Studying in Norway, Pt. 1

For two enjoyable years I studied at the northernmost university in the world: the University of Tromsø (UiTø). What does one find on top of the world? Well, for me it was an exciting international program and a university with world-class research and a friendly, welcoming student body. I studied a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation with 40 students from all over the world. While the program was new and had its share of growing pains, the chance to interact with students with a wide-range of backgrounds and experiences in a safe and nurturing environment was incredibly rewarding.

I thought back on my experience today as I read the latest post from Minnesota2020. In October, UiTø sent a delegation to research deepening ties with the midwest to encourage more Americans to attend and conduct research in Tromsø. As Vice-Rector and Minnesota-native Curt Rice explained: “The foot in the door, so to speak, is the cultural ties between Norway and the Upper Midwest.”

While many colleges such as my alma mater Luther Colege encourages students to study in Norway because of their heritage, the future of collaboration between Norway and the US should be based on a desire to share cutting-edge technology and knowledge. Norway and specifically Tromsø is a mecca for developments in renewable energy, music, linguistics, natural resource extraction and telemedicine. Some students want to find their roots like I did in Norway. But even though there are many Norwegian-Americans, the days of ethnic identity become less relevant as international travel becomes a near rite of passage for many students. Instead, what will attract international students and foster collaboration is mutually benficial exchanges.

Tromsø is a site where Americans can expand their knowledge base while enjoying an amazing town at the top of the world. With a vibrant international milieu, generous grants and no tuition even for international students and easy navigation with a  population that is highly fluent in English, Tromsø and the University of Tromsø should be a destination for today’s researchers and students.

Studying and living abroad can be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, I’ll help get you through it. Check back here in the coming days for a walk-through of how to apply and work in Norway.

Posted on November 14th, 2010 in Norway, Travel