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Journals from Telemark University College, Norway

2009-09-30 Getting to know my surroundings

As I continue to study in Bo I am learning more and more about the Norwegian culture. Bo is a very small town of about 5,000 people, and the University only has around 1,200 students. It has only about three restaurants, all of which serve pizza. But besides that you can find almost anything you need here. And on campus you soon start to recognize everyone and learn faces of the students and professors fast. The campus itself is only one building, so it is very easy to find classrooms and professors' offices. I have learned, too, that most of the professors have an open door policy and students are welcomed to stop by. Norway is very egalitarian and the professors prefer if students call them by their first names. They do not like to show off their authority or make the students feel inferior. Also, Norwegian schooling, at least at the university level, is very different from that in the United States. They meet less often and do not have as many papers or assignments. They have a mid-term paper, but that is rare, and then the final. Another thing our professors told us which I find funny is that you are allowed to be sick. Classes are not mandatory; it is solely up to the students if they want to attend class. So being an international student at this university they want you to really learn the culture of the country and offer some free time to travel and learn as much as possible by actually doing and seeing. The student housing is similar to Linfields but is not on campus, and everyone has about a 30-minute walk to and from school. Right now its not bad at all because the weather is so nice, but during winter it will be interesting. They offer dorm-like rooms and apartments. My room is pretty big and I have my own bathroom. You share a kitchen with 6 other people, which has really allowed me to get to know my neighbors and some Norwegians. My housing building also has a lot of activities where students plan an event and everyone who lives in the building can attend; that way you get to know all the people. I am meeting more and more Norwegians, which teaches me more about Norwegian culture; you just have to remember to be the first to reach out. Janys Olsen

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