Erasmus experiences in Norway

Things I have learned from my Erasmus semester in Norway

Do you consider to spend a semester abroad during your studies? Don’t hesitate to do so. In 2015, I spent five months in Norway as part of my studies and I can only recommend it. It was different from what I had expected but nonetheless a great experience. Here, I will share four things I learned.

1. There will be times when you want to quit

Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but it was for me and a couple of other students I met. For me, it was in the beginning because I had bedbugs which gave me some sleepless nights. I was the only one on my floor who had troubles with bedbugs and I thought it was kind of unfair (even though it is a stupid thing to think). Additionally, it all happened during the first couple of days in Norway, so I didn’t have any friends yet. Sometimes, I thought the easiest way would be to just book a ticket home and leave everything behind. But I am so glad I didn’t. I would have missed so many great experiences. If you ever consider quitting, then don’t do it or at least think it through very well. They say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” for a reason.

2. The fear of missing out will be omnipresent

A semester abroad is usually limited to a certain amount of time. For me, it were five months in Norway. Beforehand, I did a bit of research of what I wanted to do. The list was long. So, we travelled and hiked a lot. If the sun was shining, we were out there hiking one of the seven summits, taking a bath in the fjords or exploring the hanseatic wharf Bryggen. On top of that came social events: pancake breakfast, 3 hours of playing Risk, going here, going there, going out. Sometimes I felt exhausted and instead of joining, I would have preferred to stay in my room watching Netflix. But most of the time I didn’t because of the fear of missing out. The fear of missing something unique, the fear of not keeping pace with the other students, the fear of not making those incredible memories. Most of the time it was great, but sometimes it was just a lot. But being on a semester abroad is a unique experience and you should make the most of it and get out of your comfort zone.

3. You will spend a lot of time with other exchange students

There were many exchange students in Bergen and most of them lived in the same dormitory called Fantoft. Before I went abroad, I didn’t want to live in that house, because in my semester abroad I wanted to learn Norwegian and only hang out with locals. Well, it didn’t work out as I had planned. I got a room in Fantoft on the 17th floor with seven other students from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey and actually one student from Norway! In the end, I spent most of my time with exchange students from all over the world. At first, I wasn’t really pleased about that but I soon realised that it is actually good to be around so many exchange students. It’s an intercultural experience and otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten in touch with students from Japan, Australia or Italy, even though it is so close to Germany. But the best thing about hanging out with other exchange students is that you’re all in the same boat. You have all just arrived in a foreign country, you don’t know anyone and you want to see as much as possible of this new country. That’s why it’s so easy to make friends and that’s why it’s so easy to find travel buddies. In hindsight, I am actually very glad that I met so many exchange students. One of them became one of my best friends. And after all, I was also an exchange student.

4. Do not underestimate the post-Erasmus-depression

Studying abroad was nothing like studying in Germany. A typical exchange student has only a few courses and a lot of free time. You meet a lot of new people and get many more unforgettable impressions in a short period of time. It’s a great experience but also a lot to take in. All the worse it is to get back into your daily routine back home. Don’t get me wrong, of course I was happy to be around my family and friends again. It was just so different. I returned home during the semester break of my university in Mannheim, so I stayed with my parents for a while. My parents live in the countryside, so there is not much to do there. Thus, I had a lot of time to do nothing. Mainly, I was just bored and reminiscing about all the exciting things I did in Norway, while no one at home really understood my feelings. Looking back now, I don’t even understand anymore why I was so fed up with everything. Unfortunately, I cannot change what happened in the past. I can only give advice on how to overcome the post-erasmus-depression. It’s easy: just do something! Get a new hobby, read, do sports and get excited about something. For example, I took a short trip to Budapest with my friend from Norway, which was a great way out of the rut. I had something to plan and look forward to and something I was excited about.

What’ the conclusion of all this?

I would recommend a semester abroad to everyone who has the chance to do so. Of course, it wasn’t all perfect and although, there were highs and lows it was a great experience and I can hardly remember those lows.

The start of my 6 months shopping ban

I am a bit shopping addicted. I am completely aware of the fact that I shop too much and that I own too many things. Nonetheless, I still find myself scrolling through online shops longing for new pieces of clothing. But it is not only clothes but also beauty products that I constantly buy more and more.

Of course I feel not good about it. So I decided to change my consumerist behaviour this year. I have several reasons for that.

