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Studying in Norway: “Between the fjords, mountains and snow-capped forests, it’s breathtaking”

Thomas, 20, is about to spend an extraordinary Christmas in Norway. The Ile-de-France student in his third year of a logistics bachelor will take advantage of the sumptuous Scandinavian landscapes during his Erasmus+ exchange. A stay that had made him dream for a long time and which finally becomes reality.

It is in Molde, in the middle of the fjords, the Norwegian Sea and the northern lights that Thomas has settled since this summer. As soon as the borders reopened last August, the student did not hesitate to jump on the plane. It must be said that after more than a year of health crisis, the young graduate of a DUT in marketing techniques at Sceaux (IUT of the University of Paris-Saclay) had desires elsewhere… or rather, desires of freshness! Here he is in a country which, for the moment, never ceases to surprise him.

A one-year “break”

His adopted country, Thomas could talk about it for hours. However, a year ago, nothing really intended this student to leave Île-de-France to fly 2,000 kilometers away. “Last year, we were presented with the DUETI (university diploma in international technological education). This diploma allows us to go abroad for a year in a partner country of the IUT through the Erasmus program. I thought it could be a great opportunity,” says the young man.

Already conquered by Iceland, which he had the opportunity to visit, the student had only one wish: to go to Norway to “find these landscapes [qu’il avait] adored”. “I had never gone abroad on my own before, he says. A year seemed like a long time to me and then, finally, I thought it would be good to take a break…” His good level of English allows him to obtain his first choice. From June, the young graduate prepares his trip in the uncertainty of the health crisis.

Thomas leaves to study for a year in Norway in the city of Molde. // © Photo provided by the witness

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Familiarize yourself with Scandinavian customs

In the end, everything goes as planned, if not better. Without mandatory quarantine, Thomas takes advantage of his last weeks of vacation to wander around, go on superb hikes and visit the town of Molde, in the middle of the Norwegian fjords. “At the start of the school year, all the Erasmus students got together for a week of integration, there were many different nationalities. This is where we were able to start meeting people, explains Thomas. The association A university student also offers many activities such as skiing, bowling, sports… This allows you to integrate.” Because the Norwegians remain faithful to their rather introverted character. “You just have to take the first step, go to them because afterwards they are very nice!”

And for dialogue, English remains the universal language in Norway. “Everyone speaks very good English“, is surprised the student who also follows all his courses in the language of Shakespeare. At the University of Molde, Thomas is preparing a bac+3 in logistics: “I do not find any major differences with the French system. We have two-hour class slots. What changes is that we finish earlier around 2–3 pm. This allows you to have some time to do activities on the side.

Breathtaking landscapes are the daily life of Thomas.
Breathtaking landscapes are the daily life of Thomas. // © Photos provided by the witness

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A Christmas in the Nordic Mountains

Moreover, even if the epidemic has resumed for a few weeks in Norway and the health instructions are tightening, it will take more to bring Thomas back to France. “Perhaps we will be distance learning at the start of the school year, but I’m used to it and then, I still prefer to stay here, it’s much more pleasant!” The young man also adapted very quickly to his new environment where the sea and the mountains are queens.. “We have nature all around… In the morning, I have the sea in front of me, it’s still nice! And then, these fjords between all these mountains and the forests, it’s breathtaking! is never the same as a function of time!”

Thomas is indeed under the spell. And this, whatever the weather. “Earlier this week it snowed. It was -10°, felt -20°. Alright, that’s cool. But unlike France, when it snows here, life goes on, even when it falls 50 cm! If you’re well covered and there’s no wind, it’s fine.” The lack of light doesn’t really seem to affect him either. Around 3 p.m. night falls, “a bit like in France finally” , he says, laughing. What surprised him on the other hand, it is rather this feeling of trust and security that reigns among Norwegians. “People don’t hitch their bikes in the street… We would never do that in France!”

For the Christmas holidays, Thomas plans to enjoy the country and Bergen where he will spend a few days there with other Erasmus students. “Here, the Norwegians are very attached to Christmas, there are decorations everywhere, garlands, lights, stars…” But during the holiday season, the fir trees, the snow and the Norwegian mountains will not replace raclettes and other dishes based on very French cheese. “We’re not going to lie to each other, the cheeses here don’t taste the same, it’s the food that I’m going to miss at Christmas!”

Despite this little moment of nostalgia, Thomas wouldn’t change countries for anything in the world. “I like this cool side, it’s a very beautiful country but you shouldn’t come here to get a tan“, he exclaims. One thing is certain: between now and summer, the student still has time to see beautiful seasons pass under his window.

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