I have decided to share with you the experience of several master students that have studied in Norway. They will answer to some questions that I have prepared for them, about their application process, their life as international students in Norway and their life after finishing the studies.
The first interview is with a very dear friend of mine, whom I met during my engineering master degree at NTNU. We used to be classmates, and became very close friends.
- Tell me a little bit about yourself (name, age, where you come from).
My name is Amr, I am Egyptian, 36 years old. I am a mechanical engineer, currently living and working in Perth, Australia.
2. What have you studied in your home country? (Where did you take your bachelor degree?)
I have a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from Arab Academy for Science & Technology (AAST), Alexandria, Egypt.
3. How did you decide to apply for a master degree in Norway and why?
I was checking some of the master programs offered at different European universities. I liked how the master programs at NTNU were specialized and oriented towards certain sections in the industry. For example, the RAMS master program and the Natural Gas Technology which I chose to study as I was interested in joining the oil and gas industry. I also liked the idea of the free education in Norway even when living expenses are quite high.
4. Tell us a little bit about the preparation period for your application. Did you find the process difficult?
Not at all, the process was very reasonable, my biggest challenge was to get transcripts for my university in Egypt as I was working in Saudi Arabia at that time. Luckily, a friend of mine who was working at the university helped me to get all the documents I needed for the application. The process itself was simple, the paper work could be a challenge but that’s because I had to get the documents stamped by some authorities in Egypt to confirm they are true and not fake.
5. What was your average GPA (your average grades?)
I had a 3.55/4 GPA on my bachelors in Egypt and overall B grade on my masters at NTNU.
6. What English test did you take? (in case you had to take a test)
I did the TOEFL test at that time.
7. Did you have to provide financial proof? If yes, how did you do that? Did you had the money or did you make a loan?
I had to show that I have sufficient funds for one year of study in order to get the study permit visa. I had enough funds for the 2 years of study as I was working and managed to have some good savings.
8. When did you receive your acceptance letter?
I remember receiving initial acceptance 5 weeks after sending the preliminary application to NTNU. After that I sent the paper work to NTNU which from memory did not take much time until they sent the invitation letter to apply for the visa.
9. How was the process of applying and receiving the visa? Did it take a long time? Where did you apply for it?
The visa process took about 7 weeks from application until the visa approval. I applied at the Norwegian embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
10. How was your first week in Norway?
I was on a level happiness that I never experienced in my life! It was a big change in my life, moving from Saudi Arabia to Norway, a country of beautiful fjords, the multinational studying environment at NTNU where I made friends from whole Europe, Africa and some Asian countries. The orientation week had lots of interesting activities and I was happy by meeting new people every day.
11. How was the university? Were there too many differences between NTNU and your home university?
There were definitely some differences, I felt that NTNU is a very industry oriented university where there are lots of communication with companies who at that time were supporting the research done at NTNU to solve some of the industry challenges. Generally the laps and capabilities of NTNU were impressive, I love how the IT department at my faculty was able to provide me a student version of any software I may need. Labs were quiet equipped and I had a good budget available for my thesis work. That was something that I missed at my university in Egypt. Also the interaction between students and professors at NTNU was more compared to Egypt.
12. How difficult were the courses at the university? How about the exams?
Some course where quiet difficult but generally they were alright, I remember there were 2 or 3 courses that had the repetition of being very challenging because of the exams. In my opinion, the difficulty of a certain course was more related to the teaching professor and the exam difficulty rather than the subject itself. Some professors simply did not have the best teaching skills despite the great knowledge they may have and if the exam is difficult then students struggle because they could not understand much on the lecture.
13. How did you find the food here?
I could say that was the only challenge in Norway, food was expensive and except for the Salmon, it was not the best food (not much of variety at supermarkets). Definitely not the worst food but generally in Norway, when you look for food prices, you feel that normal cheese is a luxury treat there! I could not afford dining out except once at the end of every semester! Still I recall those 2 years I spent in Norway as the best of my life!
14. Was it easy to make friends?
It was very easy, generally the people around me where very respectful and understanding to my culture and background. I had some the greatest friends there and we are still in contact despite the thousands of miles separating our countries.
15. Where did you live?
Moholt Student village, in the campus, in Trondheim.
16. Do you remember how much money you spent per month while you were a student?
I paid around 3500 NOK for the room rent, I guess groceries where about 500 NOK per month.
17. Was it difficult to find a part time job?
I would say this was almost impossible, I guess from memory, only 10% of international students are able to get a part time job. Simply, there was always the challenge of the language. Most of the jobs even if just working in supermarkets or cleaning jobs require fluent speaking Norwegian which I did not speak.
18. Did you have a summer job?
I had a summer internship which was a part of initial thesis project
19. What did you do in your spare time?
I used to hang out with friends mostly and sometimes just enjoy watching a nice movies in my room.
20. What did you do after you completed your master program?
I tried to apply for jobs, could not land any unfortunately and had to leave the country before my visa expires. Worked in Saudi Arabia after that for a while and then immigrated to Australia where I currently live and work.
21. Would you recommend other students to come and study in Norway?
Norway was an amazing life experience for me, it taught me a lot and it changed me a lot too. It still generally a great experience, however, most of international students including myself are trying to work and live in the country where they completed their master studies. In Norway, it is extremely challenging to find a job after the master. Simply you have only 3 months left on your Visa study permit after you submit the thesis. It is very difficult to find a job in 3 months. You can renew your visa for 6 months but then you must have a proof of fund which from memory was about 70,000 NOK! I would recommend more studying in Canada, US or Australia as the job market is bigger, easier to have a part time job during studies and after graduation you have 1 or 2 years to find a job. Visa does not require proof of fund after graduation as far as I know and most students are able to find part time job anyway which allows them to stay in the country and look for a job.