Full name: Melanie Hoppe
Programme at BI: Leadership and Organisational Psychology
An ABC to Norwegian society – my (highly subjective) impression of Norwegians
When you move away from home and start studying in another country you can always count on things being different. While my experience as an international student from Germany might not be quite as shocking and overwhelming as it could be for others, there are still some things that left a lasting impression and even changed my life a bit.
Here are my three biggest take-aways from living in Norway, the ABC’s:
The very first things I noticed when I arrived in Oslo were how close everything is to nature and how active the people were. It was in the middle of summer and I still saw multiple people everyday that were practicing for cross-country skiing with skate-like equipment on the streets rather than with actual ski on the slopes. Also, regardless of where you are it rarely takes longer than 15 minutes to get to one of the beautiful parks that are all around the city or to the Marka with all its hiking trails, lakes, and viewpoints. I definitely got infected with the appreciation that Norwegians have for nature and spending time just taking a walk to relax. Now it has become such a ritual for me to get up and go out on a walk to Sognsvann or just stroll along the streets, regardless of the weather – never thought this would happen!
I went to Norway with the expectation to come out of my shell and having to take the initiative to chat with locals a lot, because that is what you read everywhere. Every article I remember reading before my move told me that Norwegians were shy and not very extroverted. It was one of the things that felt like the biggest challenge to me. Turns out, when you start your buddy week at BI in the beginning of the semester, the Norwegian students are actually very open and approach you on their own. Maybe, just maybe, that also has to do with the few beers or glasses of wine that were consumed during that time, but it was definitely something that I did not expect to happen.
Continuing with the last aspect I want to mention, we can stay right where we are and talk about buddy week. At least this was when I first noticed how considerate everyone is when you are not speaking Norwegian. In my group, I was the only one who couldn’t speak Norwegian on a conversational level. But most of the time people talked English around me, and that made me feel included and I certainly appreciated it. By now it is pretty common that when people see me or any other international student in their breakout room on Zoom, everyone immediately starts talking English. Even when I was on the bus and didn’t understand what the older lady next to me said in Norwegian, she simply started talking to me in English so that I could understand what she said.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to pursue a master’s here in Norway. Although I haven’t even lived here for a whole year as of now, I can already see how I am changing and embracing the little things that are very common in Norway. It has already been an amazing experience and I am looking forward to getting to know the country and the people even more during the next year.