5 things to do in Bergen (on a budget!)

By Zoe Watson, University of Bergen

  1. Treat yourself to at hot chocolate at Mount Ulriken

Mount Ulriken is the highest of the ‘Seven Mountains’ surrounding Bergen and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. There are panoramic views across the city, sea, fjords, and mountains. chocolate here costs around £4 which I have discovered is a very reasonable price for Norway! Stay warm in the restaurant and enjoy the views, and maybe even a pastry too.  

If you choose to reach the summit on foot, then you have the choice of the Sherpa Steps (1,333 steps built by Sherpas themselves) or if you do not like to climb stairs, you can take a different path from the same starting point that is less well marked. It must be noted that in winter the steps are slippery from snow and ice, and thus you need spikes on your shoes. The walk to Ulriken is suitable for all ages and takes about 1.5 hours from the base. However, you will probably see a lot of very fit Norwegians running past using the steps as exercise rather than leisure! Alternatively, there is the Ulriken Cable Car, though it is fairly expensive with a return journey costing around £28.  

2. Host an international dinner

Eating out is very expensive in Bergen, so, instead, why not host an international dinner with your friends from around the world! The concept is simple: everybody prepares a traditional (or stereotypical) dish from their home country and then everybody eats together. As food is more expensive in the supermarkets compared to the UK, this dinner is not only a cultural exchange, but also a chance to have a more exciting meal than you are used to!

Personally, I made an Eton mess dessert to represent the UK. Though, German potato salad was a firm favourite at the dinner I attended! Challenge yourself to invite a range of nationalities to make for a more exciting and diverse dinner.

3. Enjoy a bathe at the Nordnes Sjøbad

Generations of locals have enjoyed an outdoor swim at Nordnes Sjøbad. Nordnes Sjøbad is a 25m long, saltwater swimming pool found next to the Aquarium in Nordnes Park, just a short walk from the city centre. In the winter season, which begins in October and ends in April, the fresh seawater pool is heated to an inviting 30 °C (86°F). You can also take a dip in the sea and then run back into the heated pool! The atmosphere is great; there is music (Christmas songs, too), LED lighting and views of the city at night, if you choose to take an evening swim. A winter swim costs around £7, and also gives you access to the saunas.

4. Relax at a movie night

A simple, but effective and cheap way to socialise and relax in the winter months. Many of the common rooms in UIB’s student accommodation have TVs or even projectors, so make the most of this and enjoy a film night with your friends. Why not try some international films too, with English subtitles, of course! Bring popcorn or ask everyone to contribute some snacks to make for comfortable viewing.

5. Take a boat trip to visit beautiful Rosendal

The cruise takes about two hours one way, and you can spend 3 1/2 hours in Rosendal, where you can stroll around this beautiful village, visit the Barony Rosendal and its rose garden, The Folgefonn Centre or go for a walk in lovely scenery. In the summer months you can also visit the Barony in Rosendal, which is Scandinavia’s smallest castle and the only one of its kind in the country. The castle is within walking distance to the center of Rosendal and is famous for its magnificent landscape park with the rose garden and a rich cultural program with concerts, bourgeois theater, lectures and art exhibitions. Bring a packed lunch and make a day of it!

Tickets for this boat seem expensive, at around £22 each way. However, this is significantly cheaper than the ‘fjord tours’ and ‘day cruises’ available from Bergen city centre, which can easily cost £70-£100. For less than £45, you can enjoy stunning scenery and fjords for significantly less than on other cruises. Furthermore, with the youth ticket transport pass (aged 20 and under), the Rosendal boat is included!

Help! I don’t know which university to apply to!

Advice on choosing where to apply to, from a Human Geographer’s perspective.

En route to Bergen, Norway!

The IEP application can be an overwhelming and daunting process. The pressure to decide where to go, and where you will be happiest, can seem immense. What if I choose the ‘wrong’ place? What if I hate the city? What if there’s nothing to do I enjoy? All these thoughts were running through my head as I stared at the long list of partner universities on offer to me. As a Geography student, there was over 35 partner university to choose from, across approximately 10 countries, even with Australia and New Zealand off the list (thanks Covid). It was still a long and overwhelming list. Where to begin?

Continue reading “Help! I don’t know which university to apply to!”

Ways to make your new room feel like home (on a budget)

By Zoe Watson (University of Bergen, Norway)

Making your new room feel like home is important, especially if you are going to be living there for the best part of a year. My room at the University of Bergen’s student halls seemed bare and clinical, but within a few weeks it felt like home. Here are some ideas for how to decorate your new room, whilst in a foreign country and on a tight budget. 

  1. Print photos of family and friends

Pictures of your family and friends will comfort you when you’re having a down day and missing them, and will also brighten up the bare walls. They also make a nice conversation starter with your new flatmates and friends. Whilst in the UK, I used the Free Prints app to print off a bunch, which then took up minimal space in my luggage. Don’t forget to bring some blu-tac too!

  1. Pack your favourite duvet cover and pillowcase 

I chose to pack my favourite duvet cover and pillowcase from home to add a personal and familiar touch to my room. Once I rolled it up tight, it took up surprisingly little space in my luggage. It also meant I had one less thing to buy at Ikea once I had arrived. I brought a duvet cover and pillowcase with fun colours and patterns to brighten up the room, and remind me of home. Make sure to check beforehand whether you will have a single bed or a double bed!

  1. Seek out free stuff

There are plenty of places to find free or super cheap stuff for your room. At my accommodation, previous tenants had left the stuff they didn’t want to take home in the communal areas. Here, my flat mates found a kettle, vacuum cleaner, and a chest of drawers, amongst other things. Unfortunately, once I arrived (after my mandatory hotel quarantine) the best stuff had gone, so instead I kept an eye on the accommodation’s Facebook group, where people would post what they were giving away or selling. I managed to bag a lamp, coat hangers and a bedside table, all for free. Second hand stores and garage sales are also great places to look, as well as your host country’s most popular advertisements website (in Norway, it’s FINN). 

A typical room at the University of Bergen’s student accommodation.