– That’s it, I'm staying!
Many international students return to their home countries after their time abroad. But some stay and continue living their dream.
A semester abroad is an exciting and memorable adventure for most students. It is a chance to make new friends and grow beyond one's own limits.
For most, it is only a short amount of time you can enjoy before returning home. That is perhaps why some simply decide to stay.
Studvest talked to two former Erasmus students who continued living their dream.
– I was just searching for an adventure
Hania Sawicka from Poland’s reason for choosing Bergen was not studying at a great university. She chose to spend a year in Norway in 2021 because she wanted to escape the boredom of Covid in her home country.
– I was so tired of staring at my screen, locked in my house during Covid. And when I got the chance to do something different, I grabbed it.
She quickly realized that she fell in love with the nature and atmosphere of Norway. That was when she first thought about staying.
– First, I was joking with my friends that I wanted to stay for longer. Then I stayed for real.
Leaving the old life behind
When Sawicka told her family about her plans they reacted in a very positive way.
– My family was very supportive. They were proud that I was not afraid of living abroad.
Also her friends in Poland were happy for her.
– They know me and that I like to live here. I also moved away to study, so they are used to me living far away.
Getting in contact with Norwegians is still a struggle for her. Therefore she started to learn the language to integrate better.
– You can be very isolated when you don’t understand your surroundings.
But, she doesn’t feel lonely. At her job at a restaurant, she met a couple of other internationals.
– I go to places where I can meet people that are also new and share the same experiences as me.
– You can never lose
In the future she wishes for more friends that live close by. This might help to develop a feeling of belonging. At some point she would love to work as a teacher.
She seems confident about her decision to stay in Norway and is not afraid of failure. This is because she knows that she will always have the option to go back to Poland.
– I have a place to go back to so I thought «Why shouldn't I try?».
Came and never left
–Why shouldn’t I try?
Denise Dilshener had the same question as Sawicka in mind when she decided to extend her stay in Norway after her Erasmus semester in Bergen.
Initially she wanted to stay for 4-6 months, then she liked it so much that she moved in with four Norwegians and wanted to stay forever.
Master's thesis, internship and side job
At first Dilshener continued studying online at her home university. Then she accepted an internship at the chemistry department at the University of Bergen (UiB) and started working at a restaurant.
– I started to build my whole life here.
She especially appreciated the financial aspects of her stay.
– If you find yourself a part time job here you get paid a lot more than in Germany.
In the beginning she struggled to get to know Norwegian and become part of their friend groups .
– They stay in closed circles. They would never mix their basketball friends with their study group. And it took me a while to understand that.
It got a lot easier when she got a Norwegian boyfriend and learned the language.
– Why is it so hard to get into these circles?
– Most of the foreigners here have trouble being included and I can guarantee that it is because of the language barrier.
The dream continues
She always wanted to live abroad and finally fulfilled that dream by staying in Norway.
– As a child I was always tempted to live in a foreign country.
Currently she was offered a job based in Barcelona. Now she is thinking about moving to Spain with her boyfriend and let the dream continue in another country.