Written by: Juan Carlos Barradas and Roxanna Sarabia
We are two master students from Mexico, and we want to share with you some of our experiences and shock culture we faced when coming to Norway. Living abroad is always a life-changing experience, but when it comes to Norway, your life for sure won’t be the same. From having nature at your fingertips to the student atmosphere at BI and everything in between, we have encountered many challenges but also many rewards that have changed us for the better.
When you arrive Oslo, the first thing you will notice is the great nature that surrounds the city and how it impacts the daily life of the citizens. The main activity to enjoy all this beautiful nature is going on a hike, and it’s done by most of the people almost every day. There are many places near Oslo that are perfect for this activity, such as Sognsvann and Grefsenkollen where you will find beautiful tall trees, lakes, and nice spots to relax with friends, run, or even to set your tent in case you want to spend the night there. The landscape of these places changes drastically during winter where you can even walk on the frozen lakes and do cross-country, also a popular activity among Norwegians. Even though in Mexico we have beautiful nature too, you will have to drive for a while first if you live in one of the main cities of the country. Coming from Mexico, the possibility of having nature so close to us is just amazing.
We felt welcomed when arriving here, people are really nice and they will be kind to you, but if you want to establish a long conversation with someone new, you have to make the effort and break the ice first, as Norwegians tend to be a little bit shy at the beginning. We Mexicans are used to be talkative and be friendly with everyone, so at the beginning is challenging for them to be open. However, once you surpass that step, you’ll discover great people and friends.
Coming from a big country like Mexico and especially from Mexico City, life can sometimes be very rushed, everything happens so quickly that you miss valuable time trying to get from point A to B, as the city is so crowded. The transport system in Oslo is very effective and you have multiple ways of getting to places. There is the tram, the metro, the bus and you won’t find it that crowded. In Oslo, the main touristic places are in the city center and this is commonly the most crowded area, but as soon as you leave the main spots you will find the streets very quiet or with few people. Norwegians coming to Oslo from smaller cities, tend to joke about how crowded Oslo is for them, but for us, coming from Mexico City, is like a small city. Just for putting things in context, Norway has in total around 6 million people; Oslo, the biggest city, has around 1 million. So you can imagine how despite being the capital, it is quite small compared to Mexico City, where around 10 million people work.
Student life in Norway is also very different from Mexico, we had to adapt to do a lot of self-study. The workload, especially at the master’s level at BI is really high and as a student, you are expected to come prepared to class. Assignments and evaluations are also different from the system in Mexico and here everything is graded, even oral participation, in some courses. Everything is doable but you have to be very good at time management, which at the same time makes you a very disciplined person. But hey! student life. On the other side, BI is always taking care of the students and on Thursdays, for example, there is a “Coffee hour” where for an hour, students get free coffee to relax and take a break from studying. Every last Wednesday of the month there is a “BI-nner” where you have the opportunity to meet other students and you also get free dinner, of course.
All in all, there are plenty of things that are different from what we are used to in Mexico; however, life in Oslo is pretty great.