Exchange · International student · Student life

Tjitske on exchange

“Your Erasmus is going to be the time of your life.” – (almost) every Erasmus student I’ve ever talked to. And up till this very moment, I can only agree with this statement. But, before I overrule you with my stories, I’ll shortly introduce myself.

I’m Tjitske, a third year student from University College Groningen. I’m following the major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and I’m currently on exchange in the amazing city Oslo. In this blog, I’ll take you with me on a part of my journey. I’ll tell you about my experiences so far – both academically and socially, and I’ll take you on a short trip through this amazing country.

When I was deciding for which university I wanted to apply for my exchange semester, I very quickly decided that I wanted to go to Scandinavia and not just because I have always had a weak spot for the Scandinavian countries, but also because the universities there are generally very good. Long story short: I eventually got a spot for an exchange at the University of Oslo.

August 12th was the day I left to Schiphol. Two suitcases full of stuff and no idea of what was actually ahead of me. After a flight of less than two hours, we landed on Norwegian grounds. Slightly tired and in desperate need for some food, we stopped at the central station to get some fries before taking an attempt to collect the keys for the student housing. When I entered my apartment, I was the very first to arrive and the other people that would live there arrived a couple of days later. On Monday the “buddy week” started. During this week, there was an introduction to the university, as well as the city. But, most importantly, it was a great opportunity to get to know new people. It is truly amazing how open people are. One day I randomly joined a group of people during a “buddy lunch” and now – 6 weeks later – they are my best friends.

After the buddy week is was time to explore the city and its surroundings “on our own”. In the week before university actually started we made some really beautiful hikes, had some amazing parties and made more friends. I also joined the students floorball team, where I also got to know quite some “actual Norwegians” instead of just fellow Erasmus students and although Dutchies and Norwegians may seem alike on first sight, there are some very important differences. Norwegians tend to be a more reserved than the Dutch when you first meet them, it is totally not done to sit next to someone in the bus if there are still “empty” seats left and when flirting in a pub, taking initiative is fully up to the girls.

But – before I get lost in stories about this country that I am slowly falling in love with – I will also tell you a bit about uni life and studying in Oslo, because that is after all what I’m here for!

My faculty is located at the Blindern campus, North-West of the city centre and about 2 kilometres from my house. The campus itself is very nice. There is a lot of space and a lot of “green” (grass and trees). Spread out over campus you can find several places to get a coffee and to relax in between lectures. There is a library with some really nice study places (although you have to be there early to find a good spot).  At my faculty, most lecture halls are made for 80-150 people, so they are not really big, but also not very small. However, there are also rooms for seminars, in which fit approximately 15-20 people. The lectures are often very traditional: a teacher presenting his slides to a big group of students, of which occasionally one asks a question. However, this differs per course as some lecturers really try to make their lectures very interactive despite the number of students.

The seminars, on the other hand, are much more students-focused. There is room to share ideas for essay topics, give and receive feedback and to discuss the topics that were mentioned during the lectures. During these seminars you really see the diversity in students that are taking the same courses as I do. there are students from Japan, Korea, France, the US, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Norway and much more with backgrounds in International Relations, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Law, and even Mathematics. It is really interesting to have discussions with people from such diverse backgrounds. Although at UCG everyone has also their own major as well, the main difference is that most people here have not had as broad of a background as most UCG students. On the one hand it is really cool to learn a lot from their “deep” knowledge and on the other hand it is very interesting to try to see how people that speak different “scientific languages”, can still come to a general conclusion (or how they are sometimes completely lost in translation).

I am currently following courses in international security policy, religion in contemporary societies, Scandinavian welfare society and development studies. Although these courses differ quite a lot from each other, there are several aspects that come back in most of the courses (for example religious radicalization and terrorism). Discussing such a topic in most courses, shows very nicely how the different courses/fields of science are related to each other, which makes it extra interesting.

Next to all the studying, I also started working as a volunteer in the pub in my “student village” (yup, it’s what you think it is: a village full of students!). We organize among other activities pub quizzes and open mic nights, and because we work with volunteers, the drinks are actually affordable. But next to that it is mostly a very nice way to get to know some more people!

That’s about it for my first (almost) two months in Oslo. It’s actually unbelievable how time flies while I’m here. One thing is for sure: Norway conquered a special place in my heart.

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