Field report. Semester abroad at Østfold University College in Halden, Norway. WS 12/13 Nadine Balter

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1 Field report Semester abroad at Østfold University College in Halden, Norway WS 12/13 Nadine Balter

2 Introduction I spent my winter semester 2012/13 abroad at Østfold University College (HIOF) in Halden, Norway. At this time a decided to go abroad voluntary for expending my knowledge and for gaining unforgettable experiences. Therefore, it was very important for me to choose a country in which I would be able to improve my English language skills and which would be interesting for me regarding its culture and landscape. For these perceptions Norway seemed to be a perfect country for going abroad because the Scandinavia countries are well known for a high English speaking level. For example, they do not translate movies in their own language like in Germany and they start to learn the English language in a very young age. Another point for my country choice was that I love such nature areas like Norway has. In addition, the quality of the university concerning the course offer and student support was also a crucial factor for my decision. After I knew in which country I will be for my semester abroad I started very early with my preparations. You have to be aware of that fact that it costs some time for arranging everything. One of the first things that I cared about was the application for the accommodation for making sure to get my prefer living location. Moreover, I had to plan the route from my home town in Germany to Halden (booking the flight and looking for the information regarding the transport after arriving in Oslo), to fulfill diverse Erasmus papers, to choose the right courses for the learning agreement and a heaps of other obligatory things. Accommodation Generally, the HIOF guarantees an accommodation for the international students under the premise that they receive your application in time. There exist two options of student accommodations which you can choose. The first one is called Remmen and is directly located next to the university in which I lived. Only a few meters distance of the entrance of the university. The student location Remmen consists of eight houses. Six of these are very obsolete with old interior equipment but therefore it is not necessary for the students to buy new kitchen equipment because there is still enough from the processors. Whereas the other two houses (10A and 10B) are renovated since the last semester. Based on this fact it is more modern but you need to bring dishes with you. The accommodations are calculated for eight students in total with whom one has to share the kitchen and with three other people one floor (downstairs/upstairs). The costs for the accommodation reach the total of approximately 380 Euro per month which included the costs for electricity, water and internet connection. The other student location is called Stadion and is placed near the town Halden but around 20 minutes walk to the university. The facility is more modern and you have the benefit to live with less people together (with 3 other people) in one flat and can therefore gain more personal privacy. Based on these facts the rent for the accommodation is more expensive than in the accommodation Remmen. You will find more information regarding this topic under the following link I would recommend you to choose Remmen for your stay in Norway because it is less expensive and closer to the university than the student location Stadion.

3 The University The Østfold University College is separated in two campuses and located in two regional cities of the Østfold area Halden and Fredrikstad and has round about students. The university in Halden is a very modern building and well equipped. There you can find a library, a cafeteria, a gym, a big size sport hall, a swimming pool and student rooms for studying. Moreover the university is surrounded by a football and volleyball field. The university provides W-LAN for free charge and it is also possible for students on Tuesdays from until o clock to use the swimming pool for free. On certain days they offer for the students also the game Floorball. It is a kind of sport which is similar to Ice hockey sport with the difference that it takes place in the sport hall and has to be played on the floor. It makes fun and it is at the same time very exhausting. As a student of the HIOF you have the permission to enter the university with your student card until o clock for your own needs (for studying, playing games, chilling etc.). That can be very useful if for instance your internet connection in your house is broken, like it occurred to me during the exam phase. The official start of the autumn semester was on the 13 August and ended on the 21 December For my semester abroad I took a course mix of Business and Communication, International Business Programm and in addition I chose the Norwegian language course. For each course in which you attend you receive 10 ETCS except for the Norwegian course (7 ETCS). For taking the exam it was for all subjects in which I attended obligatory that you have to do some projects (in groups or individually) and they have to be done within a given deadline. To my mind unfortunately not all courses were such interested as I expected. Furthermore, lessons do not taken place every day, so that your study plan will be not filled out entirely and therewith you will have more leisure time then you probably use to have it in your home university. For questions concerning courses or general questions is the international office a very helpful, useful and friendly counterpart which supports the students all the time during their stay abroad. Further information about the university and the courses which they offer for international students is to find on their homepage Orientation week The University really cares about the international students and apportions for every new international student a buddy who is responsible for the initial support in the first weeks after arriving in town. Before I arrived Halden it was already organized that my buddy will welcome me and will pick me up at the train station for bringing me to my accommodation. In the first two weeks (also called orientation weeks) they really organized a lot for us. We got a timetable with all the events which will take place during this time. It was fully packed of welcome and information meetings in which I received all necessary information for my stay abroad in Norway at HIOF. Moreover, they arranged some barbeques, student parties, social events and trips to Sweden for shopping and for visiting the amusement park. Particularly in the initial period it was very helpful for me for getting in touch with the other

