Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce
Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce

Every UQ student who studies abroad is given an exceptional opportunity. The experiences of each individual are so unique and varied. But upon returning to UQ, the feedback from students is always the same: “that was absolutely incredible!”. Before I travelled to Bergen, Norway, I too read through all these testimonials. I often wondered if my time abroad would be as exciting as what I had read. And I can now say that my exchange in Norway surpassed all of my expectations.

NHH Norway

In early January, 2014, I arrived in Bergen to commence a year of study at the Norwegian School of Economics (Norges Handleshøyskole - NHH). This marked my 5th year of study towards my Engineering/Commerce degree. The majority the courses I studied counted towards the Commerce component, with the exception of the language course, which was an engineering elective. Academically, my experiences at NHH were challenging at times, but also very rewarding. All of my courses were in English: a very big advantage for native speakers. I studied Master’s level finance courses alongside some of the brightest minds in Norway and Europe.

Norway snow

The student body is extremely active at NHH. There are about 3,000 students in total, many of whom are involved in multiple committees and organisations. Given the school’s prestige in Norway, there are also presentations from top companies on recruitment tours, including Facebook and Google. The active student body made it very easy to volunteer and become involved in the school community, which is a big plus for exchange students. Some of my experiences included being on the International Committee looking after exchange students, being in the Video team for “Uken”, a music festival held by NHH students, volunteering for the Photo Team for the Norwegian Student Sports Championships, and organising TEDx Bergen. Norwegians are also known for being very physically active, and consequently NHH have sports teams in all disciplines.

Norway Bergen

The weekend trips, the afternoon hikes with friends in the woods or up one of Bergen’s seven mountains, the Northern Lights during winter, the 11pm sunsets during summer, and the peace and serenity of the city are what defined my year in Norway and made Bergen impossible not to love. I also found it very easy to forge friendships, because of the bonds from shared experiences. I had a three day weekend for both semesters, and was able to travel to neighbouring countries (Copenhagen, Stockholm, and London are all within of Bergen two hours by flight) as well as within Norway (to Priekestolen, Trolltunga, Svalbard, Voss, etc.). I also had the advantage of a European summer holiday, and was able to travel through parts of Western and Central Europe, as well as visiting the Scandinavian capitals, which was fantastic.

Norway swim

I thoroughly recommend the introductory Norwegian language course to incoming students. Norwegians speak English perfectly, but I found that learning the language is a big part of appreciating the culture. It also helps to know at least a few words of the language to interact with the locals. I elected to stay in the student accommodation called Hatleberg, which is a reasonably priced (~3850NOK/month), six building complex across the road from NHH. This is an ideal place to stay for an exchange student at NHH. The majority of exchange students live here, as well as some Norwegians. I found Hatleberg to be extremely social and very fun given that all of the activities, gatherings, and parties were held here. The location is perfect; a minute’s walk from the two main supermarket chains in Bergen, close to school, and close to the harbour area. My room had a spectacular view of the sea and surrounding area below. The facilities are also very sufficient for a student. I had my own room and bathroom (with heated floors). The kitchen was large and shared with six others, which made it a social hub.

Norway sun

There’s no denying Norway is one of the more expensive countries to live in. My experiences, however, were that Norwegian prices weren’t as bad as I had been told. Grocery prices are similar to Australia’s, and the monthly bus cards were ~400NOK. Prices for drinks at bars and clubs, and alcohol prices are noticeably higher, but not obscene. The quality of life in Bergen is extremely high. It’s incredibly safe, clean, and friendly. I felt very relaxed in and around the city. So would I recommend studying in Bergen? Absolutely. Few students elect to go to Norway. I was the first UQ student to go to Bergen, and one of only two Australians studying at NHH. I was easily able to immerse myself in Norwegian culture, which is in my opinion the most important part of exchange. The students at NHH are very welcoming, the staff are very helpful, and lecturers are first class.

Norway houses

TIPS 1 – Get involved at NHH. If you’re undecided about whether or not to be involved in something, just do it! NHH has so much to offer for exchange students, and are very welcoming. I spent my entire year being a Yes-man, and it was the best year of my life. 2 – Learn to cook! Yes, it’s an expensive place, but there are ways around it. No one eats out at restaurants (unless their parents are in town), so dinners are mostly at home. This is a great way to get to know people and make good friends. 3 – Go hiking. Bergen (and the whole of Norway) has amazing scenery. In Bergen alone there are seven incredibly scenic mountains. Hiking is the best way to appreciate what Norway's nature has to offer. 4 – Learn the language (it needs reiterating). It’s part of the culture and it makes interacting with the locals fun. 5 – Get a gym membership. Norwegians love to exercise and the student membership is affordable (I paid 990NOK/semester). 6 – Go to class. Not much is online. My lectures weren't recorded, and a few of the classes were taught using a blackboard! 7 – Get in touch with ESN Bergen. This is a great organisation. They're very knowledgeable about what to do to in Norway/the Nordics and have some great and affordable trips for students.

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