“Oslo… isn’t that the most expensive city in the world?”
It was with this fear I arrived on a rainy summer day in August in the capital city of Norway, ready to start my semester abroad. I didn’t know anyone who had been on exchange in Oslo before, only equipped with anecdotes from friends who had visited briefly. They had told me horror stories of paying twenty dollars for a sandwich, so I was very unsure of what my next six months would entail. However, as I reach the conclusion of my semester studying in Oslo and begin to say bittersweet goodbyes to new friends and this city, I do not regret choosing this mysterious place.
Norway is a strange and wonderful country, filled with unusual cultural practices, the most matter of fact people you will ever meet in your life, cinnamon buns and absolutely unreal scenery. It is a real shame that many Australians are scared of visiting Norway/Oslo due to the prices. Yes, it is expensive, however, after a week or so I learnt how to live reasonably cheaply and it really hasn’t been so bad. Tips for future students in Oslo; shop at the middle eastern supermarkets in Gronland (and try to cook a majority of your meals), always buy alcohol duty free, and bring all your hiking gear. This savvy combination should ensure you have an enjoyable time without spending your entire student loan in the first two weeks. When I say bring all your hiking gear that really is the best part of studying in Oslo.
Take any opportunity to get into the woods and mountains of Norway, because it truly is spectacular. Trains and buses are well organized and reasonably priced in Oslo and the rest of Norway. Just using this transportation gave me the opportunity to easily explore Norway, I was able to hike Preikeostolen rock, stay in a green hippie caravan in the woods, hike 22km to a self-service cabin in the middle of nowhere just using a compass and map, and participate in an ancient Nordic snow ritual which included roasting a lamb on a spit. I do love getting outdoors, but in Australia I’m not a super outdoorsy person who spends all their time getting “out bush.”
However, in Norway this is what it is all about, and Norwegians are legitimately obsessed with being outdoors, being fit and healthy, and pretty much running everywhere they go. Therefore, even if you don’t list hiking as one of your favourite weekend activities, if you plan on studying in Oslo you should take any opportunity to get involved in any outdoors activities. I was amazed every time I went for a hike, even if it was just around the lake at Sognsvann (where one of the student houses is situated), the scenery is pristine and you begin to feel like you are walking around a postcard. So if you do get the opportunity to study in Norway, do like the Norwegians do and get outside!