A huge welcome to all the new international students this Fall! I hope you are getting settled, exploring Bergen, and not letting a little rain stop you from having fun so far. If you saw me at the Welcome Programme, you know I think the keys to building a great study abroad experience in Bergen are: integration, exploration, and (being prepared for… but heading outside despite) precipitation. In the interest of helping you, today I want to offer an expanded resource to getting settled-in as an international student in Bergen. It includes links to many other blog posts that may be of interest (although, not all of them may be entirely up-to-date, sorry!).
Volunteer and/or get involved:
Volunteering is an amazing way to take part in Norwegian culture, meet new friends, and have new adventures. Read more about volunteering in Norway here. You can volunteer for, or just join, many of the opportunities and activities below:
- Bergen Ølfestival (1 & 2 September 2017) the annual beer festival. Read about volunteering for BØ here.
- Matfestival (1-3 September) annual food festival, in conjunction with BØ (above).
- Bergen International Film Festival or BIFF (26 September – 4 October 2017). Read about BIFF here.
- Pepperkakebyen (November/December) annual ginger bread house display. Read more about Pepperkakebyen here or here.
- Borealis (7-11 March 2018), experimental music festival.
- Bergen International Festival,(23 May – 6 June 2018) performing arts festival.
- Natt Jazz, (25 May – 2 June) annual jazz festival.
- There ~60 different festivals and concerts in Bergen annually: explore other options here or take a look at the Student Bergen guide to festivals here.
There are so many student organizations to either join or volunteer with. Below are just a few to get you started. Read about getting involved in student organizations here.
- Kvarteret (the student culture house).
- Hulen (the student-run rock club).
- Bergen Filmklubb (runs student film nights).
- Erasmus Student Network, a non-profit European student organization designed for international students.
- Student Radio.
- Skeive Studenter, the student group for LGBTQ+ students and their allies.
- There organizations for media, sports, politics, music, pubs, international groups and many more.
- Or, search for other student organizations here.
- Make sure to join events hosted by student organizations, such as the Halloween Cruise (hosted by the International Student Union or ISU), whether or not you join the organization!
- Vitalitetssenteret Frivilligsentral (Vitality Center Volunteer Center), an entirely volunteer-run organization that offers a wide variety of services, classes, and activities.
- Robin Hood Huset (The Robin Hood House), an organization designed to help people with financial issues expand their network.
- Røde Kors (Red Cross), an international organization helping worldwide and here in Norway.
There are many opportunities to learn Norwegian, both through the university and outside of it. Take a look at these Student Bergen pages (yes, I helped out with these) that offer information about resources for learning Norwegian that charge fees or that are offered for free. And, remember, Norwegian TV and movies are a great, and entertaining, way to ‘practice’ your norsk.
- Norwegian TV is available online through NRK.no and always has a Norwegian subtitle option (so get started watching SKAM if you haven’t already… you may even be able to google a not-necessarily-legal version that has homemade English subtitles… not that I would have personally ever done such a thing).
- The Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek (Public Library) not only has opportunities to practice Norwegian in person, but also offers all sorts of books (I recommend children’s books and comic books) and even some Norwegian movies with English subtitles. Read more about the Bergen Public Library here. Personally, I like reading Natta Fortellinger for Rebelske Jenter (the Norwegian version of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls) as it covers my need to practice Norwegian along with my desire to read inspiring stories about amazing women that I missed out on as a child. And yes, I borrow the book from the library, and yes, I feel conflicted telling you guys because I feel that you’ll now be in competition with me to borrow it 😉
Navigating Bergen online:
As you may remember if you saw me at the Introductory Programme, in Norway Facebook is very important for staying connected and knowing what’s going on around town. For other information about surfing Bergen online, take a look at this information on the Student Bergen website.
Maybe you want to see some of the art, museums, historical buildings, or other features that make Bergen so beautiful. You could simply stroll around and discover Bergen on your own, or use a tourist website, or Student Bergen’s site as a guide.
