“If I survive, I’ll definitely send a selfie of me and the polar bear.”

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Author: ReBecca Compton 

Yoav Weber is CODE’s first student to do a study exchange at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). We had originally conceptualized NTNU as first-and-foremost for Interaction Design students, but Yoav is there studying Software Engineering (why only be the first when you can also do things differently than expected?).

Within the (digital) walls of the uni, Yoav’s been a bit of a unicorn. “It’s funny, every person I had the chance to interact with, I tell them, ‘ya, I come from a university that has no exams,’ and they’re like, ‘What?!’ And everyone’s really shocked and really curious about me.” While we think part of this reaction is due to Yoav’s sparkling personality, the curiosity about his home university doesn’t just come from his peers. Yoav also has professors asking how learning works at CODE, even looking for feedback on NTNU courses.

Yoav Weber - Norway
Photo by: Yoav Weber

While we think part of this reaction is due to Yoav’s sparkling personality, the curiosity about his home university doesn’t just come from his peers. Yoav also has professors asking how learning works at CODE, even looking for feedback on NTNU courses.

Noticing the learning differences between CODE and NTNU, Yoav says, “I’m not used to people explaining and going every step…It’s challenging, but it’s not very hard. I feel like I’m being walked, hand in hand.” He says that CODE has taught him to think more independently, outside of the boundaries of the specific learning goals for the courses. Not everything has been wine and roses though, and he’s also found a gap in knowledge: his theoretical math foundation isn’t where he wishes it was. But! If CODE has taught him anything, it’s to approach the lecturers when he’s unsure about his progress (our lectures’ office hours rival any vacation to Cancun, after all).

Yoav Weber
Photo by: Yoav Weber

On to more goodies: what is the exchange like culturally? Well, the pandemic has a hand in everything, because of course it does. After his 10-day quarantine, he’s been more-than-a-bit separated from other students, even though as we write this, NTNU has begun offering a hybrid of online/in-person sessions. “I feel like I’m missing quite much. We did have a social activity 2 weeks ago, we met exchange students, it was super nice! But I still don’t know people here.” On the other hand (a mitten-ed hand, because it was -18C the day we talked to him), he has no regrets; doing an exchange now was what fit into his academic timeline. Besides, NTNU has lots of resources for exchange students: getting together with other exchange-ers, providing assistance finding a local doctor, and in Yoav’s case, a super cool landlord who already took him hiking a few times.

On to more goodies: what is the exchange like culturally? Well, the pandemic has a hand in everything, because of course it does.

The city of Gjøvik itself is amazing. “I feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s really beautiful here. It’s freezing, it’s snowing, I’m going snowboarding on Sunday.” He and his girlfriend were gearing up to travel to a Norwiegan island that’s only reachable by plane; they’ll watch the Northern lights and hopefully see some polar bears — which is very easy on the island as there’re more polar bears than people. (And cue the request to take a selfie with one. (Kidding! Please respect wildlife 😉 ))

Yoav Weber Norway
Photo by: Yoav Weber

To students still deciding on the exchange, he says, “Why not? You have the opportunity to go to a beautiful place and experience a different lifestyle and type of studying. Honestly, it’s easy! Everything is made [ready] for you (shout out to CODE’s amazing internationalization team!). You just need to pack your stuff, organize a few minor things”. Other bits of advice? Try to rent a car to get around the, let’s just say, not-quite-Berlin-level public transport, eat fish if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan because it’s cheap, dress warm!, talk to other students to understand your courses better, and save your money. “I’m after a shower, so you can’t see my hair in its full glory, but I haven’t had a haircut for a long time because it’s 30EUR, and I’m trying to postpone this painful moment.” We thought his hair was fabulous that day, but we see his point: pretty much everything is more expensive than what Berliners are used to.

Yoav Weber Norway
Photo by: Yoav Weber

To students still deciding on the exchange, he says, “Why not? You have the opportunity to go to a beautiful place and experience a different lifestyle and type of studying. Honestly, it’s easy!

Is it old news that 64% of employers think that having international experience is important when hiring and in giving greater responsibility down the road? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting to talk about! After Corona, things will be even “more alive”, and NTNU has an organization specifically for exchange students. “Talk, don’t be shy,” Yoav says. “[You’ll] enjoy seeing a different type of studies.”


 

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