I went to Trondheim this weekend for what was meant to be an educational weekend and it turned out to be incredibly fun as well. I learned more about the hosting student organization and students from all over Norway. Every moment of this weekend reminded me of just how important and fulfilling it can be to get involved while you are on exchange.
When I arrived at UIB, I joined the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). Their goal is to help international students better integrate into Norwegian society through a variety of social events. ESN is awesome because it has branches at universities all over Europe. There are 12 sections in Norway alone. As a whole, the organization hosts hundreds of events during the year at every level: locally, nationally, and internationally. This weekend was the National Platform (NP), which is held two times a year and hosted by alternating ESN sections. Although ESN Bergen has hosted NP in the past, it was ESN Trondheim’s turn this year.
The members of ESN Trondheim did an incredible job planning the weekend. On the first day, we were given a tour of the city. We saw the Old Town Bridge, which is also known as the Gate of Happiness. When I crossed the threshold, I did feel a wave of happiness overcome me. I thought of the busy weekend to come and that I was going further around Norway, a place I’ve wanted to go for years. I was still happy when we crossed back over the bridge and we continued on to see the rest of the city. Later that night when the remaining participants arrived, we hiked to a cabin where we would get to know one another better. There were students from Trondheim, Alta, Ås, Molde, Stavanger, Oslo, and more.
For the next two days, we sat at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to learn more about ESN and ways to be have a more efficient section. We learned about a program they are starting, ExchangeAbility, which is about making it easier for students with some disabilities to go on exchange. ESN is starting the conversation and working to lower the barriers for those who feel that their disability prevents them from experiencing another country. We also learned about budgeting by building a paper tower with a team. We were given a budget and to use any material, like paper, markers, or a stapler, we were charged a fee. Each tower was graded and luckily my team won. Our tower was the most attractive and stable according to the judge.
When we weren’t learning about ESN, we had fun getting to know one another. We went to dinner at Egon Restaurant, which is a spinning restaurant elevated in the air. We also went to a Halloween party at another cabin. Throughout our ten-hour days, we were provided, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee breaks with lots of fruit and cookies. Going to Trondheim was a fun, enriching experience. I broadened my network by meeting passionate students from all over Norway. It also didn’t hurt that the trip was virtually free. The Trondheim planners covered the cost of hostels, transportation, and food through their generous sponsors. On top of that, my local ESN section paid for the participation fee. For the low cost a flight, I had an incredible weekend further exploring Norway, accumulating skills, and meeting new people who challenge me.
When you get to Norway, join a student org. and see your time in the country transform.