Saturday, March 14, 2009

Study in Norway

Norway offers you a unique student experience and Norwegian institutions of higher education welcome applications sent by qualified students from all over the world.

Internationalisation is a priority within all sectors of the Norwegian education system, and universities and university colleges are constantly working to facilitate for international students. Nearly 12 000 foreign nationals are currently enrolled at Norwegian institutions of higher education. International students may apply for admission to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programmes. You may come to Norway as student through established exchange programmes, institutional agreements, or as a so called "free mover", where you arrange the stay by yourself (type of study, length and financing).

Quality education
With a wide range of high quality courses and great flexibility, Norwegian institutions prove to be an ideal study destination. From vocational subjects to postgraduate and doctorate level, there are plenty of opportunities for students to fulfil their ambitions. You will also benefit from the informal atmosphere at Norwegian universities and university colleges, where teachers are easily approachable and tuition often takes place in small groups. Most institutions also have well equipped computer facilities with free Internet access.

Study off the beaten track
In our northern corner of the world you can combine your studies with exciting outdoor activities, both winter and summer. You can see the Aurora Borealis ("Northern lights"), experience the midnight sun, fjords and mountains. Challenge yourself with skiing, white water rafting or climbing. Or simply enjoy the fresh air, clean water and lots and lots of space. As a student in Norway you will never be short of possibilities for unique nature experiences.


Minifacts about Norway

Minifacts About Norway is a publication available both in print and on the web that gives an overview about many aspects of Norway. It is compiled by the Statistics Norway on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Editions in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic are also available.

Minifacts about Norway

Official name
The Kingdom of Norway

System of government
Constitutional monarchy

Geographic location
Located in Northern Europe with borders to Sweden, Finland and Russia.

The Kingdom of Norway: 385 155 km2
Mainland: 323 758 km2 (7.6 per cent protected)
Svalbard and Jan Mayen: 61 397 km2 (57.1 per cent protected)

Length of coastline
25 148 km, including fjords

Largest lake
Mjøsa, 362 sq. km

Highest mountain
Galdhøpiggen, 2 469 m

4 681 134 (as of 1 January 2007)

Capital city
Oslo, population: 548 617 (as of January 1, 2007)

Monetary unit
Norwegian kroner, NOK
1 USD = NOK 6,42 (March 2007)
1 EUR = NOK 8,38 (March 2007)

Economic indicators
Inflation rate, 2004: 0,4 per cent
Gross domestic product (GDP), 2005: NOK 1 939 217 million
Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, 2004: USD 38 000

Norwegian ("Bokmål" and "Nynorsk") and the "Sámi" language of the indigenous Sámi people in some areas (mainly in the North of Norway).

State Church
Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran)

External resources:

:: Minifacts About Norway (in English)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in French)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in German)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in Spanish)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in Portuguese)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in Russian)

::Minifacts About Norway (in Japanese)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in Chinese)

:: Minifacts About Norway (in Arabic) [pdf]

:: The Norway Portal
Norway - The official site. Locate Norwegian embassies and consulate generals around the world. Every site has various information about Norway.



Are you considering Norway as a study- or research destination? We have several online versions of our publications available for viewing/download. Some of the publications are also available in language versions other than English.

Masters Catalogue 2008/2009

This catalogue presents essential information about the 200 Masters programmes taught in English at institutions of higher education in Norway.

For a more in-depth knowledge about the individual courses, we recommend that you contact the institutions directly. You will find the relevant contact details listed under each institution.

[Online version w/latest updates and search]


Guide to Higher Education in Norway
In this brochure you will find a short description of Norway´s educational system, information about our target areas within research and some practical information about how to apply for a student residence permit.

In addition you will also find a general description of life in Norway, including some useful facts about the Norwegian society.

Download pdf-versions:
[English] [Française] [Russian]
[German] [Spanish] [Portuguese]


A Brief Guide to Living in Norway
This booklet is for anyone who is thinking about living in Norway. A crash course in Norway, if you like.

It’s designed to give you a brief guide to Norwegian society and culture; lifestyle, behaviour and opinions. We hope that this brochure will make it easier to make the decision, easier to arrive in Norway and easier to fit in, since you’ll know a few things about what to expect.

