Zar: Reflection, Final thoughts, Advice!

And just like that my exchange is done!?

My biggest advice for anyone considering an exchange is to just do it.

I had never planned to go on exchange, but I was talking to a friend who had graduated last year and as he wisely said, “You only get once chance to do it, so why not?” A five-year degree is LOOOng and towards the end it starts to feel like you’re suddenly rushing towards full-time work with no time to take a breath. Being able to take 6 months to try something new, have some fun and grow a little was 100% the best decision I made in my degree. I feel so much more confident and relaxed and just so happy and blessed to have had the best time (and to have finessed 6 months of summer in one year).

The biggest highlight of exchange was the travel. I had never been to Europe and being able to see so much of it was amazing. I started with a month and half of travelling with my friends – we visited six countries, saw the Acropolis and the Colosseum, spent a birthday eating copious amounts of feta in Santorini, visited Juliet’s house in Verona and took a boat ride through the canals of Venice. Starting out with my friends was the best way to get acquainted with new places and it was so nice to have moral support through every new language barrier, transport system and injury that came our way. I also was able to do a ton of solo trips over my time in Norway and had the best time exploring a bunch of different countries.

Living in Norway was also so special. I was able to study a lot of subjects that we don’t offer in New Zealand and learnt some really cool stuff. My Take-aways: Norway is expensive! I became queen of budgeting and started drinking instant coffee again (RIP); Norway is cold! I got to see snow fall for the first time and experience the black ice (cue me taking 15 min detours so I don’t have to walk/slide/straight up fall down any slope) and it has the best tasting tap water in the world. On the admin side, the University of Oslo was very communicative and helpful. Having guaranteed accommodation was a lifesaver and the rooms were WARM. It was really easy to navigate O-Week, assignments and exams and I was lucky to have so much time outside of class free to enjoy myself. My main advice for anyone considering 6 months in Norway is to try and go for sem 2. It was much easier moving over in summer and learning the ropes when you could go outside without 20 layers of clothing and ice-pick shoes. Winter in Oslo is stunning but it’s definitely more difficult to set up when it gets dark by 3pm. I would also suggest only going if you’re happy #cooking your meals because eating food out is $$$$$$$$.

Finally, I think Oslo is also a good place to study if you are comfortable being or want to push yourself to be more independent. I met really cool people but with everybody travelling and studying on very different schedules we all spent a considerable chunk of time exploring alone. I moved up to Auckland for uni but living alone in a non-English speaking country was definitely a whole new level of Being On My Own. It was challenging but also fun to discover a new place and to enjoy new experiences by myself – and we always had a laugh hearing everyone’s adventures when we were all back together in Oslo.

Me + Mona Lisa

Overall, I loved my exchange and to be the Ultimate Cliché and Meme in some ways think I really did #find #myself #in #Europe. I never thought I would be brave enough to live alone overseas but I did it (!!!)  and would do it again in a heartbeat. I created the best memories, met the best people and honestly just had the best time. New Zealand is still my favourite, but I feel so much more excited to come home and start work after having the last six months.

Thank you all so much for reading about my travels – if you’re interested in an exchange in Oslo feel free to get in touch and I am 100% happy to give you the full run-down on everything!



Zar: Campus life in Oslo

Hello me again,

It’s nearing Halloween and in true spooky fashion the sun now sets at 4:30pm and the countdown to university due dates and exams have finally begun. In this post I am doing a classic by procrastinating studying to tell you all about my studying.

I am taking 3 papers (the equivalent of 60 points at UoA) which all have a weekly two-hour lecture and no tutorials. This is very ideal for balancing uni with travel because it’s easy to create a timetable with an extended weekend. Since semester has started, I have been able to visit Poland, Ireland and Denmark without missing a single lecture (iconic).

Here are 3 things I have noticed about class:

  1. All law lectures are in English! Initially it was strange to me that a Norwegian university only offers law courses in English – but it has served as a big reminder of how much New Zealand needs to step-up their game with teaching languages in schools. I am so impressed by how many of my new friends are multilingual legends, who although only speak English as their second or third language are able to engage in v. complex content in English with almost no issue.
  • The big positive of it is that it is really easy to study in Norway if you can speak English!  I have also really enjoyed having Norwegian and International students mixed into one class because I have gotten to meet a lot more people and learn some cool things about what it’s like to grow up in Norway.


  1. There is only one assignment per paper? I am used to that {assignment + exam} buzz but all of my papers only have one assessment each. Two of these are Term Papers which has meant that often the lecture content is not relevant to the assessment. While I think I am still a fan of the multi-assessment life it has been really cool to experience learning without the added pressure of taking endless notes for exams.
  • An ~ interesting fact~ I learned recently is that these courses (which are for fourth- and fifth-year students) are one of the first times Norwegian law students write essays in their degree which is really different to how degrees work in NZ.
  1. Student Cards are Important!!!!! This is less related to learning but nonetheless important. You need your student ID to get into E V E R Y W H E R E at uni: The library, the lecture theatres, and most importantly the bathrooms. I didn’t bring mine on the first day and my friend had to chaperone me everywhere so I wouldn’t get locked out.

