by Jasmine Angus, University of Bergen, Norway
It has been 3 months and 19 days until I boarded the flight at London-Gatwick with a complete stranger on my way to Bergen. 3 months and 19 days later and so much has changed. I have climbed 4 of the 7 mountains surrounding the city. I have travelled around Europe and have more trips to come. I have made incredible friends and I have also cried a couple of times. The past 3 months and 19 days have been incredibly testing; but also monumentally rewarding.
The initial period of ‘settling in’ was especially hard as I did not find an immediate connection with my flatmates which made the transitional period extremely difficult. Meal times were overcome with dread and the same four walls of my room began to close in after not leaving my room for hours on end. This was the reality of the first month here, and as emotionally strenuous as it was, I am unbelievably happy that they happened. The highs most certainly cannot be experienced without the lows, and the first (dare I say) dreadful month, has made me utterly grateful for all the good that followed.
Moving on to Bergen itself, it is a gorgeous city surrounded by mountains and nature. During the ‘warmer’ weather (if you can call it that) we would spend days swimming in fjords, hiking up mountains and eating meals outside on the green of our accommodation. The smell of barbeques filled the air, and you could hear the laughs and conversations of exchange students inundate the atmosphere at Fantoft – it was brilliant. Now, as autumn begins to turn the city is flooded with oranges, reds, yellows and deep greens. It is truly magical.
Socially, it has been quite hard to immerse ourselves. At the society fair, most societies didn’t take on exchange students which were slightly disappointing. Fortunately, the accommodation company has a student union and always runs events such as movie nights, silent discos and speed-friending. As stomach-churning as the thought of speed-friending was, I am so thankful I went. I finally broke out of my shell and made some lifelong friends in the process.
I am fortunate enough that The University of Manchester enforced good academic foundations which have provided me with the facilities to approach this year with confidence. This has allowed me to explore other module choices such as sociology which has been very interesting.
Overall, the metaphorical grey skies have cleared (because the physical ones certainly have not!) and every day is filled with new opportunities and experiences, all of which I am incredibly fortunate enough to experience. Bergen has a place in my heart, and by the end of this year, I hope I have a place in it.