Spain & Coming to an End

I had this post written and wanted to post it yesterday, but I’ve been so busy with working on my term paper and hanging out with friends for the last time that I didn’t get around to it.  I leave in exactly 1 week from today, which is definitely a bittersweet thing. I will really miss Oslo and everyone who’s been apart of making this a wonderful experience. Having to do a term paper during the last weekend that a lot of friends will be in Oslo is not the greatest, but I’ve tried to divide my time fairly between the two. 😉 Last night I got together with the group of people, who I’d say I hung out with the most, for the last time. It’s so crazy to think that we all met in our “Fadderullan” buddy group over 4 months ago and if it wasn’t for that, we never would have met. I’m just so thankful to have been able to study abroad at such a great school in a wonderful country, surrounded by good people.

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3 Fadderullan amigos! 😉

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So glad to have gotten to know all of you!

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I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture with Nickolas, so I had to add one of him and Sara! He’s my half American Norwegian! 😛

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This post probably won’t be as detailed as some of the others about trips in the past. I want to get this typed up and posted by tomorrow before the “72 hours” start of my group term paper. I’m just so tired and should go to bed. 😉 I went skiing today! I don’t think you can leave Norway without skiing. That was pretty fun, except I was not the greatest. It’s not like skiing in North Dakota or Minnesota, which are basically a joke compared to skiing in Europe.  And I didn’t get much sleep the last night and the day before I was up at 4:00am to catch a flight. So just bear with me!

This past Wednesday I arrived home from a lovely relaxing 6 days in Spain. My friend Amber is studying in Bilbao for the semester and since I had a little over a week off with nothing planned and didn’t need to use it to study I decided to take advantage, one last time, of being in Europe and take a long weekend trip down to Spain. Amber, and her roommates, were nice enough to let me stay at their apartment during their ‘finals week.’

When I looked for flights to Bilbao, the cheapest I could find left at 6:35am from Oslo Gardermoen. When I booked it, I didn’t really think about how I would get to the airport at that time since the metro doesn’t run that early. Luckily, there is a bus that runs all night near my residence to the central station and then I was able to take the express train to the airport. I had to leave my room at 3:50am to catch the bus and time it correctly so I could make it on the express train to make enough time to get through security at the airport. I had a 2 hour layover in Brussels, Belguim. It ended up turning out to be about 4 hours since my flight was delayed 2 hours. I eventually made it into Bilbao at around 3:00pm and took a bus to the city center in Bilbao to meet Amber. We stopped at a Café & Té, which I believe is a chain cafe throughout Spain before heading to her apartment.

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Amber lives in an area outside of Bilbao called Algorta, so it takes about a half hour metro ride to get to. For dinner that night, we went over to one of her friends apartments and had dinner with a few others. It was kind of weird being with a whole group of Americans. I hadn’t been around that many since before I arrived. That’s one big difference with her exchange is that they are not intermixed with the local students – they just have classes with the rest of the Americans who are on exchange. All the girls I talked to said they didn’t really know any of the local students. I’m really glad of how BI had all the exchange students distributed throughout all the buddy groups so we were given a great opportunity to get to know some Norwegian students.

Saturday morning Amber and I went to meet up with Courtney, a fellow UND student and another girl who’s in the same exchange program, try to catch a bus to Pamplona, the city famous for the running of the bulls. We ended up missing the 10:00am bus so we had to wait until 1:00pm for the next one. So we decided to walk around a bit and eat at a cafe. We got to Pamplona around 3:00 in the afternoon and we were quite hungry and found a place to sit down and eat. I can’t remember the name for it, but we had a three course meal for €13. I had a salad and fish, I also don’t remember what kind it was, but it was very good. For dessert, I had a piece of a chocolate cake type thing. We spent the rest of the day walking around Pamplona and then headed back on the bus to Bilbao.