[Download pdf-version]


Petroleum Studies in Norway
This publication presents study programmes aimed at international students within the petroleum field. After almost 40 years of experience in the petroleum industry, Norway has acquired a unique knowledge in the field. The country is in the forefront in the areas of technology and environmental protection, and building up expertise in the field has been an important element in the petroleum policy.

Norwegian universities and university colleges offer a wide range of programmes and courses within petroleum engineering, petroleum-related geosciences and other areas such as petroleum law and arctic engineering.

[Download pdf-version]


Marine Studies in Norway

Marine Studies in Norway



On this page we have collected some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning studies in Norway. We encourage you to look through the list before making an inquiry.

Where do I get application forms and where do I send my application?
Application forms should be requested from the individual institution (e.g. fom their website). All applications should also be sent directly to the institutions. Please note that cannot provide application forms, nor can we process your application.
:: Read more

My subject of interest is [ your subject]. How can I find institutions that offer courses or programmes in this subject?
If you are seeking Masters programmes where the language of instruction is English, you should go to our online catalogue and browse by subject area.
:: Online Masters programmes catalogue
In order to find undergraduate courses where the language of instruction is Norwegian, you should visit the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS).
:: UCAS (search only available in Norwegian)
For undergraduate courses and Ph.D. programmes in English you will have to check with each institution individually.
:: List of institutions

Am I allowed to work as a student in Norway?
Yes, students may be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Certain restrictions do apply.
:: Read more

Do I need a visa to study in Norway?
All students who plan to stay in Norway for more than three months will need a Student Residence Permit. Requirements and procedures depend on your current country of residency.
:: Read more

Do I need a health insurance from my home country?
The regulations concerning health insurance depend on your current country of residency.
:: Read more

I am from [ your country]. Am I eligible for any special scholarships?
Several scholarships and financial schemes are available for foreign students. Eligibility depends on your current country of residency and level of completed education.
:: Read more

What are the tuition fees at Norwegian institutions?
Generally, universities and state university colleges do not charge tuition fees. This also applies for foreign students. However, certain programmes/courses may have fees. Private institutions normally do charge tuition fees.
:: Read more

What are the living expenses in Norway?
Living expenses in Norway are considered to be higher than in many other countries. You should expect to have NOK 8 000,- per month for subsistence. Requirements for subsistence are also determined by regulations concerning the Student Residence Permit.
:: Read more


Friday, March 13, 2009

Living in Norway

Norway is one of the three Scandinavian countries in the Northern part of Europe. With a population of 4,6 million Norway is not among the most crowded places on the planet. But we very much enjoy the space and our diverse nature, and visitors are often astonished by Norwegians' active way of life. So don't get surprised if your Norwegian friends insist on going hiking, even if the weather maybe is more suitable for staying in the sofa.

Explore the unknown and challenge your own limits - the people of Norway has never been afraid of going their own ways. A thousand years ago the Vikings sailed their ships south to the Mediterranian, east to the Black Sea and all the way west to Greenland, and many historians claim they even made it to New Foundland in North America.

Today, Norway is a modern country where our explorative mindset is geared towards technology, innovation and developing a knowledge based society. We also continue to further develop our oil & gas industry, fisheries and traditional industrial areas.

Thriving on the top of Europe
Norway is a European country even though we are not part of the European Union (EU). But through the EEA-agreement we are fully integrated with the large European community in regards to everything from trade and economy to education and research. And as a participant in the Schengen agreement, travel to and from Norway is easy for people with legal residency in another Schengen country.

For the last four years the United Nations (UN) has ranked Norway as having the highest standard of living in the world. This annual ranking is based largely on average levels of education and income, combined with expected length of lifetime, but also factors like human rights and cultural freedom. Norway is weighed high for its high literacy rate in addition to educational levels and material wealth.

Cold country? Warm people!
Ok, the cat is out of the box - there are no palm trees in Norway! But in the summer we enjoy periods with warm weather, and due to the Gulf Stream the coastal areas are rather mild in the winter time. Nevertheless, you should bring warm clothing when visiting Norway in the winter.

