Zar: Campus life in Oslo

Hello me again,

It’s nearing Halloween and in true spooky fashion the sun now sets at 4:30pm and the countdown to university due dates and exams have finally begun. In this post I am doing a classic by procrastinating studying to tell you all about my studying.

I am taking 3 papers (the equivalent of 60 points at UoA) which all have a weekly two-hour lecture and no tutorials. This is very ideal for balancing uni with travel because it’s easy to create a timetable with an extended weekend. Since semester has started, I have been able to visit Poland, Ireland and Denmark without missing a single lecture (iconic).

Here are 3 things I have noticed about class:

  1. All law lectures are in English! Initially it was strange to me that a Norwegian university only offers law courses in English – but it has served as a big reminder of how much New Zealand needs to step-up their game with teaching languages in schools. I am so impressed by how many of my new friends are multilingual legends, who although only speak English as their second or third language are able to engage in v. complex content in English with almost no issue.
  • The big positive of it is that it is really easy to study in Norway if you can speak English!  I have also really enjoyed having Norwegian and International students mixed into one class because I have gotten to meet a lot more people and learn some cool things about what it’s like to grow up in Norway.

 

  1. There is only one assignment per paper? I am used to that {assignment + exam} buzz but all of my papers only have one assessment each. Two of these are Term Papers which has meant that often the lecture content is not relevant to the assessment. While I think I am still a fan of the multi-assessment life it has been really cool to experience learning without the added pressure of taking endless notes for exams.
  • An ~ interesting fact~ I learned recently is that these courses (which are for fourth- and fifth-year students) are one of the first times Norwegian law students write essays in their degree which is really different to how degrees work in NZ.
  1. Student Cards are Important!!!!! This is less related to learning but nonetheless important. You need your student ID to get into E V E R Y W H E R E at uni: The library, the lecture theatres, and most importantly the bathrooms. I didn’t bring mine on the first day and my friend had to chaperone me everywhere so I wouldn’t get locked out.

Ultimately… University anywhere, no matter how exciting, is still University and obviously there are days that I am more hyped for class than others. Overall though, I have LOVED learning about issues like counterterrorism and climate change in in a country that is much more central to the world than New Zealand. The lecturers in Oslo are amazing and it has been really fun to talk about these subjects with people in my class and hear about their views and experiences.

There have also been a lot of laughs. To leave you with a highlight:  The other day my lecturer was asking for examples of threats to biodiversity and one girl explained that she had heard New Zealand had sent giant snakes to Florida which have now killed all of their smaller animals and started an environmental crisis. The other students agreed this was New Zealand’s worst work. If anyone has any info on this Giant Snake Conspiracy, please get in touch.

See you soon

Zar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zar: First Impressions at the University of Oslo

Hei hei !

I am now one month into this exchange and am still in complete disbelief every time I say, “I live in Norway.” Despite a rocky start to O Week, feat. me becoming a walking advertisement for why you 110% need travel insurance (fair warning that if you want to drag a suitcase all over Europe for a month before exchange make sure to a) get some gains before you leave and b) wear appropriate shoes)), I made it! So, for my very first post, I thought I would share my first impressions of Oslo with you.

1. Oslo is a good city for people who like to walk

I love Oslo but it does remind me of Auckland. Southern Norwegian scenery is beautiful in a very similar way to New Zealand –the gorgeous fjords and stunning mountains that border the city are so cool to explore, but the city itself is very conventional.

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Having a modern and familiar city has been useful for setting up and just plain living life, but it does mean you have to work a little harder to find all of the super special spots. The best part is that while Oslo charges A LOT for public transport (a monthly student ticket is $90 NZD, and a daily pass is $20) your ticket gets you unlimited access onto every kind of city transport, so you are fully equipped to travel everywhere you want to go. In my experience (all one month of it), the best way to explore is to pick a general area, transport yourself there, and then have a good walk around. Highlights for me have been Sognsvann lake, the beach at Bygdõy, and an impromptu ferry trip to the island Hovedøya.

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“The University of Oslo Law School is beautiful (no offence to my second home, The Davis Law Library).”

Also, don’t get me wrong – inner Oslo city definitely has some cool sights. The Norwegian palace is literally right in the city centre, and the University of Oslo law school is beautiful (no offence to my second home, The Davis Law Library). However, on the whole, I have found all of my favourite places by putting on a good-to-average pair of walking shoes and setting off with no map and no time limit.

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“Inner Oslo city definitely has some cool sights. The Norwegian palace is literally right in the city centre.”
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“On the whole, I have found all of my favourite places by putting on a good-to-average pair of walking shoes and setting off with no map and no time limit.”

Also, note that I am not a Top Athlete, so when I say “like to walk”, I mean generally enjoy a nice trek that is mostly flat. That said, if you are into tramping, Oslo has some of the most spectacular walks and views, so definitely bring your gear if that’s for you.

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2. Everything is in Norwegian

I know this sounds obvious, but I had read SO many google posts that said everyone in Norway can speak English and so was a little bit slack on my Duolingo language tutorials.

Norwegian is a hard language to master if you only speak English – e.g. I live in St Hanshaugen, which is not as phonetic as it looks and took me three weeks to pronounce to a passable level. All signs, transport systems, supermarkets, and niche things like self-checkouts and automated lines in stores are in Norwegian too.

Luckily, everyone is really kind about my language incompetence, and though they appreciate you making an effort, they will all bail you out if you get really lost. My biggest advice would be, first of all, to do your Duolingo lessons, but when in doubt have Google Translate handy. Don’t let language barriers put you off, though! You can get away with muddling along, and it’s a super happy, glowing feeling when you finally say something right.

