Because, it is a part of the world that has always attracted me, but have never had the opportunity to go. I found two schools in the list of partner universities that could get me there. The first one was in Finland and the other one in Norway. I could not decide where to apply, so I applied to both; I was accepted to Norway and that is where I went.
Preparations for the departure were very simple. Travelling to Norway is not complicated in terms of visa or any pointless bureaucracy, I only had to fill in a few papers and all the rest was handled by the International Office. I was only left with the pleasant dilemmas, such as how many beanies and sweaters to take. I managed everything without any problems and boarded a plane at the beginning of January, heading off towards a five-month adventure.
After arriving to Ålesund, I briefly checked the terrain, handled some minor formalities at school and waited for the other Erasmus students to arrive. Other students came from Germany, France, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Australia, Belgium and Nigeria, the group of international students also included “full-time” students from Finland, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Italy, India, China, Poland and Palestine. I was not the only representative of the Czech Republic, I had with me a good friends from ŠKODA AUTO University, Honza Dvořák, with whom we formed an excellent duo like Asterix and Obelix. We gradually managed to break the ice between Norwegian students and ourselves, which lead to the formation of great friendships with the locals.
Together with all Erasmus students, I lived in the Volsdalsberga dorm, approximately halfway between the campus and the city centre. It is an old building that has its flaws, but we had everything we needed. In addition, the view of a nearby fjord with snow-capped mountains from my window is something I would not trade even for a royal palace. Norway is a very expensive country. You pay for everything and you pay a lot. My living costs were around 1000 euro depending on what I did, but if you stayed locked up at home, you would probably suffice with around 750 euro.
I studied at the Høyskolen i Ålesund/Aalesund University. The school has several faculties with students being future naval ship captains and engineers, nurses, marine biologists, geologists, computer experts and business experts. They all use a modern campus with many 24/7 accessible classrooms, a library, reading rooms, several laboratories, a large canteen and a kindergarten. Selection of courses was greatly influenced by the language barrier. Apart from the ever present greeting “hei hei”, I could not say a word in Norwegian, I therefore had to sign up for courses taught in English. My study orientation corresponded with courses International Business Communication, Marketing Research and Reputation Management, all the other Erasmus students also had the Norwegian for foreign exchange students course. Courses took place in form of lectures, only some courses had extra requirements such as a group project. Overall, emphasis is put more on understanding the topics discussed and the ability to use the acquired knowledge in solving specific tasks, rather than simple memorising facts. Teachers communicate with students much more and the student-teacher relationship is more informal compared to what we are used to in the Czech Republic. At the end of the semester, we took exams from all the courses. These are organised in a similar way as the new Czech state “maturita” exam, only more efficiently in all aspects. In some cases, the exam was only written, some courses also had oral exams. In the course Reputation Management, we prepared the exam at home as a case study and therefore had almost the entire semester to prepare.
Life is not only about studying and that is undoubtedly true in the Erasmus programme. There was quite a lot of free time and even more ways to use it. If the weather and snow would allow, we went hiking in the surrounding hills and islands, we went skiing, sunbathing and swimming in the sea, fishing, surfing, watching cruise ships coming into the port, played volleyball, squash etc. During the Easter holidays, we headed north beyond the Arctic Circle to Tromsø to see the northern lights, unfortunately we did not see it, but we enjoyed a proper Norwegian winter. We did not miss the sight, though; after returning from another trip to Trondheim, we saw the northern lights back home in Ålesund. Together with other students and school staff, we participated in the 90th year of the largest relay race in the world, Holmenkollen Stafetten in Oslo, with over 3,000 teams and 45,000 runners in the race. On the 17th May, we joined the celebrations of the greatest national holiday in Norway, the Constitution Day. The whole town were in the streets in a large procession, the atmosphere was relaxed, it was simply great. During the (mainly initially) long winter evenings, we gathered to play board games. We also maintained a tradition of international dinners and tested specialties of different national cuisines almost every weekend. These were replaced by barbecues on the beach as soon as the weather allowed. From time to time we also visited Banken, a student club that held theme parties, different games and quizzes, or film projections.
My stay in Norway was a great life experience in every way. I expanded my horizons, discovered new possibilities, made new friends and improved my language skills. I would like to say to all that keep hesitating about whether to go to Erasmus or not, do not wait a minute longer and sign up. It is an opportunity that can only be beneficial, and will not occur again and it would be a shame not to use it. Moreover, if you decide to go to Norway, you will definitely not regret your decision.
Norge og vennene mine, tusen takk for alt, jeg glipper dere mye, men ja... VI SEES. Snart ;-)
I worked in the Purchase Department in the Projects team which consisted of 16 nice colleagues who were always prepared to help me kindly if I needed it. The beginning was quite exacting as we had to manage our bank account and request all Bentley systems such as SAP, TEVON, AVON, B-release database, but everything was arranged sooner than we expected.
If I had to evaluate my stay in Athens, the words I could use would be amazing and unforgettable. Not only that, I met with great friendly people from many parts of the world, and I also learned about Greek culture.
My daily task was to negotiate discounts with suppliers and ensure a steady flow of orders in the internal system called Workflow.
One of the main reasons why I decided on Škoda Auto University was the possibility for extensive internships, not only at Škoda Auto a.s. but also abroad with companies such as VW, Audi, Seat and Bentley.
ŠKODA AUTO University offers a lot of options for an exchange semester abroad. As a result, it was not easy to decide which university is the most interesting. I decided to study at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
From 10th February till 25th July 2014 I had a great opportunity to be a part of the Purchasing department in Bentley motors Ltd. in a small town called Crewe. Crewe is situated in the north-west part of Great Britain.