Norwegians have a reputation of being somewhat introvert and difficult to get to know. But this should just be perceived as a first impression misunderstanding. Norwegians are generally both welcoming and open minded towards foreigners. If we don't take the first step, don't be afraid to approach us for a conversation. We have a direct way of communicating and often speak out our opinions.


Norwegian society

Norwegian values are rooted in egalitarian ideals. At the beginning of the 20th century, we began enacting fairly radical welfare laws, culminating in the post-war years' sweeping reforms that turned Norway into the progressive welfare state it is today. The welfare state is still the ideal for most Norwegians, not least because it seems to be doing quite well.

Norway undoubtedly has one of the best welfare systems in the world, making sure that people who are sick and unable to work, or who are unemployed for whatever reason are not left out in the cold, but are given support so that they are able to live with dignity. this, coupled with a strong public education system and public health care system, has lead to a society in which it is easier to bounce back from a bad start in life, or a bad year.

We like to think that it is these ideals, and not just our monetary wealth, that has made the United Nations consistently rank Norway as the best country in which to live in recent years.

Egality and equality
The egalitarian values which are at the root of the welfare state also manifest themselves throughout Norwegian society in many ways - for instance in the field of gender equality. The novel idea that women are equal to men and should therefore have an equal say in running society did take some time to catch hold in most of the world, but Norway was in the lead: it was one of the first nations to give women the right to vote. Norway was also among the first countries in the world to elect a female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was elected prime minister of Norway in 1981 (and had eight women in her cabinet, an incredible number at the time), and who later served in that position for most of the late eighties and the first half of the nineties.

Because of this, and active government support of gender equality, women have been steadily climbing in standing over the past fifty years. Still, the goal of total equality remains a long way off: while forty percent of the representatives in Parliament are female, only one in every ten company directors are women. Gender equality has certainly changed the Norwegian male’s role as a father.

Norway has a paternity leave quota, so that fathers can also take extended time off to be with their children. This has helped make the mixing of careers and family a lot easier.

New cultures arrive
Norway is still new at multiculturalism. From being a mostly ethnically homogenous society, Norway has gone to being a globalised, culturally diverse nation with massive immigrant communities, and has done so in just 35 years. Forty years ago, most Norwegians had never seen anyone with dark skin, and today nearly a quarter of the citizens of the capital city, Oslo, are immigrants, as is a little over 8% of the total population of Norway.

The transition process has not been easy or painless, but while there is still some cultural tension between immigrants and ethnic Norwegians, Norway seems to be learning fast. Most people, particularly in cities, view multi-ethnicity as a natural part of their everyday life.



Outside of the cities, Norway is mostly very rugged terrain: mountainous regions cover most of Norway, interspersed with valleys, fjords and the occasional glacier. The scenery is, to put it plainly, spectacular, with breathtaking vistas almost everywhere.

The fact that most of Norway is made of rock also turns Norway into one of the least populated countries in europe. only iceland has less people per square mile than Norway. This means that you don’t have to go very far outside the cities before you’re out of the populated areas (in most cases, less than an hour of walking out of the city centre will get you into semi-wilderness).

The great outdoors
Norwegians do live in the strangest of places, often quite far away from city centres. You’ll be surprised at the kind of places it is possible to build a house. It is not uncommon to find a house on some grassy patch on an outcropping far above a fjord; or to find 9 tiny houses on a craggy piece of rock out in the ocean, with the inhabitants making a living farming sheep.

However, many Norwegians have getaway cabins ("hytte") in more remote areas, and head there during vacations and national holidays. These are often very simple accommodations, with bunk beds, no running water and outdoor toilets. But this is not really to get away from people. It should also be remembered that these cabins also constitute a social scene. One goes there with friends and family to spend time together. If nothing else, they point to the strange need Norwegians have for taking long, gruelling hikes or ski trips through the wilderness.

When living in Norway you should just familiarise yourself with the Norwegian term "Gå på tur" (literally "Go for a hike"). We can do it any day of the week, in the morning or late at night. For a newbie this activity may seem being without any useful purpose as the goal normally is not to get from point A to point B, but rather the process of walking itself. So, do not fear when your friends drag you out of bed a Sunday morning to go hiking - even though you had planned a quiet day in front of the television.

