Ingrid - University of Oslo

B Arts/ B Laws
Semester 2, 2015

Academic Experience

I studied International Trade Law, Comparative Private Law and Maritime Law (Contracts) while on exchange at UiO. I found them all to be challenging and engaging subjects. It was easy to get engaged because the class sizes are very small which gives you the opportunity to speak up. There were only 2 hours of class per week for each subject, which meant that I was able to travel a lot and explore the city when I didn’t have classes. However, it also meant that a lot of learning was done on your own or with your study buddies. Don’t be scared by the 4 hour digital exams – I actually found them much more manageable than UQ law exams because I was not in a mad rush to finish, and I had a lot of time to proof read my answer.

Personal Experience

My exchange was extremely personally fulfilling as I made friends from all around the world. The travelling aspect was also amazing. Being based in Oslo means you are on the doorstep of some of the most mind-blowing natural environments in the world. Norway itself is made up of thousands of fjords, mountains, and rock formations (tip: when flying with Norwegian Air either domestically or internationally, use the ‘Under26’ campaign code for huge discounts). I would highly recommend you travel in the Nordic countries as a priority over the rest of Europe as you have the opportunity to do it quite cheaply while you are based in Oslo. It is also only a short flight from Iceland, where I would highly recommend a road trip with friends, in order to see the earth as you never could have imagined it. I did a lot of camping with hired or borrowed gear in summer which kept my travel expenses low. Trips within Norway to Prekistolen, Kjeragbolten, Tromsø , and Finse were some of the highlights of my trip. I also went on the ESN trip to Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg where we travelled via Baltic cruiseship which was unforgettable.

While Oslo has a broad spectrum of sunlight throughout the year (only 6 hours in winter and about 18 in summer), even in the winter months I was not too badly affected. Oslo actually has a very liveable climate - it barely rains and even in the winter months the sky is often bright blue for a few hours. The brightness of the snow around you also makes the lack of sun less depressing. And if you embrace the spirit of your Norwegian friends and some warm clothes, nothing will stop you from going outside and skiing, sledding and ice skating at any opportunity. I was able to do this as I stayed in Oslo until January. I would not recommend going home immediately once exams finish in December as you miss out on the Christmas markets and parties, enjoying the snow, and trying cross-country skiing.

Although I didn’t do a formal Norwegian language course with the university, the university’s Christian Union has a free course each semester with weekly classes (you don’t have to actually join the society). I would highly recommend you sign up for them. Learning and using some basic Norwegian was extremely satisfying and makes you feel more immersed.

Accommodation

I lived at Kringså student village. I loved living there. My flatmates became my best friends, the rent was affordable, and it is right beside the forest and a gorgeous lake called Sognsvann where you can have picnics and go for hikes in summer and ski in winter. Sogn is also a good student village, probably with nicer buildings, however if you are a nature lover I would recommend Kringså. If you would prefer a more inner city life, St Hanshaugen is affordable but you share your kitchen with a lot more people.

Budget 

Oslo is certainly an expensive place to live. I barely ate out at all. However, it meant that I made a lot of meals using quality ‘First Price’ produce with friends and flatmates which was lovely. Almost all my alcohol was homebrewed or bought when I travelled overseas and could get it cheap. There are however some student bars such as the Kringså pub, Evergreen and Samfunnet which are as cheap as back home (the quiz night at Kringså Pub on Wednesdays was often the highlight of my week). A tip to save money is to find the student marketplace on Facebook where you can buy and sell household items cheaply. I would also recommend you use the library's textbooks rather than buy them, as they are expensive and hard to fit in your luggage on the way home.

Professional Development & Employability

Being on exchange is an invaluable life opportunity that broadens your mind and teaches you many skills. Some skills I have developed are organisation, budgeting, adapting to a new living and learning environment, and communication. It has also taught me about different ways of life and the values that cross cultures.

Highlights

The highlights of my experience were the friends made, the travelling, and learning a new language. Don't be scared to try it as the Norwegians will love you for it.

Top Tips 

Norway is the perfect destination if you are a nature lover. My other tips would be: get involved with campus life by joining societies (Norwegians are obsessed with being in groups and societies), embrace all of the buddy week activities, and like the Norwegians, head outdoors at every opportunity. Make sure you do lots of short trips in Norway and the other Nordic countries. Look out for 'ESN' trips as they are well organised, good value, and you meet a lot of friends. Do as many hikes as you can in the summer months. Download the aurora forecasting app so you can catch the northern lights! (I managed to see them during an immense solar storm from Sognsvann Lake! Yes in my backyard!).