  • Firstly, I want to save money and spent it on travelling or none material things. When I think of all the money I wasted on clothes that I never wore, I am annoyed by myself. I could have spent that money so much better. However, it’s too late now and I can only learn from the past and change for the future.
  • Secondly, all that extensive consumerism is most likely to have a negative impact on our environment, too. Fast Fashion, plastic in oceans, … It’s so sad that our community is based on consumerism and materialism. Advertisings are suggesting that material products make us happy. But they don’t or only for a short period of time.
  • Last but not least: I simply have too much stuff… I noticed that I own way too many things when I moved in with my boyfriend last year and I had to move all that stuff from one place to another. Which is why, I want to declutter rather than accumulating more things. Minimalism is a very interesting topic to me and I want to explore it a bit more this year.

Which is why, I decided to drastically change my shopping behaviour and start a shopping ban. For me, it’s hard to just stop shopping. I need a challenge which will hopefully trigger my ambition and endurance. I was inspired to start the shopping ban by Mia from heylilahey – I can only recommend reading her blog!

The rules:

  1. The shopping ban last for 6 months starting from today, 14. February 2018.
  2. I am not allowed to buy any new clothes unless I really need it (that probably won’t happen.. I mean, when do we actually need new clothing?). Need is not to be confused with want.
  3. I am not allowed to buy any make up or beauty products unless I’ve used up something and don’t have anything similar anymore.
  4. I am allowed to sell my old clothes but I may not invest the money in new clothes that I don’t need.
  5. I will use the six months to use up old beauty products, declutter my wardrobe and find the items I love to wear.

These are the rules, so let’s start the challenge! I will keep you updated on twitter and give a feedback at the end of the shopping ban. Feel free to join and let me know if you do!

The Scentist Individual Perfume Review

Finally the perfect perfume?

I am a lover of perfume, but so far I have failed to find the perfect scent for me. Recently, I came across a website called “The Scentist” who create individual perfumes. They claim to create an individual scent that fits. I was immediately hooked by this statement as I am always standing in the perfume shop sniffing the different perfumes until I cannot smell any difference at all anymore and still I remain without the perfect scent. So, I was curious and had a closer look at the website, read some reviews and decided I would try it.

The procedure

To get your individual perfume, you have to fill out a personality test, which is quickly done. The questions are about things you like to do in your free time, where you prefer to eat or drink and general information about yourself.

The next day I received the results via e-mail. In the mail I got to know that my perfect scent belongs to the family of floral scents. The different scents of my individual perfume were also mentioned and overall it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t 100% persuaded. It contained a lot of fruity scents and not so many florals. But after considering it a bit longer, I ordered my individual scent.

Already two days later, my parcel arrived, so everything went really quickly. I was really excited and also a bit nervous whether I would like the scent or not. With pleasant anticipation, I opened the little parcel and it looked very high-quality: There was a nice card with the description of my scent, black tissue paper and a tin which contained the perfume. The perfume itself comes in a 100 ml glass bottle, which also appears to be good quality.

High-quality packaging of the Scentist individual perfume
High-quality packaging of the Scentist perfume

The scent: is it perfect?

Unfortunately, I have to say that I was not as impressed as others were in their reviews. The first impression is very fruity and not at all floral. I think it is black currant that is the most prominent but I am no expert. The scent reminds me a bit of Giorgio Armani Si or Kylie Minogue Showtime but more intense. After a while the intensity decreases but what is left is also not very appealing to me. All in all, the scent is very sweet and overpowering and not at all what I imagine my perfect perfume to be like.

Is it worth it?

Tough question. The whole presentation and packaging of the perfume is high-quality and premium. The outcome of the scent is probably dependent on luck and your own taste. Even though the price of 89€ for 100 ml is rather normal for a perfume, I think it is a bit risky to order 100 ml of a perfume without having a clue what it smells like. I think it would be good if it was possible to order smaller amounts, too. Now, I have 100 ml of a perfume that I don’t really like. So, I wouldn’t do it again. As my hunt for my perfect perfume goes on, I will probably keep sniffing perfumes until I finally find the perfect one for me.

How to see the Northern Lights

One of my goals during my semester in Norway was to see the Northern Lights. And with northern lights it is probably the same as it is with love: It happens when you least expect it.

As the name implies you have to be in the North to have the best chances to see the northern lights. Then you need two more things:

  1. A high aurora level (which you can check on an aurora forecast online). The higher the level the further south you have a chance to see northern lights (this is only a very simple way of explaining the matter).
  2. More importantly: You need a clear sky. When the sky is covered in clouds, you cannot see anything no matter how high the aurora level is.

So in Bergen the chances to see northern lights are still quite little. Because a) Bergen is comparatively far in the South and b) most of the time it’s cloudy. Nevertheless, I was still hoping. Every now and then I peeked out of my window and stared at the night sky. Most of the times unsuccessful.

