Hello lovely humans and welcome to today’s blog. As you might have assumed (probably from the title or you’re just psychic), it is going to be about Norway. But why am I writing about this country all of a sudden, except from the fact that it is astonishing? As part of my bachelor degree in International Business, which I study at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, it was mandatory for me to do an exchange for one semester, on the third year of my studies. Therefore, I decided to make the most out of it and why not show the whole world what this country has to offer. Throughout the 5 upcoming months, I am going to share my experience and take you guys on this journey with me, but also give some tips for people who might wish to be part of this program as well.
To give some background information first, I am going to study in BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo during the fall semester. Why? First of all, some facts for all you nerdy students out there like me, it is ranked on the top 70 universities in the world and the 1st best in Norway. It consists of very modern buildings and facilities, as you can see in the pictures below (for all the potterheads, the building keeps reminding me of the stairs in Hogwarts). Adding to that, it even has a Starbucks inside, which will probably be the black hole that absorbs all my savings. The uni also offers very unique courses taught entirely in English, which I will discuss more on the next blog. Apart from the great university, the country is stunning. If you ever wanted to see in person breathtaking views like the northern lights and the fjords, then this is the place to be, especially during the fall semester.
I got amazed from this country since the moment I first set foot in it, literally. I arrived at the airport in Oslo and I can just say it was one of the cutest airports I’ve been to. Some parts were very modern while the others gave more of a retro/vintage vibe. The university offers different accommodation opportunities, apartments, studios, student houses, etc. and all with different locations throughout Oslo. I chose to live in a doublet apartment on the BSN building because it is just a 5 min walk away from the uni, which is very helpful when you end up having 8 am classes. The cheapest option to get from the airport to the campus would be through Flybussen, which costs around 10 euros for students and 20 for adults. When I first arrived on the BSN building (around 8 am) the reception was not open yet so I could not get my keys there. Nevertheless, they had a solution for this as well. You had to download an app (JustIN Mobile) beforehand where you could access your digital room key and once you got into the room you would find your actual keys inside (pretty modern stuff guys, I told you). I live in an apartment which I share with one other girl. The apartment was very clean, the room was pretty big, had a nice view and it was already fully furnished, including kitchen utensils. I would recommend to just bring your own bed sheets and pillows, but there is also an IKEA situated in Oslo where you could easily go just by using a bus. I will also make whole separate blog about important things to pack for your exchange. Furthermore, there is a mini supermarket right downstairs and two huge shopping malls no further than a 5 min walk.
On this first blog I will tell you guys more about what the first week at BI looks like. If you see the date this blog was posted on, you will probably find it kind of odd. Yes, uni here starts at the beginning of August. I know…crazy early. The fall semester lasts until the beginning of December. However, uni does not want to immediately bombard you with all the new information on the first day of the academic year, so they organize an introduction week. They decided to give it the amazing name of Fadderullan (I still have 0 clue how to correctly pronounce it). This is the perfect place to not only get every information about the student life that you need before the classes start, but also to make new friends, so I would really recommend attending as many of the events that they organize as you can. We all got our own buddy group and mentors who guided us throughout the whole week. The first days were about the more practical/important stuff. We got to do a little trip around the campus and the city. Also, for all my non-EU member students out here, the uni was very helpful regarding the registration for the residence permit. They organized a whole day only about it where the police would be at uni setting up appointments for each student so that you would not have to do it yourself, and the process went very fast. You had to register online in UDI (The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) first though before coming to Oslo, but the university constantly kept me updated via emails about everything I had to do, documents I had to provide them with, etc. For the students from within the EU, the process was much easier, consisting only of filling in a form downloadable from UDI, which should’ve then be handed in at the Student Service Center. Something else I would recommend to do as soon as you arrive here, preferably before the first week starts (otherwise it is too crowded), is to get your student ID. It only takes one second at the Student Service Center and you will need it to borrow books, identify during the exam, get discounts for transport and in different places around the city like cafes or restaurants.
After the first two days though stuff got CRAZY. There were activities of any kind, from scavenger race, free lunch and a chill movie night to the thrilling festivals, club hunts and boat parties. I need to be honest, the festivals were a bit expensive (ranging from 25 to 35 euros per party). However, they were worth every single buck. Adding to that, if you are doing your exchange within Europe, like me, you are eligible for an Erasmus+ scholarship from the European Commission, which can be different depending on the country you are in. Norway belongs to the group 1 countries, which have higher living expenses, so the grant would be around €258 per month, but you will receive ¾ of the total payment immediately after the registration process has finished. You only have to get some documents signed (like the Erasmus+ Grant Agreement and Learning Agreement), by your original and also host university, and your home university will take care of the remaining part of the application.
Regarding the parties, I got to meet a lot of international students, as well as locals. Also, if you want to really make Norwegian people socialize, you have to get them drunk, so this is the perfect opportunity. If you don’t believe me just have a look at the picture below, showing what an actual bus station looks like in Norway. It was amazing to see the transformation process of them coming out of their shell. Norwegians are all about individuality so if you see them preferring to stand up throughout the whole bus ride instead of sitting next to you, do not take it personally. Getting back to Fadderullan, the DJs and singers were super talented and all the festivals were very well organized. There was also food, drinks and earplugs provided on every party. Something totally different about the culture here was that everything starts pretty early. The pre-drinks would start around 3-4 pm and the festivals around 7 pm. By 11 pm everyone was already heading home. This can be a bit weird for some people, especially if you are like me and come from a country from the Southeastern Europe, where you usually head to the clubs after 12-1 am. And I should also remind you that by 10-11 pm it is still sunny here, which felt very weird.
In the end, I can just say that this was one of the most fun and interesting weeks of my life and I can already feel this exchange is going to be something completely different from what I have ever experienced before.
Thank you for spending some of your valuable time reading this blog and if you found it at least somewhat interesting and helpful, make sure to stay tuned for the upcoming posts where I will talk more about the courses and how the lessons are organized, travelling, tips on how to have fun on a budget, etc.
Until then, make sure to go out there and enjoy your days 🙂 (or cuddle in bed and watch some YouTube/Netflix while eating your favorite snacks, both are highly recommended)