– Could you tell us the main reasons for choosing Norway as your study destination?
I study Geography, so I felt quite drawn to Norway because of its glaciers, fjords, mountains and long coastline. I have also never been to Scandinavia before, so this was one more reason for me to choose Norway as my study destination. I also wanted to learn more about the country itself, its culture and history and of course, about its people. Another convenient fact is that all my seminars are given in English, with most Norwegians speaking good to very good English.
– Why did you choose the institution you are at?
My home university in Germany very recently started a collaboration with the University of Oslo (UiO). Therefore, another girl from my hometown and I were the first ones to go to university in Norway. UiO offers a wide range of English courses to choose from.
– What was your idea of Norway before you arrived?
My first impression was that Norway was supposed to be a really expensive country. Well, it actually is! Especially if you don't live on a Norwegian salary. Other things I connected with Norway were: great nature, sporty people, rough, long winters, and, of course, a rich country because of the oil and gas industries.
– Which are the main differences from your country when it comes to your life as a student?
In Germany I usually have to attend more lectures and seminars than I do here in Oslo. This is because at home I usually get 4-5 credits for each seminar. Here in Oslo, on the other hand, they mostly offer 10-credit-courses. While I don't have to do much self-study in Germany, I sometimes sit here in Oslo reading more than 7 hours just for the preparation of one class. Also, the exams here in Norway are quite different. Instead of question-answer exams I have to write essays, and therefore exams lasting 4 hours are not uncommon.
– In your opinion, what is the most important academic outcome as an international student in Norway?
You learn self-discipline because you have to study a lot on your own. You also learn to keep up with your work throughout the semester. For example, for two of my courses I had to continually work on essays, which I constantly had to improve. In general, it is good to see different teaching methods and styles.
– Are there any personal experiences as a foreign student in Norway you would highlight?
I think the first thing that happened to me when I got to Norway was buying 6-euro (expensive!) toilet paper. But honestly, it could only get better after that.
I think one of the coolest things I’ve done here was hiking on a glacier, which I would never have thought even possible. But the Nigardsbreen glacier, which is one of the arms of the biggest inland glacier in Europe (Jostedal glacier), is really easily accessible. Therefore, it is possible to take a two-hour tour on a real glacier!
In general, what I liked most about my semester abroad was meeting new people from all over the world, getting to know a new country and its people, and travelling.
– What would you tell students from your country about university life in Norway?
As I already mentioned above, you are required to keep up a high level of self-study. In my studies, I had seminars that usually consisted of intense discussions of the texts we read. Another thing that struck me was that it is really uncommon to have university until 8 p.m. Normally, university ends at around 4 p.m. All the student organizations therefore mostly start their meetings at around 4–6 p.m. Furthermore, here in Norway it is common to call your professor by his first name, which is very different from Germany!
– What do you miss the most when you are away from your country?
I think that the Norwegian culture is not that different from the German way of life. Everything is organized and works according to plan. However, Norwegians strike me as a bit more distant. Some people say that it takes a year to make good friends here. Other than my family and friends, I think I feel pretty much at home here.
– In your opinion, what is the most important outcome of being an international student?
Living for a while in a foreign country and culture normally leaves its imprint on you. Whatever experience you make, whichever people you meet, wherever you go, it will always change you. I would encourage everybody to go out and see the world. There are always new things to learn.
– What are you doing now?
I am nearly finished with my semester here in Oslo. Soon I will return to Germany where I will continue my studies.
– What are your future plans?
My immediate plan is to go back home and continue my studies at my home university. Maybe I will even keep on learning Norwegian and then maybe come back to do an internship at a school in Tromsø. Who knows?