Meet Erika P, a student at The Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
Currently a master’s student in economics and business administration at NHH, Erika studied a bachelor of economics in her home country of Ecuador. She arrived in Bergen in August, 2017 after completing her GRES. Erika chose to study at NHH as the prospect of a high quality, tuition-free education was irresistible. Plus, Norway’s high level of economic and social development made it an attractive choice for her.
She hopes to carry some salient lessons from Norway back to a career in Ecuador at some point. Her positive experiences with Norway’s Directorate of Immigration (UDI) throughout the student visa process also eased her mind and helped her feel that she was making a great decision. Her future plans include pursuing a PhD. She would love to stay in Norway a bit longer in order to complete a PhD here or for other work experience.
Expected Bergen to be as cold as the North pole!
Adjusting to Bergen
Before her arrival, Erika imagined Bergen was very cold – like the North Pole! After arriving, she says her mind was blown. Not only is it much warmer than expected, she was impressed with the ease of accessing information online (and availability of English-language academic information), how organized Sammen (the student welfare organization) is, and how friendly the learning environment is for international students. She appreciates several things about Bergen as a city. She doesn’t find it a noisy city. She finds it well-organized and she feels safe here. She does think that Norwegian’s eat meals at the “wrong” times. Her experience is that Norwegians eat lunch at 11am and dinner at 4pm and that is too early! She also thinks Norwegians really feel strongly about their personal space in a way she isn’t accustomed to from her own country. She considers herself an introvert, but compared to the norm in her culture the difference is notable, even for an introvert!
Erika’s studies in Bergen
Erika chose her programme at NHH because she appreciated the variety of courses. She wanted to explore multiple subjects and determine what she was most interested in pursuing. She appreciates the flexibility of the programme. She says a normal day for her starts with waking up, seeing that it’s still grey out, and heading to class (most of her courses are early in the morning). After class she decides between cooking at home or “being lazy” and heading to a Sammen café (student cafeteria). She often spends time catching up on her assignments. If the weather is nice she goes hiking into the woods or, if the weather isn’t so good, she heads to the gym. On weekends, she takes advantage of the frequent cultural events – usually finding something to do via Facebook. If it’s sunny she heads out for a hike, or sometimes she works in the library.
She enjoys the quality of the facilities at NHH – meeting rooms, group rooms, and study spaces. She finds the bookstore convenient, but she appreciates that her professors mainly try to connect the students with free academic resources. She prizes her professors’ open-door policies and their lack of pretention and formality. She feels grateful for all the opportunities she has here, and how welcome she feels. She had worried she might feel like an outsider as an international student in a new country, but she feels like any other student!
Travels and explorations
During her study abroad experience Erika plans to travel within Norway and in Europe. She has already made friends in the dorms and she hopes to visit some of them in their countries of origin during the summer. She also plans to meet her brother for an adventure in Spain over the summer. So far in Norway, she’s booked tickets to visit Tromsø, a major cultural hub within the Arctic Circle and to experience skiing in Voss, a municipality known for nature and extreme sports.
Erika doesn’t have a lot of spare time, her programme is engaging and demanding. But in the little free time she has she likes to explore new places, exercise, head to cultural events, and get to know new people. She has enjoyed some of the many cultural events that regularly occur in Bergen, including Kulturnatt (an annual cultural night where the majority of museums and other cultural venues offer free entrance and late hours); concerts (including a free symphony performance); and Latin-American community events such as salsa events.
Erika hails from a mountainous landscape so she feels at home in Bergen’s mountains. She enjoys experiencing seasons, though, something she doesn’t really experience back home. She has visited at least 4 of Bergen’s “seven” famous mountains (there is arguably more than seven). She has hiked Ulriken, Rundemanen, Fløyen, and Sandviksfjellet via Stoltzekleiven (often called ‘stoltzen’) the steep ascent up roughtly 800 stone steps. Stolzen is her favorite place in Bergen, she likes to visit twice a week. She thinks Bergen has everything: mountains, lakes, places to bicycle, and more.
Anticipating missing Bergen
What will Erika miss from Bergen? She’ll miss her new friends, of course. But she will also miss the opportunities and the internationally-known companies that are here. She will miss how friendly the employees working at the companies are. She thinks Bergen is a hidden treasure, and that it is a shame that when people from Ecuador consider studying abroad they think of going to the U.S. or to Spain, and they don’t seem to know about Bergen.
Recommendations and Advice
For students interested in coming to Bergen to study, she recommends learning a little Norwegian before you arrive - it really helps if you want to get an internship or a job. She also recommends learning about Norwegian culture and where you’d like to visit while you’re here – “it’s far away, plan ahead!”. If possible, she recommends being in good physical condition when you come, as outdoor activities are a huge part of Norwegian culture. Thinking of attending NHH? Erika recommends reading the website thoroughly and planning ahead to apply for membership to student organizations and Norwegian classes: deadlines can creep up on you!