Written by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by current student Callum Moss studying BSc (Hons) Sports Development & Coaching Sciences.
This is my blog about my exchange to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in the first semester (August-December) of my 4th and final year. I hope that by reading this some people may feel that they may want to share the same experience! The experience I have had has been amazing and extremely beneficial to both myself and my future career plans, allowing me to learn some interesting subjects whilst exploring a bit of Europe at the same time.
Why I decided to go for an exchange?
I applied for a study exchange for a couple of reasons. Personally my desire was to try and make the most of the opportunities available to me from the university and studying abroad was certainly an opportunity in itself that was very hard to not acknowledge. When I realized that the process was pretty straightforward and well supported, I decided to apply and take my chances.
I chose Norway more or less due to the lifestyle that I was aware in the country, my father always told me it was a good country to live in after coming home from business trips. Additionally, when I applied for the exchange, I was in Massachusetts, USA on my work placement and being a little closer to home is always a bonus. Plus, in Norway, everyone speaks English! What cemented the decision to choose Norway was Oslo as a city. Other than my father telling me how nice it was, it was certainly a place I saw myself living and the location of my exchange institution was right next to a lake.
I had 3 packages to choose from. Sport Biology, Outdoor Studies or Sport Management were the options. I picked Sport Biology due to my interest in sport science fields. I learnt Sport & Exercise Nutrition, Sport Psychology and Physical Activity and Seniors as my subjects.
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH)
The facilities at the school were brilliant! Honestly, it had pretty much everything if you love sport. It had about 5 or 6 indoor sports halls (which we can reserve) which ended up hosting a few sport tournaments organized by the uni. It also had a swimming pool which we had free access to, a gym with free access, volleyball courts, an ice-skating rink, a running track surrounding a 3-G football field and best of all, Sognsvann lake. I also played futsal every week in one of the sports halls, which was one of several weekly sporting activities we could take part in.
When I got to NIH on the exchange student intro weekend so-to-speak, I found the Norwegian “buddies” as they were termed (the students whose task it was to make us feel welcome) very friendly and approachable and the exchange leader at the university, Thomas was also very nice and made sure we did everything correctly and made sure the paperwork we handed in was also up to standard. The other exchange students were very friendly and easy to talk to. I only mention this because it turned out that amongst the 50 exchange students or so, I was the only one from the United Kingdom. Not that it really mattered but communication and bonding with others was not as difficult as what it appeared to be. There were many from Germany and there were others from Denmark, Holland, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, USA and Slovakia.
My flat mates!
After waiting for 2 and a half hours to pick up my keys from the accommodation office in nearby Blindern, I went to Kringsja student village which was to be my base for the next 4 and a half months. I think like every student (or I could be wrong), I was very nervous about the people I’d be sharing an apartment with. I was given an option at the office as to how many people I’d like to live with. Through my initial application I had already requested a private bathroom, so I didn’t have to worry about sharing facilities as some buildings only offer shared bathrooms. I could choose living with either 5 other people, or 7 other people. I decided to choose 7 because there was more chance of me getting along with someone. The next question was floor 5 or floor 9. I chose floor 9 in the hope of having a good view from my room. They were 2 great decisions (and lucky ones!). I did get a great view overlooking the rest of the student village and the hill which led to the nearby viewpoint of Oslo. More importantly, my flatmates were awesome and I ended up getting along with all of them.
I did ask their permission to talk about them on this blog, they all said they were happy with that.
There were 8 of us in total and 7 different nationalities. They included Daniil who was Russian but had moved to Norway when he was 14, he had recently completed an engineering degree and had lived in the building for 2 years and was job hunting at this point. He ended up leaving in October which was quite sad. Michelle was from the Netherlands and was studying tax law. She went to Oslo Met and was very upbeat and positive which actually helped bring us all together. She also didn’t mind a drink or two! There were two students from China called Chris and Wu who were also at Oslo Met. Chris was studying political science and Wu was studying environmental studies. Wu gave me some Chinese green tea as a welcome gift. They also cooked us all a Chinese dinner one night. Jun was from South Korea and went to Oslo Media School, studying media production I think. She was probably the shyest out of everyone and there were times when we saw her Instagram posts to work out her whereabouts which was rather amusing at times. But she was lovely nonetheless and made us all sushi one night! Brita-Kaisa (or Brita as we all called her) was studying for a masters in History. She was from Finland and the only one who had her own place back at home. She was also great to hang out with and fed us Finnish candies and mud cake on a regular basis. Finally, there was Martina. She was from Barcelona and I think she would prefer it if I called her Catalan instead of Spanish. She was all for independence! She was studying to become a primary school teacher and literally cried whenever she saw a cute toddler or baby. She was also a good laugh and regularly bought her friend Laia, who lived on the 5thfloor to our flat and she pretty much became the ninth member of our flat essentially because she was around that much!
