Ellen Taylor Studying Overseas at Sogndal, Norway

It’s now been 5 months since I arrived in Norway and I can hardly believe it because it feels like yesterday. From seeing the Northern lights to attending a party on top of a mountain, I’ve had so many amazing experiences in such a short amount of time, it’s been a whirlwind. I have been living in Sogndal, a university town in Western Norway Located on the second largest fjord in the county and surrounded by mountains on every side. It’s not a big town but most of the residents attend HVL so there’s a great student culture and always something to do. Everything is within walking distance, so it has a nice small-town feel and you see familiar faces wherever you go. While Norway is not the cheapest country to live in we dealt with this by doing things like mushroom and berry picking in the summer, catching fresh fish in the fjord and pre-drinking maybe a little too much.

Using my elective courses from USC, here I’m able to study a course in the Nordic philosophy of Friluftsliv. Meaning ‘free air life,’ Friluftsliv describes activities in nature that bring well-being and is a way of life here throughout Scandinavia. In this course we have gone on an excursion almost every week, from sleeping under the stars, to kayaking and ice climbing on a glacier, its allowed me to see so much of Norway which really is one of the most stunning countries I’ve ever been to. I was a bit daunted when I saw on the schedule things like camping in the snow but as the semester progressed, I loved every second of it and couldn’t believe I was getting credit for going camping!

I’m also lucky enough to be in Sogndal for some of the best winter conditions in 15 years so we bought lift passes to the ski hill that is only 10 minutes away and have been snowboarding for the past month. As the days are getting shorter (the sun sets at about 3:30pm now) we’ve been spending cozy afternoons, cooking, watching movies and playing cards. I’ll be sad to leave all the friends I’ve made in the last few months but we’re already planning reunions all over the world. This semester has really been an adventure and although I’m getting pretty excited for some Aussie sunshine now, I’m going to miss this place so much.

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