The social Norwegian
The reputation that Norwegians have for being unsociable is thoroughly disproven several times a year. Norway’s National
Day celebrations on May 17th, for instance. The National Day celebrates Norway’s first constitution of 1814, and is a celebration of spring and warm weather. The traditional way of celebrating this is to dress up in one’s finest clothes - often the national costumes ‘bunad’ - and take to the streets (which are cleared of cars for the occasion) in great throngs to enjoy parades, music and performances.

A new lifestyle
It should also be noted that the typical Norwegian way of life, if such a notion still makes sense, is changing rapidly, and that the last two generations’ lifestyle have had an incredible impact on the shape and structure of Norwegian society and the Norwegian mentality. The young tend to travel much more than their parents and grandparents, they spend far more time and money at restaurants and bars, and they are less prone to the simple outdoor life that Norwegians traditionally lived.

With the unprecedented levels of economic wealth now enjoyed by most Norwegians, many prefer to travel the world for their holidays – or they build big luxury cabins that wouldn’t have been considered a “hytte” twenty years ago. What people do, how they define themselves, is changing drastically with each generation. today, people are trying to find a place in the information economy.

Education patterns; gender roles and family structures; social patterns and habits; values and cultural status: it’s all changing with each passing month. What Norway is, is hard to define. But that this is an important time in Norwegian history is for certain.



For such a small population, Norway has an incredibly rich, accomplished and varied cultural scene, thanks in part to government funding of artists
and institutions through our Arts Council Norway, which finances artists of all kinds across Norway.

CLASSICAL MUSIC: Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) is thought of by most people as Norway’s greatest composer. Grieg’s music is romantic with a nationalist streak, using scales and modes from Norwegian folk music to create beautiful, modern (for its time, that is) impressionistic pieces. His most famous works are his Lyrical Pieces for piano, his Piano Concerto in A Minor and his incidental music to Henrik ibsen’s Peer Gynt.

Norway also has some internationally renowned classical performers, like piano player Leif Ove Andsnes, widely regarded as one of the greatest classical music performers in the world, and winner of several Grammy Awards. He is particularly well known for his interpretations of Grieg’s music, and is often seen in Grieg’s home town of Bergen. The cellist Truls Mørk is also a well-known international performer of Grieg’s music, and is an outstanding performer both of chamber music and as a soloist for an orchestra.

JAZZ:. Norway’s jazz scene is phenomenal. Everyone agrees that Norway has one of the most interesting jazz scenes in Europe, with each successive generation of musicians reinventing and creating their own musical language, from the world-influenced, almost-ambient “mountain jazz” of the 80s and early 90s through to the electronica-based period of the late 90s into the hard-bop and free improv-influenced styles of the younger generation.

Names like Jan Garbarek, Mari Boine, Arild Andersen, Nils-Petter Molvær, and Bugge Wesseltoft have made their names internationally. While the younger generation of artists, with names like Paal Nilssen-Love, Håvard Wiik, Kjetil Møster, Håkon Kornstad, Supersilent, Jaga Jazzist and Wibutee are gaining wider and wider recognition as world-class artists in the younger market.

POP/ROCK/ELECTRONICA: The past seven or eight years have been good to Norwegian popular music acts. The so-called “Bergen Wave”, in particular, brought a number of bands from the city of Bergen in Western Norway to great popularity in Norway and abroad. Names like Röyksopp, Kings of Convenience, Sondre Lerche, Magnet and Annie are still widely known and tour throughout the world.

Other parts of the country have also produced a lot of popular bands and artists in the past years in the pop and rock fields, with some prominent names being Lene Marlin, Madrugada, A-HA, Turbonegro and Sissel Kyrkjebø still regularly touring and producing records.

The Norwegian heavy metal and death metal scene, meanwhile, is universally acknowledged as superior to all other such scenes in the world, with names like Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, Immortal, Darkthrone and Burzum having achieved worldwide celebrity and/ or notoriety.

