From time to time, it’s nice to meet a fellow international student. The first one we met on this blog is Raíssa, a 21-year-old international bachelor’s student from Brazil, you can meet her here. Today we’ll meet Maurice Mugabowagahunde, a 36-year-old PhD candidate studying Archaeology. He’s married and has a two-year-old son. He’s from Rwanda in Eastern-Central Africa and enjoys French-language crime novels.
Maurice’s first skiing experience at Ustaoset! Photo provided by Maurice Mugabowagahunde.
During my leisure time, I usually ready novels. I like investigation novels (usually in French!), and Gérard de Villiers is one of my favorite novelists.
Awesome hat. Photo: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/gerard-de-villiers-the-spy-novelist-who-knows-too-much.html?_r=0
Maurice’s process choosing University of Bergen
My choice of UiB was guided by both academic and non-academic facts. First I wanted to study archaeology. I knew that the AHKR had a good reputation as a very good institute (Academically), however I wanted to study in good cultural environment. In 2008 I met some Norwegian archaeologists who were conducting research on African archaeology, and they explained to me how UiB was a great choice! I can now say that they were right! I then prepared my application, and after few months I was happy to receive an email stating that my application was accepted.
Photo: Håkon Reiersen, Expertise overview: Archaeology
Maurice’s time at UiB
I did my masters studies at UiB, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) between 2009-2011. After my masters I returned home, where I have been working with the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, then I returned at UiB for my PhD in August 2012. I am now almost at the end of my program here.
I am conducting a research untitled “An Ethno-Archaeology investigation of technology and social aspects of beer: A comparative perspective from Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan”. In my thesis, using archaeological material found during different excavations in Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, I try to analyze how people produced beer during the Meroitic period (300 BC-AD 400), and more importantly, what role was beer played in this period (politically, economically, socially and culturally).
Apedemak temple, a Meroitic temple, Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naqa
The UiB and Bergen Experience
After five years at UiB, I can now say that I had a wonderful time in Bergen! Even beyond what I expected. The quality of education is high, but most importantly, people are wonderful here. Students are very friendly, and teachers are very flexible, ready to help anytime. These two elements combined have made my experience here easy.
Favorite Academic Experiences and Instructor
During my time at UiB, I attended different courses, however, I liked the fieldwork course we took to South Africa in 2009. This course was very interesting, but also important for someone studying African archaeology.
During my thesis, I worked on Rwandan, Ugandan and South African material, however, I especially enjoyed working on Sudanese material. I was impressed by the preservation conditions in Sudanese desert. For example, we found pots dated to 3,000 years old, but they still looked very new.
Randi Håland has been an inspiration for me, and it was great an honor to work with her. With her experience on African archaeology, what I like the most is her sense of archaeological interpretation. Thus, whenever we had a new archaeological find, she always was the first person to have a proper meaning of the artifact. Beside, she would do anything to train African students.
Photo: Eivind Senneset, Alumni Interview
Highlights and Lowlights
Of course for me the highlight would be the time I presented my master’s thesis. For me this was the time I could really call myself an archaeologist.
Regarding a lowlight, I would mention here a non-academic event that negatively marked me: The Utøya massacre in 2011. I was deeply sad, but at the same time I couldn’t understand what was happening. I have always known Norwegians as peaceful and gentle people, and for me it was hard to explain what was happening.
Would Maurice consider coming back to the UiB given the opportunity?
Absolutely! I have enjoyed the working conditions here; people are fantastic, and most importantly, I liked food and culture here.
Did Maurice make any Norwegian friends?
In five years here, I made a lot of friends. Of course Fantoft, and club Fantoft were the easy places to meet different people. Church (I am Catholic and pray at St. Paul every Sunday) was another place to meet people. I also played inside-football regularly at student center; it was another good opportunity to meet people.
To conclude, I would like to mention here that around 10 Norwegians came to visit me during holidays in Rwanda, and for a month I had a pleasure to show them around my lovely and beautiful country.
A Rwandian landscape. Image: http://forcechange.com/57150/commend-rwanda-for-efforts-to-improve-public-health/
Did Maurice study Norsk?
Unfortunately no, and I seriously regret it. I should have taken some Norwegian courses. However, before I came to Bergen, I had done all my previous studies in French, and since I was going to write my master’s thesis in English, I preferred to focus on my English first. However, after five years in Bergen, I do understand some basic Norwegian that I learnt from friends and classmates.
Most of my Norwegian friends like to hike. One of my favorite things in Bergen has then been weekend hiking, Løvstakken being my favorite place to go.
Hiking at Løvstakken, with Brann Bergen Stadion in background. Photo provided by Maurice Mugabowagahunde.
Travels in Norway
During my time in Norway I have travelled to different places, my favorite place being Finse! I have also been to places such as Haugesund, Stavanger, Frafjørd (Next to Stavanger), Voss, Ustaoset, Finse, Oslo, Førde, Byrkelo, etc.
Stavanger’s Sword Monument. Image: http://imgur.com/a/NBOCI
I really liked people here; very nice people, wonderful education system, fantastic University, wonderful green city, and good food. However, I think it rains a lot in Bergen! For new students, be prepared for that!