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"While Kristiansand may be easily perceived as a ‘small’ city, it provides many opportunities to be active in the community"

UiA places a strong emphasis on taking a serious and applied approach to studies, and has resources and available persons to aid in the pursuit of higher education.

Jason Duncan from the USA

Master in International Business

My name is Jason Duncan, I am from Portland, Oregon, USA. I am enrolled in the International Business Master's programme at UiA, with an expected completion of Summer 2024. I worked for six years in management and sales roles after receiving my Bachelor's degree in 2016 before moving to Kristiansand in Autumn 2022.

Why did you choose Norway?

I originally had attended UiA in 2015 for one semester as part of my university’s exchange partnership. Norway was my selection after reviewing which universities had the lowest number of other students from the USA, as I hoped to become more immersed with cultures and backgrounds less similar to my own. During my time, the learning experience and process here compared to the USA as well as the balance of off-campus events/experiences highlighted a healthier and more effective alternative to that which my home country had provided. The appeal of the experience I had before, and the opportunity to take the next educational steps at UiA, were key in my decision to once again choose Norway. This programme may open the door to opportunities to work abroad, which is to me preferable to the 60 hours weekly of work I had in the States from 2016 through 2022 and the lack of benefits many societies in Europe and Scandinavia enjoy.

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

The comfortability of past experiences with the campus was a benefit that helped with my selection. However, other aspects such as the community of Kristiansand, the available activities in the immediate and surrounding areas, and the proximity to many friends across Europe I was so distant from all stood out. Understanding the current economic situation in the USA did provide some guidance towards international options, and the opportunities that I was aware with from my past experience, as well as the ones that are currently in place seemed like they would benefit my career development. 

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

Arriving this Autumn, I have noticed that the community, organizations, and university are all making serious attempts to return quickly and efficiently to full capacity out of the pandemic. Collective movement to do so is something that regionally was not as present in the USA, and is another aspect of this campus and community that I feel is such a great positive. I felt excited and energized to be on campus, and activities prepared by the Erasmus Student Network group immediately immersed us with peers encountering Norway for the first time. 

What do you think about your programme in particular?

I am very excited about my programme! Not only because it is something that I had been accepted for the Autumn 2020 term and waited in deferral for two years due to COVID-19, but because it is a step towards careers that I feel are more desirable. The International Business programme blends a unique set of students and professors from various backgrounds and practical understandings of business, which I value highly. UiA’s business department organizes events that introduce students to current leaders across industries and open forums to discuss trends and important critical aspects of business, not just in Scandinavia but globally. Providing opportunities for students in the third semester to choose between studying abroad; enrolling in electives or applying for local internships before preparing your thesis considers different preferences of students whilst providing students with opportunities to open new doors and utilise prior work experiences.

What do you like about Kristiansand and why?

The closeness of the campus and city is something that is quite nice to experience versus the distance between living and learning experiences before. The quality of the community in regards to their care of public spaces is also quite a positive difference to the public areas of greater Portland. I love having immediate access to  swimmable waters both inland and by the coast; the variety of shops in the city and being able to take a bus quickly to Sørlandssenteret helps with confidently going about routines without concern for being without anything in particular. While Kristiansand may be easily perceived as a ‘small’ city, it provides many opportunities to be active in the community, or easily find things you can do around Kristiansand or even skipping across to Europe.

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

Public transportation in Norway is on an entirely different level of quality, compared to the USA. The ability to use a bus and know that it is functionable, comfortable, clean, on time, and regularly scheduled with alternatives is not something prevalent at home. Also, being able to take a train quickly and inexpensively to many areas is another opportunity not regularly available in the USA. Lastly of course is the ability to ferry for a relatively low cost to Denmark and have access to greater EU if flying is not the best option. These services are all available at costs lower than the cost associated to the USA counterparts I had experienced, both in major metropolitans and in smaller townships. 

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

The Masters programmes here are very competitive and I feel more beneficial due to the application of knowledge (qualitative testing) versus the emphasis on memorizing concepts outside the framework of use. UiA places a strong emphasis on taking a serious and applied approach to studies, and has resources and available persons to aid in the pursuit of higher education.

Costs to living in Norway as a student of UiA is actually one third of costs in Portland, Oregon as well as Corvallis, Oregon (where I attended Bachelor's), and even with costs associated with food and other goods being higher, it’s still financially more feasible to be a student here with basic budget management.

Course scheduling at UiA is built in such a way that provides you adequate time to prepare and review information while not infringing on free time to travel or enjoy Kristiansand and the company of your fellow students. Kristiansand itself has a unique blend of places you can visit and activities you can take part in, and UiA has groups meant to help with becoming involved in both. Much of these do fall onto the shoulders of students attending which I believe is a positive as studying in an international sphere. This requires stepping outside of your comfort zones and growing a better understanding of what is possible and what you are capable of.