My name is Tim and I am attending the Summer Exchange Program at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway. I am only two weeks into the program, but I have already had the experience of a lifetime! In the following paragraphs, I will highlight some things I have learned, tips for travelling abroad, and why you should study in Norway.
Let’s start off with what I have learned so far. I am surprised how similar I am to the others in my program. I am the only student from The University of Texas in this program, yet immediately felt connected to my fellow classmates. Whether my classmate is from Australia, Holland, or Morocco- I have been able to hit things off quite easily with them. This is possibly due to the global connections we have through media (news, Facebook, etc.) today. Everybody knows “Bad Blood” lyrics (thanks Taylor Swift), everybody watches Netflix, and everybody wishes they lived in Norway because attending college is *free. I definitely grew up differently from my international friends in the program, yet we all get along really well and share similar interests.
I have also learned how important it is to understand the culture where you are doing business.
For example, if you are apart of a global corporation and are placed on a foreign assignment, it is imperative to learn about that countries business culture. Working in Austin, Texas is vastly different from working in Oslo, Norway. One must take a look at key factors such as the power distance, individualism, and gender egalitarianism within a culture. I cannot assume that everyone will like my American Business Model approach. I could lose clients and business opportunities, because I do not adapt to the culture I am working in.
The last key point I learned: America is awesome. I always knew this, but now having lived abroad for two weeks, I really see the USA’s prominence. United States music, movies, and pop-culture are everywhere. My German friend’s favorite show is House of Cards and my Australian friend loves Maroon 5. On that same note, American brands such as Levi, Nike, and Converse are very popular with young adults all around the world. Beyond that, the USA is usually used as a benchmark to gauge other countries. Whether used as a measure for cultural difference or industry, the USA is often seen as the dominant force within business/innovation. I did not write this paragraph to say that the USA is the most important country in the world, but what I discovered is that it is still a dominant country from a business perspective.
Tips for travelling abroad! By no means am I a pro (yet), but I will try to map out what I found important leading up to my trip and during study abroad. The most important thing is to invest a good amount of time in the training that McCombs Study Abroad Office has set up for their students. McCombs Study Abroad Office did such a great job preparing me for this trip; I am thankful for all of their help and support. Utilize the website links the office provides and research your country.
Once you are in a different culture, soak it up! This is so important. Do not focus on how different it is from your home culture, nor seek to find comfort in the new culture. You will end up spending a lot of time worrying. Be okay with a different culture and choose to enjoy it! I love Oslo, because I was open to a new way of life. Be sure to get out and explore the city/country. Also, do it with new people. If you only explore a new country with UT/American people, then you are missing out (personal opinion, not a universal fact). By no means ditch your old friends, yet do not be afraid to make new ones.
So, now I bet you are asking yourself, “Hey Tim, why should I study in Oslo, Norway?” Well- let me tell you. Firstly, BI Norwegian Business School is a terrific school. The location is in a really nice part of Oslo and BI is an absolutely beautiful building. BI is a triple accreditation business school (AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS), which means it is one of 68 premier business schools in the world.
Next point of persuasion, Norway is the perfect balance of adventure and chill. Getting around the city is so easy; Oslo public transportation is beautiful. Buses, T-Bane (subway), tram, ferry, etc. Due to the ease of getting around, you are able to see a lot of the city and surrounding area. Take the T-Bane north 20 minutes to the last stop and you will be deep into the forests of North Oslo, where you can spend the whole day hiking/biking. Take the T-Bane south 20 minutes, hop on a ferry and you will be on one of the many islands within the Oslo fjord. It is great.
Finally, if you are like me and have always wanted to travel to Europe, yet haven’t ever been- then Oslo is a great first city. Oslo is very safe. Very, very low crime rate, high quality of food, and everyone speaks English quite well. Norway is also very different from the USA in terms of policy and government. Norway is much more socialistic than the USA, much more expensive, and has a more casual/informal business culture. I have enjoyed the vast differences in culture, it is definitely a neat place to study.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience so far in Oslo, Norway. This blog is just a few points that have stood out to me so far, by no means does it encompass everything there is to know about studying abroad in Norway. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will try to get back to you!
Tim Nelson, Class of 2017
*Technically, you have to pay for it, but not until you are retirement age.