My awesome exchange to BI Norwegian Business School

Hai Ling- Bachelor of Business (International Business Major)

BI Norwegian Business School, Norway (Semester 1, 2019) 

I spent three weeks in the UK prior to going to Oslo, to visit family and reunite with old friends, I spent three weeks trying to prepare myself for the next six months. But how are you supposed to prepare for something like this? How do you ready yourself, physically and mentally for something like this? Even after the exchange I still can’t answer that question, truthfully I don’t think you can, you simply put the pieces together as you go.

Now I’d never lived away from home by myself before, not in another country let alone the other side of the planet, this experience was completely new to me. I knew no one going there and I knew no one when I got there. But the next six months would change me completely, in what was and will always remain the greatest and most beneficial experience in my life so far. I would make lifetime friends from completely different countries, many of whom I would visit and see again after the exchange when I traveled across Europe. I would create memorable experiences with those friends that will stay with me forever, events I will never forget and people I will always miss.

I arrived in Oslo at midday on the 31st of December 2018. It had not yet dawned on me what was to come, I still couldn’t fully grasp the idea that for the next six months I would be living here, sleeping here, studying here, thousands and thousands of kilometers from my home, my family, my friends… and my cat.
Very few times during my trip did I get close to that realisation, I think the whole time I was just too engulfed in the whole experience, so much so that I couldn’t fully understand the extent of what was really going on. Not that it was a bad thing, instead  that it was something new, different and so far out of my comfort zone that it had to be done.

I remember my first time getting to Kringsjå, the suburb and student village where I would live for the next six months, I had met an Aussie by pure chance at the housing registration place in Blindern, and we both made our way up there. Funnily enough we ended up in the same building, three levels apart. It was an impressive place, practically a suburb designed for students, the accommodation there ranged from private individual rooms, shared apartments to family apartments. Of the many towering buildings, mine stood tall close to the front, Building 8, to be my home for the next six months. I had managed to get a room on the 9th floor, at the top of the building, and with it, an amazing view of the mountains and tree lines. At that point they were brown, almost dead, covered with snow, something I found to be truly awesome because that is something you would never see back home in Brisbane. Also something that would provide a base of understanding, because in six months’ time those trees would be bright as day and as colourful as a painters pallet.

BI wasn’t a breeze, it wasn’t incredibly difficult either, but it was by no means easy. trhis wasn’t a university where I could catch up after the lecture or tutorial, you had to go to class and you had to take part. BI only hosts a fraction of the number of students that QUT can boast, something that makes them focus on micro development in ways that QUT can’t. I am in no way saying that QUT is unable to, simply that with increased volume, things begin to get diluted. Professors have much closer relationships with students, classrooms are smaller, and students can engage more. I feel that small scale teaching makes for a more passionate learning environment which I really enjoyed. Something different that you take note of having studied in a huge university like QUT.

I had classes two days a week, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Wednesday night was kroa night (the BI uni bar), Friday’s were snowboarding days and weekends tended to be occupied by parties and events that people planned (trips out of the city or hiking, often we would have dinners together too). The nightclub scene in Oslo is unimpressive if you’re used to large city night life like Brisbane or Sydney though. The Norwegian people come off as introverts, they seem wary of outsiders almost, that is until you get them drinking, there’s a funny book on the guide to Norwegian culture. Below is the front page, I can’t even begin to explain how true it is.

I really enjoyed my time at BI, it was an architecturally impressive and aesthetically pleasing campus. A single building dominating the area, the size of a small warehouse with multiple floors above and a floor cut into the ground, designed as a cube almost, it has 4 sections of which it hosts classes, A through to D. In the ground floor, a cafeteria where they cooked new and interesting food each day, that was decently priced for how much you got. I mean simple stuff like rice and stew, but even that is a culinary explosion from the same two minute noodles you’ve been sustaining yourself on for the past semester or two… maybe three. The classrooms are modern, similar to the style of classrooms at QUT, of the four subjects I did, two of them taught in lecture format, two in tutorial. Classes were small, even in lectures, the lecture room looked like it could fit maybe 100 to at best 150 students max. But never full, they were smaller, more intimate, the same goes for the tutorial format classes, these were regular subjects, one class a week sort of thing, not enough students to use a lecture hall, but enough that made the class worthwhile.

My advice to students considering going in exchange, it’s really simply, socialise as much as you can find time for. Meeting new people and making new friends, it sounds simple, but I have never been a super social person, I’ve always been comfortable being around the same few people, so to reach out into new groups was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. But I’m glad I did. It’s friends that make the experience so much more worth it, I went on multiple trips to different cities and different country’s with the friends I made there. We would always have parties and look to invite people that we met, I met a really good mate of mine simple because he was going to throw out the rubbish in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops…. in the middle of winter whilst it was snowing! We were huddled outside the door chatting, and we spoke to him a laughed about it. He came out with us to a pub that night and become very close, we still talk.

I wanted to write for the QUT Global blog after my exchange because I wanted to be able to tell people how amazing my experience has been, but writing this now, I don’t quite know what to say! I could talk about how the food at the cafeteria in BI was actually pretty good, or how we did a bus trip across Sweden for a week, jumped in a frozen lake and saw the most beautiful northern lights all in one night. Hiking for three hours through knee deep snow? How about going snowboarding with my Brazilian mate for every week of the winter season? Having Australia day on a frozen lake, drinking wine and listening to bush music? There is too much to share, too many hilarious stories, truly great moments with great people. The consistent shenanigans that this trip held, the constant laughter, the unforgettable memories.

