... in Oslo, Norway
During her master studies, Christina Kampe spent a semester abroad at BI Norwegian Business School. For us, she answers a few questions about her stay.
Why did you choose to spend your exchange semester in Norway?
Norway was at the top of my list for many reasons. I have always been fascinated by Scandinavia and every time I spent a vacation there, I had the feeling of being at home in the north. I was especially fond of Norway. I love nature and winter and I can identify very well with the Norwegian culture and lifestyle. I also have some friends in Norway, whom I have visited several times, I have been learning Norwegian for a few years and I can easily see myself living in Norway one day. To be honest, there was no other option for me than to spend my semester abroad there.
What is it like to live and study in another country for a whole semester?
On the one hand, it is of course challenging, because you are on your own and have to get used to the new environment. On the other hand, you learn so much about yourself and the host country and you grow with every new experience and unknown situation. Getting used to Norway was relatively easy for me, as I had the advantage of knowing some locals. However, I didn't know my Norwegian flat mates before my arrival, so I first had to settle into the apartment, which eventually worked out very well. What I find particularly exciting about living abroad is that you never stop learning. Even if you've been in the host country for a few months and think you know all the quirks of everyday life, you'll find new cultural curiosities, so it never gets boring.
Of course, you are also confronted with a different system when it comes to your studies. BI in Oslo is similar to WU in many respects, but the interaction with the other students was a little different from what I was used to. Communicating with the lecturers is also different, because everything is less formal than in Austria. In Norwegian, for example, there is no formal "you" and everyone is on a first-name basis, which may seem a bit strange at first. But in my experience, you settle in quickly at university as well. What I think helped me a lot was the balance between my Norwegian friends, through whom I got very special insights into the culture and way of life, and the other international students with whom I could have a good laugh about many cultural particularities.
What do you take with you academically from your exchange?
In my opinion, the courses at BI complemented the curriculum of my Master's program at WU very well. What I particularly liked was the very practical approach of my classes. For example, in one of the courses we were working closely with a Norwegian start-up. Another course took us to Western Norway for a week, where we visited typical Norwegian companies such as a company from the "energy sector" (a common expression for the oil industry in Norway) or a salmon farm.
What social and cultural experiences have you had?
In order to experience Norwegian first-hand and to improve my language skills, I was looking for a flat share with locals. I was very lucky and lived in an apartment in one of the trendiest districts of Oslo together with three Norwegians. Scandinavians are often said to be reserved and quiet. In my case, the complete opposite was true. I was welcomed very openly and from the first day on, I had the feeling that I belonged there. That may be because we talked in Norwegian and not in English, but I also heard from other exchange students that the locals were all very open and friendly.
A special cultural experience right at the beginning was the price level in Norway. You adjust to the fact that life is expensive there, but after the first time at the grocery store, I was still quite shocked. Over time, however, you get used to it and learn how you can have fun in Norway without having to file for bankruptcy after your semester abroad (insider tip: drop by the duty-free store at Oslo airport after every trip).
What positive experiences can you look back on? What was your personal highlight?
My experiences in Norway were all extremely positive and I could probably fill half a book with them. To make a long story short: the whole semester was my highlight. I have never felt so at home in a city as quickly as I did in Oslo, and Norway cast an even greater spell on me after spending my semester abroad there. One of my favorite destinations definitely was Lofoten, a group of islands in northern Norway. Never before have I experienced such a stunningly beautiful landscape. The trip to Tromsø, a city north of the Arctic Circle, was also an unforgettable highlight.
"The northern Norwegian winter and the darkness are fascinating and to see the Northern Lights was a dream come true. Another highlight were the people, I met and the friendships that I made in Oslo."
Would you recommend other people to apply for a stay abroad?
Absolutely. I think a semester abroad is one of the most valuable experiences you can make in your life. With its partner universities around the world, WU offers great options, and I would recommend everyone to take advantage of these opportunities. I am incredibly grateful for the experience I had and I would do it all over again.
Content by Christina Kampe. Thank you very much!
BI Norwegian Business School
Location: Oslo, Norwegen
Population of Oslo: ca. 681.067
Number of students: ca. 18.728
Accreditations: AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS
Exchange level: Bachelor, Master