Here are some places in Bergen I have written about exploring:
- KODE (Bergen’s Art Museums).
- The Leprosy Museum.
- Museet Lysøen (Ole Bull’s house).
- Nordnes (for Pokémon GO)
- One of the 7 mountains.
- UiB Faculties, including: the Humanities Faculty, the Medical Faculty, the Marine Microbiology Group Lab, the Psychology Faculty, the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty, and the Law Faculty.
- Brann Stadium, for a football game.
- The Legevakt (emergency room — try to avoid this experience if possible 😉 ).
- Vinmonopolet (the state run wine, beer and liquor store).
Still finding your way around Bergen? Some of the information from this post on familiarizing yourself with Bergen may be helpful.
Eat or Drink out
Cheap? Not necessarily, but occasionally, you may wish to frequent a local establishment of some kind. I recently helped Student Bergen expand their Eating and Drinking in Bergen section so hopefully there are many good options there for getting started finding places to go out. Remember, getting take-out is almost always the cheaper option if you are craving food that you don’t want to cook yourself. My personal favorite places to get food or beer include:
- Henrik Øl og Vinstove literally, “Henrik Beer and Wine Living Room”, named for Henrik Ibsen. A pub with an extensive beer selection and bartenders that really care about beer.
- Biskopen “the Bishop”. A bar with a very charming atmosphere, especially when the fire is lit. It often also has great music. Usually it has good beers although the menu doesn’t rotate as much as I’d like.
- Nirvana Kebab. Admittedly, it hard to find a really good kebab in Bergen. However, I think these ones are downright crave-able. My absolute favorite kebab in this city comes from Nirvana. It is the Kylling Rullekebab (chicken rolled kebab) with the hot pepper sauce. Yaaaas.
- Gresk Pai. Tasty, savory and Greek – handheld pies.
- Pasty World. My new favorite – Cornish pasties, these handheld pies are definitely delicious.
Exploring Beyond Bergen:
There are a great many other places to explore in Norway, in Scandinavia and beyond. Thinking about travels while you study abroad? Some of these blog posts might help inspire some Norwegian travel ideas:
- Bergen Railway
- Lofoten (and Lofoten planning)
- For more ideas on traveling in Norway, you may want to explore the Visit Norway website.
While I’ve been here I’ve also traveled to France, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain (although, sadly I’ve not made any blog posts for these travels). How do I decide where to go? Generally, I do a lot of searching for whatever plane tickets are the cheapest!
Precipitation: Get outdoors!
Don’t let the weather deter you from being outside (unless it is an epic downpour like yesterday)! But make sure you gear up, after all, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” (Click on this bad weather blog link above for information about gearing up, including where you might find reasonably priced outdoor clothes). Once you are prepared, get out there: go hiking, get on the water, or just stroll the streets.
- You may also wish to take a look at my page about being prepared for hiking.
- Explore Student Bergen’s updated pages to look for hikes in Bergen (there is also a little information for hiking in Western Norway).
- Also make sure to read their information on hiking safety.
- For information about other outdoor activities, click here.
There’s so much to get involved in, how do I get started?
- To receive information about upcoming events, remember to follow the International Student Union, the Erasmus Student Network and the Student Parliament on Facebook. Also, join Student Bergen – Events, a landing page for events students may be interested in.
- Explore Student Bergen’s upcoming student events, and their student culture calendar.
- Also, check out this blog to read about getting involved in fun activities in Bergen.
- Utilize UiB’s ‘Student Life’ tab under the ‘Education’ section as well as Student Bergen’s gateway to tons of student organizations.
- Or, meet other expats at Internations, a group meeting once a month in Bergen. It is great fun to meet people from all over the world who may or may not be students.
- And remember, if you need specific help with a problem related to the University there is a student ombudsman available. And if you need help with your mental or physical health, the student welfare organization, SAMMEN has resources for you.
Just a reminder to post your questions or suggestions for other ways to integrate or explore in Bergen below!