PeopleSpiegeloog 403: Global

Travel blog: ‘Koselig’

By April 24, 2020 No Comments

While enjoying the view of a snow-covered mountain and adjusting to the strange letters on my Norwegian-installed keyboard, I cannot help but think about how much my life has changed during the past few weeks. I have been on exchange in Bergen, Norway for almost two months now and – while this seems like a cliche – I have been truly loving every single minute of it. 

Although adjusting to Northern lifestyle is not that challenging, since it is quite similar to the Dutch one, there are some differences. The prices at the supermarket need to be divided by ten, to convert Norwegian Kroner to Euros, the alcohol is crazy expensive, and I haven’t eaten stamppot – a typical Dutch dish – in a very long time. Of course, we need to study, so during the week I spend time at the psychology faculty taking courses such as ‘Cultural Psychopathology’ and ‘Medical Health Psychology’. Surprisingly, I have already written more essays in the last seven weeks than during the first two years in Amsterdam, so you could definitely say there are differences between the universities. Nonetheless, I am tending to find the Norwegian psychology classes easier and not as high maintenance as those at the UvA: I experience less pressure, stress and difficulty in Bergen than in Amsterdam. 

A fun difference between Dutch and Norwegian student-life, I noticed, is the way free time is spent. Where Dutch students might wrap themselves in blankets after class and binge watch Netflix on a windy day, Norwegians hike, walk or even run up mountains. They carry out outdoor activities in all weather conditions, because – as Norwegians say – ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’ Of course, I have to acknowledge the ‘slightly’ higher amount of mountains here in Norway, in comparison to our flat little country we call ‘The Netherlands’. By any means, the nature in Norway is astonishing and breathtaking, and at least once a week we climb to the top of one of the seven mountains the city Bergen (coincidentally, Dutch for mountains) is known for. 

I believe everyone has a list of activities they have always wanted to do, but never found the time to actually do them. As an exchange student in a new country with new people, I was able to design my week again completely from the very beginning, just the way I like it. Thus, I started doing the things I have always dreamed of: taking new language courses, multiple dance classes, and going on roadtrips with people from all over the world. The most wonderful weekends consist of evenings drinking big mugs filled with hot chocolate and laughter by a fireplace after a cold day in the snow. The Norwegians would perfectly describe evenings like this as koselig, a word that cannot be translated to English, but Dutch people might recognize as gezellig. It is a feeling of cosiness shared with others, intimacy, warmth and happiness. 

The joy fills a void where the feeling of homesickness might have laid underneath, and I don’t think I need to explain why I recommend going abroad when you get the chance, and experience the most amazing months of your life. Only two months ago – just before I left for Norway – worst case scenario would have been not being able to make any friends. Yet, only eight weeks later, I am on a trip from Bergen to Tromsø, sitting in a small outside-sauna in The Arctic with four incredible international friends, where we can cool down outside by jumping in four meters of soft snow and enjoy the Northern Lights together. Isn’t that the dream? 

While enjoying the view of a snow-covered mountain and adjusting to the strange letters on my Norwegian-installed keyboard, I cannot help but think about how much my life has changed during the past few weeks. I have been on exchange in Bergen, Norway for almost two months now and – while this seems like a cliche – I have been truly loving every single minute of it. 

Although adjusting to Northern lifestyle is not that challenging, since it is quite similar to the Dutch one, there are some differences. The prices at the supermarket need to be divided by ten, to convert Norwegian Kroner to Euros, the alcohol is crazy expensive, and I haven’t eaten stamppot – a typical Dutch dish – in a very long time. Of course, we need to study, so during the week I spend time at the psychology faculty taking courses such as ‘Cultural Psychopathology’ and ‘Medical Health Psychology’. Surprisingly, I have already written more essays in the last seven weeks than during the first two years in Amsterdam, so you could definitely say there are differences between the universities. Nonetheless, I am tending to find the Norwegian psychology classes easier and not as high maintenance as those at the UvA: I experience less pressure, stress and difficulty in Bergen than in Amsterdam. 

A fun difference between Dutch and Norwegian student-life, I noticed, is the way free time is spent. Where Dutch students might wrap themselves in blankets after class and binge watch Netflix on a windy day, Norwegians hike, walk or even run up mountains. They carry out outdoor activities in all weather conditions, because – as Norwegians say – ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’ Of course, I have to acknowledge the ‘slightly’ higher amount of mountains here in Norway, in comparison to our flat little country we call ‘The Netherlands’. By any means, the nature in Norway is astonishing and breathtaking, and at least once a week we climb to the top of one of the seven mountains the city Bergen (coincidentally, Dutch for mountains) is known for. 

I believe everyone has a list of activities they have always wanted to do, but never found the time to actually do them. As an exchange student in a new country with new people, I was able to design my week again completely from the very beginning, just the way I like it. Thus, I started doing the things I have always dreamed of: taking new language courses, multiple dance classes, and going on roadtrips with people from all over the world. The most wonderful weekends consist of evenings drinking big mugs filled with hot chocolate and laughter by a fireplace after a cold day in the snow. The Norwegians would perfectly describe evenings like this as koselig, a word that cannot be translated to English, but Dutch people might recognize as gezellig. It is a feeling of cosiness shared with others, intimacy, warmth and happiness. 

The joy fills a void where the feeling of homesickness might have laid underneath, and I don’t think I need to explain why I recommend going abroad when you get the chance, and experience the most amazing months of your life. Only two months ago – just before I left for Norway – worst case scenario would have been not being able to make any friends. Yet, only eight weeks later, I am on a trip from Bergen to Tromsø, sitting in a small outside-sauna in The Arctic with four incredible international friends, where we can cool down outside by jumping in four meters of soft snow and enjoy the Northern Lights together. Isn’t that the dream? 

Elise van Graven

Author Elise van Graven

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