What's it like Studying in Oslo, Norway?
Oslo isn’t the most conventional study abroad destination, as it’s known for being cold (true) and expensive (very true). However, look past that and you have a thriving modern city packed with culture, knowledge and innovation, making it a great city to study in.
Why were you there?
I spent a year studying abroad at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo. I was there from August until the following June. Oslo isn’t the most conventional study abroad destination, as it’s known for being cold (true) and expensive (very true). However, look past that and you have a thriving modern city packed with culture, knowledge and innovation, making it a great city to study in.
The enrolment process was super easy, I can’t remember much red tape or bureaucracy. Before I left the UK, I was sent a Welcome Guide that took me through everything from pre-departure to my first week of lectures. When it came to registering at the university upon arrival, all I needed to do was hand in a few documents at the reception desk and have a photo taken for my ID card, then come back a few days later to collect them. It was unbelievably straight forward. After that, I was emailed everything I needed to know. I always knew where I needed to be and when I needed to be there! The university handled it so well, there was no stress involved at all.
There was also a welcome week, which resembled a Freshers week. There were social events every day, including a boat party on the Oslo fjord (best thing I’ve ever done!) and a music festival held at an outdoor Ski slope. In the welcome week you’ll be put into a group and assigned ‘buddies’ – local students who can help you with any questions you have at the start. It really felt like they’d considered everything and genuinely wanted you to hit the ground running.
I lived in accommodation provided by the university. There were three halls of residence to choose from, and I chose BSN. It was just a 5 minute walk to the university. At BSN, the bottom three floors are almost exclusively occupied by international students, which means it’s a really sociable environment. You’ll live in a shared flat with only one other person, so that can be a bit risky. Thankfully I became really good friends with my flatmate, which made the whole experience better. The bedrooms and shared living areas are fairly basic, but BSN does have a communal rooftop with an amazing view of Oslo, a gym and free access to on-site squash courts, so you do get some awesome added benefits. In terms of price, BSN was actually cheaper than what I’d paid for first-year accommodation in Liverpool.
Oslo’s nightlife is pretty hot or cold. It’s either heavy, deep European techno or cheesy 80s pop, with not much in between. You never know what you’re going to get, which in some ways makes it pretty exciting. At the end of the day, the nightlife is what you make it. The people you’re with will be more important than the club.
A few popular student haunts include Kroa – BI’s equivalent to a Students Union. They have a club night every Thursday in term time, with the occasional themed event or live gig. Kroa
closes at 11pm, so it’s better for pre-drinks or just a casual pub trip. If you’re heading into town for a bigger night out, then students often head to ‘The Club’, a huge super-venue in the centre with a neverending winding staircase and an upstairs that weirdly resembles a Wetherspoons.
You can also try ‘Horgans’, a US-themed bar with free entry for students on Thursdays. The top floor is tame and the basement is far too crowded to actually enjoy it. The cloakroom is daylight robbery and you’ll most likely be kicked out for no reason. Despite saying you “hate it” and you’ll “never go back”, you’ll probably still go there every week. My top recommendation is Qadis, in the Grunerlokka area. Here, there are overall good vibes, the queue is never too long and the music is pretty varied, serving all tastes.
Although Oslo’s nightlife isn’t worth writing home about, it’s still a capital city and offers a lot of choice. It’s worth noting that it is mega expensive to go out in Oslo and on weekends the minimum age limit will be at least 21, though usually more. One club that denied us entry was only allowing people aged 26 and over in, so it’s best to use Facebook to research events before you head down.
Where to go
If you’re looking for affordable and delicious grub, then look no further than Oslo Street Food, in the city centre. The food hall hosts international vendors, selling dishes native to Peru, India, Hawaii and Greece, just to name a few. Keep an eye out here for the “best duck-burger in Scandinavia”, and my personal favourite, Monkeys, who deliver mind-blowing bubble waffles tailor-made for your tastebuds.
The overall experience
I had the time of my life in Oslo. It’s an understated, unassuming city packed with culture, natural beauty and contemporary, progressive influence. Futuristic skyscrapers sit next to quaint Scandinavian architecture, which makes for an interesting sight wherever you explore.
The city is clean, safe and easy to navigate, and Norwegians are friendly, positive and honest people. You will always be able to find someone who can help you if you need it. You’ll have stunning nature right on your doorstep, and you’ll never be far from a restaurant, pub, shop or museum that’s worth checking out to fill some time.
I didn’t experience any culture shock in Norway. Well, maybe apart from the fact that things actually work and public transport runs on time. If you don’t mind spending a bit more money than you might normally, and you’re prepared to wrap up warm and invest in some solid boots to brave the Winter, then Oslo is absolutely the city for you.