At home in the land of the midnight sun

Julie Welde ’18 and Peter Yergeau ’18 share their experiences studying in Norway

Hiking Pulpit Rock, camping on Lofoten islands, seeing the Northern Lights, and eating whale steak—these are but a few of the experiences of Gettysburg students studying in Norway this fall.

This year, the Gettysburg College Center for Global Education (CGE) added to its portfolio of affiliated study abroad opportunities. Fall of 2016 was the first semester that Gettysburg students were given the opportunity to study abroad in Norway with two new programs in Stavanger and Tromso.

A unique difference between the Norway programs and other study abroad opportunities offered through CGE is that the Norway programs are student-exchange partnerships. Gettysburg College students enroll in the University of Stavanger or the University of Tromso for a semester or full academic year—and Norwegian students also have the opportunity to study abroad at Gettysburg. Gettysburg plans to open its doors to the first cohort of Norwegian students in fall 2017.Norway

“We are very excited about these new Norway programs because not many colleges or universities in the United States have partnerships with Norwegian universities,” said Taylor Burdette, Norway program coordinator at CGE. “Norway is an incredible place to spend a global study semester. Our new partnerships offer a great number of high-quality English-taught classes in a wide range of disciplines.”

For Gettysburgians in Norway, the University of Stavanger and the University of Tromso offer courses from nearly every major. Through courses taken alongside Norwegian students and by living in university housing, students are immersed in Norwegian academia. There are some interesting country specific courses as well. The strong oil industry in Stavanger offers interesting courses and research in geology and chemistry. With its close geographical proximity to Russia, The University of Tromso offers unique academic study opportunities in policy and security. Moreover, Norwegians have a strong appreciation of nature; students have the opportunity to further immerse themselves through outdoor activities in both Stavanger and Tromso, as well as throughout Norway.

Read below to learn about two students’ experiences in Norway and how they are taking advantage of their non-traditional global study location.

Peter Yergeau ’18: Physics Major—University of Stavanger

Peter Yergeau ’18
What were your impressions of Norway when you first arrived?

Stavanger is the fourth-largest city in Norway with a population of about 130,000 people, so when I first went into the city I noticed how everything felt very close-knit, which is very cool and different. Given that I am from Westchester, New York (about 45 min train to NYC), I am used to New York City when people refer to cities.

How do the classes you are taking in Norway relate to your major or academic interests?

I am taking a course called Basic Finite Elemental Method, which is an engineering course looking at metal structures of bridges. This relates to my Physics major as it involves using the physics method to solve engineering problems.

I also have a course called Hotel and Restaurant Management, which is run by two people who have been players in the hotel and restaurant industry here in Stavanger. This doesn't relate to my studies back home, but it is fascinating to learn how the hospitality world works in Norway. I am also taking a course called Nordic Models of Gender Equality and Welfare. This course is very interesting as Norway is considered one of the most gender equal countries, with Scandinavia being the most gender equal region. I love this course as it gives a real perspective on how different Norway is from the States in terms of policy.

Julie Welde ’18: Health Sciences and Public Policy Major—University of Tromso

Julie Welde ’18

Why did you decide to study abroad in Norway?

I was fascinated with the idea of going to Norway since my family is from Norway and most of them can speak Norwegian. I thought this would be a great opportunity to really experience the culture and the language. I’m so fortunate that I made the decision to study here, because every day I stop and stare at something and think: “this is beautiful.” It’s something you just have to see for yourself to understand.

How do the classes you are taking in Norway relate to your major or academic interests?

I am a Health Science and Public Policy double major at Gettysburg. At the University of Tromso, we only take three courses because they meet for longer hours. I am taking a Society, Culture, and Public Health course for Health Science and then an International Security course and an Arctic Politics course for Public Policy.

Public Health has been really cool because my professors use the U.S. for a lot of comparative studies—so seeing the difference in the health care systems between the two countries has been interesting. As for my political science courses, it has been really interesting to study politics internationally because of the diversity of students in the classroom. The students here are from all over the world so there are always different global perspectives in the conversations, which helps has helped me better understand the country and its politics.

What has been your favorite part about your study-abroad experience thus far?

The university has about 400 international students, so not only have I made Norwegian friends, I have made lifelong friends from all over the world. Honestly, it’s one of the best parts about the program. There were less than ten Americans in the international students program, which was so intimidating at first. Now, I’ll be hanging out with a big group of friends, and I can look around the table and almost every time there are more than five countries represented.