– Could you tell us the main reasons for choosing Norway as your study destination?
First and foremost the mountains and fjords are simply amazing. Norway offers endless opportunities for “friluftsliv” (Norwegian for outdoors life, which can be everything from a simple walk up the hill to a multiday glacier expedition). During travels with my family and backpacking in my semester holidays I got addicted to the amazing mountains, rocks, ice and snow here. When I discovered that there were also really advanced master programs and well known research institutes, I had to go.
– Why did you choose the institution you were at?
The University of Bergen, together with the University of Aarhus, University of Iceland and the University of the Faroe Islands offers a master’s degree programme that combines physical oceanography and marine biology termed “Joint Nordic Master’s programme in Marine Ecosystems and Climate”. It is unique in this constellation and offers many possibilities to study marine ecology from the biological and physical side. Next to this, the many research institutes settled in Bergen attracted me. In addition to the University of Bergen, the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the Nansen Center (NERSC) are top players in marine and polar science.
– What was your idea of Norway before you arrived?
A giant adventure park with amazing snow conditions in winter, cold fjords and lakes for swimming in summer, and too many trails and huts to visit in a lifetime.
– Which are the main differences from your country when it comes to your life as a student?
The University of Bergen offers more freedom in course choice than what I am used to in Germany. This enhances your study experiences if you know what you want, but could make it difficult if you are uncertain about what to study. Then again all of the professors I have met so far have been very helpful and provided good guidance. Depending on the field of study, some courses can be much more literature orientated than in Germany.
– In your opinion, what is the most important academic outcome as an international student in Norway?
I would say this depends on your field of study. For me it was finding a meaningful synthesis between equation-prone oceanography and hard-to-quantify marine biology to get a better understanding of marine ecology.
– Are there any personal experiences as a foreign student in Norway you would highlight?
Where to start. Firstly, the University of Bergen makes it extremely easy and enjoyable to be an international student. The bureaucracy and paperwork is limited to a minimum and I felt home here very quickly. Thanks for that. Next to university life comes the second or “real” life: The “friluftsliv” (Outdoors life). I think the best times I have had here has been when hiking with friends, climbing on rocks next to the sea, going fishing after lecture or having a campfire on top of one of Bergen’s seven mountains in the evening.
– What would you tell students from your country about university life in Norway?
What are you waiting for guys and girls? The language is not so difficult to learn for Germans and most of the lectures and conversations at the institutes are in English anyway. I can only recommend it, the people are really friendly and you will have the time of your life!
– What do you miss the most when you are away from your country?
To be honest: The beer (and the beer prices and that you can buy it after 8 o’clock and on Sundays). But the amazing landscape and people here definitely make up for that.
– In your opinion, what is the most important outcome of being an international student?
I think it gives you a better perspective on how big the world is, and that your country is not the only one. There are a lot of places and people to be discovered out there! It teaches you to think outside of the box and that nationalities are more or less meaningless when you discuss how to light a campfire without dry firewood.
– What are you doing now?
I am halfway through my Master’s programme and will start working on my thesis soon.
– What are your future plans?
I plan to get a Ph.D. in Marine Science, hopefully involving Norwegian and German research institutes.