“They tell us that Norwegians are super distanced, but that is certainly not my experience. I have some Norwegian friends. One of them invited me to join in for a weekend at his cabin with some other friends – just like that, even before we got to know each other. Norwegians love their cabins.”
Normally, Robert Wiemeyer studies Business management at Universität Mannheim, Germany. In the spring semester 2017 he is an exchange student at NHH in Bergen, Norway.
“Food is good, fish is delicious. Another great thing about Norway: You just go out fishing, no licence needed. I often do that in weekends: I go somewhere out of town to fish and then invite a lot of people over for dinner. It is super cheap, it is just to go out there and catch the fish.”
Germany is the biggest sender of exchange students to Norway. Why, do you think?
“The nature. The Norwegian way of life. Norway is a bit similar to Germany in many respects: It is orderly and rational, people are on time. And life is very peaceful here.”
During your time in Norway, what surprised you the most?
“Oh, many things. The beautiful fjords. And the sunsets: The best sunsets ever! I like the sense of order and safeness. In Germany a lot of people steal bikes, but that’s not an issue here. Electronic cars are so cheap. The system is amazing, with governmental subsidies. It is super sustainable. Some Norwegians tend to drink a lot when they drink though.”
Your main reasons for choosing Norway for your studies?
“I wanted to escape the city life for a while and go to a place with great nature. I was considering Scandinavia in general. Then I found out about Bergen and saw some photos: Wow, it looked beautiful! Then I realized that my home university has Erasmus+ agreement with NHH and that NHH is considered the best business school in Scandinavia. And here I am!”
First impression of NHH and the city of Bergen?
“We had a marvellous welcome week at NHH. In addition the international committee showed us around town and taught us about Norwegian life and mentality. The first 8 days were mild and sunny, it was a perfect start. Today it’s raining, so we’re back on the ground now.”
Main differences between Norway and Germany when it comes to academic life?
“In Germany we just listen to the professors and take notes. No one forces you to hand in anything, there are no assignments, everything depends totally on your self. It is completely different here, with lots of interactions and discussions in class. It was very surprising at first.”
In your opinion, what is the best aspect with Norwegian education?
“In Germany the teachers keep a great distance to the students. This is a bad thing, because students hesitate to pose questions. This is totally different here, the professors are much closer. The students eagerly raise their voices to clarify things. If you were to participate actively in class in Germany, the other students would laugh. In Norway participation is normal.”
“The technological equipment at NHH is so impressing. I have my own card for printing, everything is so easily accessible. They also tape the lectures, so if you miss one you can easily listen to it afterwards.”
In what way do you think your stay here will influence your career opportunities?
“It has helped me open up much more to other cultures and mentalities. Not just Norwegian, because I hang with quite a few international students too. I am not sure whether having studied at NHH as such will prove an advantage for me. Even though it is one of the best business schools in Scandinavia, I don’t think it is so well known in Germany.”