Corey - University of Oslo

Bachelor of Arts
Semester 1, 2018
It is the unfamiliar steps that we take in life that yields one to discover their true self.

Academic experience

I studied 3 subjects during my exchange program: NORA0110, ENG2100, and ENG2300. These three subjects were relatable to my degree, barring NORA0110, which was an introductory course to the Norwegian language. I enjoyed these subjects immensely, however, UIO presents their courses in a different manner to UQ. The classes that I took entailed myself being in a small room environment where the lecture and tutorial were seemingly split up into one class where student engagement was the prerogative. Consider UQ tutorial classes as a relevant comparison, obviously the difference being our lectures and tutorials are often split up. Moreover, the lack of extra class time meant that I often had to re-read the lecture slides and the subsequent notes that I took from said classes in the attempt to not fall behind. UIO offers a pretty streamline registration approach, however, the University recognizes you as a first-year student and thus you may need to contact an academic advisor if you wish to enrol into a 2nd or 3rd-year subject.

Personal experience

My experience in Norway can be summed up in 3 words: overwhelming, confronting, and life-changing. Well, that's 4 words depending on how you look at it, but it doesn't eliminate the fact that your experience will likely see you go through the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Fortunately for myself, that order was inverted for me. I gained so much from my exchange program, however, the friendships that I formed along the way ultimately shaped the narrative of my stay into something that I shall never forget. Yes, the first month was undoubtedly daunting whereupon I questioned if this was even the correct decision for myself, but having gone through those motions was something that I luckily did not have to experience alone. As everyone that i spoke to went through the same thing as well. Therefore, do not get deterred by the notion that this experience may leave you feeling somewhat isolated, especially as you will be far away from your friends, family and lifestyle. Rather, look at it as an incredible opportunity where you can grow in ways you couldn't consider and form many lasting friendships with people from all across the world. For me, the places that I visited and the friends that I were able to meet allowed myself to look at my degree and what I wish to study even further. I even plan on teaching in Asia with one of my close friend's from America. Furthermore, I even learned how to cook. Well, it's only spaghetti, but I'm still counting it.

Accommodation

I lived in the Sogn student village and was lucky enough to receive a $1000 grant from the University. I definitely recommend either Sogn or Kringsjå student village, as they're not only a greater influx of international student's in these villages, but they're also situated relatively close to UIO's blindern campus. Kringsjå is significantly larger than Sogn. At least in terms of apartments. It's also newer in terms of renovations and design and it features various sporting facilities as well as a brand new grocery store (kiwi). It's also only a 2-minute walk from Sognsvann lake. Sogn, on the other hand, is quite smaller; however, it is only a 5-minute walk to ullevaal stadion, meaning you will spend less time getting to and from campus. Around the station are also two grocery stories (coop) and (kiwi) as well as an electrical and appliance store, so besides the eventual ikea trip (which we will all take) you will not have to travel far to buy the necessities for your apartment. Sogn also seems to be the social hub regarding international students, however, you will likely spend your time interchanging between both villages as they are equally as populated. I definitely recommend doing your laundry once a week, as you will need to leave your apartment for it, and it is a little on the expensive side.

Costs

Norway is unquestionably expensive, however, the OS-HELP loan allows the transition to be a lot easier. Sogn is the cheapest student village you can stay in, and if you don't mind sharing an apartment with 5 other (hopefully wonderful people) then you will only have to pay around 3,500 NOK per month. Which is around $600 AUD, though it fluctuated a little. You do not have to worry about transport as UIO will help you with your purchase of a ruter card the day you arrive in the country. I also recommend planning your trips in advance, however, travelling across Europe is far cheaper than it should be. Especially if you opt for cheap Ryanair tickets during midweek. Ryanair definitely isn't the best airline, but it does the job at getting you from point A to point B.

Professional Development

The skills that I developed along the way were, and will be, incredibly vital to my professional career. While I should stress the greatest development you will experience will be socially driven, it is this skill that will seemingly work towards helping you advance in whatever career that you so decide on. I have also learned the importance of prioritization during my exchange program.

Highlight

While it is difficult to pinpoint one exact highlight of my experience, my stay in Malta will remain as something that I shall always remember. Spending spring break with five Americans by a villa in Gozo whereupon we had champagne for breakfast and 12-hour hikes during the day was something surreal altogether. Obviously, it wasn't smart, but that was nothing a 3-hour sleep didn't fix. It was also during this trip where we explored various caves and historical sights that allowed myself to realize what I wish to further study on. It also helped that the people that I travelled with all studied history in one form or another. I should also mention that my final night in Oslo where my friends and I hiked across Sognsvann to watch the sunrise is a moment that I will never forget. Even so, every experience I had, whether it be arduous or momentous is considered a highlight for me. Also, if you are able to push yourself past your comfort zone, anything will be deemed as a highlight for you. Especially like it was for me.

Top tips

I definitely advise anyone to open themselves up to all forms of possibilities and experiences. And by doing so and making the most of every opportunity along the way will you be left with memories that will continue to remind you of the significance of what a student exchange program can be. Remember that everyone, in one moment or another, will be experiencing apprehension and isolation. Trust me: by the end of the exchange, you will be dreading the thought of returning home. And while it's important to focus on your studies, remember to place equal importance on being more active socially as the importance of exchange programs are usually from the friends that are made. Lastly, don't overthink it. Just go with what you feel is right and you won't go wrong.