The master’s degree applications are now open at the University of Bergen (open period is 15 October – 1 December), so I though I’d inspire you to apply by telling you my own story of why I choose to apply to UiB.
Why study in Norway?
I’m often asked, “why Norway?!”, it the incredulous tone that notation implies (and mostly by Norwegians! Come on guys, your country is great!), and I feel weird saying, because getting a masters in Norway was cheaper than the US, but to some degree, that was part of the decision.
What! Norway is cheaper than the U.S.?!
Now, let’s be clear. Norway is expensive. It is exactly as expensive as you’ve heard, or maybe more-so. And in many ways Norway is more expensive than the US, but not for school tuition. The US’s tuition rates are insanely high, students can end up in extreme debt in order to go to University for undergrad or graduate school. Norway, however, is one of a very few countries I found that offers English-language education at the same cost to foreigners as it does to its own citizens (virtually free!). With effort, ingenuity, and student-budgeting skills you can live as a student in Norway for a reasonable sum, and for me, the amount that I was required to have in my Norwegian bank account per year in order to qualify for residency was about half the cost of (admittedly insanely expensive) US tuition. But the financial considerations only made my journey to school in Norway an achievable dream, at the root there was a heartfelt reason I ended up here…
Loving Norway is easy, and for more than reasonably priced education. Photo: Stand Hiestand
A desire to live abroad at a young age
There was a reason I sought programmes outside of my own country that had absolutely nothing to do with money. You see, I had known I wanted to go to school abroad since I was as close to little as I ever got (born tall, don’t ya know). I remember fantasizing about doing my last year of high school in Ireland as a gradschooler young enough to write high school off as “too far away”. I was a bit of an anglophile as a kid (lots of British sitcoms on public television growing up), and my early desires focused on the UK.
Red Dwarf. Yup, I was that type of British sitcom dork. Image: http://www.scified.com/red-dwarf/scifieds-guide-to-red-dwarf–the-main-cast
As I grew older, however, my tastes expanded, in no small part because of a trip to Europe with my parents as a 13-year-old and a high school trip with my Germany class to stay with a Germany family. As I grew, the list of countries I fantasized about living in also grew… Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, even New Zealand, Australia, and many more. How about Norway? No, I have to admit, I hadn’t considered Norway, not until I saw a programme that stopped me in my tracks.
Why UiB? And why Health Promotion?
Why did UiB’s Master’s of Health Promotion Programme stop me more than any other programme I’d looked into? A couple reasons specific to my situation, I knew I was interested in Health-related studies, but, despite my four years working at the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service (and related absorption of medical information) I didn’t have as many of the science requirements as I needed (and still want) in order to go into health research in many arenas. I was qualified, however, for the health promotion programme – and it had enough focus on human health to keep me intrigued, with an added concentration on social determinants of health (which boil down to issues I find vital, like social justice). An intriguing combination!
How did I even find UiB?
Randomly, I found UiB as I was doing my annual scroll-through of programmes that were listed under the US FAFSA’s “Foreign” universities covered by US loans or grants (did I find out later that these non-US universities were only covered for people who were already enrolled in a US university full-time? Sadly, yes I did.).
The annual scroll-through consisted of me taking a look at a school, seeing where in the world it was, and then peeking at the degrees and programmes they had available on their website to determine if they interested me. It was a systematic journey in search of a country, a school, and a programme that worked for me.
When I started exploring UiB’s Health Promotion programme I felt my heart start to race, I was excited about the possibility of the Health Promotion immediately, and I knew I had to apply! And, I still vividly remember my coworker asking me, “something good?” upon hearing the gasp I gave when I read the acceptance email that came in several months later.
Bergen as a bonus
When I began looking at UiB I had never heard of the city that houses UiB, Bergen; but I knew I had to love wherever I was going to live for school. As I started exploring Bergen online, I was charmed by the aesthetic appeal of the city, its European feel, its mountainous surroundings, and as a born-and-bred Seattleite, I have to admit I was charmed that we were sister-cities, and even remarked with a hint of irony to my friends, that of course I’d only move to Seattle’s sister-city.
Being sister-cities, in each place we have some landmarks to honor our sister-city. So, I did have to go take a photo at Bergen place in Seattle before I left there, and at the totem pole that Seattle gifted Bergen when I arrived here.
Making friends with Seattle’s gift to Norway. Photo: Ryan Wilson.
It makes sense that Bergen and Seattle are sister-cities, we also have trolls in Seattle! (for size perspective, this Seattle-troll is holding a real Volkswagen Beetle in its hand). Photo: Stand Hiestand.
Now that you live in Norway, do you miss home?
I’m also often asked if I miss the US. My honest answer is of course I miss some things, I miss the incredible (perhaps unnecessarily overabundant) variety in supermarkets, I miss being able to afford to go out to restaurants, and most of all I miss my people – my friends and family, but do I miss the US the country? No, not yet anyway. I have found Norway, and Bergen in particular, to be a hospitable, beautiful, and intriguing place to live. And yes, the weather does often suck – but I’m from Seattle, the weather sucks there too.
Considering applying as a self-financing student to UiB and have questions about student life? Ask me below!
Already a student and want to share why you chose UiB? Please feel free to comment!