Hannes Frey spent the winter semester 2020/21 at our partner university University of Bergen in Norway as a student in the 6th bachelor semester of design. Here he reports on his experiences as an exchange student in the far north and on his everyday life during his studies and gives organizational tips for anyone interested in spending a semester abroad in Norway.
Where and how did you live during your semester abroad?
In a student dorm in a shared apartment with seven other exchange students. That was great for making contacts quickly and for networking. There's always something going on in a shared apartment - especially during the Corona pandemic, which was very beneficial.
What was the university like and what courses did you take?
At first I was a little confused: The courses were chosen for us. There was no provision to choose for ourselves. At first it was a challenge for yourself to get into the system, but after you got to know the teachers and students, it became a more relaxed.
In what ways were you able to gain new experiences and develop yourself?
It was very exciting to see design from a Scandinavian perspective for once. Sure, there are a lot of similarities with HAWK - but at KMD in Norway, it was welcomed to design more freely and artistically. In long design theory lectures we were introduced to our own design process. It wasn't always easy, because it was tedious. But my view of the design process changed as a result.
My view of the design process has changed as a result.
What were your highlights, professionally and culturally?
My semester was full of highlights. But one in particular was definitely great: seeing the northern lights on a trip to the north of Norway with other students. That experience will stay with me forever. At the university itself, there were several highlights: I think the helpfulness from fellow students and workshop leaders was really important and not to be taken for granted.
What was your biggest personal challenge?
Sliding into the other university system. In the beginning, there were many hurdles that we didn't even know about. We often had to inquire, ask questions and sometimes even row back. But over time, everything fell into place.
What tips do you have for future outgoings?
Beforehand, think about how important the subject-related part, i.e. university and studies, and the cultural part, i.e. country and people, are to you in each case during the semester. It is okay and important to gain extracurricular experience during your semester abroad - that is part of the learning experience. Another tip: If no one seems to be responsible, for example, for a course choice or introduction that you would like to take, first register or just do it. Sometimes it only becomes clear then who is responsible.