Language barriers and job opportunities
Before coming to Norway and BI, I was particularly concerned about two things, the language barrier and part-time job opportunities as an international student.
Written by: Elena Fomenko
Let’s start with the language. I assume that all internationals coming to study at BI know English fluently so it means that you will not have any problems to communicate and solve all your issues here in Norway. Apparently, all workers and students at BI speak English. Moreover, people working in banks, police, phone companies and supermarkets also know English. You will be able to do all basic things such as buying sim card, doing groceries or opening a bank account in English. When it comes to other languages, you will always find people speaking your mother tongue at BI if you feel homesick. BI is a very international school and we have a lot of German-speaking, Spanish-speaking, Chinese-speaking, Russian-speaking and other students from all over the world.
At the same time, I would still encourage you to learn Norwegian especially if you want to build your career and future life here. I see two main reasons to do it. First of all, if you want to work in Norway, you will have a much wider range of opportunities if you know Norwegian. And secondly, if you really want to make Norwegian friends and know the culture better, it is a huge benefit to know Norwegian. A lot of Norwegian classmates you will meet, know English very well, but may still feel uncomfortable speaking it, especially in an informal setting. Most of them did their bachelor in Norwegian so the transition from one language to another is also stressful for them.
The second important aspect that I want to talk about is job opportunities for international students in Norway. A study permit that internationals get coming to Norway allows to work up to 20 hours per week during study time and 40 hours (full-time) during vacation and weekend time. Life in Norway is not cheap, and it is nice to have a part-time job while studying at BI to feel more stable financially and get references from Norwegian employers for your future career. BI itself offers a lot of part-time job opportunities for its students. You can work as a student assistant helping current students at BI, you can work at the international marketing department helping potential students to get more information about the business school and you can work as a learning assistant and help younger peers be successful in their studies. I work as a learning assistant and tutor bachelor students one-to-one in mathematics. If you want to spend some time out of the university, you can find a part-time job in service companies such as hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and so on. It is possible to find this kind of job if you do not speak Norwegian.
Large corporations do not practice hiring students part-time that much though so it is doubtful you can start working in your field of interest from the beginning of your studies. But they have a lot of internship opportunities for BI students. You can take a summer internship that will most probably be paid or you can take an internship from BI that will count as a part of your study programme and will not be paid but you will get ECTS for it and spend some study time working for a company of your interest. I personally will have an internship from BI in the third semester of my master’s for two months and gain 12 ECTS. I am excited about that. There are a lot of international companies in Norway whose working language is English. Some local companies are also open to hiring internationals. It is always hard to get an internship abroad, but it is manageable here as my own and my classmates’ experiences show. I applied for ten positions that I found on the BI career portal, and I got four interviews. I went to only one of them in the end and got an offer the same day, and I will work for two months as a junior brand manager in one of the biggest Norwegian FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) firms. I am very excited about this internship.
I want to finish here, and I wish you all good luck with applying to BI and starting your study programme here in Norway. I hope some information above will reduce the level of worries you may have before and during your stay in Norway and help reach your goals that you set for this amazing time of studying in Norway.