Eline Widani is an Indonesian currently living and studying in Norway. Below is her story about studying in Norway and making new friends for life!
1. What do you miss about Indonesia whilst living in Norway?
FOOD and the nongkrong culture. There is no food culture here in Norway. They said that Norway has seafood, meat, other food and the quality is so much better than in Indonesia, but Indonesia has them as well. I used to hang out with friends at a cafe or a coffee shop in Indonesia. While in Norway, hanging out at the cafe is so expensive, especially if you are a student. So, I just manage to go to my friends’ flat or invite them to go to mine for some parties and of course we cook by ourselves. Here eating out costs an arm and a leg. Moreover, coffee here is not as good as in Indonesia. If you want to buy a very good coffee, go to the coffee shop, but then again it is so expensive. Since I used to be surrounded by people in Indonesia, here I am challenged to do everything by myself because Norwegians are not as open as Indonesians. I don’t say Norwegians are not warm, but it takes so much effort and time (3 months more or less) to be their friends because you have to be in the same bubble with them such as in class, at work, organisations and sport activities. This is an issue for every international student/expat when they live in Norway. Thus, it is recommended international students attend a seminar on how to socialise with Norwegians (here is the link http://monda.no), but once you are a friend with them, you have friends for life.
2. What do you like about living in Norway?
I love eating seafood here because it is healthy, tasty, and cheap. My lifestyle is healthier because I walk a lot and eat healthier. There is no gorengan (fried stuff) and I eat less rice and sugar (you know most snacks, especially traditional snacks in Indonesia contain a lot of sugar). It is nice to do outdoor activities such as running, hiking or just take a walk by the lake while enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings. This is the thing that all Norwegians are proud of: their beautiful nature. It is so peaceful and can release stress. I have never been sick since I arrived here because the air is so fresh and the food is healthy. I have met very interesting people from different countries and shared stories, experiences, and discussed many things with different perspectives since I have been in Norway. Living here has enhanced my knowledge and given me a completely different perspective on things. To me, it is very interesting to have a dialogue with them because there are always many things that we can learn from the people here. Women are treated equally, there is no excuse that saying, ‘you cannot or are not allowed to do this because you are a woman,’ the excuse will be, ‘you cannot or are not allowed to do this because you do not have the capacity to do this.’ Moreover, men will never act brash towards women or shout at them in the street. That is why it is very safe for women to walk down the street by themselves at night. I did not expect anything before I moved to Norway since I knew everything would be different such as the lifestyle and culture. I think by letting yourself go with the flow, accepting the challenges and do your best, those will give you very great experiences in life and you will know that you actually can do something you thought you could not do beforehand.
3. What are the similarities and differences between the education system in Indonesia and Norway?
There is no similarity. The differences: the lectures are more organised. So, I know exactly when the exact dates of the exams are. Assignments, reading lists and exams are well prepared before the semester starts. The lecturers are more serious. They will just explain about the course material only, they will not randomly talk about something else that does not have anything to do with the course such as family, private life, etc. Overall, it is more disciplined and requires students to work harder every day. There is no attendance list in class because it is up to us if we want to go to class or not. The administrative staffs are more helpful and nicer and they work professionally. Since equality is very important in Norway, students are not allowed to write their name on their exam paper, they are asked to write their student number only. This is for avoiding bias from the lecturers when they grade the paper and a C grade is good. They keep telling students that over and over. The smartest students in class have obligations to help other students to get better grades. This is simply if everyone has the same level that means they are equal.
Living in Norway is very fascinating. It challenges me on how to be independent, adjust with the lifestyle here, use many perspectives to solve problems and see life, and use my social skill to interact with the international community. It is not easy especially if you are use to living in your comfort zone, but once you give it a go the challenge is in front of you. Living overseas you will realise that the world is not small, it offers you so many things in life. I would never say that I am done learning since my experience in Norway makes me realise that there will always be so many things you have to know, understand, experience and learn which I want to explore more and more. So, hopefully I can contribute something for society in the future. Importantly, experiencing a different educational system can enhance my knowledge, as I see things from a different angle and compare with the educational system back home which later I can make some contributions for a better change. In addition, equality is not only about talking the talk in Norway, but they actually impose it into practice for building peace and justice in society.