In the short time since her arrival, Herda has gotten quite involved with the local student community, from volunteering as a journalist for a student festival to various activities at the International House for Students. Her first visit to Norway was as a tourist, now it seems as if she has been living here forever.

– What was the main reason you chose Norway for your studies?

I fell in love with the nature during my first visit here. After having been here for a month, that is still very much true. I love how close you are to nature and the woods here. Ten minutes away, usually no matter where you are.

– Has your impression of Norway changed during your stay?

I thought it would be colder! So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the climate. There is also this notion that the Norwegian people are cold and hard to talk to, but that’s not my impression at all. Everyone here is very social and forthcoming - something that really helped me when I first came here.

– What are the main differences between Norway and your home country when it comes to a student’s academic, cultural and social life?

I love how there is no academic hierarchy here. You can freely talk to professors if you have any questions - and the work is far more practical. In Albania, we have books and slides and that’s it. Here it’s more “hands-on”, and you get to evolve and analyse yourself. It’s very challenging, but it makes it easier to actually learn what you’re supposed to. Socially,Norwegians seem very interested in sports. Back home, it’s more like the third most important thing. We’re far more interested in drinking coffee, but Norwegians are very outdoors-y. It’s been a fun change! I’m also very impressed with how the program is laid out for international students.

– Would you say it was a culture shock to come here?

Well, not in the sense you’re thinking of. Because there are students from all over the world, you sort of get a culture shock from that. Meanwhile, it has also given me a different perspective on things. It helped me a lot in the beginning, knowing that I’m not alone in being an international student. We get to support each other. That’s not to say Norwegian students haven’t been helpful! They have, but it’s nice that we “internationals” have got each other’s backs.

– In what way do you think your stay here will influence your career opportunities?

I’m very interested in start-ups - and I hope to one day create my own. However, I need experience and learn how things work before that is possible. NTNU and Norway are far more focused on innovation than Albania. I hope to be able to use the connections that NTNU has in entrepreneurship to achieve my goals.

– What is the best part of studying in Norway? What would you recommend for people who are thinking of studying here?

The positive environment! I recommend volunteering in student activities or organizations like Samfundet. Also, do not be afraid to talk to people. Norwegians might not be so cold as rumour has it, but they won’t talk to you first!

10 October 2018