I’m sure everyone who’s getting set to go study abroad now will be in full preparation mode, so I figured this would be a good time to go over some of the most common questions that I’ve been asked, incase there’s still anything you’re unsure of (believe me, my brain was completely scrambled before starting my year so I know how you feel!)
A lot of my questions were specific to Bergen, but I’m sure they’ll be applicable to Scandinavia more broadly, and probably to a lot of European universities, so hopefully this is somewhat helpful for you!
- What is the social / night life like? It should really come as no surprise by now that Norway is very expensive, so if you’re used to going out 3 or 4 times a week in Glasgow you may be in for a bit of a shock. There are about half a dozen decent clubs and bars in the city centre, however you should expect to spend about 80kr for a beer (about £6.50), and between 50-80kr getting home (provided you share a taxi with someone). It’s worth remembering too that you have to be 20 here to be admitted to most clubs and to buy wine/spirits etc. There definitely is variety in what you can do, and there are fjord cruises available for about £40 – which are great for experiencing a little bit more of Norway outside of Bergen.
- How does the work load compare to Glasgow? I have honestly found the work here to be far more straightforward than in Glasgow, however if you’re not a fan of self-teaching I’d probably suggest steering clear of Bergen. There are no seminars, and each course only has about 10 x 105 minute lectures, so there’s a lot to consolidate in your own time. Most of the courses also involve some graded coursework, and often you get to choose the topic of your own work, rather than having a set essay question. All of the exams that I have sat this year have also been done digitally, i.e. I take my laptop into my exams and sit the paper via a secure browsing programme. Every exam is 4 hours long, which is a refreshing change to the hand-cramp-inducing, tearful experiences of Glasgow’s law exams.
- How much does it cost to live in Bergen? The easiest way to calculate my living costs here is to break down my expenses. In a typical month, it will look something like this:
- Rent – I live in Fantoft, which is student accommodation mainly for international students. It’s certainly nothing special, but by far the most affordable option. My monthly rent incl. electricity is 3,105kr (£260).
- Travel – if you get a travel card, you get slightly discounted rates on bus and tram travel within the Bergen zone – for youths (19 y.o. and below this is 350kr (£30) and for students 450kr (£38) per month.
- Bills – I’d advise getting a Norwegian SIM card if you’re going to be living here, as it works out a lot cheaper than using your home SIM and foreign data over an extended period of time. I got mine from Telia, and 1GB/3GB data plus calls to Norwegian numbers this will cost 199kr (£16.50)/299kr (£25) respectively each month. It’s cheap to do your laundry in Fantoft, with 100kr easily lasting you the whole month.
- Food – depending on where you do your shopping, a decent weekly shop will set you back about 300-400kr (£25-£35), and if you keep eating out to a minimum you should manage just fine.
- Nights out/travel – averaging out at about one trip per month, either somewhere else in Norway or in Europe, I would normally spend about £250-£300 incl. flights and accommodation. As I mentioned earlier, nights out are a rarity here as most people prefer to simply have flat parties, but a decent night out (and by decent, I mean one where you splash out and buy a whole three drinks, and maybe treat yourself to a burrito on the way home) will set you back about 400kr.
- In total, this adds up to about £750 per month, including accommodation, however this would be on a month that I went travelling too, so quite often my monthly total is nearer to the £500 mark.
Hopefully this helps to clear up any questions you may have about living in Norway, and if there’s anything else I’ve missed out don’t hesitate to send me a message on Facebook or at 2069152J@student.gla.ac.uk.
Until next time!