We did a lot together. We had BBQs, hosted some flat parties behind security’s back, ate dinner together occasionally and went to Stockholm together in September. It was just nice to not have any awkward moments in the kitchen from day one and to share a nice conversation on a daily basis. It was funny when they asked for occasional English lessons. I took advantage of that all right!! Not swear words, but just catchphrases and things like that. It turns out that they all don’t understand why we put milk in tea and coffee.
Trip 1 – Stockholm
This was my first trip out of Oslo. The only bad thing about it was that we were getting a Friday night bus and arrived in Stockholm at 6 in the morning. We stayed in a hostel for a night before taking a second overnight bus, arriving back in Oslo at 7:30 Monday morning. I didn’t sleep on the way there but slept well on the way back. I guess that’s the price you sometimes pay when you have to travel on the cheap. It was necessary especially given that Norway is known as one of the most expensive countries in the world. Try nine pounds for one beer. On this subject, Stockholm was certainly a lot cheaper. It was also my first time in Sweden. On arrival, we wandered around Stockholm in the morning, first going to the old town, Gamla Stan. We then ventured from there to the Vasa Museum, a museum about a famous shipwreck that was only recently salvaged. After grabbing some lunch at a food hall, we checked into our hostel. I went to an English style pub for my dinner, having my first fish and chips for a while.
After crashing out for around 10 hours overnight, I arose and we walked around the islands in the middle of Stockholm to start the day off. After finding a taco place and eating a burrito for lunch we took a metro to get to a kayak rental facility that we pre-booked. Between the 8 of us we had 4 shared kayaks. Me and Chris shared one and as I was at the back, I had to do the steering. This was a lot of fun and was good value (about 40quid for 2 hours). We could kayak anywhere we wanted on the rivers that went through Stockholm, giving us a good opportunity to see the other parts of the city. After checking out and going to a nearby pizza restaurant for dinner, we went to our nightbus. I topped a great weekend by managing to sleep for 5 hours on the bus which is pretty unheard of from my perspective. Having Monday off was also a welcome feeling.
What I learnt specifically
Sport & Exercise Nutrition: I pretty much learnt about nutrition in general and how this affects the body and more specifically our metabolism and how our calorie intake can affect this. One of our assignments was to record our own diet for 4 days using scales and then comparing that to our recommended intake. To be honest practical learning like this was really beneficial in learning what turned out to be more complex subject than I imagined. But it inspired so much that I incorporated a nutritional aspect in my dissertation. After a while we had to pick one of two specialist subjects, either Nutrition in Sport Performance or Nutrition in Health. I picked the former as sport performance was an area I wanted to delve into.
Sport Psychology: I learnt psychological theories essentially which really helped my perspective as a coach, especially from my previous experiences. We did many assignments to keep our knowledge fresh but because they were pass/fail, I think on average everyone spent about 5-6 hours on it because that’s all that was required. We had several guest lecturers, including Tom Henning (the referee who took charge of the Chelsea-Barcelona 1-1 game at Stamford Bridge) and Glyn Roberts, the world’s most renowned expert in motivation.
Physical Activity: I was taught by Paul Jones, an English doctor. He allowed us to work with senior people in their 80’s as part of our learning. This was really insightful, especially how impressively the seniors did exercises that we designed for them. We learnt everything from osteoporosis, heart disease, training program design and epidemiology.
What has it done for my career ambitions?
I decided to kick-start my extra education and qualifications in spare time. I was glad I did this, mainly because my CV looked a lot better than what it did before. I managed my time for when I got home and I organized several bookings for my continuous education and qualifications. I sorted out my ISAK Anthropometry Level 1 Award, booked my FA Level 2 in Coaching, FA Level 2 in Talent ID and my Emergency First Aid renewal. I also completed extra online education certificates in personal training, nutrition, osteoporosis, SAQ, whole body vibration and program design with the New Skills Academy, ACE, NASM and EXOS.