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!


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!


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.


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


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!



Norway – think fjords, history and hiking and you may think you have this country sussed.

Our students have the opportunity to study at one of three partner universities in Norway: The University of Bergen (law only), The University of Oslo (including law), Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


Let’s find out more by hearing from our students!


On orientation:

“Studying abroad at the University of Oslo was an incredible experience and I highly recommend anyone considering going on exchange to go! After a month of travelling the Mediterranean for a European summer, I arrived in Oslo for a Scandinavian summer. It was quite a shock to the system but The University of Oslo had an orientation programme in place that made the transition a lot easier. The Faculty of Law had a week orientation with all of the exchange students and some buddies from Oslo. The highlight was an evening cruise of the Oslo harbour with law students from Oslo. It was a great way to get a feel for the city and ask the buddies any lingering questions. Norwegians are very good at English so that was never an issue.” – Alina Varoy, The University of Oslo

“The exchange program was definitely the highlight of my University experience. Moving to Norway has been an eye opener as I learned it is ranked the world’s most progressive and prosperous country, with the highest gender and wealth equality in the world. Oslo is also currently Europe’s fastest growing city so it was great being amongst so much change. The Faculty of Law organised a fantastic O-week that shouldn’t be missed and I’ve made some lifelong friends. Norwegians are hard to break the ice with but once you do, they are the best! The hardest part about exchange is leaving!” – Jean Yang, The University of Oslo


“Oslo is a very beautiful city surrounded by spectacular scenery. As the capital of Norway it is their largest city but is by no means a ‘super city’. The University has its main campus just outside the main city centre, while the law school is situated right next to the Norwegian Palace and boasts the University’s oldest buildings. The Law School provided a separate orientation week from the rest of the University and regularly scheduled events. The University also provided regular trips to cabins, museums and historic buildings for exchange students. Travelling with other students around Norway was one of the absolute highlights of the exchange.” – Meredith Karlsen, The University of Oslo

“The University of Oslo put on a fantastic buddy week and I met all my friends practically on the first day. As we were all studying the same thing, I found we were all quite like-minded. I am still friends with these people and have visited them in the home cities and travelled with them around Europe.” – Sylvie Allen, The University of Oslo

On courses:

“The University of Oslo is split up by faculty and the law campus was right on Karl Johans Gata, right next to the Royal Palace, so the atmosphere was very regal and historic. The courses I took covered a lot of content but not so much as to make them overwhelming. I had a lot of exchange students in my classes and I loved hearing the different accents ask and answer questions throughout the lecture.” – Elizabeth Ogle, The University of Oslo

“The law courses and lecturers were great. The most noticeable difference from law school at home was switching to textbook based learning, as opposed to statute and case based. All of the courses were taught in English. The buildings were very beautiful in the centre of the city, walking distance from the harbour and most of Oslo’s tourist attractions. The university facilities including the gym and sports teams were fantastic. The public transport was extensive and affordable.” – Alina Varoy, The University of Oslo


On the lifestyle/nature/hiking:

“Norway is a beautiful country making it fantastic place to travel around and do many incredible hikes. I recommend any visitors to take their hiking boots and plan a trip further north to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This was one of the highlights of my exchange, as well as visiting Lapland for dog sledding, feeding reindeer and snowmobiling.” – Alina Varoy, The University of Oslo janey-fryer_oslo-1143-1

“I arrived just before Christmas and was surprised at how similar Oslo was to Auckland. It is a beautiful city on a fjord and surrounded by hills and forest. At times I struggled with the cold and dark in winter, but the spring and summer were exceptional. Norway has a beautiful soft light that is quite different from New Zealand and it doesn’t get dark until midnight. Everyone spends the evenings in the parks with friends or swimming in the fjord and there is a real sense of community.  I was also lucky enough to go skiing in Norway on quite a few occasions. Norwegians are mad cross-country skiers and everyone from two year olds to eighty-two year olds are out on Sunday skiing in the forest. In summer I had a very Scandinavian experience of staying in a little cabin on an island in Southern Norway, swimming in the fjord and diving for oysters and mussels. Most weekends I went for a big walk around a natural reserve near our apartment where you can swim off the rocks in summer and BBQ on the beaches.” – Sylvie Allen, University of Oslo


“When I arrived in Oslo it was mid-winter the day before Christmas. Most of the city was closed, as it was a public holiday. Oslo is a beautiful city and coming in mid-winter with the snow was definitely a huge change from what I was used to and I was wearing an extra thermal layer than everyone else for a while until I adjusted to the cold.” – Janey Fryer, The University of Oslo


On accommodation:

“Exchange students are given priority housing within the student villages. The villages themselves have a strong community. I was fortunate to have housing at a village nearby a lake and close to the Nordmarka while still being less than 20 mins from the city centre. The lifestyle in Norway is very active – people like to hike. It was ideal to be so close to the lake (where we swam in the summer and walked across in the winter) and to the surrounding hills.” – Meredith Karlsen, The University of Oslo


Top tips:

  • Join a club – it is a great way to get involved with other students!
  • Despite having to guess whether I was buying laundry or dishwashing powder, most people spoke English well so my first day in Oslo was pretty easy in terms of finding my accommodation
  • Going to a country where English is not the native language pushes you out of your comfort zone but allows you to appreciate their culture even more
  • While they have a reasonably affordable public transport system (NZD $36 per month for unlimited travel in Oslo), the cost of food and drink is very high
  • While the cost of living is undoubtedly high in comparison to NZ there are creative ways save on costs – not eating out often being one of them!
  • I would definitely recommend Norway for anyone that is interested in the outdoors and nature and wants to experience living in a European city without the culture shock or language difficulties
  • Norway and New Zealand are almost sister countries!
  • Do note that the visa is approx. NZD600 to obtain but definitely worth it for the experience!
  • Europe is very accessible from Norway and I frequently took weekend trips to other cities such as Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, Berlin andMilan
  • Accommodation was affordable if you shared a kitchen and bathroom with other exchange students