LITERATURE: Norway has produced more than its share of the great poets, playwrights and novelists of our time. Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906), is probably one of the three most respected dramatists in the world, and is performed almost as much as Shakespeare around the world. He is considered the father of the realistic drama, an important pre-modernist influence and a great social critic. His list of canonical plays includes A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Peer Gynt, Hedda Gabler and An enemy of the People.

Three Norwegian authors have received the Nobel Prize for Literature: Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) in 1928, Knut Hamsun (1859-1952) in 1920 and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910) in 1903.

CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE: Jon Fosse is currently Norway’s most popular living dramatist both nationally and internationally. His plays are completely minimalist with an absolutely infuriating, repetitive style, delving deep into the existential darkness of man and grasping for things language cannot express.

Some of the best-known current authors include Jostein Gaarder, who wrote Sophie’s World - A Novel about the History of Philosophy. The novel, a sort of mystery/history-of-philosophy4kidz, has sold more than 25 million copies. Lars Saabye Christensen got his international breakthrough with Halvbroren (The Half Brother) and many of Saabye Christensen’s novels have been translated into several European languages.

FINE ART: The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was one of the pioneers of the expressionist movement in modern painting. You’ve almost certainly seen his endlessly-reproduced Scream, an unnerving expressionist exploration of existential angst, has by now been turned into mouse pads, book covers, desktop backgrounds, horror movie props and posters all over the world. It is probably one of the three most famous paintings around the world that are less than 150 years old.

When Munch died in January 1944, it became known that he had unconditionally bequeathed all his remaining works to the city of Oslo. The city built the Munch Museum in 1963 to house his unique collection of approximately 1100 paintings, 4500 drawings and 18,000 prints.

Anne Katrine Dolven is a contemporary video artist and painter. She has gained international recognition with her carefully considered videos, described as formal in style and spare in narrative expression – humour and eroticism – at times even simultaneously.

ARCHITECTURE: Norway is famous for its unique Stave churches, which are wooden churches built as early as the 12th century. Also, many fine examples of the Jugend/Art Nouveau style of architecture can be found in Norway, for instance in Ålesund, where most of the city centre was rebuilt in that style after a catastrophic fire in 1904.

When it comes to contemporary architecture, the Snøhetta architectural firm based in Norway has achieved great international acclaim for their low-key, cool, “Scandinavian” style. They are behind many high-profile projects such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, the new Opera House in Oslo, and the Visitor’s Center at the World Trade Center memorial site in New York.

FESTIVALS: Festivals take place throughout the year, covering all areas of culture including music, film, literature and various forms of art. ‘Norway Festivals’ is the organisation that helps to coordinate and develop all the Norwegian festivals.

Molde International Jazz Festival, the Quart Festival and Norwegian Wood are all international music festivals attracting renowned performers from all over the world.

There are three travelling cultural institutions in Norway: the Norwegian national touring theatre Riksteatret, the national touring concerts Rikskonsertene and the national touring exhibitors Riksgalleriet. These institutions are all funded by the government and perform across the country.


Rural & urban Norwegians

Mainland Norway covers 324,000 square kilometres, but because of all the mountains, it supports only a comparatively small population of 4.5 million.

The government actively encourages growth in outlying districts by supporting smaller towns and hamlets with grants and other funding schemes. As a result, industries, schools and hospitals, as well as cultural institutions, can be found throughout rural Norway.

A double latte, please!
This also means that infrastructure in rural Norway is surprisingly developed, and you can now get broadband internet and a double latte on almost every last piece of rock in Norway. In keeping with this policy, university colleges have been established in the countryside as well as in the cities.

Still, the rural/urban distinction remains important. The difference between urban centres and rural periphery is one of the driving forces in Norwegian culture and politics, and this is also reflected at the most basic level of government, since our election system has proportional representation. This means that the more sparsely populated constituencies around Norway have a greater representation in the Storting (our parliament) than their population would suggest, the idea being that this keeps the cities from legislating unfairly and draining the rural districts of resources.

Despite all this, the rural part of Norway has grown increasingly depopulated over the past 25 years. Due to globalisation and the tendency towards outsourcing, many Norwegian companies have felt compelled to close down many local cornerstone industries, and this has led to previously prosperous small towns losing the ability to sustain themselves.