The first time I saw the Aurora Borealis

One night, however, there were lights in the night sky. At first I wasn’t sure if it was only city lights. But when I saw movement in the lights, I was sure that I had just seen Northern Lights for the first time. I was so happy I wanted and it felt somehow magical, even though they were very weak and I could barely see them. Still, it was the first time and thus it was special.

The second time we all saw the Northern Lights was also in Bergen. There had been sightings the previous nights and it was also expected to happen that night. So many students from my student housing came outside to a nearby park. The lawn was still wet from rain and our feet quickly became wet and cold. Nevertheless, we were standing in little groups in the cold, facing north and waiting for the appearance of the Northern Lights. Suddenly, there were sounds of “ohs” and “aws” and cheering. The Northern Lights had appeared as expected. The moment was only ruined by many students who tried to capture the moment on their smartphones. With the camera flash turned on. Don’t do that. It doesn’t do any good.

Northern Lights in Tromso
Northern Lights in Tromso

Northern Lights in Tromso

The last time saw the Northern Lights was in Tromso, which is in the far North of Norway. We were very lucky, because we were only staying a few nights in Tromso and the weather forecast had predicted a cloudy sky. The first night, however, there were now clouds or what so ever and we had a brilliant view of the Northern Lights. They were quite strong and dancing in the night sky. Only by that, the trip had already been worth it.

Was it worth it?

I am so happy that I got the chance to see the Northern Lights. It was something that I had always dreamed of and I would immediately return to Norway to get another chance to see them. I have to say though that they look a lot different in real life than on photos. Not as green and not as bright (at least they didn’t the times when I saw them). Some people might be disappointed but I wasn’t. I still think it was magical and I wouldn’t want to miss it. And of course I would love to see them again!

(also: sorry for the poor quality of the photos. It was the first time I took photos of the Northern lights, so I didn’t quite know how to do it. Additionally, I had not the best-fitted tripod for my camera)

Knitting – my new love and hobby

Why everyone should try knitting and how you can start

Knitting has become popular again! With platforms like We are knitters and Wool and the Gang, it is no longer something for grannies only. Maybe it is because of our fast developing world that we try to go back to the roots and do something slow, mindful and non-digital. No matter why, knitting has become one of my greatest hobbies.

Knitting project

How and why I started knitting

About two years ago I started knitting. I don’t remember exactly why I started, but I think I was looking for a hobby. Additionally, I was looking for a nice hat for winter that was not made out of plastic because I have problems with flyaway hair during winter which gets intensified by acrylic hats. So I decided to buy some good wool and started knitting.

I had tried knitting before – not really successfully though – but I still liked the idea of creating my own clothes. I bought some introductory books and watched many explanatory videos on YouTube. If you have troubles understanding the illustrations of knitting instructions in books, I would definitely recommend watching videos. It’s a lot easier to understand if you can actually see someone doing it than just seeing it on photos or illustrations where you have to do a lot of guessing what is happening.
That way, I taught myself how to knit. For me, it was good that I had no one to help, because then I really had to understand what I was doing and not just replicate what I was seeing. If I made a mistake, I had to correct it myself and now I feel like I have really understood knitting.

Just watch some tutorials, get some needles and wool and try it. Easy projects for beginners are for example scrarves and headbands – which where also my first projects.

Ball of yarn, what I like about knitting

 

What I like about knitting

For me, knitting is something calming and relaxing. I like to work on my projects in the evenings while watching TV or on long train rides. Especially the train rides fly by when I’m knitting.
I also like that I can see the progress and what I have done. If I watch Netflix for three hours, I might be entertained afterwards but it is not really productive. If I am knitting for three hours I might have finished half a sock. It’s also quite satisfying to hold the finished project in your hands and being able to say “I’ve done that!” Not to mention the compliments you might receive.

What do I want to do in the future?

So far, I only know two different kinds of stiches. With these stiches I can do about four patterns. But there are like hundreds of different patterns and variations. So my skills are quite limited yet. In the future, I want to knit more, start new and bigger projects and develop new skills. I share this with you on my blog to inspire you to start knitting and get creative.

Categories DIY

An introduction to myself

How do you start blogging? Do you just start throwing content onto your blog or do you formally introduce yourself? I decided for the latter, so that is what this will be.

