From Hilo to Bergen...
Eric K Santos
University of Bergen, Norway
Studying abroad at the University of Bergen in Norway was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was an eye opening experience! This was the first time that I had lived on my own and I just had to choose somewhere halfway across the planet where the national language wasn't English. Five hours after I got off the plane in Norway, reality smacked me in the face and I realized that I must have been out of my mind. I was able to connect with a few local Norwegians and many of my international roommates at the Fantoft Student House- a.k.a. the only place with cockroaches in Norway; I almost felt like I was back in Hilo. Bergen was the first place I had ever lived where snow falls and stays on the ground for months. Hiking up snow covered mountains turned out to be quite embarrassing when 60 year old Norwegian women power walked across my body sprawled out on the ice. It took a while to get used to the extreme cold, but the snow never stopped me from running across the dorm parking lot to dump rubbish in my slippers and shorts.
The academic experience in Norway was definitely different independent studying is encouraged and really does prepare you for the six hour exams for each class, which I learned are exactly as painful as they sound. By the third hour, hunger pangs killed whatever anxiety I had and motivated me to finish the exam as fast as humanly possible without having a mental breakdown. Classes were pretty nonchalant but are rigorous when you take into consideration the brutal exams.
I made a tight knit group of friends and introduced them to the wonder that is Facebook. Norway was a spectacular place and I would really like to live there after I graduate. I recommend that any student reading this should seriously consider studying abroad for at least a year. It will be an amazing experience that will change your perspective of the world forever.