My name is Mary O’Connor, I am 20 years old and currently going into my final year of BSc. in Psychology at the University of Limerick, Ireland. I began my exchange at the start of January at the University of Bergen, Norway. I was always looking forward to studying abroad, mostly because of the positive experiences I had with EFPSA. Meeting even more international students from all different cultures and backgrounds was something very exciting and I had high expectations. Little did I know those expectations would be exceeded tenfold!
The university had a very comprehensive welcome program and the faculty of psychology organized parties for us to meet other students from our discipline. The course I took were Quantitative Analysis, Behaviour Health & Nutrition, Global Challenges of Energy & Climate, and Love & Close Relationships (I know right?!). The semester is scheduled quite differently here than back home in Ireland. QA was 5 credits and from Jan-Feb, BHN and GCEC were January-April and 10 credits each, while LCR takes place from May-June. I personally enjoyed this layout because I was able to concentrate more on the course I was currently taking and did not have to spread myself so thin over five courses consecutively like in Ireland.
The social aspect of the exchange is, as you probably guessed, a huge contribution to the attraction of studying abroad. I made most of my friends from our accommodation, and I think it is unique here that there is an accommodation particularly known for international students. They even organized specific events/parties here in the ‘Klubb’ so we did not have to go into the city that much (as this is very expensive). This reminds me to mention – Norway is very, very expensive. I knew this before coming, but I was still surprised at the cost of food in particular. I would advise anyone thinking of coming here to consider the financial aspect carefully.Above everything else, my absolute favourite part of this exchange is the nature. Norway’s landscape is breath-taking, from the fjords to the mountains, to the forests and the beaches, you’ll constantly be in awe. I had the privilege of going snowboarding a few times, taking a couple of magical road trips to the bigger fjords, and completing hikes here in Bergen itself where the mountains are plentiful.
I have to mention briefly how lucky I have been to be allowed to stay here during the pandemic. The Norwegian government and the University of Bergen have been extremely kind to international students and therefore I don’t feel like my exchange experience has been completely affected as it has some of my friends who went to study in other countries. Reflecting on how fast things can change, it makes me happy that I did so much in those earlier months before restrictions came into place. Which leads me to my final piece of advice to anyone going on exchange – say yes to everything early, hang out with every type of person and attempt every activity at least once, and cherish the normal aspects of the every day, time passes more quickly abroad it seems!
Author: Mary O’Connor
Bachelors in Psychology at University of Limerick