I have never considered myself a trailblazer but being the first and only Australian at Bø, is really a new and interesting experience. The Bø campus is one of eight, of the University College of South East Norway, set in picturesque hills within the county of Telemark which is sprinkled with beautiful lakes. Bø has about 6000 people with three supermarkets, banks, a variety of shops, pizza parlour, coffee shops and restaurants and is filled with friendly Norwegian people who by and large speak fairly fluent English, and the town is virtually small enough to walk or cycle around, and has a railway station for easy access to Oslo. The administrative centre for the region is Skien which is about an hour by scenic road and is one of the oldest cities in Norway granted Market Town status in 1358 and is located as a terminus of the Telemark Canal built 1854 to 1861, boasting beautiful old buildings and a lovely harbour. This is where you are transported to by the University to get your residence permits from the City Police Station (and can go shopping at one of the three shopping malls).
Classes started in August and apart from the Norwegians, there are international students from a range of countries, including the USA, Austria, Spain. I am studying Alpine Ecology, Alpine Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism which the Bø campus specializes in and includes field trips above the snow line to places such as Lifjell, Hardangervidda, Stave Churches and a Ski Museum.
Despite being small, Bø as lots of things to do e.g. Kroa a student concert facility where you can volunteer or perform, have lunch or dinner at the Bø Hotel and watch the squirrels run across the lawn, then there is the Gullbring Cultural Centre with Swimming Pool and Cinema just to name a few.
The student accommodation I am staying in is about 5 minutes walk from the University and consists of relatively generous rooms with bed, desk chairs etc., an ensuite and a shared kitchen and laundry. As is expected there is always an event going on somewhere in one of the student blocks so you always have to choose when to study and when to party.
Apart from the amazingly different environment, vegetation, seasons and culture for you to experience, which is a world away from the Sunshine Coast and the Australian Outback, there is also the opportunity to travel to other countries as by the time I get home I will have travelled extensively in Norway looking at the countryside, fjiords, islands and Northern lights, Denmark, Finland where I am going to have a lovely White Christmas and England. For someone seeking a whole lot of wonderful sights and experiences I can thoroughly recommend studying in Norway.