Nearly three years ago, I was nearing the final year of my bachelor’s degree in the US and was faced with the decision of studying abroad. At the time, I had several options across Europe, but was drawn towards Scandinavia due to its nature, focus on work-life balance, as well as its seemingly happy people. When it came time to choose a location, I ultimately made the decision to study at BI Norwegian School. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into at the time considering I had never left home for this long and I was the only student from my university that chose to study in Norway.
Fast forward three years and I am wrapping up my MSc in Strategic Marketing Management, studying for my Norwegian exam, and will continue working in Oslo after graduation. At its core, my decision to come back to BI for my MSc degree and even stay in Oslo after graduation can be traced back to my time on exchange. Although it was only one semester, my exchange allowed me to experience life in Norway outside of a vacation setting, dive into the academics BI has to offer, and tangibly image what it would be like to call Oslo home.
In many ways, my exchange allowed me to explore life in Norway in a non-committal setting. After all, if I was unhappy in Oslo or didn’t believe it was the place for me, I was returning at the end of the four months. Thankfully, I was my expectations were exceeded thanks to the stunning nature, quirky traditions (i.e., Taco Friday, need for personal space, cheese on waffles, påskekrim), and kind people. Before I knew it, my exchange was coming to an end and it was time to go home.
Although I was excited to be surrounded by my family, friends, and the familiarity of my home country, the thought of saying goodbye to Norway and the home I made here simply wasn’t an option. This nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite done with Norway followed me the entire trip home, and my first day back in the US was spent gathering my transcripts and other documents so that I could apply for a MSc degree at BI.
Once I received my acceptance to BI, the excitement began. Once I landed in Oslo, I began my orientation week as a fulltime Master student rather than a bachelor exchange student. During the first week, I had to opportunity to explore the city and make new friends and I began to call Oslo my new home. After orientation, classes began. Although they were more challenging than my bachelor exchange courses, the quality level of teaching and connection I had with the university was the same. I then carried on the next two years with the same level of excitement that I had from my first day of exchange.
Looking back on the first day of my exchange, I would have never imagined that I would be submitting my master’s thesis and starting my first fulltime job in just a few short weeks. From not knowing where I wanted to study abroad to making a new home halfway across the world, the last three years have been full of decisions, challenges, and experiences that have shaped me into who I am today - and for that, I am ever indebted to Norway for the person journey it has taken me on.