Exchange student: "We protect what we are connected to"

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“When we feel connected to something, we will also protect it. Therefore, I think friluftsliv as a teaching method is very valuable“, says Svenja (24) from Bamberg University, Germany. She is one of the students on Adventure Knowledge, a semester programme at Nord University, Campus Bodø.

​​​​​“Hiking, climbing, and experiencing nature in different ways is very important for me. I’m currently taking a double degree at the University of Bamberg: teacher education and psychology - but decided to apply for an exchange semester in Norway", Svenja says.​

In Germany, Svenja also learned about outdoor education but was not familiar with the Norwegian concept friluftsliv. She reflects:  

"In the Norwegian society, people are closely connected to nature. When we feel connected to something, we will also protect it. Therefore, I think friluftsliv as a teaching method is very valuable: when we implement this in schools and the children both learn and play outside, they grow a connection to nature. Then they will also protect nature. Therefore, I think that the concept of outdoor education and friluftsliv is very sustainable."

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German student Svenja is spending an exchange semester in Norway.
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Helpful Norwegians

On the question how she has experienced Norwegian culture, Svenja comments:

Well, it’s a bit complicated because we’d first have to define the concept “culture”. But - I’ll share some of my experiences: The day I arrived at Øvre Hammarlia in Bodø where I live, it was raining. I could not find the number on my apartment, so I walked around the building a few times, looking for it. Finally, I knocked on a door to ask for help. The people who lived there were Norwegians and were eating pancakes. They helped me look for the house number but couldn’t find it either, so they invited me in, and we ate pancakes together while waiting for the person from the university to come with the key to my place. Meanwhile, they drove me to the local shop so I could buy some food.

Svenja continues and talks about how she the following day went to the city centre to buy a bike. When she was paying for it, there was some trouble in finalizing the payment, but the seller acted:

He drove me to the bank so I could finish the payment and buy the bike - and then he helped me find some tires for free. He gave both time and help. My impression is that Norwegians do not take the first step in getting in contact very often - but every time I’ve asked for help, I’ve met nothing but willingness to help and kindness.

​Learning by doing

With the double-degree Svenja is taking, she can work as a teacher in Germany. I asked Svenja what she will take with her academically from Adventure Knowledge. She replies:  

I’ve discovered that learning works best when it’s “learning by doing” – and that when there is pleasure in learning, it is both motivating and fun. I believe that when we learn by doing, we also remember better what we learn. For me, as a teacher education student, it’s valuable to see different teaching methods in practice. And in the next part of Adventure Knowledge, the course called Experience Pedagogy, I expect to learn even more about how to implement this in the classroom. We will also learn more about the Norwegian school. I’m curious to learn about how children experience learning here and in German schools!

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Adventure Knowledge students climbing on glacier. Photo: Dagmar G. M. Dahl 

​​Go for it!

When Svenja is asked what her message is for students who are thinking about a possible exchange semester, she does not hesitate a bit but bursts out laughing and then says:

Go for it! This is an experience you cannot have or experience at home. I was a bit afraid of studying in English and only speaking English before coming here, but everything has gone very well. You grow academically and personally when studying abroad. Jump into it!

​​​The buddy week at Nord University in the beginning of the semester was really supporting and fun: there was a lot of activities for us students to participate in and meet other students. On one of the first days, we went for a hike to Hunstadtoppen and on the way down, a couple of us got chatting. Since the weather was good, we ended up going to Lofoten together for two days with a group of 10 people from completely different nationalities. It was really good. I must say that it is also very good to experience being a foreigner in a country. I think my approach will be another one when I meet foreigners back in Germany. It’s about a change of perspective – which I would say this whole semester exchange also can be described as: a change of perspectives.

Facts: Adventure Knowledge

​ECTS credits: 30
Study level​: ​Shorter programme/one term programme
Teaching language: English
Campus: Bodø
FacultyFaculty of Education and Arts

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