Sophia - University of Bergen

B Arts/ B Laws
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

I studied 'American Politics and Policy', 'Courts, Law and Politics', and 'EU and International Organisations'. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these subjects in courses that had been created from a European perspective. Particularly in the second 2 subjects, there were European and Global focuses that I found made me feel more like a part of the world, and learning from a perspective that is a part of things like the EU that directly affect the Europeans I was studying with. Learning about the EU meant I was more behind than the other students but I found it so interesting that I wanted to learn about it. The American Politics subject was my favourite - very interesting and pertinent information.

Personal Experience

I gained wonderful friendships with people from around the world. I heard and learnt about international and national topics from different perspectives. I learnt to appreciate the differences in culture of Europeans and other countries, and experience them first hand. I travelled to many countries including Eastern European countries which were my favourite, also Sicily, Germany, Spain and France and the UK. I explored Norway which is largely breathtaking wilderness and did many outdoors activities and explorations I never could have done or imagined. I had a lot of time to reflect on myself and how I was growing and what interests are most important to me. I had a big opportunity to be independent.

Accommodation

I lived off campus in a student village of 1000 international and Norwegian students. I was able to choose my own room or a communal living space. I chose my own room which I liked for the independence, but I was able to visit my friends in the communal living space whenever I wanted to which was nice. I also had a close friend 4 floors above me which was perfect. I liked that everyone was close to each other and the main student common-room was a pale where you could meet new people and hang out. Definitely live somewhere in close proximity to other students - you will benefit from all the interactions and friendships - it can feel lonely in the north!

Budget 

Other Europeans found Norway very expensive, but from my Australian perspective everything was basically the same. The only things notably more expensive were services i.e. eating out, hairdressing etc. I had a friend cut my hair and just ate at friends' places to avoid this. Rent was cheap ($580 a month), transport had a discount as I was under 21, lots of free and low-cost community events because Bergen is a student town e.g. in a student-run bar where I volunteered, you could get discounted drinks, attend cheap concerts and free events. Norway is a bit further away from the rest of Europe so sometimes a bit expensive to travel but I was still able to do A LOT of travel. There is also SO MUCH to do and see in Norway, you don't even need to leave if you're happy to explore Norway - you'll never run out of things to see.

Professional Development & Employability 

I was very inspired by various people I met and the different things they had been doing in their personal lives at home to become involved in their national and regional political systems and societies. It really made me more driven to do so also, even though Australia is very far away and we can choose to sort of ignore the rest of the world. Being in Europe and travelling really made me feel more like a part of the world - a feeling I hadn't even been looking for. I found it easier to introduce myself to new people and take part in new experience and give things a go. I have experience talking to a large range of people from many places, making sure to be polite, friendly and culturally sensitive. I learned views of many world events from country-specific places, which I believe helped widen my view of world events.

Highlights

I can't pick 1, so I have three. The first was hiking a mountain to reach an outcrop called the 'Troll's Tongue'. I've never really hiked and it was the most breathtaking experience reaching it, camping overnight in the far north climate, and having completed the hike with some friends gave me a real sense of achievement. The second was travelling for 2 weeks mid-semester. I went to Warsaw and Krakow, Sicily, Nice (France) and Ireland - the range of cultures, energies and lifestyles was incredible, and I spent every minute of the day exploring sights and lots of foods! The third was going to the Arctic Circle and seeing the northern lights and fjords - the Arctic wilderness leaves you speechless and is unlike anything you've ever seen.

Top Tips 

Definitely consider Norway. Many Norwegians come to Australia but not many Australians go to Norway. Bergen is on the coast so it doesn't get crazy cold (min probably -1 in the middle of winter), and is filled with students. It is so beautiful and not a massive culture shock but enough of a difference (i.e. language, manners and gestures) that you can really appreciate the difference of culture, which is very interesting. You can experience SO many things - hiking under waterfalls, kayaking in glaciers, skiing, hiking on glaciers, swimming in fjords, the northern lights, husky riding just to name a few. Europeans from all over go there to experience the Scandinavian culture, so you can interact with SO MANY kinds of people from all over the world.