3. The rest of the rumours were TRUE!

Like everyone who ever goes on exchange, I spent a lot of time Googling Oslo before I arrived.  Based on first impressions, I would say a lot of what I read is pretty spot on.

  • Norway is beautiful –100% fact; the scenery is stunning.
  • Norway is $$$$$$ – transport being $90 NZD a month is a pretty fair representation of living prices. Eating out is normally well over $20, and buying essentials from the supermarket is also $20+ for just a handful of items. If you live in Norway full time you get higher pay cheques, subsidised health care, and almost free education, so the prices balance out – but a 6-month exchange is right in the sweet spot of having to incur the expenses without benefitting from the savings. It is manageable! But it is definitely something to keep in mind.
  • It’s cold! There are still a few beautiful days, and I even went swimming in August, but on the first day of autumn we dropped to 10-degree days/4-degree nights, and it has been getting gradually cooler ever since. Student accommodation also won’t turn the heaters on until its “actually cold” (???), so I 100% recommend packing some warm clothes.

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So far, I am definitely enjoying myself, and this week I finally learnt to say ‘no bag, thank you’ at the supermarket, so I am also #winning. I also can’t believe that as I write these first impressions I am already halfway through this exchange!?!?  Time flies when you’re living your best life.

Catch you next time!!

Zar

Jack: Back in New Zealand

After being back home for a little while I have had some time to reflect on my time spent in Trondheim.

While it is hard to beat the Waitemata Harbour in terms of having nature right outside the city, I certainly miss the forests and lakes just in walking distance of suburbia in Trondheim.

One other thing I appreciated about living in Trondheim was the size of the city, on a day to day basis it was very easy just walking around, so I found myself getting the bus maybe just every few weeks. That being said the price of the busses somewhat incentivized walking or cycling; a 90 minute bus ticket in the city cost slightly more than $7. Point Auckland.

Most of the roads around the city except for the more main roads had a limit of 30, which people stuck to. It made a surprisingly large difference as a pedestrian in terms of feeling a bit safer but it meant that the cars were a lot quieter too.

Since I’ve been back I have made an effort to keep up with my Norwegian, I made friends with an exchange student from NTNU which has allowed me to keep practicing as well as making a new friend along the way.

While the cost of living in Trondheim is relatively similar to that of Auckland, one thing that is way more expensive in Trondheim is going out; whether for food or drink. The reason for this is the high wages in Norway, so you aren’t really paying for the food or drink, but instead to have someone serve it to you! A tip to anyone going to Norway wanting to save money is to make an effort not to eat out!

Day to day the biggest influence being that far north has is on the climate and the amount of light in a day. I really miss the long, long summer days of Norway, but not so much how short they were in the midst of winter. I got a real shock from how bright the sun was when I got back home. The climate though I very much preferred, I am much more suited to the cold rather than the warmth and at least during the time I was there I thought the climate was very well suited to me.

One thing I am sure of is that I will be back, and hopefully to do a PhD or some form of further studies. While 8 months was a good amount of time, and certainly enough to explore and have a good time, I was still always aware that I was leaving in a few months. As well as that I still feel like there is a lot of Norway I haven’t seen (I didn’t even get to Oslo!) I also understand that spring is the best season for Norway; you start getting the longer days but you still have the snow! So yes, I will be back!

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Jack: Final Two Months – Physics, Skis, and Saunas

With my courses finishing at the end of December I was lucky enough to find a part-time job working at the university in a quantum physics lab for January and February. This arrangement gave me a lot of time for going on adventures both around Trondheim and out of Norway.

As winter has properly hit Norway in January the nature of what I did in my free time changed quite drastically! I could now walk just a minute from my flat and put my skis on then disappear into the forests around Trondheim. The cabin trips continued too, but now we skied to the cabins instead of walking. This was not only faster, but much more entertaining too, especially with the exchange students who weren’t as sure footed as the Norwegians!

Time spent up at the cabins was great; after up to a five-hour hike there, there aren’t many things better than relaxing in a wood fired sauna. While certainly hard to do the first time, making snow angles immediately after being in the sauna was reasonably pleasant. The same however cannot be said of dunking yourself in a hole made in a frozen river…

After the sauna we would stay up late playing cards and other games, then got the sleep required for the journey back the next day!

In February I went on a week-long trip to Iceland. In a lot of ways, it seemed to me like an interesting blend of NZ and Norway. Volcanoes, ice, glaciers and Vikings. One thing that I noticed very quickly was the sheer lack of trees… aside from some small isolated pockets, the entire island is devoid of trees! There were many highlights of the trip including seeing the edge of the North American tectonic plate at Þingvellir National Park, the massive glaciers along the South coast seeing wild reindeer and finding remote isolated hot pools!

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After getting back to Norway and working for a few days my last weekend had finally arrived! Along with a few close friends we donned backpacks and skis and headed off the beaten track. Unfortunately on this trip a lot of the snow had melted, so we had a long walk before we could put on our skis. After a night outside with a fire and good company we all slept like logs. As is tradition, in the morning we had pancakes with brown cheese, then we were treated to some supposedly authentic inuit snow goggles, made from tree bark by one of the Canadians on the trip.

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As always, the view out of the cabin was great.

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My tip to anyone else going to NTNU is to make as much use of their network of cabins as possible as they really are incredible and certainly not like anything offered by universities in New Zealand.

Just days later with a heavy heart, lots of new friends and great memories I made my way to the airport for the last time. See you later Norway!

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