Living in Norway - Postgraduate Guide |
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Living in Norway - A Guide for Students

As well as providing unique learning and research opportunities, postgraduate study abroad appeals to many students seeking exciting new experiences alongside their degree programmes – whether as a means of further enhancing their CV or simply for the sake of enjoying living life in another country.

All of this makes Norway an exciting and appealing country in which to study a Masters degree, even when its excellent university system is set aside. As a student on a Norwegian Masters programme you'll have the opportunity to see the aurora borealis, experience whole months with (or without) sunlight, and explore beautiful fjord landscapes that have been voted one of the top international tourist attractions. You'll also have a chance to ski off some of the biggest ramps in the world, see polar bears and reindeer in their natural habitat and hike across miles of beautiful, untouched tundra.

What's it like to study abroad in Norway?

As you might expect, Norwegian culture has been shaped by the historical experience of living at the very top of Europe, coping with a challenging climate and a mountainous terrain that is frequently inhospitable to large-scale habitation or agriculture. In fact, the vast majority of Norway is uninhabited and you don't have to travel far from one of the country's cities to find yourself in unspoilt wilderness. Norwegians themselves are quite fond of doing this, with going for a hike (gå på tur) a popular pastime in all weather conditions. In fact, many Norwegians maintain holiday cabins (hytte) in wilderness locations.

Norway's geography also makes long distance travel between different cities and between cities and more rural areas a relatively significant endeavour. This has led to the establishment of modern infrastructure in smaller population centres, with even small and relatively isolated villages often possessing modern broadband internet coverage.

In addition to appreciating the unique qualities of their own landscape, Norwegians have also made major contributions to cultural and artistic traditions around the world. Musical audiences today are likely to be familiar with internationally famous Norwegian artists ranging from the electronic music of Röyksopp, or the folk-pop of Kings of Convenience, to renowned heavy rock and metal bands like Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir.

Food and drink

Before describing some of Norway's traditional cuisine, it's worth pointing out that international foods and approaches are common in the country and offer options to suit all tastes. This is because Norwegian food, whilst vibrant and diverse, is probably not for the unadventurous. Traditional dishes include lutefisk (fish jellified in a caustic solution of lye and water), sylelabb (cured and seasoned pig trotters) and smalahove (sheep's head, cleaned with a blowtorch before being boiled). Other dishes make heavy use of Norway's abundant seafood, with various types of sursild (pickled herring in sauce) and fiskesuppe (creamy fish soup). If you're aren't that partial to fish and don't fancy sheep heads or pig trotters, don't worry; Norway is also well known for its kjøttkaker and kjøttboller (seasoned meat-cakes and meat-balls) as well as a range of unique vegetarian dishes such as raspeballer (raw potato dumplings) and cheeses such as brunost (a brown, caramel-like cheese, served thin-sliced on bread). If none of the above take your fancy, you can fall back on the gravlaks (dry-cured salmon, popular internationally).

As far as drinking is concerned, Norwegians are particularly fond of coffee, with coffee shops present in even some of the smallest rural towns. Alcohol sales are quite heavily restricted and drinking in pubs and restaurants can be extremely expensive. Nonetheless, Norway produces a few of its own spirits such as aquavit (potato-based and flavoured with caraway) and juleøl (traditional Christmas beer).

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Norwegian universities often provide their own student housing and this is quite likely to be available to international postgraduates. This accommodation is often situated in purpose built 'student villages' near to campuses and these can be quite picturesque locations in themselves. Costs for this accommodation will vary, but you should be able to find out what accommodation options your prospective institution has available, and their pricing. Private landlords also offer housing to students in and around university regions though, again, the pricing for these will vary and may depend on location as well as utilities and facilities. As a rough guide you can expect to pay between €310 and €410 per month for a room.

Living costs

Living costs in Norway are higher than many other European countries, but should still be manageable during your time as a Masters student. You should budget around €1,180 per month for living expenses. Food typically costs €310 per month and transport €60. Eating out is expensive, but celebrating a particularly good set of results won't be beyond your means as a student; the cost of a three course meal in a relatively up-market restaurant will be around €60 per person.

Of course your own living costs will vary depending on your tastes and interests as well as the catering facilities at your accommodation.

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Looking for more information about Masters study in Norway? Our detailed guide covers everything from university rankings and courses to fees, funding and applications.

Working whilst studying

Though Norway is not a member of the EU, EU and EEA nationals (together with citizens of Nordic countries) are still entitled to work in Norway whilst studying. To do so you will first need to register for a residence card in the normal way (see the section on visas and immigration in our guide to studying a Masters in Norway) but will then be able to work freely alongside your studies. In most cases, students from other countries will also be able to work in Norway, but may need to undergo additional registration at their local police station. You can find information specific to your country at the website of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, which offers an official guide to working in Norway.

Further information

By now you should know enough about living in Norway as a Masters student to get started looking for accommodation, finding a part time job and finding somewhere to try your first bite of lutefisk. Of course, there are a few other areas you'll want to investigate too. You'll need to know how best to get to Norway (and get around) and you'll probably want to know how to organise your money once you arrive. Read below for a quick introduction to transport in Norway, as well as the Norwegian banking system.

Travel and transportation

International airports are located in and around major cities such as Oslo and Trondheim, and ferry operators also offer services connecting Norway with other parts of Europe. Once you're in Norway you'll be able to take advantage of rail and bus services to travel within and between cities, though you may find that the long journey to northern cities such as Tromso is best taken by plane! Students are usually eligible for discounts on most public transport services. You can find up to date information on services and timetables at the website of Ruteinfo Norge.

Of course, to really get the most out of your time studying for a Masters in Norway don't restrict yourself to necessary journeys from A to B. Bring along a pair of hiking boots and explore the tundra!

Money and banking

Norway has a modern banking system with branches in major cities (and many smaller towns). Services such as online banking and international money transfers are readily available and foreign cards will usually be accepted. If you wish to open a bank account in Norway you should be able to do so, provided you have registered for a residence card and National Identity number.

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Last updated - 21/01/2019

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