Kathleen's dream semester in Norway

Whether it's the impressive landscapes, exciting activities with other international students or the well-equipped host university: When Kathleen Laux thinks back to her semester abroad in Volda, Norway, she can't help but daydream. Why she also highly recommends an Erasmus semester to all HMKW students, she explains here.

Kathleen Laux (B.A. Journalism and Corporate Communications) spent an unforgettable semester abroad at the Erasmus partner university in Volda, Norway.

Kathleen Laux (B.A. Journalism and Corporate Communications) spent an unforgettable semester abroad at the Erasmus partner university in Volda, Norway.

At which university did you spend your semester abroad?

In January 2022, my journey took me to Volda, Norway. Here I studied for a semester at the partner university HiVolda as part of my bachelor's degree in journalism and corporate communication.

Unlike in Berlin, the courses in Norway have more ECTS credit points and are assessed with 15 instead of 5 ECTS per module. Thus, instead of six courses, I "only" took two. Here I chose the bachelor course "Photo for Media" and the bachelor and master course "Web Documentary". Both courses were very practice-oriented and took place 1-2x per week. You can have a look at my final web documentary here: https://exbeerience-alesund-6c1ce7.webflow.io/

How did you like it? Would you recommend it to other HMKW students?

My time in Volda was and remains simply unforgettable - more than words can say.

I always had the dream to travel to Norway. All the pictures of the incredibly breathtaking nature, the happy people and especially the long winters, the northern lights and the bright summers, totally appealed to me. I shouldn't be disappointed, because all these dreams became reality thanks to the Erasmus program.

I could write a lot here about how unbelievably much I enjoyed Volda, but that would not do justice to my feelings about this place and this time. Volda is a place that you have to experience, whose magic you should feel and of whose beauty you should let yourself be enchanted.


Of course, all my memories are very much connected with the people I met during this time. They all contributed to making my time in Volda a unique experience that I look back on with a smile and a tear in my eye. Therefore, I can answer the question of how I liked it quite simply with the words "unbelievably and indescribably good".

Since I had one of the best, most beautiful and happiest times of my life in Volda, I would highly recommend a trip to Volda to all those who are considering a semester abroad or even to all those who have very strong doubts and fears. Because Volda is a place that enchants you, that leads you to yourself, that makes you think very differently about everything you have experienced so far and that makes you live.



What was the biggest challenge during your semester abroad?

Plunging into an unknown adventure requires not only courage, but also confidence. Confidence in oneself, but also confidence in other people. I set out into a life that was foreign to me and was thus "forced" to leave behind my familiar life and thus also the people I love.

That goodbyes are not always easy, but are part of life, I have already experienced several times. Nevertheless, they always bring something new and often something beautiful with them. Anticipation - for example, the anticipation of meeting new people, but above all the anticipation of reuniting with familiar loved ones. It was the same for me. My biggest challenge was getting involved in the semester in Volda and leaving my family, friends and boyfriend behind in Germany. Nevertheless, I was optimistic about the future and focused on what to expect, who I would meet and what I would learn.

As soon as I arrived in Volda, all the initial fears and doubts were immediately gone. Why? Because everyone who starts an Erasmus semester abroad goes through exactly the same experience! Everyone has to get used to the new situation, everyone has to speak a foreign language and everyone has left someone they love behind. All feel the same in some way and are exposed to the same circumstances. Thus, everyone is super helpful and friendly and only wants the best for you.



How does campus life at Volda University in Norway differ from that in Germany?

When you think of a small university in the middle of nowhere in cold Norway, the first images that come to mind are certainly not the most modern ones. This was also the case for me. However, Volda convinced me of the complete opposite! Open, colorful and highly modern.

HiVolda is one of the best-equipped and most modern universities I have ever seen - at least as far as the "Media and Journalism" department is concerned. Nevertheless, it retains a super likeable charm thanks to its manageable size and very distinctive buildings.

Particularly impressive was the New Media Building, which had its own radio studio, photo studio and TV studio, as well as countless super-modern rooms equipped with huge flatscreens or the latest Mac Books. Every student who had access to this building was allowed to use all the facilities and equipment completely free of charge.



In addition, there was the so-called "Cheqroom", which lent students more than the rudimentary equipment imaginable. In addition to the latest Sony A7 IV, there was almost everything your heart desires. Not to forget: the MediaCar, which could be borrowed for practice projects - the fuel costs were paid by the university, ...of course.

Even better than all the technology of the HiVolda were the people on site. I would like to highlight Pangaia in particular. Pangaia is an organization led by two internationals who do a kind of "voluntary social year". Pangaia was the "place to be" for free coffee, good conversations with other internationals, partly free food from the canteen, but especially for leisure activities. Almost every day of the week Melissa and Karsten (Pangaia team) organized a wide variety of activities and offers. From the weekly movie nights with "free snacks and drinks" to "weekend surf trips" or the "International Nights", there was so much to choose from that you could never get bored even in a small place like Volda.

My absolute highlight, however, was far away from the media or international world. Every semester during exam time, HiVolda provides a free breakfast and dinner in the canteen so that you can make the best use of your time to study. If you still get caught up in stress, there is "stress relief" in the form of "Puppy Therapy". Yes, that's right - the university arranged puppies to play and cuddle with to lower your stress level and get your mind off things.



What would you recommend to other HMKW students for their semester/time abroad?

Be open and curious! Don't be afraid to join other people or do your own thing. Live! Live what you want to live and dare something new. Question your fears and insecurities. Don't let those feelings stop you from doing something you can't do at home.
At the end of the day, these will be the memories you take home with you, the ones you will tell your parents and friends, and maybe even your children later on.

Thank you for the fantastic insights into your semester abroad. That makes us longing for faraway places, too! All the best to you and much success for your studies at HMKW Berlin.