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"UiA stood out to me as a fresh and future-oriented university"

What makes this course programme unique is the diversity of the students' backgrounds.

Aura Niskanen from Finland

Bachelor in Global Development Studies

My name is Aura Niskanen, I am 20 years old, and I come from Kuopio, Eastern Finland. I moved to Kristiansand to do a Bachelor's in Global Development Studies right after graduating from high school. Currently, I am a student representative in my first year of studies, and the vice president of SAIH Kristiansand. When I am not at the university, I enjoy running and adventuring in nature, reading books and spending time with my friends and family.

Why did you choose Norway?

I found this study on one of my 2 AM “what should I do” internet scrolls, and immediately knew that this was something I want to know more about. The fact that this programme is given in Norway was a positive coincidence, and it made my decision easier. I cycled in Northern Norway, from Kilpisjärvi to Tromsø, the previous summer, and, of course, fell in love with the mountains! The idea of moving away from home for the first time, and to another country, didn’t feel as frightening since the cultural, political and social aspects of are similar in both countries.

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

Definitely the sunny pictures and happy faces on a well organised website! I found an interview, just like the one you are reading now, and decided to contact one of the persons to get more insight on student life, studying, and the programme itself. UiA stood out to me as a fresh and future-oriented university where students' voices are heard!

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

The first time I walked through Kvadraturen, I thought there was something funny-looking about me. I had heard that, similar to Finns, Norwegians tend to be introverted, and I was not prepared to see people passing by making eye contact and smiling at me!

I started studying in August 2021 with the pandemic causing restrictions at most universities in the world. I was extremely happy that UiA managed to arrange a semester start on campus. It felt nice to get to know my class and spend time with the people I now call friends.

What do you think about your programme in particular?

The programme is up to date with current global issues. Small-scale and global issues are studied from multiple aspects with an aim of understanding the bigger picture. What makes this programme unique, however, is the diversity of the students' backgrounds., which enables and creates conversations where everyone has to face their own biases.

What do you like about Kristiansand and why? 

I come from a city almost the same size as Kristiansand, and with a similar combination of nature and city life, which is why this city feels very cosy. I love the sunny days, the ocean nearby, and the hiking possibilities almost in my backyard.

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

I was expecting students to have a more notable role in the society, maybe because of the role students have in Finland. I was a bit disappointed to find out students in Norway do not share as active communities as I was used to in my home country.

What would you like to share about UiA and this programme to your home country?

I would like to especially advise young people, unsure of what to do next, to not focus on choosing a “safe path”. Not everything you study has to make sense immediately for your future career; education is knowledge, not just a phase in life. Global development studies is something everyone should have a course on, so as to understand not only one’s own place in the world but also their neighbours'. 

Do you think UiA has given you any unique opportunities?

UiA has offered me multiple unique opportunities both in academic life and social life, challenging me to get out of my comfort zone. This university offers interesting events, discussions, and many opportunities to make an impact. It also organises social events where everyone are welcome to join. I don’t think a month has gone by without me trying something new!