Bakkenteigen receives a number of internationals each semester, the majority being Spanish. As the only Australian, the most asked question of me became ‘Why would you come to Norway?’
I had a few reasons, and my answer changed with each person to ask. However, the most honest answer was that I made the obligatory promise everyone makes to their international friends to visit once they returned home. Sooner than anyone expected though, I made good on my promise. Of course, there were other reasons, such as wanting to experience another culture and its history, but the next major reason revolved around the one thing on my bucket list: I wanted to see snow.
There were a handful of truly memorable moments. First, a drive to Sweden to ‘buy groceries’, AKA, a standard trip Norwegians make to buy cheap alcohol and stock up on lollies. Driving to other countries isn’t such a casual occurrence in Australia. Another was seeing snow for the first time. As anyone from south-east Queensland will tell you, we don’t see much snow here, and as someone whose family avoids the cold, I didn’t have many opportunities to experience the snowfall in Australia. I was definitely surprised to find out that snow is wet and well, cold.
There were many other firsts too, such as watching leaves change colour and fall in autumn, and then cross-country skiing in winter; discovering that with sleet and cold weather comes ice and slippery surfaces, and realising as I watched children fall over, get up and continue running from my spot on the ground that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for what cold weather brought after all.
I had the opportunity to do so much during my semester in Norway – travelling in Europe is so cheap! – and even though I didn’t get around to seeing everything I wanted to, I’m grateful for the time between my studies that allowed for me to explore. I was able to see not just the parts of Norway my friends lived in, but also Verdens Ende (the world’s end), the mountain Gaustatoppen, and other countries too, such as Sweden, Italy, Poland and The Netherlands too.
At Bakkenteigen, whilst the courses and material are different, the study itself is not that dissimilar to USC. With my particular course however, the tutors tried to make things easier for the students by making each assessment piece a group project as there are generally not many native English speakers in the class.
A few tips for those looking to study in Norway:
- Make sure your courses are given in English, and in saying this;
- Communication isn’t an issue. Most Norwegians are quite modest about their English when they have no reason to be, and they’re always happy to help, if only you ask.
- Go out of your way to introduce yourself and make friends. Some may come off cold and standoffish, but really all it takes is for you to make the first move (or a little bit of alcohol).
- Double check that your luggage is being sent straight through to your destination and that your travel insurance covers lost or damaged luggage.
- Invest in vitamin D tablets. And;
- Travel whenever possible!