Almost everyone I’ve met here, from Norway and elsewhere, has been warm and welcoming
Hello there. My name is Adam Zawadzki and I’m an international exchange student from York St John University in England where I’m studying a master’s degree in photography. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, where I’m originally from, I hope to work in photojournalism under contract or freelance beyond this, my sixth and final academic year.
As the first master’s student from York St John to undertake a study abroad semester, this opportunity was still in the planning stages after I joined the course this time last year. I didn’t believe I would get the chance to do this as studying abroad is rare as a postgraduate, at least in the United Kingdom. Norway was my only option and I wanted to come as I didn’t take up the offer as an undergraduate student because I wasn’t confident enough at that age. Now, however, with more life experience, I felt like I could take it on. Having only one country to choose from also made the decision process on where to study much easier.
Everything is very clean and the public transport network appears to be excellent. Almost everyone I’ve met here, from Norway and elsewhere, has been warm and welcoming which has made the settling in stage extremely smooth. I travelled here by plane, trains and buses all in one day, which was a mission, but very exciting, nonetheless and was very fortunate that all of my connections were pretty much seamless.
My learning has been worked out by the lecturers of my host and home institutions and, as such, I’m splitting my time between both the first- and second-year master’s courses. While this means I’ve got to keep track of two courses rather than one, I get to spend time with twice as many people, most of whom are native Norwegians and all wonderful companions. Both year groups from both Universities are separated and I don’t really understand why, so I want to get each class together while I’m here and will do the same when I go back. I love the freedom my master’s course has given me to explore and experiment my practice on my own terms. My supervisor has been very helpful in aiding my drone photography progress, for example, as he has one too. My first year was super productive so I intend to continue with the same work ethic here.
I like the fact that it’s a small city surrounded by nature. York and Edinburgh are the same; cultural centres that people want to visit, to live, work and/or study. I love a grid iron street pattern as well which makes getting around quite easy. Although, like Kristiansand, a river ran through it, York was quite far from the sea and I missed the sea during my first year there. I also get the impression that this city is very safe, much like the one I study in, in Britain. It’s not very far from the University campus by foot and the footbridge is one of my favourite parts of the city.
I think the bottle recycling scheme is a fantastic idea and appears to be so simple it’s ludicrous that this doesn’t really exist in the UK. However, the social etiquette of standing rather than sitting next to strangers on the bus is just ridiculous and must be overcome as quickly as possible. I’ve paid for my bus ticket. If there’s a spare seat, you can be sure I’ll be taking it. But that’s just me.
Undertaking a study abroad semester (or two) is one of the best ways to expand your horizons beyond your own country and ingratiate yourself with not only the culture of your new home, but the lives of those whom, like yourself, have travelled from all over the world to be here. It will give you more motivation to travel and experience the globe than you can possibly imagine. I can only hope that it will open doors for me that I haven’t considered knocking on yet. It’s given me a reason to return to Kristiansand for the friendships I’ve made here in only a short time I very much wish to nurture beyond the conclusion of my time here. ‘It's an amazing place, I implore you to journey there’, is what I will say back at home – as I’m making a new one here.