Hi, everyone! Let me introduce myself. I am Jennifer Raines, an international student from the US (Boulder, Colorado) just beginning studying for my MSc in Strategic Marketing Management at BI.
When I first arrived in Oslo, I felt so many emotions. First it was excitement—this was finally happening! After 10 years of working, I was going to be a student again and have the opportunity to explore a new country and culture, one of my favorite things to do. Then apprehension—would I make friends? Would I be able to communicate easily? Would I be a successful student?
Deciding to study in Norway and at BI was not an easy decision. A couple of years ago, I met my boyfriend, a Norwegian, who motivated me to consider school in Norway. And I am so glad that I did. Inspired by all the stories I’d heard about the benefits of international education in the business world (such a good way to stand out in a stack of CVs) and impressed by BI’s recent rankings in The Economist, I took the leap and applied. When I first walked into the BI campus a few weeks ago, I was first struck by the beauty of the building. All the windows and open architecture made it feel like a place where dreams really can be reached. It immediately gave me a jolt of curiosity and wonder that make me excited to be a student again.
A Taste of Oslo
I wasn’t sure what to expect moving to Oslo. I was concerned it would feel cold and unfriendly. But so far, I love it! It’s a great size, big enough to offer the benefits of urban life but small enough to get around quickly and so clean! Buying tickets and finding my way around the city by bus, trikk (tram) and t-bane (metro) has been surprisingly simple thanks to the excellent Ruter app and website. And it’s been easy to find beautiful parks and paths to go running. Most of all, I’m so happy to have finally found a country full of people that share my love of black licorice! Licorice powder on a cone of softis (soft-serve ice cream) is a revelation.
The biggest challenge these first weeks has just been getting used to hearing Norwegian spoken all around me most of the time. Even knowing that most Norwegians understand English, it was initially hard not to feel rude or demanding by asking questions in English. With a little practice, this has started to feel easier. And it helps that everyone seems genuinely happy to help and most people speak very good English in return.
After just a few weeks, I am beginning to feel so at home that when I look out the window of my apartment and see a medieval church, it’s a bit of a shock to remember where I am!
Back to School
As an international student, I’m not just transitioning to the culture of Norway, but also to the student culture of Norway and BI specifically. My first taste of that was through a preparatory course in statistics that took place at the beginning of August. I figured it would also be a good way to brush up on my math skills and get a taste for Norwegian student life at the same time. The first day of walking into class and being surrounded by almost entirely Norwegian students felt very intimidating. It was impossible not to feel uncertain and out of place. However, by the end of the intense four-day course, I felt much more confident in my ability to not only tackle statistics but also in breaking through the quiet outer shell of Norwegians to make new friends.
Now, I am really looking forward to orientation week and the opportunity to connect with many more international and Norwegian students and to begin my courses for the semester! Come say “hello” if you see me around!