Gå til hovedinnhold
Jump to main content

"Norway was at the very top of my list and I never doubted I would come here"

I have been teaching myself Norwegian for more than 5 years and I naturally became more interested in the country where it is spoken, including the culture, education, and people.

Jihyeong Lee

from South Korea

Please introduce yourself 

My name is Jihyeong Lee, I am 21 and from South Korea. I am studying English language and literature and Political Science in Korea University in Seoul. I am in the final year of my Bachelor’s programme and spending a semester in UiA as an exchange student in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Why did you choose Norway?

Frankly, I did not consider any other country. I decided to go on exchange because it was an opportunity to go to Norway. I had to fill in a list of universities in my application, but Norway was at the very top of my list and I never doubted I would come here.

I wanted to come to Norway mainly because I adored (and still do) the language. I have been teaching myself Norwegian for more than 5 years and I naturally became interested in the country where it is spoken, including the culture, education, and people.

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

The University of Agder was the only Norwegian university I could go on exchange to from Korea University, so I did not think too much about it. But I did meet some students that went to UiA as exchange students before and they all talked about good things about the city of Kristiansand and UiA: the peacefulness and the hospitality. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to relax and have some time to explore what I want to do next, and at the same time learn more about the country and the language. 

What were your first impressions upon arrival?

Definitely the hospitality. I have gone through some kerfuffle on the way here, and when I met the staff and was brought to the quarantine hotel, I felt so relieved. I expected the quarantine to be bothersome, but it was okay too. I was kept updated on new information and was entertained with online social events in my room. I could also plan out the things to do after quarantine in peace. The university and staffs helped me a lot.

What do you think about your courses?

This semester I am taking ST-202 (European Union – Institutions and Politics) and UT-107 (Power, Resistance and Development), along with the Norwegian language courses. From all of them I am learning something I couldn’t learn from my home university, and I think that is what it means to be an exchange student. It is really fresh to learn from lecturers and peers with different perspectives. There are many students with diverse backgrounds in both of the major courses I am taking, and I think it makes the discussion richer.

I sometimes have trouble getting used to the different systems here, such as the really small amount of time spent on taking lectures every week, but I am delighted to experience some unfamiliarity now that I am here. 

What do you like about Kristiansand and why?

I like that Kristiansand is peaceful and beautiful. It is a small city but has almost everything I need. When I need people, they are there. The university town in Seoul where I lived in for the last few years was very busy and crowded, and while I enjoyed it in its own way, I like how different it is here.

As weird as it sounds, I love the houses and buildings here. They look like those in fairytales but they are everywhere! It is such a joy just walking down any street. 

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

Even though I studied a lot about Norway on my own before I came here, there are always some things you can never learn without actually experiencing them, like how dry the air is, how nice public libraries are, how warm-hearted Norwegian people are (and how diverse they are), and how similar the grocery prices in Norway and in South Korea are that it surprisingly isn’t so much more expensive here in comparison!

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

Two things: first, how the place (the city and the campus) enables a student to relax, pursue a short-time goal, and explore future options, because the space offered for me really felt like home away from home. Second, time management in a different environment. I’d say it is really a good opportunity to learn how to manage time when you have only 8-10 hours of lecture a week and a lot of fun events, and you are in charge of managing time to keep up with the learning as well in all the free time. I am used to having 3-4 hours of lecture every day and it was really hard, at first, to learn how to spend the time wisely. It is worth learning, though. 

Do you think UiA has given you any unique opportunities?

Absolutely! I feel so lucky to have chosen to come here. I would never have enough time to talk about it. I got so much help coming here and settling down and experienced warm kindness from people, and I want to be a better person. As much as I am trying to be independent here away from friends and family back home, I also realize how important it is that people are interconnected and survive the world by exchanging kindness, and how the current “me” is a result of so much kindness. I knew it by reading books, but experiencing it really have changed my view on life.

And it has been barely a couple of months here, I am so looking forward to what other adventures await in the remaining time!