And just like that my exchange is done!?
My biggest advice for anyone considering an exchange is to just do it.
I had never planned to go on exchange, but I was talking to a friend who had graduated last year and as he wisely said, “You only get once chance to do it, so why not?” A five-year degree is LOOOng and towards the end it starts to feel like you’re suddenly rushing towards full-time work with no time to take a breath. Being able to take 6 months to try something new, have some fun and grow a little was 100% the best decision I made in my degree. I feel so much more confident and relaxed and just so happy and blessed to have had the best time (and to have finessed 6 months of summer in one year).
The biggest highlight of exchange was the travel. I had never been to Europe and being able to see so much of it was amazing. I started with a month and half of travelling with my friends – we visited six countries, saw the Acropolis and the Colosseum, spent a birthday eating copious amounts of feta in Santorini, visited Juliet’s house in Verona and took a boat ride through the canals of Venice. Starting out with my friends was the best way to get acquainted with new places and it was so nice to have moral support through every new language barrier, transport system and injury that came our way. I also was able to do a ton of solo trips over my time in Norway and had the best time exploring a bunch of different countries.
Living in Norway was also so special. I was able to study a lot of subjects that we don’t offer in New Zealand and learnt some really cool stuff. My Take-aways: Norway is expensive! I became queen of budgeting and started drinking instant coffee again (RIP); Norway is cold! I got to see snow fall for the first time and experience the black ice (cue me taking 15 min detours so I don’t have to walk/slide/straight up fall down any slope) and it has the best tasting tap water in the world. On the admin side, the University of Oslo was very communicative and helpful. Having guaranteed accommodation was a lifesaver and the rooms were WARM. It was really easy to navigate O-Week, assignments and exams and I was lucky to have so much time outside of class free to enjoy myself. My main advice for anyone considering 6 months in Norway is to try and go for sem 2. It was much easier moving over in summer and learning the ropes when you could go outside without 20 layers of clothing and ice-pick shoes. Winter in Oslo is stunning but it’s definitely more difficult to set up when it gets dark by 3pm. I would also suggest only going if you’re happy #cooking your meals because eating food out is $$$$$$$$.
Finally, I think Oslo is also a good place to study if you are comfortable being or want to push yourself to be more independent. I met really cool people but with everybody travelling and studying on very different schedules we all spent a considerable chunk of time exploring alone. I moved up to Auckland for uni but living alone in a non-English speaking country was definitely a whole new level of Being On My Own. It was challenging but also fun to discover a new place and to enjoy new experiences by myself – and we always had a laugh hearing everyone’s adventures when we were all back together in Oslo.
Overall, I loved my exchange and to be the Ultimate Cliché and Meme in some ways think I really did #find #myself #in #Europe. I never thought I would be brave enough to live alone overseas but I did it (!!!) and would do it again in a heartbeat. I created the best memories, met the best people and honestly just had the best time. New Zealand is still my favourite, but I feel so much more excited to come home and start work after having the last six months.
Thank you all so much for reading about my travels – if you’re interested in an exchange in Oslo feel free to get in touch and I am 100% happy to give you the full run-down on everything!