Half a year abroad – my biggest take­aways

My months in Oslo have been some of the best I’ve had, and I’m taking a lot away from them. In this blog entry, I’ll share what makes Erasmus friendships special and which university classes were the best.

Selfie from Tom with his friends in Oslo.
What I take away from Oslo? This picture contains 'hidden' clues! Photo: private

My semester here in Oslo is coming to an end; the days are getting shorter again and time is somehow passing faster and faster. The first students are returning to their home countries, the Norwegians go to their summer cottages in the countryside and to the coast. The city is overrun by cruise ship tourists, while I’m trying to finish the semester successfully. But what will remain once it’s all over?

Erasmus friendships and new homes around the world

For me, the most valuable thing I'm taking away from my semester abroad are definitely the friendships I've made here. Even before the tearful good-byes, we planned new meetings and mutual visits. In the summer, I would like to visit new friends in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. I am really looking forward to that! Some friends will also visit me in Berlin and I am very happy to be able to share my city with them. But I didn't only make new friends from Europe, but also from Australia, the USA and Canada. With them, the distance barrier is a bigger factor and we can't see each other again so easily and quickly. I think these goodbyes will be harder for me. But through the deep and great friendships I have been able to build here, I now have homes where I am welcome in many places around the world!

Tom and his friends eating ice cream.
Whether it's big adventures or small everyday moments: shared memories are the glue keeping relationships together. Photo: private

Memories of coffee breaks and swimming the fjords

Friendships are based on shared experiences and memorable moments. These connect us in a special way. Whether it was a joint trip or regular coffee breaks together in Oslo, it doesn't matter. Some of my favourite moments were made while hiking together in and around Oslo, going swimming in the cold Oslo fjord, spending cosy evenings in or travelling to the big fjords on the west coast. These experiences and adventures mean a lot to me and I will think back on many of them with a smile on my face. Oslo will always be a special place for me, where I’m lucky to have spent half a year. I will be back!

Knowledge - especially about Norway

Overall, the things I’m taking with me from Oslo are mainly intangible. This also goes for the knowledge I was able to gather about Norway and its capital. I learned a lot about Norwegian culture and art, cities and nature, lifestyle and people. My courses at the university contributed to this: I took "Norwegian Society and Culture" (10 ECTS) and a Norwegian language course (5 ECTS). Unfortunately, those credit points won’t count towards my degree back home, but I have still educated myself and learned new things. I was also able to improve my English and my social skills.

The Opera House in Oslo.
I've learned so much about Norwegian culture - pictured here: the Oslo Opera House. Photo: private

Avoiding post-Erasmus depression

Saying goodbye to Oslo and my friends will be hard and, like many others, I’m afraid of falling into a small hole once the Erasmus semester is over. When I say good-bye, I always say that ‘I don't know when and where, but I know we will meet again’. This perspective and the mutual will to stay in touch help me a lot to look ahead with optimism. The people you meet while studying abroad can accompany you throughout the rest of your life if you keep in touch and nurture those relationships.

I've been participating in international projects since 2016 and have been through many good-byes - they are always emotional, but I've also learned that if you really care and are serious about them, friendships can survive long-distance. The time in Oslo is definitely among the best of my life, I am already very nostalgic and sad that it will come to an end so soon. On the other hand, I am extremely happy that I was able to have this experience.

(Published 25 June 2023)