A huge welcome to all the new international students arriving in Bergen for UiB courses! Maybe you’ve seen the weather and wondered if anyone leaves their home. Maybe you’re ready to get out and make some new Norwegian or international friends. Maybe you’re wondering what to do, where to go, how to meet these mythical friend-beasts. Well, I hope to provide you with some tips to get started, and if anyone who’s already a transplant in Bergen or who is from Bergen wants to weigh in with additional ideas, please comment below!
Summer time in Bergen. iPhone screenshot.
The following is the result of consultation with several students to compile some Bergen recommendations for you, our new friends and fellow students:
Nearly every student I spoke with mentioned the nature available at your fingertips in Bergen. Emma from Britain said, “[Bergen] really feels cosmopolitan, more so than anywhere I’ve lived before. Its proximity to the fjords makes it a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s affordable to buy a pair of cross country skis and just get out there and try. [And] it has many cheap but well-maintained ice skating facilities.” Don’t let the weather deter you! But make sure you gear up, after all, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” (still one of my favorite Norwegianisms!). So get out there, go hiking, get on the water, or just stroll the streets.
Volunteer, or just go to a festival.
Ellie (28), a former Erasmus student from Scotland, mentioned that Bergen is a great place to volunteer, she volunteered for a music festival during her time here. Other opportunities to volunteer include the Bergen International Film Festival or BIFF (in 2016 it was 20-28 September), and Bergen Ølfestival, the annual beer festival (in 2016 it was 2-3 September, there was also a Christmas Beer Festival 5 November). Phono a music, radio, and culture festival (19- 23 January), and Borealis, an annual experimental music festival (in 2017, 8-12 March), are also possibilities. There are around 60 different festivals and concerts in Bergen annually, you can explore some other options and look into volunteer or attendance opportunities here or take a look at the Student Bergen guide to festivals here.
I have attended both BIFF and Matfestival (held in tandem with Bergen Ølfestival) and I have both attended and volunteered at Ølfest. I checked out Stephen Merchant my first year here at the Bergen Comedy festival, which sadly doesn’t seem to be an annual event. Alternately, I got to see Reggie Watts at Nattjazz, which most definitely is a yearly festival!
The luminous Reggie Watts at Nattjazz. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Maybe you want to see some of the art, museums, historical buildings, or other features that make Bergen so beautiful. You could simply stroll around and discover Bergen on your own, or use a tourist website, or Student Bergen’s site as a guide. Student Bergen highlights less expensive options for students, such as discount tickets for concerts. Ernest (33) from Ghana recommends enjoying Bergen’s scenery by hopping on a bus, seeing where you end up.
Check out Mt. Fløyen, and if you’re lucky, make a goat-friend. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Cafes and Nightlife
Cheap? Not necessarily, but occasionally, you may wish to frequent a local establishment of some kind. Some students love Krok og Krinkel, a cosy cafe, where one can sit and read with a cup of coffee, as well as Henriks øl og Vinstove (my personal favorite place to splurge on a craft beer). Janette (30), from Uganda, not only mentioned her love of hiking and jogging in Bergen, but also dancing. She suggests heading to Garage, but warns that there is a cover charge. If you want to see some live music, the Garage is an option, but so is a former air raid shelter, called Hulen (The Cave). Check out who’s playing here, and their Facebook here. You can volunteer at Hulen as well! You can always look for what’s happening at the cultural calendar at Student Bergen.
Concert at Hulen Photo: Stand Hiestand
Attend an academic event.
I’ve enjoyed many fascinating (and free) lectures on and off campus such as Julia Kristeva’s Holberg presentation (watch it here) and Dr. David Nutt’s presentation on rethinking the classification of drugs and alcohol. Mahlet (25), from Ethiopia, especially enjoyed an event hosted by Student Parliament in November 2014 called Tell Me About Africa. You can look for lectures and events on the UiB news page, UiB Facebook Events Page, or on the UiB calendar.
There’s so much to do, how do I get started?
A great place to start is the stands of the student organizations on 5th and 6th of January. Joining a student organization is a great way to meet people and find activities you’ll enjoy.
Utilize UiB’s ‘Student Life’ tab under the ‘Education’ section as well as their gateway to tons of student organizations.
Or, meet other expats at Internations, a group meeting once a month in Bergen. It is great fun to meet people from all over the world who may or may not be students.
Just a reminder to post your suggestions for other fun, cheap, or student activities in Bergen below. Also, if you like my blog, you can now subscribe to it over on the left-hand side of the screen and get notified when a new blog is posted!