Hello new students, congratulations on your acceptance to UiB and looking forward to seeing you in Bergen in January! The following is a blog dedicated to packing your bags for Bergen; it would be great if all you needed to do was pack up and show up, but because there are many additional details to take care of when planning to come to and study at UiB, I recommend also taking a look at the UiB website page, “Planning your arrival“. For those of you who have everything else under control and are purely wondering what you should bring to Bergen, this blog’s for you!
Now that you’ve decided to join us here at UiB, you may be wondering how to pack for a six months, a year, or even two years in Norway. I certainly was when I had been accepted to UiB. I tried to bring everything I had that I could squeeze in my bags. I thought I’d save money by just bringing it all along! This goes against my better travel instincts, as I like to travel as light as possible (and have often been known to embark with only a backpack). Of course, I regretted some of what I dragged with me, and wished I’d brought other things. Learn from my mistakes! Here’s my top tips for what to bring with you and what to find here:
Comforts of Home
Personally, I wish I’d saved room on duvets and sheets and brought more rain gear. If you’re getting in early enough and can arrange ahead of time to buy a duvet from someone on the Fantoft or Alrek Facebook market pages, save the room and buy housing goods cheaply from other students (or there’s always Ikea or finn.no).
But, if you have the room and won’t be in early enough to get those creature comforts before you have to head to bed here’s some items to consider bringing:
- Duvet (or a sleeping bag if you’re planning on camping someday anyhow)
- Pillow cases (you can always stuff some clothes in your first night before you buy a pillow)
- Washcloth or loofa or whatever you are into (or nothing!)
- Pain relievers (Advil/Tylenol)
- Cold Medicine – like Nyquil/Dayquil, Theraflu, Robitussin & Sudafed if you’re into that kind of thing, or Vick’s vaporub
- Vitamins – they are expensive here – and higher dose vitamin D isn’t available
- Standard toiletries (of course you can find all sort of toothpaste, soap, hair products, etc. here very readily). That being said, many of the following can be more expensive in Norway according to some expat sources:
- Dental floss
- Razors/Razor blade refills
- Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin/bacitracin)
A lot of blogs say to bring kitchen gear to Norway. In retrospect, I would wait to see if my kitchen was already stocked (mine wasn’t 🙁 but some are!). If the kitchen doesn’t already have utensils, I would personally just try to buy from fellow students, finn.no or Ikea. The kitchen gear is not worth the weight in your luggage unless you are very attached to some particular kitchen implement.
Here are some kitchen suggestions that may be hard to find or expensive in Norway:
- Big baker? Bring boxes of baking soda (baking soda is weirdly expensive here)
- Ziploc bags
- Protein bars
- Favorite nostalgia snacks
Wondering how to kit out your new digs for a reasonable price? Take a look here for some ideas.
Of course you want to bring a few of your favorite outfits, but try to keep your wardrobe as practical as possible. As Pauline, a Norwegian blogger, advises, pack for all seasons. Norway’s weather is ever changing, but if you prepare, you can still get out and enjoy the wonders of Norwegian nature. Remember, as the Norwegians say, “There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing” or a Ylvis says, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad kleather“.
Ideally you want to be able to have the following layers:
- Wool* first (Norwegians are obsessed with wool, even my partner, who prefers video games to hikes, extols the benefits of wool and thinks nothing else is good enough for an outdoor excursion of any length).
- Insulation (like fleece).
- Shell (wind/rain jacket – gore-tex ideally).
A word about rain gear – if you own it, bring it. If it’s reasonably priced where you live now, buy it. You will be glad you have it, and you will be glad not to pay Norwegian prices for it (or have to wait for a sale).
How about style? Or parties? Do you need a suit?
Probably not. Norway’s vibe is very casual/sporty and you will likely not need to dress up much, even for going out on the town on weekends. People are often seen in stylish exercise gear, considered perfectly acceptable for being out and about in town during the day, and in the mountains. You could perhaps bring one slightly more formal item if you plan to hanging out with Norwegians on the 17th of May (the Norwegian national day), for example (on this day many natives rock bunads, suits, or formal wear). But otherwise, keep it casual, comfortable, and most of all – practical.
Ideally you want your shoes to be waterproof and comfortable for walking. Err on the side of leaving shoes that don’t fit that description behind. I tend to prefer (semi) stylish boots for winter weather, and sneakers for warmer temperatures. I also often use my hiking boots. If you need some trendy shoes to show your style, just remember that Bergen’s weather wants to destroy your style, so bring them at your own risk!
Winter weather gear
While Bergen is quite temperate, you do want the standard winter weather gear:
- Winter coat
Again, you can buy all of these items here, but you will probably pay significantly more.
Summer weather gear
Well, the temperature may not get that summery very often. Average highs do not get above 19.1 °C, 66.4 °F, even at the height of summer. But, it is difficult to know, record highs have been around 30 °C, 89.2 °F, so of course, you want to have a little hot-weather gear, but it may not be used as often as your other options.
Planning outdoor adventures? Try to bring your hiking gear or skiing clothes – but skiing equipment and camping gear may be rentable if you join BSI Friluft, an outdoors organization.
Want specific hiking clothes advice? Click here.
Good to know
Generally, these clothing items also tend to be more expensive in Norway:
- Socks, underwear, bras
- Shoes, sneakers, boots
Planning to buy clothes in Norway? This blog post tries to provide some cheaper options.
- Textbooks. Of course you’re coming to study, you may want to bring your textbooks if possible (click here for ideas on how to save money on texts).
- Also, supplies such as post-it notes, or other study aids (like sticker flags, etc), sharpies, and so forth are likely much less expensive in your home country.
- Small electronics such as cell phones, etc.
- 120/240v power converter (remember if you’re bringing electronics that need to be plugged in and are coming from a country that has lower voltage electricity, then you potentially need a power converter to avoid shorting out your small electronics).
- Eye exams/prescription glasses (bring a backup pair if possible).
- Prescriptions – have your doctor give you a copy of prescriptions so you can pass them along to a Norwegian doctor and then get them filled in Norway. See if you can have your doctor authorize extra medications from your pharmacy for the time while you’re trying to get prescriptions filled in Norway if necessary.
I can’t tell you what type of baggage to bring, of course. But I can warn you – if you plan to bring a rolling suitcase make sure the wheels are BURLY and capable of extremely rough roads, you may be navigating cobblestones that ordinary suitcases cannot handle.
Are you an incoming student with a question about student life? Make a comment below! Are you a current student who has a recommendation for what to bring with you when coming to Norway for the first time? Comment below and share your knowledge! Need more packing ideas? Check here.