Mikaela Karppelin from Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) studying abroad at USC Sunshine Coast

5What’s crackalackin mates?! I am Mikaela Karppelin from Finland, studying a bachelor’s degree in public health with physical activity and nutrition at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL). My exchange in Australia, Sunshine Coast was one of the best experiences I have had in my life, let me tell you why.

Prior the exchange I would walk around the house, counting days until my flight, not knowing if I should scream or dance, cry or laugh. It felt unreal that the day I had been waiting for many years was around the corner and finally all paperwork was completed – I was ready to go! Fortunately, my university in Norway helped a lot with how to apply for the visa. It was the first time a student from my degree did an exchange at USC, which forced me to look for suitable courses independently.

My two favourite courses I completed was “Outdoor Living and Travel skills” and “Learning in Australian Landscapes”, where you learn about Australian nature, leadership and yourself, not to mention all the cool field trips you can go on, for example to Fraser Island (cancelled because of Covid for me). Do not be nervous regarding studying in another language than your own – the teachers are more than happy to help and you will be many students in the same position.

I travelled alone and was nervous about finding friends. That was unnecessary. The first day I moved into UniCentral, I went to the pool, started talking with three girls from all around the world, and we hanged out every day since! In my opinion it is much better to travel alone since you usually meet more people than by travelling with someone.

My number one tip is to GO OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE! It will all feel uncomfortable in the beginning but you gain a lot from it – try new things and talk to new people. This gave me new hobbies like surfing, skating and friends for life!

My second tip is to just do it! Six months might seem like a long period of time but the truth is that it will go faster than you can ever imagine – so take advantage of the time you have Down Under – go on that roadtrip, by that surfboard (hot tip – FB marketplace), start talking with strangers and let go of other peoples opinions!

My last tip is to not get stuck at Varsity or UniCentral if you live at one of the accommodations: It will be fun getting to know people during O-week but Sunshine Coast is the BOMB of beautiful places – have sunset picnics at Alex beach, take the bus to Noosa and surf the whole day, stop for an Acai Bowl, do a weekend trip to Byron Bay and Gold Coast etc…  Your exchange will be what YOU make of it!

If you have more questions or want recommendations, I will be happy to answer on Instagram @luisamikaela

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Helene Skaane Osmundsen from Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) studying at USC Sunshine Coast

Favourite course during my study abroad semester

one-of-the-few-photos-i-have-of-myself-e1571794093409.jpgMy name is Helene, and I am currently studying a bachelor’s degree of Nature Based Tourism and Nature Guiding at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL Sogndal). I have always wanted to study abroad, but the last time I had the opportunity I didn’t dare to take the chance. I was too scared of missing out on everything that might happen back home while being away, and also of being too shy to get to know new people. Ever since then I’ve had this feeling of “what if”, so when I finally got the opportunity to study abroad in Australia during one semester of my degree, I instantly knew I had to take it. This is a decision I definitely do not regret.

As an outdoor enthusiastic person, it came natural for me to choose some of the Outdoor Environmental Study courses that the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) has to offer during their Semester 2. One of these being “Learning in Australian Landscapes”, or more commonly referred to as OES104. This class turned out to become my favourite subject during my semester at USC and here are a couple of the reasons why;

Biking on Fraser

Field trips!

I mean, who doesn’t like going on adventures as parts of their learning experience? During the semester we’ve gone on four different excursions. We’ve had two day trips, where one was a climbing & abseiling trip, while the other one focused on kayaking. In addition to these, we’ve also spent some time overnight camping. The first overnight trip was separated into a day of hiking and a day of kayaking, and the last trip was a three days trip to Fraser Island, which is the largest sand island in the world.

Great focus on international students

I think more than 90% of the students in this class were internationals, and because of that most of us were in the same boat. We didn’t know too many people when the semester started, and having this in common made it easy to interact with one another. dingo-on-fraser.jpgI’ve spent a lot of time outside of uni with a group of people from this class, and a few of us are also doing a month-long road trip together as soon as our final assignment has been delivered!

In addition to the main points mentioned above, the course also consists of interesting topics such as, how the Australian landscape has been formed, what makes Australian flora and fauna both unique and vulnerable or ecological succession. The teachers have been really friendly and I’m so glad that I got to have this course as a part of my education.

– Helene Skaane Osmundsen @heleneskaane




Jani Bjelland & Kriatian Alster Mathisen from Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) – Stord Haugesund studying abroad at USC Sunshine Coast

Sunshine CoastHi,

We are Kristian and Jani and we are exchange students from HVL in Haugesund, Norway, where we are doing our bachelor in business and administration. We decided to take one semester abroad, and after we had an information meeting about the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), we were determined that this is where we wanted to go study, and now that we’re at the end of our semester, we have no regrets.

