Norwegian version

An experience of a lifetime!

The students sit and stand around on the grass, out in the yard of the farm. We are seeing tools and machines. In the background we see a storehouse and a barn..

The students had three unforgettable days filled with exciting excursions, culture, nature, woodwork and new friendships – with an old family farm in Numedal valley as a base. The farm belongs to associate professor Kyrre Andersen at the Department of Product Design.

‘This is the second time we have invited the students there,’ says Andersen.

‘The first time was in spring 2019. The exchange students were supposed to arrive a week before their studies started to take part in a health and safety course at the workshops. We wanted them to have a nice introduction to Norway and to OsloMet as a place of study.’

‘That time, my colleague Nils Seiersten and I planned a roundtrip to museums and interesting cultural sites outside of Oslo. Since my farm wasn’t that far from the places we wanted to visit, we added it as a place to stay on the trip.’

‘It was a great success and we received excellent feedback from the students. They had never experienced such a nice initiative at their own universities or had such lovely and personal contact with their professors,’ he smiles.

‘We wanted to repeat the success, so Professor Gunnar H. Gundersen and I picked it back up now that the international product design students are finally back after the pandemic,’ Andersen explains.

Kyrre Andersen out in the yard, surrounded by logs, wood materials and various machines. He shows off a piece of wood. In the background we see a small red house.

Fantastic and eventful weekend

The twelve students from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, the USA, Brazil and Thailand visited the Kistefos museum, the silver mines in Kongsberg and the blacksmith Marcus Mars in Drammen. On the farm, former bachelor's student Lloyd Winter held a wood workshop using wood that is not normally considered economically viable. The students found out that forest resources go beyond just straight production trees.

Matthias Gaucher from France is one of the students who took part in the excursion.

'The weekend at Kyrre's farm was unexpected and completely unforgettable!’

‘All the experiences and places we visited made a strong impression – the wonderful farm, the nearby lake, the walks, learning about blacksmithing and visiting the Kongsberg mines, to name but a few.’

‘Gunnar and Kyrre were incredibly accommodating and welcomed us warmly,’ says Matthias.

‘The workshop was fascinating. We worked with wood and used all of the tools in Kyrre's workshop, safely guided by Lloyd.’

‘It was a very rewarding day and an excellent activity for us designers. Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic weekend,’ says Matthias enthusiastically.

Fellow student Julianne Pheng, from Modesto in central California, agrees.

‘The first stop on the trip was Kistefos, which was the perfect combination of nature, modern art and Norwegian history,’ she says.

‘It was fantastic at Kyrre's farm – and completely silent. I love nature so it was simply magical! There wasn’t any noise or light pollution and it was a nice break from city life. One night, when everyone had gone to bed, I went outside to look at the night sky and the moon. I almost fell asleep on the grass.’

‘It was a wonderful place to visit and get to know each other – and we could eat berries straight from the bushes,’ smiles Julianne.

One of the trip’s organisers, Kyrre Andersen, hopes that the excursion becomes a regular part of the programme for international students.

‘As teachers, we can get a good impression of the new students and that makes it easier to guide them through the semester,’ he explains.

‘And the students are left with an experience of a lifetime.’

It was a wonderful place to visit and get to know each other. – Julianne
Julianne stands next to a tree stump out in the yard. On the stump is a small cup she has made of wood.

Nature and Scandinavian design

For Matthias, who comes from Morbihan in Brittany on the west coast of France, one of the reasons he chose Norway was because of its beautiful nature. 

He also has an interest in Scandinavian design and thinks the courses in product design sound exciting.

‘I chose to study here to become better acquainted with the design culture. Scandinavian design receives a lot of attention and has a different expression and traditions than Southern European design.

Norwegian culture and nature were also what attracted Julianne.

‘I already knew some Norwegian and have been to Norway several times before,’ she says.

‘I love snow, nature and the cold, even though I'm from sunny California.’

With a cheeky smile, Matthias says that he had expected both the weather - and Norwegians - to be colder.

‘The stereotype that Norwegians are reserved and not interested in getting to know people is completely untrue. Almost everyone I’ve met at university, in sports, in the street and at parties, have been very open and friendly.

The students sit gathered around three tables out in the yard eating shrimp

Accessible teachers and excellent facilities

Both of the students enjoy their studies and being in Norway, and recommend that others apply.

‘It’s quite different studying in Norway than it is in France,’ says Matthias.

‘Here, we have much more time to work on our own, and I feel that the teachers are more accessible and have a closer relationship with the students.’

‘I chose to take the "Sustainable Design Approaches" course. It turned out to be much more theoretical than I expected but I'm in no way disappointed, because I've learned a lot of useful things and my English has improved enormously,’ he says.

‘The second course I chose is much more practical and open, which is great because I can really explore the things I like and work a lot in the workshops.’

The Department of Product Design is situated in Kjeller, just outside Oslo.

 ‘It’s a lovely little campus,’ Matthias says.

‘Even though the campus is not that big, the workshops are huge compared to those I’ve come across in France.’

‘The atmosphere at the university is excellent and I like spending time there, even though it’s quite far from where I live,’ he says.

The atmosphere at the university is excellent and I like spending time there. – Matthias
Matthias sits by a game board he's made of wood, burning marks into it with a burner.

Positive culture shock

Do you have any advice for new international students?

‘You’ll get a culture shock from just about everything,’ Julianne says and laughs.

‘In the beginning, everything feels like complete chaos, but just remember that you’re not the only one feeling this way. There are many international students taking product design and everyone can help and learn from each other. Just be yourself, meet others with an open mind, stay curious and plan your personal finances!’

‘That way you can make new friends and enjoy experiences that will enrich your life,’ she says.

‘Bring a swimming costume and go to the sauna,’ Matthias says smiling.

‘Besides that I don’t really have any other advice, but if you like to get close to nature, meet new people, have good access to cultural activities and events, Norway is the country for you,’ he says.

‘You don't have to worry about the cold – the temperatures aren’t unbearable and the houses are warm. People speak good English and it’s easy to travel around the country, which I recommend doing because it’s so beautiful.’  

‘Maybe you should occasionally get out of your comfort zone and go to an event you wouldn't normally attend. Oslo is a city with many students – both international and Norwegian. There are student events almost every day, so it won’t take long to meet new people!’ he concludes.

6 students stand against a wall with logs. They look at a table where there are many different tools, such as saw, axe, etc. One of the students shows off something.

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