  • My name is Ulla, which is a very old-fashioned name in Germany, but was very popular in the 1920s. I used to have a problem with that but now I am ok with it.
  • I grew up close to the oldest city of Germany and after graduating from school I spent a year abroad in London doing a voluntary service. During that time my love for the UK and the English language began to grow which led to me studying English linguistics and business administration.
  • I had spent my fifth semester at the University of Bergen in Norway. During summer and early autumn I went hiking a lot. As I had no TV, I needed a hobby for the evenings. I did watch a lot of Netflix (which is somehow similar to TV but without the adverts), I knitted a lot and started painting with watercolours. The last two became real hobbies for me and I have improved my skills by now.
  • In my last semester, I finished my bachelor thesis, moved to Munich and worked as an intern at a tourism company, which I didn’t enjoy much. Afterwards, I was looking for a job which didn’t went as smoothly as I had expected. I was unemployed for three months, which felt like ages but also passed very quickly. As I got more and more desperate, I started working at a huge fashion retailer. It was not my dream, but at least I had something to do and earned a bit of money to pay my rent.
  • Soon after, I finally found a job in an online editorial office. So far, I still enjoy working there.
  • I am a massive cat lover. One day I will hopefully be a crazy cat lady.
  • I love photography.
  • I love travelling but I hate that it seems to be everyone’s hobby by now. Sometimes I think that everyone only loves to travel because that’s simply what our generation does. I don’t say travelling is my hobby because I unfortunately do not travel that often. But when I do, I love it.
  • I have unfortunately never been in a country outside of Europe.
  • I love tea, mostly green, black, peppermint, camomile, all sorts of tea except fruity teas basically.
  • I try to read as many books as possible and most favourably in English. I am a very slow reader, however, and I have other hobbies as well, so I don’t finish as many books as other people each year.
  • I like watching videos on YouTube, although I become more and more critical about the whole movement with all the influencers and product placements. We could probably be watching adverts instead.
  • I like knitting. I guess my biggest project so far has been a jumper with a complicated pattern.

Well, this is not a 50 facts about me tag but I think it gives you an impression of who I am. You will probably get to know me better in future blog posts.

Happy New Year! My Resolutions for 2018

2017 flew by so quickly and it feels like I didn’t make any progress this year. This is probably due to the fact, that all the milestones I achieved are overshadowed by three months of unemployment and a lot of rejections to my job applications. To end 2017 positively and to remember only the good things, I will quickly mention my achievements.

  • I successfully graduated from university.
  • I moved in with my boyfriend and we found ourselves a beautiful flat.
  • I took a short trip to Lake Garda.
  • I finally found a job.

I could have achieved so much more, but it motivates me to do it better in 2018. What do I want to achieve? What do I want to look back on in a year?

1. Travel. It’s always on my list, but I am almost never able to fulfil this goal like I imagined. Time and money have always been the excuse. Not this year!

  • I will visit Hamburg
  • I will hike in the “Sächsische Schweiz” and have a look around Dresden
  • I will make a nice travelling holiday.
  • Vienna is also on my list

2. Change my consumerist behaviour. I feel ashamed about how much money I spend on things that I don’t actually need. My wardrobe is full and I still want more. I want to stop shopping for clothes. Completely (unless I really need something). In addition to that I will sort out my things and try to sell stuff online or donate it. The same applies for beauty products. I won’t buy anything new until I have used up some of the old things.

3. Live a more sustainable life. I am far from perfect – if that even exists – but I am on a journey, which I want to share with you on this blog. Bit by bit, I want to integrate sustainability into my life. Firstly, I want to use up old beauty products and exchange them for natural, organic products. Reducing my consumerism (especially fashion) is also a part of becoming more sustainable.

4. Mindfulness. In four months of working, I’ve experienced that time is very rare. I wake up in the morning, go to work, come home in the evening, eat something, waste my time in front of the TV or laptop and go to bed. It’s every day the same. I want to be more productive and actively do something, like knitting, reading or sports.

5. Finally learn Spanish. I have started learning Spanish before, but never really stuck to it. Now, I finally want to continue learning it, so I can travel at some point to Latin America and really communicate with the people there.

6. Knitting. I want to continue knitting and also improve my skills and develop new skills. There are so many patterns and stitches and I only know the basics. I want to do more complicated things and be very professional!

7. Get fit. Like probably almost everyone else in this world, I want to get fit. I want to do sports regularly and go to the gym more often. It’s my goal to participate in a 10 km run. Ten kilometres might not seem a lot to many people, but for me it is the furthest I have ever run. And another goal (which is ridiculously unrealistic) is to be able to do “the Flag”. But we’ll see.

So, these are my seven goals for 2018. But most importantly: I want to be the best version of myself and be truly happy.

Do you have any goals for 2018?