Studying in Norway with Chris Mason

This post is part of a series of interviews with travelers who have studied abroad.

Meet Chris Mason from Taree, Australia: He graduated from Newcastle University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Resource Management and Marine Sciences. In 2009, he studied abroad in Trondheim, Norway at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Although he was there for one semester, he spent nearly 8 months there in total.

Chris Mason Braveheart

This is Chris, who also happens to be my fiancé’s best friend.

1. How often did you have class? Were classes easier, more difficult, or the same as you expected?

I had classes for about 4-6 hours, 4 days a week. Although my exchange agreement stipulated that classes would be in English, this was not the case. It made studying very difficult as I didn’t know any Norwegian. “Just buy the textbook and follow along,” they said…interestingly, the textbook was in English but the classes were not. Ahh, Norway…always a land of contrast.

The curriculum was pretty challenging, certainly more so than in Australia. But they also had funding and resources to back it up, so it made for an interesting semester.

2. What surprised you about Norway?

I was expecting a cold, dark, and bleak country. It was certainly cold and dark, but not in the way I expected. It’s hard to explain but the cold and the almost 24 hours of dark per day added to the charm of the place, which was anything but bleak. And when the seasons changed through spring and into summer, I couldn’t believe the transformation. Everything was green and colourful. This transition through the seasons is reflected in the people, who change with it. We were now experiencing nearly 24 hours per day of sunlight and having BBQs every day. I never expected to do that in Norway.

3. What was your favorite thing about Norway?

I’d like to offer two favorites if I may:

1. The people. Quirky and funny. They have a similar sort of black humor to us Aussies. And they love a beer.

2. You might call it the vibe, or the atmosphere. It didn’t take long before I thought of Norway as home.

Travel in Norway

Traveling in Norway with the other international students.

4. Least favorite thing?

Being able to buy whale burgers from the grocery store.

5. Sum up Norway in 1 word.

Magic.

6. What song reminds you of your time in Norway?

Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon (reason not stated)

Christmas in Norway2

Norway, where you can find a textbook White Christmas.

7. Did you get to do any other traveling?

Yes, myself and some other international students did a trip through Scotland during our spring break. I also got to visit some of my classmates and their families in their home countries at the end of the semester (France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland). It’s great to have a network of couches to crash on.

8. What was it like coming home?

Depressing. Everyone I know that has experienced the comedown of returning after a significant trip overseas says the same thing. They come home and nothing has changed. I think it stems from the fact that so much has changed within ourselves, and we expect everything else to have changed as well. Deep huh?

9. Do you have any advice for future students in Norway?

Do it. Don’t get caught up in the little worries and apprehension, just do it. You’ll have the time of your life. It’s truly a life-altering experience.

10. What were the highlights of Norway for you?

Hiking trip in Norway

Chris and Jared during an epic hiking trip in the snow.

  • Australia Day in Norway: snow cricket/rugby, vegemite sandwiches, rissoles, drinking contests, and a lot of flag waving. I’ve never felt so patriotic.
  • Norwegian Day Parade: I got to march in the parade as an international student. Everyone was dressed in traditional Scandinavian costume and I got to wave at the Mayor.
  • Cabin trip: Hiked for about 10 hours into the mountains, not knowing if the cabin would be completely covered by snow (which quite often happens) and endured a minus 30 degree Celsius night. Spent the night singing songs and drinking with friends.
  • Nightly dinners: None of us had televisions in our accommodation. For our entertainment we usually had dinner with friends and played cards and talked all night. Each night was sponsored by either French, Spanish, German, Polish cooking, or whatever country put their hand up (not too many Aussie cooking nights). They were always so proud to share their culture and it was a great way to learn about the countries that my new friends came from.

Got more questions for Chris about studying abroad? Email him at masonc82@hotmail.com.

Have you studied or gotten a degree abroad? Want to talk about it? Get in touch!

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