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"Just being here is a unique opportunity for me!"

The courses have taught me about social issues that I think most people should be informed about.

Eglantina Bërdëllima from Albania

Bachelor in Global Development Studies

Please introduce yourself 

My name is Eglantina Bërdëllima, I am 28 years old and I come from Albania. I am here in Norway doing my first bachelor's degree. I did one year of psychology back in Albania, and now I am taking the bachelor’s degree in global development studies. 

Why did you choose Norway?

It was love at first sight! I came to Norway when I was nineteen years old to visit a friend, and I was supposed to stay for only two weeks. However, after spending some days here, I called my parents and told them that there was no way I was coming back!

I lived in Denmark for two years too, but I always knew that I would come back to Norway. I saved money while I was there because I was planning to come back.

The fact that Norway offers free education was definitely a plus for me. But my main goal was coming back to Norway and studying here, even if I had to pay.

When looking at universities, what stood out to you about the University of Agder?

The study programme. I wanted to study something within this field, so when I saw that UiA offered a programme in English, I decided to apply. The programme includes a field course abroad and exchange opportunities, and it looked like a modern programme. It sounded fascinating.

The campus also looked great. When I checked it out on the internet, student life seemed very lively, and I saw that there were a lot of different groups with organised activities. Everything looked perfect on paper so I wanted to see it for myself.

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

The city seemed beautiful, cozy but small!

The university was just as I thought It would be – or actually even better! Other students here, especially the ones from the buddy programme, were very welcoming. Social life was very good right from the beginning, and it was really easy to make friends. 

The professors are so easy to talk to and use no titles! They are always fine with any questions that you might have. They always answer your emails and engage in small talk after lectures. I like that the professors are approachable – I think that is the best thing about this university. 

What do you think about your courses?

All the courses are very interesting and informative. The courses have taught me about social issues that I think most people should be informed about. Our field course was probably the most interesting part we have had so far, as we got in contact with people from different countries and cultures. It took place on Zoom; we had a three-week period with two different countries (Sri Lanka and Uganda). We got to know them and wrote a project. The groups focused on COVID-19 and how it was handled there and how it affected the local communities. Our group focused on the effect of COVID-19 on Ugandan education. Normally this project takes place abroad, but because COVID-19 we did not have to choose a country, so we did both instead. In that way, we all got to learn about both countries instead of one. 

What do you like about Kristiansand and why?

I love the nature. I think it is so easy to go out for a hike. I think my favourite place is Odderøya. I love the fact that you can walk to the city and see familiar faces and meet people that you did not plan on meeting. It reminds me of my hometown in Albania, it is also like that there. 

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

I was pleasantly surprised by how the university made us feel included during Christmas. Due to the traveling restrictions a lot of us were stuck here. It was really thoughtful of the university to organise a lunch for us and give us some gifts. I felt very grateful. It was not about the size of the present, or the price, it was the thought behind it. When I received the email from the International Education Office and from SiA, I was so touched and surprised. It was very very thoughtful. 

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

We do not have this programme in my home country, it is not available as far as I know. I think it would be a great addition to education institutions in Albania. I think it is very much up to date. 

Do you think UiA has given you any unique opportunities? 

Just being here is a unique opportunity for me!