Ultimately… University anywhere, no matter how exciting, is still University and obviously there are days that I am more hyped for class than others. Overall though, I have LOVED learning about issues like counterterrorism and climate change in in a country that is much more central to the world than New Zealand. The lecturers in Oslo are amazing and it has been really fun to talk about these subjects with people in my class and hear about their views and experiences.

There have also been a lot of laughs. To leave you with a highlight:  The other day my lecturer was asking for examples of threats to biodiversity and one girl explained that she had heard New Zealand had sent giant snakes to Florida which have now killed all of their smaller animals and started an environmental crisis. The other students agreed this was New Zealand’s worst work. If anyone has any info on this Giant Snake Conspiracy, please get in touch.

See you soon















Zar: First Impressions at the University of Oslo

Hei hei !

I am now one month into this exchange and am still in complete disbelief every time I say, “I live in Norway.” Despite a rocky start to O Week, feat. me becoming a walking advertisement for why you 110% need travel insurance (fair warning that if you want to drag a suitcase all over Europe for a month before exchange make sure to a) get some gains before you leave and b) wear appropriate shoes)), I made it! So, for my very first post, I thought I would share my first impressions of Oslo with you.

1. Oslo is a good city for people who like to walk

I love Oslo but it does remind me of Auckland. Southern Norwegian scenery is beautiful in a very similar way to New Zealand –the gorgeous fjords and stunning mountains that border the city are so cool to explore, but the city itself is very conventional.




Having a modern and familiar city has been useful for setting up and just plain living life, but it does mean you have to work a little harder to find all of the super special spots. The best part is that while Oslo charges A LOT for public transport (a monthly student ticket is $90 NZD, and a daily pass is $20) your ticket gets you unlimited access onto every kind of city transport, so you are fully equipped to travel everywhere you want to go. In my experience (all one month of it), the best way to explore is to pick a general area, transport yourself there, and then have a good walk around. Highlights for me have been Sognsvann lake, the beach at Bygdõy, and an impromptu ferry trip to the island Hovedøya.

“The University of Oslo Law School is beautiful (no offence to my second home, The Davis Law Library).”

Also, don’t get me wrong – inner Oslo city definitely has some cool sights. The Norwegian palace is literally right in the city centre, and the University of Oslo law school is beautiful (no offence to my second home, The Davis Law Library). However, on the whole, I have found all of my favourite places by putting on a good-to-average pair of walking shoes and setting off with no map and no time limit.

“Inner Oslo city definitely has some cool sights. The Norwegian palace is literally right in the city centre.”
“On the whole, I have found all of my favourite places by putting on a good-to-average pair of walking shoes and setting off with no map and no time limit.”

Also, note that I am not a Top Athlete, so when I say “like to walk”, I mean generally enjoy a nice trek that is mostly flat. That said, if you are into tramping, Oslo has some of the most spectacular walks and views, so definitely bring your gear if that’s for you.


2. Everything is in Norwegian

I know this sounds obvious, but I had read SO many google posts that said everyone in Norway can speak English and so was a little bit slack on my Duolingo language tutorials.

Norwegian is a hard language to master if you only speak English – e.g. I live in St Hanshaugen, which is not as phonetic as it looks and took me three weeks to pronounce to a passable level. All signs, transport systems, supermarkets, and niche things like self-checkouts and automated lines in stores are in Norwegian too.

Luckily, everyone is really kind about my language incompetence, and though they appreciate you making an effort, they will all bail you out if you get really lost. My biggest advice would be, first of all, to do your Duolingo lessons, but when in doubt have Google Translate handy. Don’t let language barriers put you off, though! You can get away with muddling along, and it’s a super happy, glowing feeling when you finally say something right.

3. The rest of the rumours were TRUE!

Like everyone who ever goes on exchange, I spent a lot of time Googling Oslo before I arrived.  Based on first impressions, I would say a lot of what I read is pretty spot on.

  • Norway is beautiful –100% fact; the scenery is stunning.
  • Norway is $$$$$$ – transport being $90 NZD a month is a pretty fair representation of living prices. Eating out is normally well over $20, and buying essentials from the supermarket is also $20+ for just a handful of items. If you live in Norway full time you get higher pay cheques, subsidised health care, and almost free education, so the prices balance out – but a 6-month exchange is right in the sweet spot of having to incur the expenses without benefitting from the savings. It is manageable! But it is definitely something to keep in mind.
  • It’s cold! There are still a few beautiful days, and I even went swimming in August, but on the first day of autumn we dropped to 10-degree days/4-degree nights, and it has been getting gradually cooler ever since. Student accommodation also won’t turn the heaters on until its “actually cold” (???), so I 100% recommend packing some warm clothes.




So far, I am definitely enjoying myself, and this week I finally learnt to say ‘no bag, thank you’ at the supermarket, so I am also #winning. I also can’t believe that as I write these first impressions I am already halfway through this exchange!?!?  Time flies when you’re living your best life.

Catch you next time!!