Østfold University College wouldn’t be the same if not for the many international exchange students who choose to study here. However, what is it actually like to travel across borders, all the way to the small city of Halden?
Adapting takes time
On a mild and sunny October day, we sat down with two of them to find out. Nessa Beaumont O’Donovan (20), who is studying Political Science and Almudena Luzaragga (20), studying Advertisement and PR, are both from the Basque region of Spain. They are in Norway for the first time and experiencing how to deal with cultural differences first-hand.
– I have always wanted to learn more about Norway and came here with a blank slate. For instance, the way Norwegians view time and organize their work is totally new to me, Almudena explains. In Spain, we don’t normally read theory before class, but I know now that it is very important in order to follow the class schedule here.
– Because I have always wanted to visit a Scandinavian country, I read about the people and culture in Norway, Nessa adds. The fact that Norwegians are quite reserved turned out to be true. I am slowly getting used to not having lunch with everyone around me in the student dorm, which is a part of the day in Spain when we normally socialize a lot, she laughs.
-But we have met many Norwegians through arrangements and parties, which is more the Norwegian way to meet people, and the social life at Østfold University College is great!
Exploring Norway is a must (even if it’s expensive)
Many exchange students spend their free time traveling around Norway, although getting around without a car can be both difficult and expensive. Both Nessa and Almudena have already been to Oslo and Bergen and would like to go other places as well, but as Nessa points out:
-Everything is so expensive in Norway! But exploring the country has been worth the price. The trip to Bergen was organized by the school, we went on a cruise around the fjord in Bergen, and we also traveled with the famous Flåmbanen in a group with other exchange students. It was lovely.
They have also visited Gothenburg in Sweden, because Sweden is close to Halden. Østfold University College is very accommodating to exchange students, like arranging “buddys” who will help them get more acquainted with the Norwegian student life. They feel very welcome, there is always something arranged for them. But certain services that are offered by the school are not as easily accessible:
-If we hadn’t been told that we could rent el-bikes from the school, we probably wouldn’t have known, because all the information about it is in Norwegian, says Almudena.
Despite these challenges, both girls are very satisfied with their stay so far and don’t regret picking Norway for a second! They are already saving up to go on a trip to Tromsø to see the northern lights. Both girls are excited about the prospect of visiting other places in Norway and are sure they will return someday.
Daniela Dahle and Anniken Heimstøl