When we got here, we decided that we would take our weekends to explore Australia. However, we did not realise how much schoolwork there was going to be, but despite this we managed to do some travelling. We have visited Brisbane, Sydney and Noosa, and we are soon going to Cairns.

kangaroo-1.jpgSo glad we chose to study at the Sunshine Coast, it is close to the beach, national parks and it is just a chill city, and if we need a change of scenery, we can just take a bus and a train to experience the city life of Brisbane. We also quite enjoyed the Australia Zoo that is less than an hour by bus. Here we got to see a lot of the Australian wildlife.

One of the first trips we went on was a daytrip to Brisbane where we spent hours just walking around and taking in the city. We walked in the beautiful park by the river where they have a great variety of plant life you don’t normally see anywhere else. Unfortunately, we didn’t do much research before going here, but we heard from others that we should have checked out South Bank more.

Noosa is the perfect place to just come and relax, which we did during our study break before starting on all our assignments. Every day we went to the beach, had a swim and got some tan. We visited the National Park one day and it was so cool, there was a bunch of beaches there and we also saw a koala. At the end of the trip we canoed in the Noosa everglades, which was recommended to us by the visitor information center, and it was so good. All in all, a very successful trip and we we’re semi-motivated to go home and start our assignments.


Sydney was the best place we visited. It is such a big city and there is so much to do and so much to eat. When we went on the weekend-trip to Sydney, we took a plane from Maroochydore airport and booked a hotel in Chinatown, which was so nice. We went on a sunrise kayaking tour at 5:30AM and had a beautiful view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour bridge, much recommended. Other than that, we ate a bunch of good food and walked all over town.

We are so happy that we went studying abroad and we HIGHLY recommended everybody to do so. It seems super scary travelling from everything familiar, but it is so good. We are definitely coming back to Australia because there is so much more exploring to do and kangaroos to cuddle with.

– Kristian Alster Mathisen @lille_mathisen & Jani Bjelland @janibjelland



Kaja Øyen and Kristine Røssland from HVL Sogndal in Norway studying at USC Sunshine Coast

IMG_3520Hello! Our names are Kaja and Kristine. We are from Norway and have been studying economics at HVL for three and a half years. This last semester we studied abroad at the University of the Sunshine Coast to finish our double degree. We chose this university primarily because HVL and USC are collaborating. This way we got a lot of information, had a contact person in Australia who could answer all of our questions and the whole process went smoothly. A couple of other reasons are that some friends of ours told us about their great experiences and the fact that Australia is an amazing destination.

On our journey to Australia we stopped for a couple of days in Singapore, before heading to Sydney. We arrived at the Sunshine Coast prior to Orientation week. During our semester abroad we naturally had to put the books aside and explore Australia. In addition to Sydney, we also visited Brisbane a few times, we spent some days in Uluru explored the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef from Airlie Beach and the areas close to Sunshine Coast, such as Noosa and Hinterland.

Our favourites are sailing the Whitsundays and experiencing the uniqueness of Uluru. When we traveled to Whitsundays, we spent three days on a trimaran sailing the islands. It was an amazing experience, and even though it was quite windy and rained at times, we met so many interesting people and had a lot of fun. We also visited Whitehaven beach, where instead of sand there is silica in which you can wash your teeth, your jewels and even your hair. When we visited Uluru, we saw the fields of light, walked around Uluru and got told many interesting aboriginal stories. Additionally, we visited Kata Tjuta and slept in swags. This experience was really something else. There is such a big difference between Queensland and the Northern Territory, you just have to see it to believe it!

After finishing our semester abroad, we got to attend a Ceremony of Completion for the international students. At the ceremony, we received a diploma and got to wear the academic dress and hat. We found this last part extra exciting because, during graduation in Norway, we don’t get to wear outfits like these. Furthermore, all of our friends, who didn’t graduate, came to the ceremony and celebrated with us and this became one of our best days in Australia.

IMG_5300We would really like to recommend everyone who is considering doing a semester abroad to just GO FOR IT! It is one of the best experiences of our lives and we absolutely loved it.Some perks are that you get to learn and practice the English language, you get to experience a new culture, it looks great on your resume, it is warm, there is amazing beaches and you get so many new friends from all over the world.

Annelin Sætre from HVL Sogndal in Norway studying a Diploma in General Studies at USC Sunshine Coast

Hi, I’m Annelin and I’m an international student at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The University I’m studying at in Norway (HVL) gave me the opportunity to take the last of six semesters in my bachelor degree abroad. This is what I am doing now, and I am so glad Iimage6 took that opportunity!

