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USAC NORWAY: Oslo - Full Curriculum
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USAC NORWAY: Oslo - Full Curriculum

Overall Rating

1/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    1

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Want to have a good experience in Norway and get credit? Here's what no one told me:

I am having a wonderful time in Norway, please do not get me wrong. So far throughout this entire experience, it has been my study abroad program that has given my the biggest headache. I think that USAC is probably a lovely program for some students, but in the case of the Norway program I am extremely disappointed.
Looking back on the whole experience, it would have been cheaper, faster, and easier to temporarily withdraw from my school and apply independently as an exchange student to the University of Oslo.
I'll start with the program fee. The entire program fee for the USAC Norway program is a bit over $5000, not including a security deposit. What USAC does not tell you is that international students get to study here at the University of Oslo for free. FOR FREE. Please let that sink in. So what does this $5000 program fee buy you? It basically buys you a set of instructions to get your visa (which can be found readily online), "help" with the application to the University of Oslo that you could have completed yourself, and the feeling that you are part of a group (most of whom you never see after you start at the university). This $5000 also buys you a t-shirt and some pretty cool USAC-emblazoned luggage tags, so I'm sure that my money is being well-spent.
In addition to this $5000, you must pay for your own food (Norway has some of the most expensive groceries in the world), housing expenses (around $400-$700 per month), and your own travel fees. The program doesn't even guarantee you a pass to the city transit system, which all students use.

Two more things that USAC does not tell you about up-front are the transfer credit process (or lack thereof) and the visa requirements. I'll start with the visa:
In order to study in Norway for more than 3 months, you need an official student visa. What USAC does not tell you initially is that you must apply for your visa entirely on your own and hand in your documents IN PERSON. This is not a big problem if you live in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, or Houston. However it is a problem for the rest of us who must make an appointment at these consulates and fly out to them during the regular work week to apply for our visas.
Most study abroad programs, including all of the programs at my home university, do this service for their students. Perhaps this would have been a better use of my $5000? All relevant information about how to apply for a student visa to Norway from the United States can be found on Norway's immigration and visa website, which is called UDI: https://www.udi.no/en/want-to-apply/studies/studietillatelse/university-college-or-university/how-to-apply-for-a-residence-permit-for-a-student-at-a-university-college-or-university/?r=usa&n=n&c=usa

Now on to credit transfer. What USAC does not tell you is that there is absolutely no guarantee that your credits will transfer from the University of Oslo. This is not a problem that they can fix themselves, since they are in no way licensed to transfer credits from the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), but it was not a problem that I was made aware of until I had already committed to the program and ASKED.
You would think that with so many students doubtlessly in the same situation every year and with more than $5000 from each student, a memo could have been made to let future students know about this significant shortcoming. If your university is like mine and only accept credits which have been been approved by a US institution, then congratulations. This program is not for you.
Yes, USAC does allow some of their programs to transfer credits through the University of Nevada, Reno. I tried to explore this option and sent about 20-odd emails to USAC staff when I first discovered that no system was in place to guarantee my credit transfer. There was literally nothing that they could do. I was eventually able to find a costly but official third-party organization called ECE that is transferring my credits for my for a significant fee of their own.

In short, if you are considering Norway and looking at the option of USAC, I strongly suggest that you either reconsider your program options or apply to the University of Oslo independently as an exchange student. I can honestly assure you that it will be well-worth you time and money. Norway is a lovely country and I would not trade my time and experiences in this place for the world. However, if you consider using USAC, be prepared to accept the consequences of the details that they don't tell you.

  • University Studies Abroad Consortium responded to this review December 05, 2017 at 9:35 AM

    Thank you for providing your feedback on your experience in Oslo. You are correct that it is possible to directly enroll in the University of Oslo but to do so as a non-degree “single course” student requires that students have an advanced level proficiency in Norwegian and the course registration is limited to subjects that have vacancies after all degree-seeking students have registered. While we understand that you have an advanced knowledge of Norwegian, this is not the case for most students who study abroad through USAC in Norway. In comparison, students who study abroad at the University of Oslo through USAC are exempt from the Norwegian language requirement, have access to more than 800 courses offered in English as well as courses in the Norwegian language. USAC provides an opportunity for students whose home universities do not have a bilateral exchange agreement with the University of Oslo to study there for a semester or academic year. Before every Oslo program, each student receives our credits, courses, and transcript document which explains that the credit transfer process is determined by your home university and is not within USAC’s control. We also remind (and recommend to) students multiple times to check with their home university to ensure that the credits will transfer back before they leave to study abroad. We understand that this may be confusing and we’ll work to improve our communication to make it more understandable for future students. Regarding visas, it is a government requirement, not a USAC policy, which specifies that you must appear in person. The government does not allow a parent or third-party representative to appear on a student’s behalf. Once again, we appreciate your feedback, and If you’d like to discuss any of your concerns further, please email us at studyabroad@usac.edu

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    2

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Community

    10

Living in Norway

I LOVE Norway! I'm a little confused why I paid such a big USAC fee though when I have not needed or used that much assistants. The main reason I used USAC was to still show I'm registered for classes. I would love to lower the price of that so I could spend more time seeing other countries while I have the chance to be abroad!

