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"This programme will really prepare me for my future career"

I think coastal ecology is becoming more and more relevant in research and industry – especially in the context of a changing climate.

Alice Durkin

Master in Coastal Ecology

Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Alice Durkin, I’m 23 and I came here from Canada. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and am currently in my first year of the Master’s programme in Coastal Ecology here at UiA.

I enjoy travelling and being outside, both of which are very easy to do here in Norway. 

Why did you choose Norway?

I knew that I wanted to do my Master’s degree outside of Canada and likely somewhere in Europe, preferably somewhere with little to no tuition fees. I applied to schools in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, but the Master’s programme at UiA was the most focused, instead of just being a general degree in biology.

When looking at universities, what stood out to you about UiA?

I was very interested in how specialised the programme was from the beginning and I think coastal ecology is becoming more and more relevant in research and industry – especially in the context of a changing climate. I also was attracted to the smaller size of the university as it allows you to build a sense of community as well as creating stronger relationships with your professors and other students.

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

The day I arrived the weather changed from cold, pouring rain to blue skies and sunshine within an hour of my plane landing – something I would come to learn would be quite normal daily weather in Kristiansand. The ESN leaders were very helpful and welcoming to the international degree students, support that was very much needed when you are coping with the transition of moving to a new country on your own.  

What do you think about your course in particular?

The Coastal Ecology Master’s programme is quite small, it has a capacity of 20 students, and this means that you get to know the other students and your professors very quickly. I think this allows you to do well in your classes and feel like there are people around you who care about you succeeding. This programme will really prepare me for my future career – whether that be in research, further studies, or elsewhere. 

What do you like about Kristiansand and why? 

I love the size of the city because it provides you with everything you could ever need, without losing the feel of a small city. The coastline is beautiful and the people are polite and friendly. I like how connected to nature Norwegians appear to be, there is definitely a focus on being healthy and spending time outside. 

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

I wasn’t expecting how shy or reserved Norwegians can be, which can be intimidating at first. But I very quickly realised how kind and generous they can be and have made friendships here that I expect to last a very long time.  

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

There is definitely a difference between Norway and Canada in terms of the structure of learning and grading. In most of the classes here the mark is based on your final exam and nothing else, where as in Canada you are marked on multiple assignments, quizzes, exams, etc. I think I prefer the Norwegian system as it allows you to really focus on your school and prioritse the time in the semester how it works for you. University life in Norway feels more tailored to ensuring that an individual student does well as a result of more support being available to them.  

Do you think UiA has given you any unique opportunities?

It’s given me the opportunity to move to another country and given me a support system to help with that huge transition. I’m already excited for what my next step will be after this degree as it has shown me my own capabilities when it comes to making choices for my future.