It has been exactly a week since I moved to Oslo, Norway and what a week it has been. It has not been easy; there have been metro mishaps, social anxiety and general desire for a sense of geographical direction but this is a look into how I have settled into life in Scandinavia.
The First Night
Living in a rural part of Britain means that I am a few hours away from London so the day began with an early wake up call of five in the morning, ready for a drive to Heathrow. The airport and flight were both efficient and my experience of travelling alone for the first time was comfortable. It was really hard to say goodbye to my family as I will not see them until I finish the semester in Oslo but knowing they were proud of me ensured I went through the security gate.
Arriving in Norway was also an independent experience, with a single UiO rep telling me what ticket to get to Oslo Central before I got onto the train with my suitcases. Then, at Oslo Central, I met further reps and fellow students to purchase my monthly Ruter ticket. RuterBillett is the ticket system for all travel methods in Norway and a monthly pass for the zone needed (in my case, the Oslo zone), can be bought with a student discount for an average of £40.
After I sorted my housing, I got on my first wrong metro of the day. However, the metro system here is easy to navigate that I managed to find myself where I needed to be and once I’d dropped off my suitcases in my room, I took off for the welcome party. The welcome party was a great way to connect with people from all faculties, with little activities to connect with others. I did, however, leave early due to the fatigue of travelling for more than twelve hours.
This was when I took my second wrong metro.
This time it was more scary, given that it was dark and the stop that I got off to catch the train back to my original destination was deserted. Although, it was only a few minutes of panic before I was back at the station and discovered how friendly Norwegians can be to clueless new students like me as they guided me onto the right train home. The biggest advantage of moving to Norway is that almost everyone is bilingual and don’t have to suffer through my broken Norwegian to have a conversation with me.
Life at Kringsjä
Arriving on the day of the meet and greet was, in hindsight, the worst idea. There was such a large influx of students that the waiting times to be allocated a house were long and it also meant that the chances of getting the house and rent margin I wanted were slim. Thankfully, I had financially prepared for this so when I was given the highest rent, I still cried inside but I knew I would be okay!
When I entered my room, I was taken aback by how empty it felt. So after the welcome party at Chateau Neuf, I went back and spent the late hours of the night setting things up and making it into a home. The next day, I took my first ever trip to IKEA and purchased necessary equipment such as cooking utensils and pillows. It is beginning to look homely.
What I learned from the first day of freshers in Oslo is that welcoming new students is a very big deal. Freshers in Cardiff is mainly entertained by going out to local clubs and getting comforting welcome speeches in each class. Oslo, however, had two hours of empowering speeches from various members of the university as well as live music from a choir and orchestra. A live rendition of O Fortuna certainly is a very unique welcome to Scandinavia!
Tour of Akerselva
What I was most excited about in freshers is that our faculties planned out an array of activities for each day, one of which was a tour alongside the Akerselva. Akerselva is a river that separates the center of Oslo into the West and the East. It is a popular site for sunbathing, swimming and fishing.
Russeparty at Sognsvann
One of the many reasons I am learning as to why I am happy with my housing choice is that I have the Sognsvann river just moments away. Another popular swimming spot, myself and a few people I had met through the week attended a social sciences party. We attended to experience a Norwegian party known as the Russeparty, featured in Norwegian show Skam, wherein we had a small rave on a moving bus.
I could not feel my feet afterwards.
Eckerbergparken Sculpture Park
The strangest tour of the week goes to the Ekerbergparken Sculpture Park, where the weirdest and wonderful sculptures purchased by a single investor (who we met by chance) rest. It is not simply sculptures either, there are interactive spectacles such as the mist storm (seen below) and a melancholic talking lamp post that portrays a twisted version of Narnia. At the end of the tour, I also got to see the exact place that Edvard Munch painted The Scream.
Oslofjord: Swimming at Hovedøya
The week ended on a relaxing note with visiting one of the islands off the coast of Oslo, where the ruins of the Cistercian monastery still remained and there were many beaches that transitioned into the water. Despite being ten degrees, the water was surprisingly refreshing to swim in and I’d absolutely do it again before the seasons make it impossible to do so.
It is surreal now that freshers is over, my final year as a BA Philosophy student begins in two days and I already have reading to do. Here is to the next part of the adventure.