Wining & dining

Norwegian dining has, perhaps not surprisingly, changed radically in the past 150 years. From being a nation that subsisted mainly on herring and porridge, to being a modern, globalised culinary economy, where everything from sushi to pasta to something ridiculously spicy out of the Thai cookbook are all possible staple foods.

Still, Norwegian food culture is not perfect. We’re newcomers to haute cuisine, and people on average spend little time preparing meals. This is probably why Norwegians are the world’s leading consumer of frozen pizza, with the rather cardboardish Pizza Grandiosa being the most popular (it has been suggested, mostly in a joking tone of voice, as the Norwegian national food).

How an ancient Italian peasant food made its way into freezers across Norway is a mystery, but it seems to be there to stay.

Fortunately, this is not universal, and most Norwegians – men and women, young and old - can whip up a good meal when they take the time, and many, many Norwegians take great pride and pleasure in being good cooks.

Local ingredients - international acclaim
A trend in Norwegian cooking in the past twenty years has been a focus on local or traditional ingredients (sometimes organically grown) in non-traditional combinations.

Therefore, Norwegian cooks (both professionals and amateurs) can often be found at their best when making fish and game dishes and it is often dishes like these that help Norwegian chefs win international tournaments.

Bread, bread, dinner and .....bread
Norwegians traditionally eat three to four meals every day: a simple breakfast before work, a lunch break around noon which often consists of open-faced sandwiches in a packed lunch (so-called “ matpakke”) brought from home, a hot meal for dinner around five pm – the only hot meal of the day - and a small late meal which not everyone eats, but which many families with children choose to have because dinner is early.

However, as dining habits are changing radically, many variations of this pattern are appearing, with for instance lunch becoming a warm or at least larger meal, breakfast becoming late and more elaborate, the late meal disappearing altogether, etc.

Traditional Norwegian food

Norwegians often have a charming addiction to the traditional dishes in their culture, but (fortunately, some would say) most of them are only eaten on one specific day of the year, like Christmas or New years. Several of them can be rather difficult for the untrained palate, but they are eaten nonetheless.

Some of the milder examples are raspeballer: Grated, raw potatoes that are mashed together with flour and salt into little balls and boiled; or pinnekjøtt, which is salted meat from dried mutton ribs.

Some examples of the more idiosyncratic dishes are for instance smalahove, which is a sheep’s head that has been burned with a blowtorch, smoked and then boiled. You eat the cheeks, tongue and eyes.

Another such favourite is lutefisk. This is fish that has been soaked in a combination of cold water and caustic soda - a substance mostly used in soap or floorboard treatment - reducing it to a rough, jelly-like consistency. Nobody really knows who developed that stunning display of culinary lateral thinking, but it is still going strong centuries later. It’s very unlikely anyone will make you eat these, but it is all part of the complete Norway experience.

Dining in - dining out
The number of restaurants in Norway is rising, and almost every kind of national food cultures can be found in the cities - from Japanese to Vietnamese to Lebanese to Chinese. The quality of food has generally gone up, while prices have been adjusting towards the wage level as ingredients have become cheaper. Thus, it is now becoming increasingly possible to dine out often on a student budget, especially if you steer clear of the wine list.

Wine and spirits are prohibitively expensive in Norwegian restaurants, and beer can also put quite a dent in your budget. A pint can easily cost between 5 and 7 euros in both clubs and restaurants.

All night long
The cost of alcohol is probably why the Norwegian tradition of the ‘ vorspiel’ has been instituted. Vorspiel, a German word literally translated as ‘foreplay’, is a small party held in a private residence with friends. Here, the people who are going out will warm up with store-bought beer or spirits (which are much more affordable than in clubs) before going out around 11-12 pm, and staying out until the clubs close at around 3.30 am. Then they will go home or for the particularly resilient, there will often be a ‘ nachspiel’ (‘afterplay’).

The nachspiel is an afterparty in which usually just a small group of people wind down (or sometimes wind up) from a big night.

