Camilla Aristizabal, Norway, University of Oslo (Global and International Studies)

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  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

My biggest fear about studying abroad was feeling like I wouldn’t be able to communicate with people, get help when needed, and get around. All of these fears proved to be very unnecessary. Practically everyone in Norway not only spoke English, but spoke it very well. Most people were also very willing to help when asked. Getting around also proved to be one of the simplest and efficient things in Norway. Public transportation was very easy to use. Once you purchased a month student transportation card, it worked for all the metros, buses, trams, and even some ferries.

  1. What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

To better prepare before going abroad, I wish I had packed LESS, and planned more trips within Norway in advance. In addition, I wish I would have made a clearer budget plan, including what I was going to spend on food every week, and rent and transportation every month. While I still ended up a little under my budget, I think I could have saved even more if I had tried harder to plan.

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  1. What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?

While abroad, I took 3 classes, which fulfilled the maximum amount of credits we could take. One of the classes I took was Norwegian Life and Society. Every class we had a different professor and a different topic, such as: art, history, culture, religion, law, welfare state, etc., all different topics that covered different aspects of the Norwegian society. With this class, I was able to get a basic understanding and introduction to many different angles of Norway’s history and culture.

  1. What is one of your best memories from abroad?

One of my best memories from abroad was of course traveling around Europe, but within Norway, embarking on a 20-mile hike was an amazing experience. A very popular and famous hike, Trolltunga is a moderately difficult hike, but the views are very worth it, and the accomplishment you feel after is even more fulfilling. Many groups of students plan trips to Trolltunga, so it is very easy to find a group to go with. While my group decided to rent a car, there are several buses that take people to the site.

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  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

 My biggest challenge abroad was sometimes feeling lonely or worried that I wouldn’t make friends. However, all the international students are very eager to make friends, and there are many social events where you can meet people and make connections. In addition, I was in a beautiful, very safe city where I was able to explore by myself a lot of the time and found it very peaceful.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

 My favorite aspect of the Norwegian culture is their appreciation for nature and the outdoors. They actually have a saying that translated to something like, “if you are angry, take a hike, because you can never stay angry when on a hike surrounded by beautiful nature.” Oslo is surrounded by beautiful forests, lakes, and parks that are all very accessible by public transportation. Norwegians take pride in their nature and therefore keep it very clean, trash free, and an enjoyable experience for all.

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  1. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.

I did not participate in any official work abroad. However, I did attend a workshop in Oslo that my own dad conducted. It turned out to be all women, except my dad, and was an absolutely beautiful and life-changing experience. After this workshop, I had a network of women that I could reach out to in Norway. Many of them invited me to other workshops and events, so I know that there are many opportunities in the city.

  1. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

While I didn’t eat that much local “Norwegian” food, I do miss the amazing jams/jellies, the waffles and the Norwegian sausages that were especially good at the Christmas market.

  1. How have you changed since your time abroad?

Since my time abroad, I feel I have changed in several ways. I feel I gained a lot of independence and handy skills such as really understanding how to get around on public transportation, learning how to budget, and learning how to ask for help when necessary!

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  1. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?

My advice to prospective students is to fully embrace your time abroad. Everyone there is eager to meet new people, discover new cultures, and explore this new beautiful country you are in. As much as you can, don’t worry about what’s going on at home, and what you’re “missing out on”. Living abroad is an amazing experience, and I am so grateful that I was able to immerse myself.

 

 


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