4 internationals and with the Norwegian students. And of course it was a huge help for me for settling down in this new environment and for feeling more comfortable day by day. The town Halden Halden is a small idyllic and to my mind beautiful town with approximately inhabitants in the south of Norway and does belong to the county Østfold. The town is nestled down by the fjord, just on the border to Sweden. The attraction of this little is a fortress which is called Fredriksten festing and only a few meters away from the centre and therewith easy to reach by food. In Halden is to find two shopping center, one shopping main street, some pups, restaurants and cafés, a small but cute cinema, a library and few supermarkets. In general it can be said that the shops close very early at o clock along the week and on Saturdays at o clock whereas some supermarkets are open until o clock. The life in Norway is very expensive. Particularly the prices for groceries, alcohol and the public transfer are not inexpensive. It is only to find similar prices for clothes like in Germany. The currency there is called Norwegian Kroners and the conversation rate is currently that 1 Euro equals 7.38 Kroners. For example for 1.75 liter milk and for bread you have to pay around 3.24 Euro for each. As I went out in a very fancy curry house in town I paid for myself 30 Euro for one meal. The cheapest supermarkets there are Kiwi with its first price brand products and also Rema But if you have the possibility to go to Sweden for some shopping by bus or with some Norwegian guys by car I would recommend you to take this opportunity at least for a bigger shopping trip because you can save therewith a lot of money. The range of variety regarding the social life in Halden is not that wide and interesting. There are only a few two or three pubs where you can go out. At this point I recommend you to go to the pup Kongens which is located directly in town next to the harbor. It is also known as a student club/pub because the locations consist also of a dancefloor. Unfortunately, the alcohol there is very expensive (one beer = 7 Euro) and that is the reason why we had preparties before we went out and arranged our own house parties in Remmen. In total I spent around Euro for each month without traveling costs. Leisure time and travel Most of the time I spent my leisure time with the other international students, it was really a great and unforgettable time that we had together. I also went to the gym because it is good thing for working out and inexpensive; only 300 NOK = 41 Euro for the entire semester. Moreover, I went to the school game floorball which I already mentioned before, it was fun. And based on the warm weather at the beginning of the semester it was also possible to play volleyball or frisbee outside. Thus I did a lot of sport activities. Norway is a small but a very beautiful country with an amazing landscape. In Norway itself we traveled to the north of Norway by plane. Our first travel destination was the city Tromsø

5 which is the biggest city above the polar circle. From there we went by boat to Harstad. The trip was just great. In October we went by bus to Bergen for all international students together because it was organized from the university. It is really worth to go there. Moreover, we travelled to Göteborg, a very big and interesting city. In Sweden is also to find a nature reserve called Glaskogen which is not that far away from Halden but it was only possible to reach it by car. One of my last trips was to Oslo, the little and nice capital city of Norway which is only 2 hours away from Halden and easy to reach by bus (130 NOK) or by train (199 NOK mini price). Next to these travel destinations I can also recommend you to go to Fredrikstad (the neighbor city of Halden), to Stavanger or to Strömstad in Sweden. Conclusion All in all I really enjoyed my time abroad in Norway. It was for me a totally new experience to go abroad and to be on my own. I met a lot of new and friendly international people with different culture backgrounds. It was really a great time that we had together. I have to admit that Halden is not the most exciting town. It is a rather calm nature city. So you have to be aware of that fact that you will not have entertaining all the time. But Norway is just a great country with a vast landscape. If a city life is not a must have for you and you like to be surrounded by nature then I think you will be in good hands.

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