Norwegians drink more coffee than anyone else in the world. In rural Norway, getting invited in for coffee can sometimes seem to be the central form of social interaction. In the last twenty years, a café culture has flourished throughout Norway, and as a result, Norwegians are getting really good at coffee. This is comforting, because at the end of the day, an average Norwegian will drink about five cups of plain black coffee.

During your day at the university you will find that a lot of interesting discussions take place during coffee breaks. You will also get quite familiar with the expression to “go for a coffee”. This means “let’s go and talk over coffee”.

Maybe the rural and urban cultures are not as different as they like to think?

Raspeballer - the only potatoes you need.

Raspeballer - dump the french fries and go for potato dumplings.

Smalahove - not for the fainthearted.

Smalahove - not for the fainthearted. The eyes are considered a delicacy by connoisseurs.

Lutefisk - it's not a lye!

Lutefisk - the king of jellies. And that's not a lye!

PS: The dishes above are mostly for
professionals and/or native Norwegians.
It is perfectly polite to denounce
them and rather go for something
less exotic.


The peace worker

Our privileged situation, coupled with the egalitarian values on which Norwegian politics are based, have often given Norwegian politicians a moral imperative to engage in peace processes and advocate human rights and humanitarian aid.

This leads to an interesting foreign policy, shaped by things like Norway giving a substantial proportion of its annual budget as humanitarian aid, and Norway and Norwegian peace brokers having been actively involved in facilitating peace settlements. An example of the last is the Oslo Accord between Israel and Palestine, which Norway helped facilitate, but Norway has also been heavily involved in peace processes in the Balkans, Colombia, Guatemala, Sudan and Sri Lanka.

Norway has mostly had the role of being a facilitator who sets the table and helps the two parties in the conflict talk. the idea is that since Norway is a small country with no particular aspirations of superpower status, no military clout, and no vested interests in the conflict, that both sides in it will trust us enough to allow us to mediate the agreement.

The Nobel Peace Prize
Another connection with peace work is that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Norway by a Norwegian comittee. Some may think of it as the Academy Awards for politicians, but it’s an important institution helping give resources, publicity and credibility to the unselfish few who struggle against the grain to create a lasting peace.

Despite being instituted by the man who invented dynamite (he was Swedish, by the way), it’s still the most prestigious peace prize, considered the most important recognition of the ultimate political achievement. It is arguably the single most important award in the world.


Languages & dialects

Norway was, until fairly recently, isolated pockets of humanity making a living in the valleys between the mountainous areas which cover most of Norway. Travel was difficult and communication was slow. As a result, local and regional dialects have developed on their own, producing an incredible range of sounds and words, with radical differences from one another.

The same word can be pronounced in hundreds of different ways across Norway. No dialect is considered to have more worth than another, except by the people who speak them. Most Norwegian dialects – with some notable exceptions - are understandable once you get to understand a little Norwegian.

Three for price of one
To add to the confusion, we have three official written languages in Norway: Bokmål, Nynorsk and Sami. The two biggest are Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål is based on written Danish, which was the official language of Norway for hundreds of years. Nynorsk was created by linguist Ivar Aasen in the 1850s, and is a compilation and combination of some (mostly West-Norwegian) regional dialects. The two languages are not very far apart, but do reflect the large regional differences. Generally, if you understand one of the two languages, you can understand the other fairly easily.

Officially Bokmål and Nynorsk have been accorded equal status, although Bokmål is more widely used in Oslo and the larger towns. Nynorsk is used by about 10-15 per cent of the population, mostly on the west coast. You will also find a substantial part of government documents, church services and public broadcasting written in Nynorsk.

Sami, on the other hand, is a minority language used by the indigenous Sami people. It is mother tongue to about 20,000 individuals in Norway. Sami is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of languages, and North Sami has been established as an official language equal with Norwegian. It is mostly used in Troms and Finnmark – two regions in Northern Norway.

English as a second language
But if you’re not planning on learning Norwegian, don’t worry: Norwegian children start learning English at school at the age of six and as a result, practically everyone in Norway has some skill in English (and theoretically speaking also either German or French). Young people in particular are mostly completely fluent in English. On the other hand, English-speaking films and television series are subtitled instead of dubbed. So if you can read this, you should have no problem speaking to other people, or even just watching television in Norway.


