Friday, 24 October 2008

Home at last... temporarily

It's so amazing to be home! I missed Hans so so much - even more than I realised.

The whole day travelling from Bergen seemed strange - I felt like I was in a dream... I got to the airport over 3 hours before my flight left (just in case) and I bought a book and kind of just got lost in that. The flight was ok - I was very nervous with it being the first time I had flown alone but I am proud of myself for doing it and hoping maybe this will help me be less scared in future.

Anyway, my wonderful and kind friends Phil and Hannah picked me up from the airport; the journey took about 3 or 3 1/2 hours but it went much faster - it was really good to see them again and talk.

When I arrived home it was the weirdest feeling - it felt so familiar yet so alien - again like I was walking in a dream - it was pretty late and I took the lift up to the 4th floor of the apartments where we live (for a brief moment I worried I wouldn't remeber but my fingers knew the pattern they should make) I finally arrived and knocked on the door.... Hans opened the door slowly and so many things just hit me at once (not Hans though, fortunately) The sight of Hans, the warmth of our flat and the wonderfully comforting smell of my own home; I missed that so much - the smell that is so specific to each person and their home. Strange but true.

I got in the doorway and dropped my bags and we just held each other for ages! Then (as planned) we made some food, Hans had bought me some wine too and we just sat and cuddled up and watched the UFC together and pretended the last 2 and a half months hadn't even happened.

It was beautiful.

We spent the next day just relaxing and eating and watching TV, and yesterday we did pretty much the same and then went to Phil and Hannah's for a wonderful chilli that Phil cooked and we just relaxed and had a laugh... such a good time.

I have plans to see a few more friends and some family before I go back - it will all be good fun I am sure, but I will be enjoying it as much as I can so may not post much! I find that I dont want to think about going home at all, in alot of ways I wish it was over and I could stay with Hans now. I miss Bergen and the friends I have made, but I want to only go back with Hans! Oh well, I am sure it'll be worth it in the end and I shall be glad I have done it...

....I hope so!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Winter in Kirkenær, Norway

Graffiti Hans


well today is an in-betweeny day I think; yesterday marked exactly half way through the Erasmus Exchange and tomorrow is the day I go home for a holiday.

The tough thing is I am only letting myself think about going home and seeing Hans and everyone else, I am not thinking about coming back! Maybe it is going to be harder to come back than I though, although saying that when I am back there will only be 6 weeks left...

I can do it - I know I can. I will be proud of what I have done afterwards. I just wish Hans could be here with me and that I could living in a nicer place - that would be perfect. I love to be in Norway, but as I have said many times before the thing I love about Norway above everything else is still in England!

Many people I have spoken to think it's actually quite funny; I am English and in Norway and Hans is Norwegian and in England - seperated temporarily from each other but we know what we're doing (I think) No pain no gain, and all that.

At least I am in a beautiful country and have some good friends here - it makes it all so much easier .

I have waffled enough

Sunday, 19 October 2008

What is an Erasmus Exchange?

I was asked this question in a comment - I guess it would be a good idea to explain more clearly what an Erasmus Exchange is!

For me anyway;

Erasmus is something you MAY choose to do as part of your studies - you have to be a university level student and have completed your first year of study I think.

You choose a country and an institution you want to study at and need to make an application to go there. For example, I knew specifically I wanted to study in Norway as it would really benefit future plans (particularly with the language) so I looked at applying to both Oslo and Bergen.

You need to check with your own university what their specific process is - some have very rigid paperwork you have to follow - mine kind of left the whole thing up to me to sort out! I think though, its your responsibility to research the institution you like and check that they have relevant courses that fit in with your degree - then you can apply - I had to send a portfolio and a letter of motivation.

Basically if you are doing a degree and want to do an exchange there is nothing really stopping you - it is encouraged I think but for some reason it doesn't seem to be as popular in England as in other European countries - some courses actually require it too I think.

You still get your usual student loan and an erasmus grant (unlike a loan so you don't pay it back) although saying that - today is EXACTLY half way through my exchange and I still haven't had it :S If you study for 1 semester you pay for your course at home still - if you study abroad for a year you wont pay any course fees for that year. You DONT pay fees at the institution you study at abroad as far as I know.

Finally, the exchange is normally recognised as part of your degree, and even if it is not you will get a special 'mention'. Again something you check with your uni :)

I have included a couple of links for anyone wanting to look further, but my suggestion would be having a word with your university first anyway.