Could you tell us the main reasons for choosing Norway as your study destination?
"Scandinavia has always appealed to me. It is often pictured as an egalitarian utopia where life is good, safe and peaceful. I was drawn to this image and wanted to find out how it really was. I chose Norway because of its nature and thought it would be even more adventurous to go there. I had been to Sweden and Denmark, but not to Norway. After viewing some pictures of the fjords in the west and Lofoten in the north I made up my mind."
Why did you choose the institution you are at?
"I chose my institution based on what subjects they offer and the city where it is based. I needed to like both and I did. I have friends who’ve visited Bergen before and told me how much they liked it. I felt encouraged. The courses I could do in Human Rights where what I was focusing on at home, so my choice became an easy one."
What was your idea about Norway before you arrived?
"Back home Norway isn’t very well known. I took Norwegian classes in Amsterdam and found out about its history, its society and political system. This helped me a lot to create an idea about Norway. The history with Denmark and Sweden, the Janteloven and the finding of the oil, it was new and it made me even more curious about how it would be to actually live there."
Which are the main differences from your country when it comes to your life as a student?
"I feel that it’s more common in the Netherlands to go drink a beer in a café after a course or cook together with fellow students or friends. In Norway I feel students live more a private life and spend more time on their own or spent time doing sports. I was surprised to see how outdoor life and sports are so important to Norwegians. During the dark and cold winter I understood this and shared the need to go swimming or go to the gym."
In your opinion, what is the most important academic outcome as an international student in Norway?
"For me it’s getting more grip on Human Rights from a theoretical perspective. In general I think it is very valuable to take yourself out of the academic comfort zone of your home university and view things from another perspective abroad."
Are there any personal experiences as a foreign student in Norway you would highlight?
"The best thing is to realize that wherever you go you can meet people you can connect with. This was important for me, so I could share my experiences. When I didn’t understand something of the Norwegian unwritten code I could always ask my Norwegian roommate Dywecke for some answers. I also met a wonderful Dane Esben who was as new to Norway as I was and we went out to explore some of Bergens art scene. All my experiences made me more aware about my own Dutch identity and cultural background, which I think you can only experience living abroad."
What would you tell students from your country about university life in Norway?
"I would tell about how an average day in Norway looked like. I might go to class, work out in the afternoon and hunt for affordable food in an attempt to avoid buying that frozen pizza again."
What do you miss the most when you are/where away from your country?
"I missed my friends, cooking together, buying affordable food at a takeaway, go for a beer after class and not worry about the money."
In your opinion, what is the most important outcome of being an international student?
"The most important outcome is that you are outside your comfort zone, meet people from all over the world and gain new perspectives on the world and yourself."
What are you doing now?
"I still have a couple of months ahead and I plan to travel up north to see Trondheim and Lofoten. Spring has come and I feel it’s time for some more exploration of Norwegian nature in the north."
What are your future plans?
"I wish to take a master in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. I still have to decide where I want to be next fall."