Rarely in life do you have memories so good that you can revisit them in your mind and every time smile or laugh about it. Many times I’ve had people stare at me like a moron because I’ve done this in public and burst out laughing. They don’t know, they can’t understand. To understand required them to be there and they weren’t, don’t consider going on exchange to be just an opportunity, consider not going to be a missed one.

One down and one to go

Two weeks in and I have now completed the International Business unit. If you are looking at doing International Business, I highly recommend it. Not only did I learn the basics of International Business but also information on trade economics, international marketing and international organisational structures. Thus covering many of the broader factors relevant for International Business. Ignoring the intensity of the course (cramming one semester into two weeks), the course was very interesting and will definitely assist with my future business endeavors.

Further, having diversity of culture within the class, it made for greater insight into the workings of various countries and for interesting discussions. Smaller class sizes of 5-10 people also allowed the greater interaction between students but also greater teacher to student interaction. For me, this learning environment has been much more effective in ensuring I understand and know the content of the class and works much better for intensive study.

As a treat for completing the first subject, Grenoble School of Management took the class on a trip to Paris…

Eiffel Tower by Ellie Bakker

Eiffel Tower by Ellie Bakker

Spending a weekend in Paris with my school summer group was such a fantastic experience. A few of us rented a bike (free for each half hour increment) and traveled to all of the major monuments in Paris such as Notre Dame, Lourve, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees and Eiffel Tower (of course)! I also wanted to enhance the “French” stereotype so I got wine, baguettes and cheese and had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower (photo above of Eiffel Tower).

Versailles by Ellie Bakker

Versailles by Ellie Bakker

I also took a trip to Chateau de Versailles. There I explored the amazing gardens and the house of Marie-Antoinette. Unfortunately, time did not allow for a visit through the Palace but I will be venturing back to see this in a few weeks. If you have a chance, I highly recommend the 45 minute trip from Paris to Versailles. So much history, beauty and amazing architecture.

I will be sure to post again soon about the progress of my next subject, digital marketing and any other adventures I get up to.

Weekend for Students

Wondering what students get up to on their weekends in Grenoble? Well our University had planned a ropes course on the Saturday and a trip to Annecy, France on the Sunday.

On Saturday, myself and the other students were full of adrenaline throughout the entirety of the ropes course largely due to the fact we were up in the treetops and crossing thin ropes and wires with obstacles in our way to make each area more challenging. To start, we completed the beginners course which I found quite easy (luckily). From there, I felt ready to face one of the harder coursers, the “red course”. After a few obstacles on the red course (climbing up a rope ladder and walking across a thin rope with not much to hold onto) I was exhausted and fear got the better of me. Worst problem was that I had to finish the course, as there was no other way down. By the end of the course though, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I had just walked across and weaved my way through thin ropes and down big nets. The ropes course was a fantastic way of facing fears, experiencing a different type of challenge and receiving encouragement from fellow students.

 

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Ropes Course by Ellie Bakker

Today (Sunday, 24 June 2012), we took a trip to Annecy, which is about one and a half hours from Grenoble. Annecy is beautiful and I would describe it as being very colourful with the bright green mountains, blue rivers, bright coloured buildings and flowers everywhere. There are many tourists weaving through the streets, markets and little shops and enjoying the food of many restaurants. We got to explore the Annecy goal, explore the town and have lunch at a great little French style restaurant. Many of my classmates hired boats and went along the river as the rest of us wandered the streets. It was such a fantastic day and I would really recommend everyone to visit the beauty of Annecy.

 

However, we are back at our residency now and after such a wonderful weekend, it is hard to get motivated to study. I do however, have to hit the books so it is goodbye for now.

Where it all began

1 new email received – “Congratulations, you have been chosen to take part in our study abroad program at the Grenoble School of Management in France.”

I could not believe my eyes. Quick, post on Facebook, call all members of the family; my excitement needs to be shared!

In the lead up to my departure however, there were a few administrative items which had to be completed. I have created a list below in the hope it can be of assistance.
1. Once you are accepted by QUT, you need to enroll to the overseas Uni directly. It is a fairly easy process as it involves completing your basic information, educational background and references. There is also an application fee. Mine was $130 approx.
2. Book and pay for fights. Send your receipt through to the International Student Office of QUT for reimbursement (if you have received a scholarship).
3. Pay course fees directly to overseas Uni. (They will send you an invoice).
4. Attend QUT study abroad information session.
5. Familiarise yourself with all documentation sent by the overseas University.

Having all that completed and after numerous efforts of packing and repacking, I am now in Grenoble, France. Two days ago, I was out exploring the sites and shops of Paris and stuffing myself full of croissants and baguettes (some photos below). Yesterday, I explored Grenoble and I must say, it is so beautiful here. Reminds me of Kelvin Grove Campus surrounded by amazing hills and old buildings.

Anyway off for my first day of school!

P.S – Huge thank you to QUT for their assistance and support and for also allowing me this amazing opportunity.

Photo 1 – Temptations of France

Photo 2 – Place of Residency