Weather & climate

Norwegians love to talk about the weather. A joke about people from the north of Norway goes that they’ll never do anything else when the weather report is on, and the following types of phone conversations ensue: “You’re pregnant? That’s great! Excuse me, the weather is on.” “You’re dying? oh, that’s… can you call back after the weather?” etc.

But it’s not really that strange. Weather in Norway is dramatic and changes very fast, and it can often completely change the options for what is possible to do on any given day.

Four seasons in one day
If you get a map, you’ll see that Norway is at the northernmost end of Europe with the second largest city, Bergen, on the west coast roughly being the same latitude as southernmost Greenland. Norway is therefore often regarded as a cold and wet country. Though this is true in some regions, Norway’s climate is wildly different from region to region and season to season, and the entire coastline is greatly warmed by the Gulf Stream, turning Norway into a more attractive vacation spot than Greenland.

Most of Norway south of Trondheim is a temperate climate. This means that southerly inland climates are dry and very cold in the winter and quite hot in the summertime. The North can be pretty cold and wet except for the brief summer months. Coastal climates in the south are mild and wet in all seasons.

The Norwegian summer in all regions is quite pleasant, being neither too hot nor too cold, although it will sometimes be interrupted by rainy or colder periods. Summer also brings about a marked change in the psychology of the average Norwegian, turning them into a boisterous, joyous people, eager to catch up the wintertime by enjoying the outdoors with friends.

Midnight sun
In Northern Norway, the summers have midnight sun. The summer is literally one long day and evening that never turns into night. This is all peachy, but in the winter the Northerners pay for this extravagant summer with a month of no sun, in which the sun never leaves the horizon.

Winters in general are quite different in different parts of the country, with the north having hard, arctic winters, and the southwest mostly having mild, wet average European winters.


Norwegian language

In Norway we have three official written languages and a myriad of spoken dialects. Sounds complicated? Don't worry, the reality is much easier, and it's not considered to be more difficult to learn Norwegian than any other European language. And if you know the words "ski" and "fjord" you already have a head start.

We have two official written Norwegian languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk. In addition the indigenous Sámi people have their own official written language. The majority of the people in Norway are using Bokmål. But in areas in the Northwestern part of Norway and in the very south, Nynorsk is widely used. However, it should be noted that Bokmål and Nynorsk are not classified as two different languages where you have to learn the other as a foreign language. In short one could say that they are more two different written norms. Thus, text written in Bokmål is perfectly understandable for a person using Nynorsk, and vice versa.

Very few Norwegians, if anybody, speak the way a text is written, whether it's in Bokmål or Nynorsk. Instead we make use of our local dialects. For Norwegians the dialect makes up an important part of their identity, and by listening to a person's dialect we can in most cases determine with good accuracy from which part of the country he or she is from. Beginners to the Norwegian language might find some dialects hard to understand, but Norwegians are understanding and speak closer to the written language if they notice you don't understand them.

Norwegian - a Scandinavian language
If you have a good command of Norwegian you're not only able to communicate with Norwegians, but also with people in Sweden and Denmark. The languages of the three Scandinavian countries are similar and in most cases you can speak in Norwegian to Danes and Swedes, and also read text written in Swedish and Danish.


Learn Norwegian outside Norway

There are currently between 5,000 and 6,000 young academics worldwide who are studying the Norwegian language or Norwegian courses at institutions of higher education in their home country. Imagine learning how to read Henrik Ibsen in the original language! You can contact more than 140 institutions around the world and find out more.

There is a long tradition of teaching Norwegian language and Norwegian courses at institutions in many countries, even dating back to the 19th century at some universities in Central Europe and the United States. The number of institutions offering courses in Norwegian language, culture and politics are increasing, especially in Eastern Europe for the past ten years.

Maybe your current institution is already offering Norwegian courses? This could be your first stepping stone towards further studies in Norway.

Check the list below of institutions in 36 countries that currently offer Norwegian courses.
[click on each country for detailed contact information]



North/South America











United States, The

Czech Republic, The














Netherlands, The




Serbia & Montenegro







United Kingdom


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