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Sunday we went to 2 beaches which were amazing. Amber and I had fun goofing around and taking pictures on the beach. It was actually my first time stepping foot in to the Atlantic Ocean. ♥ I wish I lived by the ocean back home. I’d be sitting on the beach all the time. 😉 We spent a couple hours at Larrabasterra and then on our walk back to the metro stopped at a restaurant called the Indian Motorcycle cafe or something. It was sooooo American in there. It was weird. hahah  We then headed over to Plentzia which is another sort of suburb outside of Bilbao to meet up with Courtney, Alexa (who’s also a student at UND), and then 2 other girls from their program to watch the sunset on the beach.

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Oh I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the weather was absolutely perfect! I guess the whole month of November was extremely rainy and gross and the day I got there was the first sunny day they’d had in a while. Everyday I was there the weather was perfect. Bilbao is in the north of Spain, so it was not like tank top and shorts weather, but I was in jeans and a tank top for a little bit at the beach. All in all, the weather was a lot warmer than Oslo, so it was a nice change.

Monday morning we again met up with the same girls at Casco Viejo or the old town. I really loved how European and culturally different Bilbao felt. With Oslo, it doesn’t feel too culturally different than home. I mean yes of course there are a lot of differences but probably more similarities to back home. With Bilbao hardly anyone speaks English and the culture is just a lot different. If you weren’t with people who all know Spanish, you’d have a bit of a harder time getting around. We stopped for a snack at a restaurant and all got churros con chocolate. It’s just churros with a cup of chocolate that reminds me of a mix of hot chocolate and chocolate pudding. I could have ate so many of those they were so delicious! We shopped and walked around a few other areas of Bilbao. I was able to buy a couple Christmas presents which was nice. Then we headed back to Amber’s for the night and just hung out. Amber had some school stuff to work on so I cooked us really good chicken taco sort of things for dinner since I had nothing else to do and I enjoy cooking. Hahah

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Tuesday was my last day and I wanted to go back into town to do a bit more shopping. Which I thank Amber for putting up with me and going back and forth from store to store not able to decide what to buy for certain people. 😉 Then we went to the last beach for an hour or so since we didn’t make it there on Sunday. Then we went back to her apartment so I could get my backpack packed and my stuff organized. It is so hard to pack for 6 days with just a backpack to put all my stuff in, plus the items that I bought. Thankfully, I was able to carry on a shopping bag in addition to my backpack and purse. Later that night, met up with Amber’s friend Phuong, who we hung out with us when we went shopping for a bit on Monday, to go get kalimotxos or calimochos. I guess it it originated in the Basque country and is quite popular in Bilbao. It just is red wine and coke mixed poured over ice. It sounds super weird, but is actually really good. Might be my favorite drink of choice that I’ve tried abroad. 😉

When we went out a bunch of the other exchange students from Amer’s program ended up being at the same bar as us. So before we left Amber had to say goodbye for good to some of them which made me sad! It definitely put how close to the end of this whole experience is in perspective. It made me realize that I literally will be going back to Oslo and having to say goodbye in a few short days as well! :/ I still have 10 whole days before I’m back in the US, but like I mentioned above I have my term paper to do this weekend and I’m going up north next Tuesday through Friday and then leave early Sunday morning. I don’t have many days left in Oslo and a lot of people are leaving this weekend.

I’ll probably have one more blog post while abroad after I get back from Tromso which is just crazy to think about! It seems like I just arrived yesterday!

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Handelshøyskolen BI

Welcome back, I’m sure it’s been a long two weeks with out a post and that you all are dying to hear from me again. Actually, I’m totally kidding. 😉 I sometimes think my blogs would be annoying if I posted too frequently. Anyways, back to the contents of this blog post. I don’t like writing posts that don’t have a central or specific topic. I know they don’t need to have one but I just can’t get myself to write one unless I have a “topic” picked out. It’s just my little bit of ‘OCD’ kicking in. 😀 Looking back at my previous posts, I haven’t really talked about school all too much. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but never dedicated a post about my school. That being the reason I am actually over here, I thought it was a good idea.

