Hi guys! My name is Fleur van der Neut, and I’m in my third year in the Bachelor of Science Tourism. I am doing a minor in Northern studies at the world’s most northern university: UiT (University of Tromsø)! I study at the faculty of northern studies and tourism that is situated in Alta, Norway. Here I take the courses: Introduction to multidisciplinary studies, introduction to the circumpolar world, peoples, and cultures of the circumpolar world, and outdoor life activities. I know that is a lot. However, the first three courses are online at the moment. Which is quite sad, but it also makes me very flexible. The outdoor life activities are onsite and I would recommend it to everybody! I already learned a lot about how to respect nature, how to survive in nature and we are doing a lot of fun trips.
At first, when my study advisor told me about studying in Alta, I was very hesitant about moving so far up north. However, now that I did, I already do not want to leave. The people here are so kind (including the Norwegians!) and helpful. It is only September and I have already seen the Northern lights twice and the autumn season has definitely started. Soon, there will be snow. I had no trouble at all with making friends, I live in very nice housing where I made many international and Norwegian friends. I think everybody who moves here has to be a little crazy (as it is in the Arctic) and open-minded, so I felt right at home.
My application process was a little bit bumpy and uncertain because of the corona pandemic. At first, I wanted to go somewhere outside of Europe, but because of the uncertainty, I chose to stay inside of Europe. After making that decision, I was certain that I wanted to go to Scandinavia because I wanted to experience living there and I heard that the education is quite good. My study advisor told me about UiT in Alta, as I wanted to do something with arctic studies and tourism. So, I applied for the UiT and got accepted! I was very excited, but the process of applying for the courses was a bit more difficult. I found out that a lot of courses that I wanted to do were either master courses, not open for exchange students or online. So, I had to settle with three online courses. But at least I got accepted for the course outdoor life activities, which is really nice. Besides that, the application process was relatively easy, and we were guided by the university very well.
As mentioned above, I had some difficulties regarding studying abroad in a pandemic. At first, I was not sure if I could go to Norway because the travel advisory needed to be yellow or green. Luckily it was in the summer of 2021. So, I got on a plane, and it was super easy getting into Norway (at least with a vaccination). Here in Alta, there is almost no covid and also almost no corona measurements. The only thing is that I have three online courses, but I think that is mostly because the teachers are too lazy to teach onsite again.
I think the cultural differences between Norway and the Netherlands are not that big. However, here in the north there are living a lot of indigenous peoples who have their own unique traditions and ways of life, which is very interesting! The main thing I’ve experienced here in Alta is that the Norwegians are very open, friendly, and kind. They are always in for a chat, and they are super helpful and warm-hearted.
For my minor abroad, I got a lot of information from WUR but also the website from UiT had a lot of helpful information and bullet points that gave me some direction. They had a checklist and the contact with the exchange coordinator was also very helpful.
As you maybe know, living in Scandinavia can be quite expensive. Luckily, when you go and study in Norway, you get a nice Erasmus scholarship. However, it is still quite expensive. I think the prices in the supermarket are around twice more than in the Netherlands. I also had to buy a lot of stuff to keep me warm here in the north (everything Wool, very important here). But the housing is very reasonable (430eu a month). I hear that some people here get a job at a restaurant or a tourism company and that they can work 20 hours a month on a student visa. I am not doing this as I am taking 4 courses, but it sounds really nice!
The housing situation here is very easy. You apply (you can apply directly when you are accepted) for housing with the housing organization Samskipnaden. They also have an app, which makes it even easier. In Alta, you can choose to live on campus (Nyland) or on the edge of the city near to more nature (Komsa). I chose Komsa, and I was offered a room quite soon after my application. I would also recommend Komsa over Nyland because you are next to beautiful nature and the vibes are really nice. But if you want to party a bit more and do not want to walk to campus, Nyland is more a place for you. The rooms are furnished, and you share a bathroom with one other person.
I hope that I could give a bit more insight on how the minor process and studying in Alta, Norway looks like. I could recommend going to Alta to everyone that is in for an (Arctic) adventure and a super memorable time.
Author: Fleur van der Neut