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Susan Murphy

SFU Student
University
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If you’re looking for a place full of fjords, cozy sweaters and the ocean, look no further!
Preparation
Financial Preparation

You’ve probably already heard this, but it’s expensive. It is also predominantly a credit card based society. Take out a little cash for emergencies. I was a little bit worried about it, so I set out a budget for myself and tried my best to avoid buying treats/meals at the restaurants, coffee shops and bars too often. Your experience doesn’t have to break the bank if you look at day-to-day alternatives. In our student village, potlucks or picnics at Sognsvann (a peaceful lake where people go skating, cross-country skiing, hiking, and sit around campfires or wait for the occasional northern lights) or Hovedøya (an island you can take a transit ferry to in the Oslo fjord) were extremely popular ways to relax and hang out together.

Packing

PSA: Don’t forget your winter jacket, long johns (long underwear) and a warm pair of mittens and socks for the winter. You’ll thank me later.

Travel and Transportation

When booking flights, double check what your orientation schedule will look like. Each semester, a group of UiO students will meet you at the Oslo Central Station (Jernbanetorget) to help you get your keys and other related University documents. Though it is quite easy to navigate Oslo’s transit system, it’s a lot easier for someone to guide you after you’ve traveled all day/night. From the Gardermoen airport, you can take the flytoget at a student price. Once you get more familiar with the system, you also have the option to take the nsb train to and from the airport; it’s a lot slower, but is cheaper. The second airport, Torp, is much farther from Oslo’s city centre so I do not recommend flying In there for the first time.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

I also highly recommend orientation because I met the majority of my friends that week. I know it’s awkward and may not seem that helpful, but it allows you to meet tons of people (I still don’t remember some of their names), gives you helpful tips and tricks for living in Norway AND takes you on some pretty neat excursions for you to familiarize yourself with the city. For example, they gave us a brief Norway 101 talk that taught us how to layer/dress warmly and how to walk on ice. It sounds silly, but I have never fallen on my butt so many times more than on their icy, unsalted sidewalks up the hill to my flat.

Accommodation and Living

Many of the flats will be stocked with past students’ items, such as pots, pans, utensils and glasses. In the rooms, they come with a desk, bookshelf, bed, closet and office chair. Otherwise, the free downtown IKEA shuttle is available, as well as a few student housing FB pages that people will sell their used items. There is a grocery store right in the village and the t-bane stop is about a 10-minute walk (or a 7-8 minute bus ride if it’s one of those days). My friends and I found that the cheapest place to buy produce, rice and other items are in the markets at the Grønland t-bane station. It was a little further away, but for the price difference it was worth it. Keep in mind that many grocery stores are closed on Sundays! In the spring there were also many statutory holidays where the stores would be closed, so familiarize yourself with when you should be buying food in advance… Thank goodness I had friends who kept me fed on those badly planned long weekends.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

I love to explore and adventure.  I asked questions of my classmates who quickly offered to show me around, invited me to events and answered my 100's of questions.  I explored the city I lived in and surrounds areas on my weekends and down time from classes.  I planned 2 longer trips to...

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

My exchange semester took place at the University of Oslo (UiO) in Norway for the Spring 2017 term. I chose to go during the Spring term so I could stay an extra month to travel afterwards. At SFU I am a Communication major, Publishing minor but at UiO I took a Norwegian language class, Norwegian Life and Society and the Media, War and Journalism class.

Overall, despite the price, Norway is an extremely beautiful country and I hope you take every advantage of what this experience throws your way! Go on weekend trips or an overnight camping trip at the end of the Sognsvann T-bane line. Go along for a hytte trip or get involved on campus. The more you get involved and explore the country, the more you will get out of it.

Advice for Future Students

For some discounts and student deals, here are some valuable tips I learned over the semester (assuming they still exist of course):

  • DFDS is a ferry cruise company that takes you from Oslo-Copenhagen-Oslo. You only spend 8 or so hours in Copenhagen but they often conduct a prize wheel for free tickets or extremely cheap ones (80kr!!!! Which you will find out is extremely cheap).
  • Flights with SAS/Norwegian and trains with NSB, along with other companies, often offer a student discount or “under 26” perks. Keep your eyes open for these options!
  • Student cafes and pubs are available on campus at each faculty. The drinks are cheap for Oslo standards. Best of all, if you volunteer, they often give you discounts or free coffee and tea. This is great if you rely on coffee before class everyday. Bonus: you can also practice your Norwegian, but they welcome English speakers as well.
  • Free or cheap museums/attractions. There are some UiO owned museums that allow you in for free WITH your student card/app (otherwise they will not authorize it). Other places, offer student discounts or even free days. For example, every Thursday the National Gallery offered free admission to everyone.