My Erasmus in Tromsø – Above the Arctic Circle
It’s been already 1 ½ years ago, that a made the spontaneous decision to do a semester abroad, spontaneous because I signed-in on the last day of the registration period. And now I look back on the best six months of my life!
Right away it was clear for me, that I want to experience and discover the north of Europe and as I read “The Arctic University” I knew, that this will be the place. I never heard about Tromsø before, but when I looked it up it seemed very nice and so the decision was made: I will study half a year at “UiT – The Arctic University of Norway”, 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The city itself is located on an island, connected with a bridge and an underwater tunnel to the mainland and another bridge to the next island.
After my arrival it didn’t take me long to absolutely fall in love with Tromsø. I always experienced it as a very cute city, you can walk thru the centrum within a few minutes and explore multiple cafes and shops. And still, a huge part is nature: The middle of the island is almost house-free, you can visit “Prestvannet” (a lake), either cross-country ski in the winter or go for a bike-trip in the summer on the walking paths, that go from the north to the south. Nature is in general a big part of Tromsø and its area, you will always find something to do and explore outside, and you definitely should! Hiking-Trips with overnight stays in the so-called “DNT cabins” count to my favorite memories here.
But, of course, I also spent a lot of time on the campus of the university, either when I had a lecture or seminar, studied for my exams, met my friends in the cafeteria or went for a workout in the university sports center “KRAFT”. Overall I can say, that I had a really good experience with UiT. The organization of everything was always on-point, for example when I think back to the nice welcome-days we had! Also my professors were all the time ready to help me out when I had questions or misunderstandings and, one of my favorite parts: One of the international coordinators sent an e-mail every week with the “Weekly Announcements” where they summarized all events that will happen in the upcoming week, like this you will never miss anything.
I never had to look for a long-stay apartment in a foreign country, so this was the most scary part of my study-abroad preparation. But it turned out super easy. UiT is very prepared for international students and has a proper step-by-step guide on their website! You find everything about how to apply, where you find courses and also, which student housings are offered. Along to UiT, which has universitys in Alta, Hammerfest, Harstad, Narvik and even a small faculty in Svalbard, there exists the company “Samskipnaden”, which owns all the student housings. You just apply for as many different options as you want to (because there are multiple locations in Tromsø) and they will assign you to a house and a room. On a little side note my story about living here: I got a room, which was on the island next to Tromsø. When I checked it at home on google maps, it didn’t seem too bad and it was the cheapest, so I was very happy. But after a week of living there, I applied for another student housing because everybody I got to know lived there, it was closer to university and in the end just a little bit more expensive. And luckily, with the second of February, I was able to move, absolutely the best decision!
Now a little bit more about my university life. I attended an English course-package which consisted of three different courses, all of them were built up the same: a lecture to get an overview and then a seminar to get more deeply into each topic, which means that I had three lectures and three seminars every week, so compared to back at home it was much less. I had
to complete all assignments in the courses, to be able to take part at the exam, and, in the end, the grade of the exam was my final grade in each course. The exams really reminded me of my “Matura”: single tables, four to six hours of time and all personal belongings were stored somewhere else. But with some studying before absolutely doable.
I was able to experience a lot of things, that are just typical for this arctic area. I look back on the polar night and seeing the sun for the first time again after three weeks followed by the slow but still fast transition to the midnight sun, that circles around me right now. I saw the Northern Lights out of my kitchen window, took part on a whale watching tour, visited the reindeer race in the city center, went cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and hiking and did trips to the closer surroundings like “Sommarøy” (an island) or “Blåisvatnet” (a lake). We also discovered places further away like the “Lofoten” and we also flew to “Svalbard”. Tromsø is just a great spot to start adventures trips!
And which influence did this semester have on my personality and my ability to be a good teacher? Tromsø definitely shaped and also clarified my personality, as I noticed when I was on the phone with my mother for example. But to cut it a little bit down I would say “self-organization” and “keeping your head calm in stressed situations” (for example when your friend refuels the car with benzin instead of diesel in the north of Finland 😊). Those are definitely two abilities, that will help me in my future life as a teacher. Not that I didn’t have them before, but now they are properly trained for everything. One of our main mottos up here was: “It’s gonna be just fine!”, that’s something that I want to keep in my mind, because whatever happens, it will be fine in the end.
Tromsø, I couldn’t thank you enough for everything you gave me in the past six months, for all the experiences and on top of all for my new family all around the globe, until we meet again. <3
Text und Foto: Kirbisser Rebekka