When I landed in Norway I immediately felt the weather difference. It’s almost 50-60 degrees everyday, which is practically winter for Texas. I also noticed public bathrooms, transportation, and streets were a lot cleaner than they are in the U.S. After a few days, I quickly realized that Norway is extremely environmentally friendly and the societal norm is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle that prioritizes family. It’s extremely rare to find a trash can in a public building that doesn’t make you separate your trash into plastic, paper, glass, and compost. Oslo is known for the majority of its people obtaining a hobby of running or biking, even the children are encouraged to run and bike with their families at a young age. On Sundays, practically everything is closed except for emergency services and churches, and people use this time to spend all day outside with their families before the cold and very dark winter approaches. The main difference I notice between Norway and the U.S is the government policies and the peoples perspective on equality. In Norway I’ve seen one homeless person and I’m living in the “Austin, Texas” of Norway. This is because the government allocates tax money differently, so those who are unemployed have shelter and a chance to get back on their feet once they’re employed. The government takes care of those in poverty. However, it’s not just the government, it’s the people too. The community is okay with using their tax money to support those who are seeking employment, assylum, or shelter. Equality in the U.S is giving every citizen an equal opportunity to go to school and make a living regardless of their family background or income. Equality in Norway is allocating more resources to those who are in greater need rather than those who are already well off, so the families with lower income are equally as successful as those who come from a wealthier background. Lastly, there’s no ego that comes with the hierarchy of power. The Prime Minister lives in a normal house, goes to the store down the street, and bikes with his family in the park like every other citizen. The professors prefer to be called by their first name, like you’re addressing a friend. Those in positions of power live in humility. The exchange students are all super outgoing and eager to make friends at my school, however the Norwegains are known to be themselves and only build deep friendships over extremely long periods of time. Regardless they’re still super nice, but being introverted is considered polite in this culture. Overall, the culture is so different yet so amazing and I can’t wait to see the way it shapes me as a person as I broaden my perspective this semester.

Categories: 2023, Norway


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I would start with petty introductions but I don’t think that is why you are reading this blog. All you need to know for now is that I am a business student from TAMU and my name is Madison. I am currently sitting in the dining area on the first floor of BI Norwegian School of Management (the University I am attending here in Oslo). For those of you reading this and preparing for your trip abroad, listen closely, I am about to drop extremely valuable information in your lap and I suggest you sit while reading this. The first couple days of any trip are excruciating and you will probably cry at least twice, but I promise if you can survive those couple of days you will not only feel accomplished, but very close to the place you are staying. I arrived on the 2nd of January after about 19 hours of travel, not including the 7 hours lost. If you chose to live in certain buildings, like Nydalen Sio, you must travel, with all of your luggage, to Blindern to get your house keys and if you are extremely lucky, you may wait an hour; I waited over 3. After lugging 120+ pounds of luggage uphill to the office and waited in the freezing cold for about 3 hours I sat in a bathroom stall and cried, wondering why I was brought here, I prayed to God to bring me someone or something to make my day better, to get me through what seemed like the worst day of my life. 10 minutes later I met one of the nicest young ladies I will probably ever know who got me to my room and carried my 50+ pound bag to my room uphill, as I dragged behind.

From that moment on, everything seemed uphill from there… but then I locked myself out. It’s shameful how silly I can be at times. The next day I went on a bus tour that I signed up for (sign up for things like this if you have an opportunity, not only do they show you around and give you tons of ideas for adventures, but you will probably meet good friends as well).  At first I was a little hesitant to go and I definitely contemplated staying in bed, but I got there and after a quick introduction I met some people I see every day now. After the bus trip, my new friends and I had the greatest dinner I may have ever enjoyed, and we were in Burger King. Burger King is so much prettier her and the french fries are much better too. 😛 We went to IKEA after that, IKEA is huge here because it is soooo cheap compared to everywhere else. We also found a beautiful frozen lake very close to kringsjå, where a very large chunk of the international student live, and many local students and families as well. It was so beautiful and people were ice skating and building campfires and walking their dogs. It may have the been the most beautiful piece of scenery I’ve ever witnessed.

Although the days are very short and the nights are quite cold, this place is beautiful in every way and I have already fallen in love. The most confusing thing I have learned so far, and the most useful, is the public transportation system in your place of study. Public transportation is probably the greatest tool you will have on your stay. Oslo is quite small and I learned fast, but I still make mistakes now and then. One thing I wish I would have done is pack some food or snacks. The food is quite expensive and I did not have an opportunity to buy groceries until the next day, so I went about two days on nothing but tap water… So, even if it is just some packages of peanut butter crackers, I promise you will be grateful for them. I know some of what I have said seems horrific, but I feel it necessary to be honest and help people prepare with as much knowledge as possible. Knowing these things may help someone make better decisions than I did about packing and food and what not.

I would go through all of this and more again and again if it left me in the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, surrounded by the most kind and welcoming group of people that resides here, especially my international friends. So though I warn you based on my early experiences, I also challenge you to take a leap of faith and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, or maybe even never wanted to go. I’m sure your will find people and go through experiences that you can truly cherish forever. Well enough of the serious talk, vi snakkes friends!

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Categories: 2015, Norway, Reciprocal Exchange