In preparation for this trip, I did what anyone would do and made a Pinterest board full of all the adventurous things I wanted to do and amazing places I wanted to explore! In hindsight, I realize I probably should have focused more on practicing the (very confusing) Norwegian language and becoming familiar with the modes of transportation in Oslo. Luckily, the program coordinators at BI were very thorough with their instructions and even met us at the train station to help us take the correct metro line and give us directions to get to our dorms. Here’s a picture of me outside of the gorgeous and very modern university after 12 hours of travel, arriving at the dorms, and going to the grocery store to finally get some dinner (because everything seems to close early in Norway, especially in the summer)!
My first impressions of Norway was that it was cold but that was pleasant after leaving the Texas heat, the people were generally tall and reserved, and everything was beautiful! My first impressions of the program was that there would be a nice balance of academic work and social activities. I was extremely excited to start going to class because I was about to be surrounded by almost 90 other students from all over the world with extremely different backgrounds than myself. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how well I’d mesh with everyone. The first weekend there was an optional hiking trip to Nordmarka, a beautiful forest in Oslo full of trails for everyone to enjoy, and my nervousness was put to rest. During the hike conversation flowed and friendships started to form already. Here’s a picture from halfway through the hike including students from America, Australia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, and Hong Kong!
Lecture in Norway is undoubtedly different than in America. Our professors insisted we call them by their first name and we got a fifteen minute break for coffee and tea every hour without fail. It was much more discussion based and there were many more breakout sessions with groups to gain a better grasp of the material and to spur discussions. The first week of class we dove into intercultural theories by Hofstede, Project GLOBE, and Hall. We discussed sophisticated stereotyping and how when done properly, stereotypes can be extremely helpful in identifying with cultures. Discussions in class led to discussions between students and we already started to develop a better idea of our similarities and differences. I hope by the end of this program I will gain a better grasp on intercultural communication and improve my skills when interacting with people much different than myself. I also hope to be pushed out of my comfort zone and to learn not only about the world, but about myself as well during the process. I’m definitely excited to see how the different experiences of this trip will change how I view the world around me!
Thanks (takk) for reading!
– Tricia Chittenden