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"I chose the programme and Norway was a cool benefit"

I looked at similar programmes all over the world and this was one of the only in English, and it happened to be the most hands-on with all their components: exchange semester, the field courses, and the field work thesis.

Justin Freund

Bachelor in Development Studies

Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Justin Freund, I’m 26 and I’m from Canada. My educational background is the following: I took a two year degree right out of high school in Computer Sciences and Digital Media, and then I did two years of Theological Seminary. After that, I did some International Aid apprenticeships and then just lived in Canada and worked for about two years before coming here.

Why did you choose Norway?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I chose Norway, I chose the programme and Norway was a cool benefit. The programme I am taking is the Bachelor's programme in Development Studies. I looked at similar programmes all over the world and this was one of the only in English, and it happened to be the most hands-on with all their components: exchange semester, the field courses, and the field work thesis. I think it seemed the most tangible and I thought it would be the most fun to complete. Then, Norway naturally became an option because of the fact that tuition is barely a thing here. Being a 26 year old, I can’t apply for a lot of scholarships in Canada because they’re offered to people who are up to a certain age and also student funding (loans) become different as you get older, so it wasn’t really an option for me.

When applying for universities, what stood out to you about UiA?

Like I said: the course and how diverse it is. That’s really cool. I think it’s very rare to find good English-taught degrees around the world. This University has a good reputation and it has a broad spectrum of programmes, and Development Studies is one of those. The course is part of something that’s a lot bigger and diverse, therefore you get more of a university experience, as opposed to other universities that I looked into.

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

My first impression was: wow, it’s expensive to get the bus here! It was very nice having the buddy pick up, but the first day for me was very overwhelming. I attended the international student Orientation day, which was mostly geared to ESN students (which make up to 95% of the international students). A lot of the information was very useful but I found that I had to sift through it to figure out what I actually needed and where I needed to ask questions I had.  

What do you think about your course in particular?

My course is pretty good for the most part. I find the expectations are a lot lighter here than they would be in Canada, and I don’t feel overwhelmed by any part of it. I do have a couple of classes that are transitioning from being in Norwegian to it now being in English. So I know there’s some confusion because of that. But for the most part, I think it’s very well set-up. My programme coordinators meet up every once in a while with the international students to check in and see how we’re doing with things. They seem conscientious of us international students and they want to know how we are finding things.

What do you like about Kristiansand and why? Which is your favourite part of Kristiansand?

It’s a beautiful city. It’s quite small for me, as I’m not used to a city that is like that but there’s lots of nature and lakes around here. I really appreciate the Sunday hikes with ESN, I think it’s nice to get out and see different parts of the country. I also spend a lot of time at the bars here, where I can get a beer for 50 NOK (laughs)

What was one thing you discovered about Norway that was unexpected?

How religious people are. I thought it was mainly an Atheist country. But that might be just Kristiansand, the region, of course.

What would like to share about UiA/the study programme to your home country?

I don’t know if it’s specific to UiA or Norway but there’s a specific emphasis (in my courses and lectures) about recognising value in every side of an issue and not assigning right or wrong to things that happen. Generally, we try to look at external events from a relative perspective, so that’s definitely something I would like to share with my friends from home.

Do you think UiA has given you any unique opportunities? 

The opportunity to live in a different country, the fact I can do three years of study here and I apply for residence here if I want to, the fact that I have the chance to go on exchange if I want to, the fact that I can make connections in different countries… That’s probably the coolest thing: getting all these opportunities.