the lessons at University. Even though you can live here without learning Norwegian, I think it is important to get integrated and also because it is a way to understand their culture better. And well, I just enjoy learning languages, so it is not a big effort for me.

Golden Oldie: Can you imagine to stay in Norway forever?

Carla: Right now: no. I don’t know if I will change my mind in the future, but I think I would just simply miss the sun and Spanish food too much. Once I see how the winter is I will be able to answer you. I never thought I would have liked to stay longer in Germany when I just arrived there, and it is a country where I could actually live, so let’s see if I change my mind!

Golden Oldie: What do you want to work after finishing your PhD?

Carla: I would love to continue researching in the same field and combine it with lectures. I love being a lecturer too and working at University is just like the best place to combine both things. Otherwise, I would also enjoy working in some R&D company dealing with computational linguistics, especially machine translation!

Golden Oldie: You also studied in Germany and founded AEGEE-Tübingen. Do you want to help founding AEGEE-Bergen?

Carla: Well, I did not really think about that. I am older now and I don’t think I will be sharing my social life with younger students in their first university years, so it would be really difficult to get people involved. Of course if there is a group of interested people, I would not mind supporting them but I do not think I will have the time to start looking for people. Furthermore, founding AEGEE-Tübingen was a lot of work shared with many German students that helped me in that crazy adventure. And those students knew about AEGEE thanks to a prior Contact that there was in Tübingen before I went there. Here it would really be starting from scratch and I don’t think I have the time and the energy to endeavour such a project.