Stand Out Go North

Nikoletta Spathis

BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

Between its world-class mountain scapes, Northern Lights and ancient history, Norway has become a popular destination, not only for travel but for education and employment. I was fortunate enough to study in its capital, Oslo, a cosmopolitan city set amongst the fjords and forests where breath-taking nature is just one step outside the door.

University Life

BI Norwegian Business School is the largest business school in Norway and the second largest in all of Europe. Located in the urban area of Nydalen, BI can be visually described as a modern architectural masterpiece, with four main buildings connected by a glass pavilion. This design was highly beneficial during the colder seasons as it made it easy for students to move around the buildings without having to embrace the negative twelve or if lucky, negative fifteen temperatures.

BI has a strong focus on keeping close ties with the business world which enables all students to partake in various opportunities. Undertaking the specialization in Shipping Management, I was able to attend a number of industry related excursions and seminars which were extremely insightful and beneficial. In addition, the university ran professional networking events. One such event was ‘Coffee Hour’ where a ‘hot topic’ was discussed by an industry professional (e.g. politicians, CEOs, researchers, etc.). During my exchange, I attended a discussion on gender equality and the economy. This discussion was presented by eminent speakers including former U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The approach to learning at university is somewhat different to what we are used to at QUT. For example, there is no distinction between lectures and tutorials which means classes run for three hour blocks. Although attendance is not compulsory, it is highly recommended as there are no recordings. The workload during the semester is relatively relaxed as there are hardly any assignments! However, it is important to keep studying as most units only have ONE 100 percent end of semester exam. Although the academic structure is different, it is relatively easy to adapt as all the teaching staff are extremely helpful and understanding.

Everyday Life

Norway is a very advanced nation with high wages and living standards which means that everything is expensive, especially for students. The Norwegian currency can be a little confusing at first as they work in large numeric values, for example, AUD$17.00 is equal to NOK100.

Within the first two days of arriving in Oslo a trip to IKEA is a must for all those items that did not fit within the luggage limit from Australia! Located 15 minutes from the city centre, a free IKEA shuttle bus operates daily. There are other homeware stores, like Clas Ohlson and Europris which are relatively inexpensive with stores across the city. On average, grocery shopping can add up pretty quickly, therefore it is wise to look at the weekly promotions of the various supermarkets (e.g. Meny, Coop, Joker, Extra). Unfortunately, it is not economically viable to constantly eat out as it is very expensive. Even fast food chains, like McDonalds, are considerably more expensive when compared to prices in Australia. A must have app to download is ‘TooGood ToGo.’ On this app you purchase a mystery bag, filled with various food items, from your chosen store. For example, I once received two loafs of bread, three sandwiches, two pastries, and a smoothie for only NOK35 – roughly AUD$5.80. The main thing to understand is that Norway is expensive, however, there are ways to minimize costs.

Navigating around Oslo is relatively easy as it has one of the most sophisticated and on-time transport systems in the world. As a student, discounted transport fares apply for all major transport (bus, train and ferry). However, this discount only applies when a 30-day ticket is purchased (around NOK550 which is equal to AUD$90- this may seem expensive, but it works out the cheapest). Even if you are not certain that you will use public transport daily, it is still worth purchasing the 30-day ticket as single tickets are costly.

Travelling is a must both within Norway and beyond. Nature abounds in Norway so making the most of it by travelling to explore the far South to the far North is a must. The only negative about travelling within Norway is the expense. However, planning ahead helps. It is often possible to pick up cheaper flights when you are flexible about your travel plans and staying in an Airbnb are a must. My most memorable visit, within Norway, was to the Telemark region where I was lucky enough to witness nature’s winter magic, the aurora borealis. Once you have explored every inch of Norway, travelling around Europe will seem incredibly inexpensive.

Whether it be for one or two semesters, going abroad may be a daunting thought, however, you will not regret your decision.

Stand out! Take the leap and embrace all the extremes that going North has to offer.

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