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Thinking outside the box

To finalise their nursing degree, Marina Reis and Ana Santos from Portugal came to Oslo and spent a semester at HiOA, - an experience they gladly recommend to other students.
“You develop so much on a personal level. It has been a good challenge,” says Marina.

Ana Santos (in front) and Marina Reis during their placement in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Oslo University Hospital.

“I think it is important to think outside the box,” Marina says.

And that is exactly what she did when she and her friend Ana made the decision to come to HiOA and the Faculty of Health Sciences to do an internship at Oslo University Hospital. As Erasmus exchange students, HiOA is responsible academically for the two students. Since Marina and Ana are nursing students, a large part of their degree consists of internships at medical institutions, and that is the same in both Portugal and Norway. Instead of attending lectures and seminars at HiOA the two nursing students have spent the autumn semester participating in clinical study at the Department for infectious diseases at Oslo University Hospital.

Crossing the language barrier

Exchenge students Ana Santos and Marina Reis during their placement.

“In Portugal we don't have the opportunity to do an internship in a department for infectious diseases, so it was very interesting”, Marina remarks. Ana agrees. “We knew which hospital department we were going to be trainees at, before we arrived”, Ana explains.

She admits that the fact that none of them could speak Norwegian was initially a barrier.

“It could sometimes be a problem with the patients”, Ana says. “But all the professionals speak English and a lot of the patients did too so we ended up feeling very welcome”, Marina adds.

Warm welcome from classmates

Since the two exchange students spent most of their time at Oslo University Hospital, they have hardly spent any time in classes at HiOA.

“But our classmates have taken care of us, even though we are only here for one semester, and we also have an academic advisor, who will approve our internship”, Marina says.

It has been somewhat challenging to make friends on campus, because they have spent so little time actually at HiOA. In addition, they just arrived this September and are due to leave for home right before Christmas.

“I guess that is one of the difficult aspects with being on an Erasmus exchange, because you are often abroad only for one semester”, Marina explains.

Experience of presenting research

Ana and Marina receives souvenirs from their supervisor Borghild Løyland after their presentation.

One of the academic tasks they were asked to do at HiOA was to summarise a research paper in English written by their supervisor Borghild Løyland and to give a public presentation about the findings. The paper they chose was about the bullying of schoolchildren in secondary schools and the effect of support groups in schools for those students who experience bullying.

“The paper highlights that school nurses have an important role in fighting this problem”, Ana says.

Although they were nervous before the presentation, they enjoyed summarising and presenting the research.

Financially manageable

In their opinion, the grant given to all Erasmus exchange students to cover accommodation and other necessary expenses seems too small when you choose to study in Norway, as the cost of living here is generally higher than in most other European countries.

“We received one payment from Erasmus, but found that money was only enough to cover our basic rent, so we have to use our savings for everything else,” Ana comments.

To keep costs down the two students share a room during their stay here, but they stress that they still enjoy being in Oslo, and experiencing a completely new culture.

“It is definitely manageable financially. You just have to plan and save for some time in advance”, Marina says, adding that the two of them started planning their stay in Norway in January.

Positive experience

They expect to get their nursing license from Portugal in January 2016 when they arrive back at the Polytechnic of Leiria where they have done their nursing degree.

“But it is very difficult to get a job as a nurse in Portugal”, Ana explains. That is why both she and Marina are considering coming back to Norway after they are qualified nurses to look for a job here.

“Actually there is a lot of words we understand already on the hospital ward, because many of the terms used are international or in Latin”, Marina explains. They have also noticed that there seems to be more equality between the people who work on hospital wards in Norway than there is in Portugal.

Now that their exchange is ending and they are due to go back to Portugal both students agree that the experience has been largely positive.

“You develop so much on a personal level. It has been a good challenge”, Marina says.

“This is something I would definitely recommend to other students thinking of going abroad”, Ana concludes.

Erasmus Exchange Students Ana Santos and Marina Reis.
Caroline Svendsen Published: Updated:

The Erasmus Programme

The Erasmus Programme is an EU exchange student programme that has been in existence since the late 1980's. Its purpose is to provide foreign exchange options for students from within the EU. Norway is an EEA member country and therefore also part of this scheme. Students from participating universities can either come to HiOA as part of their degree or students at HiOA may travel abroad to do part of their degree at a European university. There are over 4000 students involved in the programme at any one time.

Students can go abroad for 3 to 12 months (including a complementary traineeship period, if planned).

Source: The Erasmus Programme


HiOA welcomes international students

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA) offers many courses and programmes for international students. Application procedures vary according to what kind of courses or programmes you want to apply to.


Study in Norway

Norway offers you a unique student experience and Norwegian institutions of higher education welcome applications sent by qualified students from all over the world. Learn more about studies for international students in Norway at www.studyinnorway.no