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    1

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

Best and worst experience of my life spring 2016

The Bad: My flight got delayed so there was no one to help me once I arrived. I made my way from the airport to the university no problem, but there was only a key and a map to great me. This map was not all the way written in english either. I walked over four miles and up two very large snow covered hills with my 50 pounds of clothes and goods I thought I would need in my six months of living there. I had to rely on the kindness of the Norwegian people to point me in the right direction of where I was going to be living in the middle of the night. When I finally made it to my flat I found I could not move any longer due to pain from what I found later to be muscular strains given the harsh temperatures. There was very little assistance from USAC the entire time I was there because the man in charge of the program was in CHINA the first few weeks of our study.

The good: Literally everything else. My flatmates were amazing, classes were entertaining, I went on so many beautiful walks/hikes/ and trips around the city. I experienced dog sledding, a picnic on a frozen lake, and snowmobiling. I met friends I will spend a lifetime being thankful for. The country is beautiful and I will be returning in the future with my family. There is wonderful food, everyone is so kind to help an American in need, and overall it was an amazing experience. This is the winter wonderland I have always dreamed about. You could see parts of the northern lights where I was staying, trolls, castles, it is my personal definition of a fairytale.

Overall it was a wonderful experince. Just be prepared to be on your own with little assistance from USAC.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Don't follow the crowd, study in Norway!

I had the best semester ever studying in Oslo, Norway at the University of Oslo through USAC. It is a great mix of city life, nature, and outdoor activities! I enjoyed the social scene at the university and I met tons of students who loved the nightlife like me, yet we also did lots of cross country skiing, sledging, and swimming during the day. Oslo is a beautiful city that isn't too big and easily accessible with all public transportation. It is known to be expensive but there are a lot of student discounts in various places and is a doable place to live on a budget if you do some planning. Norway isn't most people's number one list to study abroad, but I had the time of my life and I'm so glad I went! It's a unique location, you'll enjoy the amazing Norwegian culture, and see the most beautiful country out there!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    4

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

The land of trolls, brown cheese, and cross country skiing

Studying abroad in Norway was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I won't deny that I had the pre-departure jitters, but within the first couple of being surrounded by new friends and a beautiful place, those jitters quickly dissolved. The first week in Norway is where you will spend time getting to know the fellow study abroad students, as well as getting to know the town in which you will call home. I am not going to sugar coat anything in this review, because I think that would be unfair to whoever is reading this. I will be honest, being in Norway during the winter was extremely difficult. It was light for only about 6 hours per day during the initial months, and even then the sun rarely broke through the gray skies. I will admit, if you are a person that is always use to warmth and sun, then you might be in for a little shock when you arrive in Norway. But change is good right?! Cross country skiing is a must if you are going to be living in Oslo during the winter months, this gives you an insight into the culture of Norwegians (and it's a great workout). The schooling in Norway is fairly different from the US. There is a lot more self motivation that goes into studying in Norway. In the US, I think university is a bit more guided for you, and you do more study in the classroom rather than outside the classroom. In Norway, it is required that you take the time to read the material on your own. It's a good method of studying, and teaches you to be more independent. The great thing about living in Oslo was the fact that traveling to different countries, and even around Norway itself was pretty simple. It is easy to find cheap flights out of the Oslo airport if you book in advance. I highly recommend visiting the north part of Norway (Bergen, Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands). If you go during the winter months, you will most likely see the northern lights-which is an amazing experience. These northern towns are gold for people who want to see where mountains meet the ocean. Also, prepare yourself to eat a lot of traditional Norwegian food (brown cheese, reindeer, and A LOT of bread) while you are abroad. The language is very different from English, but I had friends pick it up pretty easily. If you want to take a Norwegian language class, the University of Oslo offers some great ones. But if not, don't worry-English is almost spoken more than Norwegian is, so you won't have any problem with language barriers. Norway is known for being expensive, and let me tell ya, it surely is. A beer at a bar usually goes for around 100 kroner ($8) so be careful when you go out. The cheapest food is located in the part of town called Grønland, they have a lot of fresh produce at a pretty good price. The best way to save money in Norway is to not go out to eat often, and to not spend money on things you don't need. (Side note: the liquor stores close at 6pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends- so if you want something make sure you go early in the day!). Spring and summer months in Oslo are great fun, everyone is outside enjoying the warmth. You can go on ferry rides, go to Sognsvann lake and have a bbq, or visit Vigeland sculpture park. Oslo offers a lot of activities for people with all personalities. If you like museums, they got them. If you like hiking, they have an endless amount of trails. If you like the ocean-it's right there. There is always going to be something to do in Oslo, I can promise that you will never get bored. So learn how to cross country ski, try some local foods, and take time to explore Oslo and the surrounding area. I can guarantee that Norway will not disappoint. Skål, fellow travelers! You will have a great time.

  • University Studies Abroad Consortium responded to this review June 21, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    Thank you for the very detailed review Kersti! We're so glad you had a good time abroad, and appreciate your honest review!