So for those of you that don’t know. I’m studying at BI Norwegian Business School, Handelshøyskolen BI, if you prefer it in Norwegian,  in Oslo, Norway. Before I go directly into talking about my courses, I’ll give you a bit of information about the school. BI, for short,  is a private, independent, specialized university institution with 6  locations in Norway – Oslo being the main campus.* It is one of Europe’s largest business schools with around 20,000 students. Internationally, BI has student exchange agreements with more than 170 institutions in 45 different countries.* If you’re interested in reading more about BI, go here. 😀 The building itself is amazing and super modern; it reminds me of a shopping mall. Everything about the school screams “Modern Business Professional” from the building itself, to the staff, and to the way the Norwegian students dress. 😉 [which I’m going to miss seeing on a daily basis. It’s like walking into a school full of models, not kidding either] 😀 hahah

This semester, I’m taking 4 courses which is the minimum for full-time and the amount most people take per semester. Classes meet once a week for about 3 hours (I had one that met 4 hours a week) usually with a 10-15 minute break each hour. That took a lot of getting used to and now that I’m done with lectures, I don’t think I ever got used to it. I will say, having the breaks helped me stay focused and make the time go by a bit faster. Comparing that set up with UND, I think I prefer the way it’s set up back home meeting 50 minutes 3 times a week or an hour and 15 minutes twice a week. I do see how more could be more beneficial having longer classes once a week, I just never got used to the concept. Another big difference between classes here, and I think a lot of universities in Europe, is that the majority of the time, your final grade of the course is based off the final exam, and only that exam. There is no course work throughout the semester. Again, I never got used to this at all. I can’t learn by just reading and listening, I need to actually put the knowledge to use and do work and assignments with it. Though, some classes instead of a final exam have term papers. For example, my Business Ethics class had a group term paper instead of a final exam. I’ve completely done with that class and that paper was handed in last week. My Organization and Change course has 2 parts to the final grade: first part is a 30 questions multiple choice test based on the book that you must get 70% or better to complete the 2nd part, which is a group exam paper. We get 72 hours to complete it. My Social Entrepreneurship and Microeconomics exams are both 4 hour written tests. One other thing to note, is that all exams are taken off campus at various random locations in Oslo. For me that just puts an added stress before the exam trying to find the place. They suggest going a couple days before the exam to find the location… takes time away from studying.

This post is starting to sound a bit to critical (I don’t intend for it to be negative at all), but I wanted to give my honest opinion on my classes and the way they are structured.

With all of that said above, I can say I have learned a lot during my semester at BI both relating to the academics themselves and giving me more of a clear direction of what part of business I want to focus on. I definitely can say I’m thankful for having the opportunity to study at such an internationally accredited business school.

I will end this blog with a few random updates before I leave you with some pictures of BI.

I’m going  to Bergen  today, well tonight, with my friend Sara for the weekend. We’re taking the train over night, to save money and not have to pay for a hotel an extra night. We have all day Saturday and and Sunday and then our train leaves Bergen late Sunday evening. We’ll be back into Oslo Monday morning. I’ve been told multiple times my Norwegians that Oslo itself does not depict the true beauty of Norway or represent the real Norway so I’m excited to go head west and experience Bergen.

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Now that I’m completely done with the class lectures, my time will be dedicated to studying and reviewing for the most part. I have my multiple choice exam, mentioned above, next Thursday (on Thanksgiving 😦 ) and then the following week are my two 4 hour written exams (one on that Wednesday and the other on Thursday). Then that Friday morning I’m heading to SPAIN! 😀 for 5 days. Then when I get back I have the 72 hour group exam paper. The day after that’s handed in, I’m going up north to Tromsø, part of the arctic circle, for 3 days. Then back to Oslo for one day to pack and then I’ll be on my way back to good ole’ North Dakota! I’m actually getting really excited to come home and see everyone and be back in Grand Forks just in time for Christmas, but I can guarantee after a couple weeks, I’m going to want to be back here because I’ve been having the time of my life. ♥

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 *http://www.topuniversities.com/universities/bi-norwegian-business-school/undergrad

(Map photo credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9wxqcbGevoc/TwW4S8llS8I/AAAAAAAAMeA/dPPbHU8JTpE/s1600/norway-map.gif)