While in my last post at the end of September I was talking about how my classes had only just started, now, in early November, they’re already finished! This seems so peculiar, being used to almost three months of a hectic schedule during the autumn semester in Glasgow. However, the main difference with UiB, which I found quite difficult to adapt to at first, was that there are no tutorials, and only 8-10 lectures for each subject. Granted, the lectures are taught in 1hr45min blocks, but I have found myself at a bit of a loose end wondering whether I have covered all of the relevant material in my own time. While the explanations of my classes will only be relevant to other law students, I’m sure that the teaching style won’t differ too much between subjects.
I’ve found that generally, life at UiB is remarkably laid-back and informal, and all of my lecturers have been very helpful and approachable. The format of my exams will be very different to what I’m used to back home too, with all three exams this Christmas being four hours long, and written on my laptop in the exam hall. It’s definitely worth familiarising yourself with this beforehand to save any last-minute stress the night before, and remember that there probably isn’t a question that the staff at your host university haven’t had to answer (if you’re going to Bergen don’t worry, as you can be sure that I’ve probably pestered them enough and asked any questions you may have already!)
When applying for my courses back in September, I also applied for an “Introduction to Norwegian language” class, however it was over subscribed so I was assured that I will be granted entry to it next semester if I’m still interested. In the meantime, I’ve taken full advantage of having two Norwegian flatmates, and being able to pick up little bits and pieces from them has proved pretty beneficial. Yes, as the title suggests, “who the hell left macaroni in the sink again?!” was in fact the first sentence I learned (and is surprisingly useful in my flat). Determined to shake the stereotype of being an ignorant Brit, I also downloaded an eBook which I have started using in my spare time, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to learn the language.
The last piece of advice that I’d give, having had experience of it this month, is how to cope with stress while you’re abroad. Being a relatively calm person, I found it pretty unsettling when I found myself starting to feel anxious and stressed out the last couple of weeks. This was partly due to various things that happened back home, and knowing that they were completely out of my control did leave me feeling a bit helpless in another country. However, a friend told me that when you’re on exchange you are more likely to feel a bit frazzled at times as so much of your energy is focused towards adapting to a new environment even though you don’t realise this at the time.
I can’t put enough emphasis on how important it is when you’re abroad that you make every effort to immerse yourself in your foreign life, as the people who are on exchange with you will end up being your support network to turn to. I’ve benefitted so much from having such an amazing group of people here with me, so I thought it would be appropriate to give them a wee mention here!
So, if anyone has any worries about going abroad and feeling homesick or anxious I’d be more than happy to give some advice about how to deal with this, and to share my own experience of what works to pick you back up again.