– Could you tell us the main reasons for choosing Norway as your study destination?
I chose Norway as the country I wanted to go to, so that I could experience a climate completely different (almost literally the opposite of Australia!), learn a new language, become immersed in a new culture and breathe in the spectacular landscapes that Norway is so renowned for.
– Why did you choose the institution you are at?
I would love to say that I knew about all of the different institutions throughout Norway – however, Universitetet i Oslo was the only option that my home university was affiliated with.
– What was your idea of Norway before you arrived?
Snow. Mountains. Fjords. Ice. Vikings. Ostehøvels (cheese slicer). Stereotypically good-looking people. It turns out my assumptions were quite ‘on-the-money.’
– Which are the main differences from your country when it comes to your life as a student?
I have noticed here that students have it quite easy with regards to their study requirements. You are allowed re-sits to exams! If your class runs for three hours, it will run for three hours. Your full timetable will be ready from your first day, and almost nothing will change. The professors really want to teach you – and are always curious as to what is different in your country when being shown/taught something about Norway/Norwegians. They have awesome student societies, pubs, sports teams (not so good at swimming, but that is to be expected when your country is so cold!) and other general student support.
– In your opinion, what is the most important academic outcome as an international student in Norway?
I have specific requirements as a bilateral exchange student in Medicine, in which I must adhere to, so as to fulfil the criteria of crediting my semester overseas to my university degree at home. Academically, it is fascinating to observe the subtle differences in teaching style and the way in which my course here in Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Paediatrics is comparable to that being taught at home.
From a non-compulsory academic angle, I enrolled in a very demanding (coupled with my medical studies) Norwegian language course (norskkurs). This is certainly a test I have put forward to myself, in that I want to be able to have conversations and understand Norwegian by the end of my six months here.
– Are there any personal experiences as a foreign student in Norway you would highlight?
Don’t be afraid to hang out and become friends with Norwegians. It is always very easy to become great friends with all of the other international students – and I’m not saying don’t – this is one way you will never experience and IMMERSE yourself in Norwegian culture and feel at home in wonderful country.
Also, it is without hesitation that I must say you need to travel within Norway at any spare moment you have! If you are as far away from Europe as I am – it can be very tempting to go to a different European country every weekend. Resist the urge, and explore the country that will be your home for six months or more. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore every inch of a country you may never live in again! When Norwegians start saying that you have travelled through more of the country than they have, you know you are on the right track! In saying this: Go to Prekistolen, Kjerag, Bergen, Trondheim, Lofoten and Tromsø. If you get the option – go the road less travelled and find Svalbard!
– What would you tell students from your country about university life in Norway?
You would be very silly to give up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
– What do you miss the most when you are away from your country?
I miss the amazing sunlight and the warmth (even in winter) that we have in Australia. I miss the beaches, complaining of the cold days (10oC), my farm, my family and my dogs, and especially Tim Tams, Vegemite, morning surfs… I still wouldn’t trade any of those things for the experience I have had here.
– In your opinion, what is the most important outcome of being an international student?
Being successful in your academic studies here is a very important aspect of being an international exchange student. However, becoming immersed in the Norwegian culture and community by learning norsk (Norwegian), being ‘adopted’ into a Norwegian family, eating brunost (brown cheese), making dozens of Norwegian friends – some that will last for life – these are the things which are the most important of an exchange programme.
– What are you doing now?
Right now I am sitting in my room preparing for some upcoming exams. I am also getting ready for my Christmas holidays (juleferien) when I will travel to Tromsø with my family to see the Northern Lights and go dog-sledding. I also can’t stop dreaming about skiing!
– What are your future plans?
When I finish in January after my final exams here, I will probably beg my medical school to allow me to finish my degree here. When I am unsuccessful, I will return to Australia where I will complete my final year of study in a regional hospital. After a couple of years in the hospital system, I will complete my qualifications and will want to spend a year overseas working as a doctor. This is when I will look to returning to Norway for – at the very minimum – a year. I will, of course, keep in contact with my amazing friends, keep trying to pronounce those difficult Norwegian words, inhale when saying ‘ja’ (yes) and I will never forget my time here.