A huge welcome to all the new international students for Spring semester! I hope you are getting settled, exploring Bergen, and not letting weather stop you from getting out and having fun. If you are new to Bergen this semester, you may be looking for some ways to get settled-in and get involved as an international student in Bergen. Here’s an update blog post for you on just that topic! 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:
Borealis (7-11 March 2018): An experimental music festival for adventurous listening, Borealis brings together new musical experiments from diverse genres. Borealis is an annual 5-day festival that works with local and international composers, sound artists, improvisers and musicians to develop projects that rearrange the furniture of the musical world, and question assumptions about the nature and trajectory of music.
Volunteer for Borealis now – experience an exciting Bergen festival, make new friends in Bergen and add work experience to your CV! Borealis 2018 is seeking people to work with ticket sales, rigging, artist contact, office tasks, information, transport, catering, decoration, distribution of posters and other fun tasks. Volunteers receive a certificate of work, a tote-bag, a t-shirt, a festival pass and will be invited to attend the launch party on the 7th of February at Landmark.
Bergen International Festival (23 May – 6 June 2018): A performing arts festival featuring classical and contemporary music, theatre, dance, exhibitions, and more. As a volunteer you can meet new people, get a festival pass, a certificate of work and an invitation to the closing party! Click here to read about the types of jobs you can do as a volunteer for Bergen International Festival. Volunteer registration opens in February.
Nattjazz, (25 May – 2 June): Founded in 1972 and among the major jazz festivals of Northern Europe, Nattjazz is Bergen’s annual spring jazz festival. Each year Nattjazz recruits over 300 volunteers, each working 4 of 9 festival days. As a “Jazzworker” you can make friends, get a festival pass + some extra benefits, and attend “legendary parties”. Keep your eyes on their website for the start of volunteer registration. Email Nattjazz with questions about volunteering: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other options throughout the year:
- Bergen Ølfestival (September) the annual beer festival. Read about volunteering for BØ here.
- Matfestival (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.
- 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 check Facebook for join for student-related events that you might be interested in, such as the Carnival Cruise (hosted by the SSLBergen -Student social life)!
- 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:
Need help figuring out where to get involved in Bergen? Facebook is very important for staying connected and knowing what’s going on around town. Worried about not being able to understand Norwegian websites? For other information about surfing Bergen online, including information on using web-translators, take a look at this page 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 Western Norway, click here. To read about traveling elsewhere 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 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!