I am doing a Diploma in General Studies, and my impression of the courses, teachers and the University in general is really good. The teachers is genuine and willing to help with whatever you need help for. The campus looks new and with lots of cafes and other places to buy lunch and other refreshments. There are a wide selection of places to sit and study both indoor and outdoor, and if you need help for anything the library is ready to help. With such a nice campus it is easier to motivate to do your studies.

As an international my ambitions of this semester was to combine the studies with traveling and exploring the country. University of the Sunshine Coast has a great system for making this possible by giving the students the chance of partly fixing their own timetable and give us the overview of the whole semester plan and assessment due dates in the start of the semester. This makes it easier for us students to plan our eventures.

Australia has so much to offer and is a country of opportunities. If you like beaches, hikes, city life or outbacks, Australia has it all! So far I have had time to explore many different places in Australia and this country just keeps impressing me. I have been to image4cities like Brisbane and Sydney, lots of beautiful beaches along the east coast, hikes in national parks, camping in the outback in the Northern Territory and it is still lots to see and experience. The latter is definitely my favourite so far. Me and a friend, another international girl I got to know here in Australia, decided to do a 5 days trip to the Uluru area. From when I was a kid, I have had this picture of Australia as a dry, warm place with just lots of sand and desert. I remember I learned of this big red rock in the middle of nowhere in primary school and I remember how distant it felt like to learn about something on the other side of the world. Now I have finally got to see this place in real life, and it was so awesome!

To do a semester abroad at USC is definitely something I can recommend to everybody. It is a perfect opportunity to explore new places, experience new cultures and meet lots of wonderful people. I will never regret that I did a semester abroad in the Sunshine Coast, it has been an adventure which I am really thankful I had the chance to experience!

Dave Clancy Studying Outdoor Education and Nordic Friluftsliv in Sogndal, Norway

Deciding to spend a semester studying overseas has undoubtedly been the greatest experience I’ve had to date. The people, the culture, the course and the nature all combine to make this experience what it is.

I’m in Norway studying Outdoor Education and Nordic Friluftsliv. I’m located in Sogndal, which is a town along the second largest fjord in the world. Some would describe the area as ‘eye candy’. It’s absolutely incredible here and my poetic ability does not do this place justice. Every morning I’m greeted by the mountains, rivers and the ocean. It’s an adventure seekers paradise and with many outdoor activities so accessible, it’s common to go on an adventure in your time off. It’s as if there is a contagious vibe to go out and ‘get amongst it’. Norwegians call it ‘Friluftsliv’ – the outdoor way of life. That leads me to my course.

When studying Friluftsliv it is more than likely to spend some time outside and I have definitely received my fair share; rain, hail or shine (Or snow and gail winds in my case). As my lecturer (He’s a Scandinavian Bear Grylls) would say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s only bad clothing.” He also believes in the concept of learning by freezing! The outdoors have been my classroom largely but with winter approaching we will be retreating to four walls and a blackboard more often – less learning by freezing and more learning by blackboard!

The educational approach here places a high value on authentic/real life experiences and we have certainly encountered plenty of them over the last 3 months. Here are some: hiking countless kilometres through mountains, forests and roads; picking way too many wild blueberries and raspberries; sea kayaking around the islands in western Norway; making friends with stray sheep and goats; walking and climbing in and on glaciers; seeing the northern lights; endless hours of fishing and general campsite activities. We still have an intro to skiing day and a multi-day winter excursion to come. With that said, the course isn’t all fun and games and we do cover a fair amount of theoretical content. I’m not complaining though!

Part of what has made this experience so great is the people and the culture. Deciding to uproot from where you live and move to the other side of the world for 6 months brings on a number of emotions. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I made friends and became comfortable in my new home. I guess being surrounded with so many like-minded people in the same situation makes it easy to create friendships and integrate. I have made some friends for life and yet I’ve only known them for 3 months. When you share the same tent for a few nights every week you get to know each other pretty fast.

Blending into a different culture is not always smooth sailing however. I still get weird looks from people as I walk down the street in November while wearing shorts. People think I must be from the north pole and are shocked when I say I’m from Australia. Maybe when the snow starts to fall the shorts will be reconsidered. Perhaps the biggest challenge I’ve encountered over here is shopping.  My first time in a Norwegian supermarket was similar to a ship entering the Bermuda triangle – I thought I’d never make it out! By the end of the ordeal I had become a guru at using google translate and had befriended 5 older women after asking them which food product was which. I thought I had won the battle but the next morning at breakfast I discovered that I had brought sour milk instead the normal stuff. I was devastated and ate my cornflakes with water – A situation that will bring even the toughest men to tears. It’s safe to say I won’t make that mistake again. Norway 1 – Dave 0.

All in all, being an international student is an absolutely incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a great way to satisfy the travel bug whilst studying. It is a great way to fully immerse yourself in a different culture and it’s a great way to meet new people. Thanks for reading.

By David Clancy