Getting to know people in Norway
Sheree Nicholson from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada had a tough start to her exchange semester at HiOA, but it worked out well in the end!
Sheree says “I was the only non-Norwegian in my class and the Norwegian students were really self-conscious about speaking English”.
Like many others, Sheree discovered that Norwegians take some time to warm up. Everyone learns English from the age of six, so if language isn’t really the issue, what is?
Even old hands have a difficult time. Julien S. Bourrelle, an expert on inter-cultural communication came to Norway six years ago having lived in five other countries. “Coming to Norway has been by far the most challenging cultural experience”, he says.
Having found her classmates to be a little reticent, Sheree found an approach that has served her well. She started an activity to bring her together with people of all different backgrounds, joining the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in Oslo as representative for HiOA. ESN is a non-profit international student organisation, primarily for European students, but as Sheree says, “they really appreciated my non-European point of view”.
But did she get to know any Norwegians?
Sheree also found out that it was just a matter of time, patience and small steps. “After a few weeks, some of my fellow students confessed that they felt their English was getting a lot better”, she says. And before long she made a very good Norwegian friend. “When I was invited to visit Kristine’s family home, that was a very big stepping stone”.
Exchange studies at HiOA
Exchange studies and courses taught in English are available to students participating in an exchange programme between HiOA and partner institutions, through Erasmus+, Nordplus and other agreements.