Peita - University of Oslo (Svalbard Campus)

B Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic Experiences 

I studied Arctic Biology which included both Arctic marine biology and Arctic environmental management. My chosen exchange university was a little different to normal, being a very small university centre in the Arctic loosely associated to a major university such as Oslo. It had small class sizes (~18 students) which meant you had easy and direct contact with your guest lecturers and made friends with the entire class. However, lectures were not recorded and so it was necessary to take good notes and start study groups with your peers to make sure all content was covered.

Personal Experiences

I made many new friends, some of which I will have for a long time. During the semester we explored ice caves and hiked mountains, rode dog sleds and watched for polar bears. We ate Minke whale and reindeer and laughed at the differences in language, especially when the Norwegian-English vocabulary exceeded mine! I learned to listen and appreciate different cultural values and what my strengths and weaknesses were when put under pressure to perform.


I lived 3 km from university in renovated mining barracks between two beautiful snow-capped mountains. It was one of two options for student accommodation, the other being next door to the university (there was no option for private housing). Living with other students is a great experience as you are always in the loop when things are happening, such as a massive barrack to barrack snowball fight, or an impromptu hike up a nearby mountain. Just make sure you set house/accommodation rules with everyone so the place stays clean and tidy and learn to communicate with them early if a problem arises.


Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Everything costs about double what it would in Australia. Centrelink covered my rent each month with minimal left over for food and the OS-Help loan supplemented this a bit (after flights etc were deducted). I would save at least $4000 cash and carry a back-up credit card for emergencies.

Academic Development and Employability 

Living in the Arctic meant learning the physical properties of polar environments, personal safety and materials and methods used for collecting data which will give me an edge when entering the workforce. We also practiced environmental management techniques through team role-playing activities, encapsulating real world methodology for important and effective communication. These are both practical and personal experiences contributing to my professional development.


There are so many highlights to choose from however what stands out most was a seven day scientific cruise into the Arctic sea as part of my curriculum. Here we learned a range of up-to-date sampling techniques to understand the biological diversity within the Arctic marine ecosystem. We even took ice-cores from the sea ice under the midnight sun - a dramatic change to the 24/7 darkness I experienced when I first arrived!

Top Tips 

Studying abroad has introduced me to many new opportunities through the skills I have learned and the people I have met. However, it can be difficult to concentrate on studying when you are away from home so be prepared for many group study sessions and some cramming! Embrace the experience by getting involved in as many fun events as you can, volunteering your time if possible. Set up Skype for talks with your parents and make sure you have an address so they can send you care packages for when you feel a little overwhelmed.

Peita - University of Oslo (Svalbard Campus)