My name is Sara Fountain and I am a senior here at the University of Mount Union. I am studying to become a High School Biology teacher and am the Diving Captain for the Swimming and Diving team. In the Fall of 2014 I studied abroad in Oslo, Norway for a little over five months.
I chose Norway for many reasons:
- The University of Oslo offered classes that could count towards my Biology major and Adolescent to Young Adult Education and Psychology minors.
- I have ancestral roots in Norway.
- I was also interested in Norway’s incredible views on nature and society and wanted to explore and find out more about them.
While abroad, I took three classes, Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology, Cognition, Emotion, and Language, and Introduction to Political Utopias. It was very interesting getting to see a different education environment and I was really impressed with how knowledgeable the professors were and how much they were respected by their students.
The Norwegian people were very quiet and shy, so I fit in great! One of my favorite things that I got the chance to do while in Norway was meet some of my Norwegian relatives that my family had stayed in contact with over the years. They were very welcoming and invited me over to many different family get-together’s and holiday dinners, which I was very grateful for. My Mom, Aunt, and Grandparents also came to visit me for two weeks, so it was cool to have everyone meet each other and also show them around the new country that I had been living in for a couple of months now.
Other than all of the incredible people I met and friends I made from all over the world while abroad, my favorite part was getting to explore and have adventures. I had the opportunity to travel and see all sorts of new places. I met up with my friend Jessica, from high school, in Dublin, Ireland and also Paris, France. She even came to visit me in Oslo and I got to show her around! We had all sorts of adventures, but my favorites were getting to see the Cliffs of Moher and going down in the Catacombs of Paris. We had many miss-adventures as well, but made the most of it and had a ton of fun together! I also got to travel to Stockholm, Sweden with my new international friends and see all of the sites.
Norway is a beautiful country with a real focus on preserving their nature. It was amazing getting to travel around with the new friends I was making and see all of the different things that Norway had to offer. I loved getting to see the fish market in Bergen, being above the Arctic Circle in Tromsø, seeing the world ski jumping finals in Lillehammer, spending time with Lotte in Stavanger, exploring the fortress of Tønsberg, and getting to see all of the amazing views and learn about the rich history Oslo.
While there was a language barrier, most people knew English as their second language and would usually switch if they could see that I was struggling. While this was very nice of them, it did make it hard for me to practice my Norwegian! Transportation around the city was very easy to follow and I adapted to living in a bigger city a lot quicker than I thought I would. I did experience a lot of culture shock, but most of it was pleasant and not bad at all! As you get more encased in the new culture, you just notice things that are a little different than back home and embrace them as part of your adaptation journey. I absolutely loved getting to experience their cultural differences and gain new experiences that I would never have the opportunity to do if I had not gone abroad.
I grew so much from studying abroad. I became a lot more independent and confident in myself and my abilities. I branched out and met a lot of new people that I still keep in contact with today. I realized that there is a lot more to the world than our little bubbles in America and at Mount, but I am so grateful for the opportunity and have definitely developed an interest in getting to travel and explore the world. I would encourage EVERYONE to study abroad at some point in their college career. It has benefited me in so many ways and allowed me to grow so much as an individual. If I had the chance, I would definitely choose to study abroad again and am so glad that I get the opportunity to share my experience with others!
If you would like to hear more about my experience while in Norway, here is a link to a blog I kept while abroad: http://sarawater4637.weebly.com/