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25 things to know before going to study in Norway (Bergen)

Have you read the “12 reasons why you should go on Erasmus in Norway (in Bergen)” article? Have you made a choice or hesitated to go on exchange in this city? Would you like to know more about this place? Here’s an article for you! These are the 25 things to know before going to study in Norway and more precisely at the University of Bergen (UiB).

 

University

Uib Studentsenter : student center.
Uib Studentsenter : student center.

1. Feedback about the courses taught at UiB (The University of Bergen)  is quite mixed. Some people appreciate the autonomy given to students, some others are not convinced. Either way, you won’t have a lot of classes. However, you’ll have significant homework assignments for some courses.

2. If your English level is around B2, you will probably not come back from this experience as a bilingual person. Unless you spend all of your time with native English speakers and take language classes on top of that. But don’t be scared, you will improve yourself anyway. You’ll just have to provide extra effort if you want great results.

3. You will have to buy your courses support books. Nothing aberrant so far, but they are expensive. Especially in law. Some books can cost about a hundred euros, but you can find many of them on the Internet or buy them in second-hand from former students.

4. Your status as an Erasmus student will not be an excuse for being absent at the university when you want to travel around the country. Some courses require at least 80% attendance rate in class. If you don’t satisfy this condition, you will not be allowed to take the final exam and therefore validate the component..

Shopping

Kiwi supermarket shelf.

5. You will find a few products and brands variations in any categories: beauty, food, vegan food, etc.

6. In addition to that, there are some products you will hardly find, like a simple spray deodorant. Unless you go to a large shopping center like Lagunen for a 100ml bottle at 10€. You may think about stocking up on your products before your departure.

7. You can recycle some plastic bottles and your beer cans at the supermarket entrance for a few cents. However, you will easily be offered plastic bags when you go shopping. Just make a habit to refuse them by using reusable bags.

Money

8. As you understood, in Norway almost everything is quite expensive compared to a lot of countries. That is one of the reasons why some students don’t go there in exchange. Alcohol does not fall by the wayside. Indeed, it’s 3 to 4 times more expensive, the same applies to cigarettes (yet, it is more affordable than in Iceland).

9. Norway is not in the eurozone; Norwegian Krone reigns there. Here’s an approximate equivalence:

1€ ≈ 10 NOK

However, currency value changes very regularly, so be careful with your withdrawals. So you don’t get caught up in the exchange rate.

10. Having cash with you won’t be very useful. It will always be easier to pay by credit card except in a few places. Ask your bank for information so you don’t have to pay extra fees for your financial transactions. Some offer 0 international fees for students under 25 years old. If not, you may need to subscribe to an option before you leave.

11. Shipping taxes are quite expensive for receiving international parcels. That is due to the country’s policy to protect the Norwegian economy.

12. You may get your scholarships grants several months after your arrival in Norway.

Also read : Tips and advice for a successful Erasmus experience.

Parties

SSL Bergen Carnival Cruise – April 2018

13. People under 20 (and even 23 sometimes) can’t get into nightclubs. They are very strict and won’t let you in if you do not meet this condition. If you don’t have your ID with you, you will not only not be able to enter nightclubs, but also a lot of bars. Obviously, your student card won’t work (many people have tried).

14. Bars and nightclubs close at 3 am, while music is interrupted around 2:30 am. That means pre-parties take place very early in the evening. If you plan to spend whole nights on the dance floor, you will have to think about an alternative option without disturbing your neighbours. Otherwise, Securitas will come after you.

Weather

Mounts Fløyen and Ulriken under the clouds.

15. Bergen is a very rainy city. Indeed, clouds coming from the Atlantic ocean strike the mountains and cause rainfall which makes it a common phenomenon in the city. Don’t be surprised to learn that it didn’t stop raining for 3 months in a row at the end of 2006. Also called the European Seattle, Bergen is one of the rainiest cities on the continent.
According to Norwegians : “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” which means

There is no bad weather, but only bad clothes.

It’s a joy to enjoy nature, even when the weather is not good. Many Norwegians hike in wet weather. Another proverb says:

If in Oslo you are born with skis on your feet, in Bergen you are born with an umbrella in your hand.

16. However, choose waterproof clothing over umbrellas to prevent them from breaking downwind. Otherwise, there are umbrella repairers!

17. We end up getting used to the rainy weather, and when the sun comes out, we appreciate it because the city becomes beautiful!

18. It usually doesn’t snow much outside of the mountains surrounding the city.

Accommodation

Fantoft residence in winter, new building.
Fantoft residence in winter, new building.

 19. Make the right choice for your student housing: Fantoft residence will generally gather international students who wish to socialise and party, which some may not like. You can otherwise choose other places where you will find more Norwegian students.

20. Shared living has its ups and downs. Depending on whom you will be affected with, this lifestyle may suit you as well as displease you. Most of the time, the management of household tasks and the noise are the sources of arguments. However, people who have chosen this way of living during their exchange mostly don’t regret it.

21. Some old buildings of some student residences may have bed bugs. There are also rare cases of scabies among students.

 

Other

22. Approaching Norwegian people may be challenging. They like to have their personal space, but don’t take it the wrong way; it’s cultural. Once the ice is broken, contact will be easy. Also know that if you don’t know your neighbour, you usually don’t greet him/her.

Northern Lights in Tromsø
Northern Lights in Tromsø.

 23. Don’t expect to see the Northern Lights in Bergen. Well, it happens, but it’s very rare, and your eye must still be able to see them. You’ll have to go further north like in Tromsø, the perfect city to see them firmly.

24. If you choose to go to Bergen for only one semester, here is a comparison of the two periods of a year according to the feedback I received:

Pros Cons
Summer/Fall
  • Beginning of the academic year,
  • the meetings,
  • the beauty of the city during the change of season in autumn,
  • the end-of-year events.
  • Days are getting shorter and shorter,
  • Semester duration of 5 months instead of 6 and no possibility to extend your stay.

 

Winter/Spring
  • Days are getting longer and longer,
  • Spring season,
  • the national day,
  • the possibility of staying until the end of July.
  • The atmosphere after May: many international and Norwegian students return to their hometown.

I met a lot of students who attended a one-year Erasmus in Norway during my stay. Most of them told me that they preferred the first semester over the second for the meetings they had. Indeed, there will be more students during August-December than January-June.

25. After a while, you will probably get homesick and that’s normal! But it will pass you by.

Also read : How to integrate in Norway as an international student?

 

So, I hope that this article answered some of your questions about a possible student exchange in Bergen. If you have any others, don’t hesitate to ask me in comments below 😉  

Support Erasmus Bergen by following the website on Instagram !

You can also share your testimonial about your experience in Norway or answer this survey to help future students.

Sources : Erasmus Bergen (my own experience), testimonials, theflyingdutchwoman, worldweatheronline, Everdaters@youtube, Iamkaluma@youtube and Sunny@youtube. 

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