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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USC student Alex Davies studying overseas at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in Sogn and Fjordane

895e8267-3052-44d2-88a4-a5b43ac11089I travelled to Norway at the end of July, and spent about 5 months living in Sogndal, Norway, which lies on the Sognefjord. I studied at HVL doing the course Outdoor Education and Nordic Friluftsliv. I’ve always wanted to go to Norway growing up, and this seemed like the greatest excuse ever to experience a country, and with my friend I met through work having previously done this course 2 years ago, it seemed like a perfect reason to go overseas.

Looking back, it’s almost insane how they basically just threw us right into the thick of it from the start, but I have absolutely no regrets about anything I did while I was there. From canoeing to kayaking, walking on glaciers to picking mushrooms, to thru-hikes to cross-country skiing, I did so many things I never would’ve done while I was in Australia.

I was the only Australian in the course, but it didn’t matter, everyone was super welcoming and we all had similar goals, to make the most of our time in Norway. From the shy Basque guys to the sweet Swiss, everyone was willing to speak English, and the Norwegians I lived with in the student accommodation are some of my favourite people I met while I was there. The friendships I developed there are something that I’ll never forget because I had the time of my life.

IMG_1329While on the trips, there were a lot of times when you felt like you couldn’t do something that you physically didn’t have the capability to do, and when convinced to just give it a go, what do you have to lose, would find out you could actually do it. I never thought I could kayak in 15m/s winds while its pouring down rain, but it turned out to be one of the highlights from the whole 4 days of kayaking. This showed me what you’re capable of when you push yourself.

The days we spent in the mountains, however, are some of my favourites. To the silly haka like thing we did as a group to raise moral, to sitting on the side of a mountain laughing about something while eating blueberries that are growing around us. Watching the sun rise over the fjords, sit on the side of the mountain in silence, having spent the last week sleeping under a tarp, is something I’ll never forget.

Studying overseas is something I would recommend to everyone to do, as being able to study in a completely different culture is very different from just travelling to a location for a week or two. While I was in Norway, I also travelled to Scotland during my mid-semester break,. Furthermore, after university finished, I spent 20 days travelling around central Europe before coming home after the new year. This is something you’ll never regret doing, with friends for life.

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Watch Alex’s Glacier Walking video below!


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




Julie Våga from HVL Sogndal in Norway – “TOP 5 Weekend Getaways” Whilst Studying at USC Sunshine Coast


My name is Julie, and I am from the Norwegian University HVL Sogndal. I am currently studying at USC Sunshine Coast and have for the last year. As travelling is one of my biggest passions, I thought I would share a few tips for “weekend getaways” you could do whilst studying at USC Sunshine Coast.


The closest city for that “big city feeling” is Brisbane, only an hour train ride away.

What to do in Brisbane? Visit the Lone Pine Sanctuary, the biggest koala sanctuary in the world, where you can hold koalas and feed kangaroos. During the hot summer days, Southbank is the place to be. Eat Street Northshore is also a must in Brisbane. Open every night Friday to Sunday, Eat Street is the best food market you will ever visit with food from all over the world and the craziest desserts you can think of.

You can also visit North Stradbroke Island or Moreton Island by ferry from Brisbane, either for the day or a few nights! Moreton Island is perfect for a day-trip and has the famous Tangalooma shipwrecks. North Stradbroke Island (or Straddie) is a beautiful island filled with wildlife and amazing beaches. Absolutely recommend the North Gorge walk, on this hike we spotted dolphins, whales, kangaroos and a turtle.

Rainbow beach (Inskip point)

Camping at Inskip point is a highly recommended weekend getaway! Either in a camper van or tent – or both. Crystal clear water and a view of Fraser Island. One of the highlights from my year “down under”.

Fraser Island (K’Gari)

A ferry ride from Rainbow beach is the famous Fraser island, the biggest sand island in the world. It was formed during the ice age by sand blown for New South Wales. It is also voted as the number seven “must seen beaches” in the world by National Geographic.

What to do? Except for the beautiful beaches, there is a shipwreck- the Maheno wreck that can be visited. As well as the famously known Lake McKenzie that is also on the island, which is a beautiful lake to go for a swim in. However, remember to respect the dingoes and follow Fraser Island rules as they roam free on the island.

Tip! Check out the courses on USC as some of them travel to Fraser Island. I went there on a school trip with OES104 (recommended for international students!)

Gold Coast

Gold Coast is a popular holiday destination, no surprise as it has a lot to offer. It has major shopping centres, more than 500 cafes and restaurants, rural hinterland, great nightlife, and is the home of several theme parks, including the Wet’n’wild and Warner Bros. Movie World. If you have the chance, you can also see the city from above in the Q1 tower.

Cafetips! I recommend “The Paddock Bakery”, a cozy backyard café with great food and a changing menu. I also recommend the vegan café “The Cardamon Pod”, offering great food and is very “insta friendly” (heheh).

Byron Bay

One of my favourite places in Australia – if not the world – is Byron. Just under 3 and a half hours by car from campus. It’s famous for the surfers, beaches, (the Hemsworth brothers) and the most powerful lighthouse in the country. I absolutely recommend the hike up to the lighthouse (alternatively an uber ride up there). It’s also the most easterly point in Australia. Look for whales and dolphins as they can be spotted from there.

Tip! If you don’t have a car, Adventure Dudes does trips with USC students a few times each semester, might be worth looking into at the International BBQ in Orientation Week.

Hope this gave you some inspiration for travelling around while studying at USC. For more pictures, check out my Instagram @julievaga, where I will also be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. You can also email future@usc.edu.au for more information.

– Julie Våga

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