Could you tell us the main reasons for choosing Norway as your study destination?
“I wanted to live in this society known for being ‘equal. Respect, gender equality, and freedom have been capital values for me since I was a child. I really wanted to see how Norwegians incorporate them in their political system, in their way of life, and in their education. I wasn't disappointed. The second reason was nature. I love the way Norwegian people respect their environment, live with it and develop their way of life around it. What a healthy way of life! Before my arrival in Bergen, one friend told me ‘you will see, Norwegian people get crazy every time the sun is shining, everyone goes to the mountains’. Following the Norwegian way of life made me feel really good.”
Why did you choose the institution you are at?
“Because of the courses on the Scandinavian social model, a good choice of classes in English, and also because of the organization of the university. I loved the fact that the university was really a part of the city. It wasn't a campus like in France, but separate entities integrated between shops, houses and bakeries! And, how can you resist to the idea to finish your course at 12am and eat your picnic at the top of Fløyen to have a break before your courses in the afternoon? The energy, dynamic and diversity of the city were amazing.”
What was your idea about Norway before you arrived?
“My idea of Norway was the general idea given by french media : ‘a model to follow’: high equality , solidarity between citizens thanks to high taxes, a safe place to live, a homogeneous population with no problem of integration, a slow and healthy way of life .I also knew that Norway was really expensive.”
Which are the main differences from your country when it comes to your life as a student?
“I think the Norwegian administration is more present and reactive for the international student than my university in France. Every time I sent an email, I got a quick reply with a developed answer. The university offered me a safety that I wasn't used to in my own country. If I should characterize the Norwegian academic system, I would use two words: autonomy and investment. You have fewer courses but you have so much free time to develop what you see at the university, what you like to study more by yourself. It gives you the opportunity to open yourself up and really think about what you are studying. Another difference is the fact that Norwegian students are not very open, and don't come over to international students to talk or work together. Norwegians are very often shy and distant with strangers.”
In your opinion, what is the most important academic outcome as an international student in Norway?
“Open-mindedness in your way of study, in your way to see others, in the way to think about the organization of your society, of political power, of the way to organize your family.”
What would you tell students from your country about university life in Norway?
“Norway is a good place to stop thinking about yourself in the way most people in Europe and other western countries do. You rediscover the values of solidarity, generosity, respect and that these values are not utopian and that we can have hope for the future. You understand, particularly in Bergen, that you can have a life outside, enjoying nature.”
What do you miss the most when you are away from your country?
“I particularly miss the diversity of food, as I don’t think Norwegian supermarkets offer a very broad selection. As most French people, I also miss good wine and cheese! I also miss my family. But I made a new one with the extraordinary people I met in Bergen.”
In your opinion, what is the most important outcome of being an international student?
“The French author Emile Zola said ‘nothing develops your intelligence more than travelling'. I can't say more. I feel more open-minded, curious, respectful and thankful.”
What are you doing now?
“I am a student of Law and political science. Norway really gave me the motivation to work hard to get the job I want. I would like to work in the French administration, in the social or security field. I keep in mind everything I learned in Norway, it can be very useful to think differently in France and to put it into practice in my future career.”
What are your future plans?
“To have a family life as good as my career. To find happiness in both of them, as Norwegian women. To travel, to come back to Norway of course, and then to the place of the international students I met in Bergen and which are now my family.”