A couple of months before he began his studies at NTNU, Ben came to Trondheim to get an early introduction to Norwegian culture. He feels getting a job and proving that managing work and studies has helped him see a different side of both city and culture.
– What was the main reason you chose Norway for your studies?
The choice for me was always between Denmark or Norway. In Cape Town, where I’m from, I met a lot of Norwegians. They told me about their studies, which inspired me to apply - and the course I’m currently studying combines a lot of my academic interests.
– Has your impression of Norway changed during your stay?
I initially came to Norway because it’s leading in my field of study - renewable and sustainable energy.. The impression I had of breathtaking nature is still very much the same. I’m a bit disappointed there’s not much of a surfer culture here, but you have snowboarding - that’s better than nothing!
– What are the main differences between Norway and your home country when it comes to a student’s academic, cultural and social life?
It’s very much “do it yourself” here - the workload is very different and not as stressful I find. You’re not provided with all the answers, but are given room to explore and find them yourself. As an international student, I find that the integration is very forced here. It’s not very mixed, and the internationals mainly keep to themselves. I think a lot of international students share the misconception that Norwegians are unapproachable, but it’s just an integration problem. In Cape Town, there’s a big social culture, and that has helped me a lot in being more open to new people.
– What do you miss the most from South Africa?
The surfing! But, I didn’t travel half the world to stay in my comfort-zone. I think that’s important to remember; to push yourself. So even if I miss my family, and things back home, it’s worth it to experience what I am experiencing here.
– In what way do you think your stay here will influence your career opportunities?
My degree is an integrated Master’s which also incorporates business which is something I struggled to find back home. I have a certain goal set in mind, and I truly believe my time here at NTNU will help me get there. It is one of, if not the best, university when it comes to engineering. To have that education with me is hugely important, and I’m very honoured to have been allowed to pursue it. There are invaluable pools of research and doctorates to dip in to - I’m not just privileged to be here, I feel, but also privileged to be able to take advantage of all these academic resources.
– What is the best part of studying in Norway? What would you recommend for people who are thinking of studying here?
You get this world class education without having to pay for it, compared to other universities. There is such a good educational environment here and there are many professionals in your field, no matter what you major in. You certainly won’t lack in career opportunities, either. The biggest downside for me was the distance and I was worried about the climate. Weighing the costs against what you gain, however, has been helpful. If I were asked to do it again, I would do it without a doubt.