‘For me, the biggest difference I noted between the two societies is how they give meaning to respect and the weight they give to equality. For instance, students and teachers are more on the same standing, meaning the teacher does not really have the same authority over the student as we are used to in the Philippines. Students are actually encouraged to challenge and question the teacher and not just accept what we are being told at school. The amount of information that the students are required to learn is less intense here than in the Philippines, giving the student a chance to reflect more on what is being taught them'.
IO Delgado fell in love with Norway the first time she went to visit her extended family that had moved here some time back. With the opportunity of living with her family she decided to move to Norway herself and start a Bachelor in Environment and Natural Resources at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The Norwegian University of Life Sciences offers a wide range of courses taught in English.
IO on the other hand couragesly chose a different route. Determined to take her full Bachelor course in Norwegian, she spent one year studying Norwegian at the Telemark University College before starting her degree.
Miss IO started her degree in August 2011 and will graduate in June 2014. As an international student there has been a lot of new things to learn and get used to, but overall she writes, it has been both a challenging and nurturing experience so far.
The Norwegian University of Life Sciences is located in the middle of a so-called student town. There is a vibrant and friendly student atmosphere and IO has found the university to be very aware of the needs of the international students. What IO likes most about the university are the quality of the teachers, the facilities, the courses and its outlook on environmental issues. Because of the difference in economic resources compared to the Philippines, IO further reflects, Norwegian universities have a lot more to offer their students in terms of facilities and other activities during and after the studies. She is also impressed with the importance Norwegians give to gender equality. After finishing her Bachelor, IO is considering to continue on to a Master program if she can also find a job that supports her studies.
On the social side, IO reveals, Norwegians are quite reserved people and can be quite hard to interact with at first, especially if you do not know the language. But this is not just towards foreigners: they act like this towards each other as well. Living costs are furthermore a lot higher in Norway than in the Philippines. 'My family is helping me a great deal with the financial part of my studies, and I am also working part-time. It also helps that I am living with my family rather than renting a place on my own.' For more information about loans and scholarships click here.
Taking account of all this IO would nevertheless not really say that it was a culture shock. 'I guess I kind of anticipated that there would be a lot of differences and I have been open to all the new things that I get to experience. When it comes to making friends, for me it was just like starting a new school. You just have to have the guts to make the first move if no one else will.' IO has now made close friends with a lot of the other international students.
Any final words to a fellow Filipino thinking about coming to study in Norway?
Ok this will sound super cliche but just remember to have some faith in yourself and in the Lord that things will get better. It is just like what they say: All beginnings are difficult, you just have to go out there and stay positive and try to be self-reliant and explore. Even Norwegian students do not know all the loops and holes around here so it is an amazing and nurturing experience to get to learn these things yourself. I will definitely recommend studying here. And for a student, what else would you ask for then free education!