One Semester Down: A reflection on my first semester in Bergen, Norway

By Jasmine Angus, University of Bergen, Norway

Reflecting upon the past few months in Bergen has been met with an overwhelming sense of happiness, pride, as well as anticipation for the future and sadness that time is passing awfully quickly. Fortunately for me, I have had a solid support network of friends, family, and loved ones that have ensured that each emotion and experience, both the highs and the lows, have been faced with humility and gratitude.

Academically, last semester was challenging. Taking a Masters module in Natural Resource Management was admittedly always going to be a challenge, but upon reflection, this was my only academic regret. It was less focused on natural resources and more about system dynamics and flows – which I found incredibly boring and difficult. Nonetheless, I pushed through it with the support of my friends and fellow students. I will be the first to admit I never thought I would be so overwhelmed with joy (of all things) when logging into studentweb and seeing a big capital D in bold font. I had passed, which at one point didn’t ever feel like a possibility. Despite the absolute terrors of that course, my other modules were really interesting and have actually aided me in securing and synthesising my ideas for my dissertation. Every cloud does in fact have a silver lining. 

In spite of the anxieties surrounding my academics last semester, it was overwhelmingly joyous as I was able to travel, laugh endlessly, and see things I only ever thought I could experience through a television screen. From cabin trips in Haugastol with temperatures of -16℃, the 7-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo and pierogi in Gdansk, lifelong memories have certainly been made.

Nonetheless, the winter months in Norway are as dark, cold, and depressing as you can imagine. Seasonal Affective Depression or SAD was definitely something that I had to face, and in fact, am still tackling. With daylight hours only lasting 6 hours within the peaks of winter, keeping oneself motivated and active was something that was very challenging. Many phone calls home with my mum counting down the days until I was home for Christmas, became the beacon of hope and familiarity that I needed during that time. However, despite how isolating and lonely it felt at times, there was always appreciation and gratitude for this experience. I found that looking at the posts I had made on my travel Instagram from the previous months would often place me in better spirits for the months to come. 

The end of last semester was bittersweet. The excitement of going home, seeing my family and friends again, being able to do a snack run and not spend £5 on a bar of chocolate was soured by the goodbyes of lifelong friends who were only in Bergen for a semester. Goodbye dinners, hugs that didn’t last long enough and awkward laughter to disguise the tears we were all fighting back, filled the last few days before returning to the UK. 

It has been just over three weeks since I have been back in Bergen, and the excitement has flooded straight back. Flurries of snow, reunions, and stories about being back at home shared over cost-effective meals have all helped me settle into my new life quickly. A trip to Tromso is underway and many more are in the works. It is so good to be back. 

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