flag of Norway Norway

When you think of Norway, you think of fjords, of trolls, of skiing, astonishing nature, the ravishing midnight sun and the spooky polar night. It is one of the few country’s in the world where you can still see polar bears (on the island Spitsbergen) and the smoked salmon (laks) is never better.

Norway is a rough country, but of course it is Scandinavia, so design bars are never far away.

The World Happiness Report has some great news for Norway: it’s the happiest place in the world.  Norway, along with its fellow Scandinavian countries scores high marks on caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income, and good governance.  The World Happiness Report explains that happiness is social and personal—and implies a sense of freedom, specifically from corruption.

It makes sense that the happiest place on earth has happy international students.  From top-notch universities to metropolitan city life, Norway has a strong appeal to international students.  Why are students so happy?  Courses in English.  Variety of courses, programs, and fields of study.  Friendly locals.  Vibrant art scenes.  Rich music scenes.  Phenomenal beauty.  Local culture and cuisine.  Ease of transportation. Low crime rate. 

Did we mention that the cheese slicer was invented here in 1925?  While not directly related to happy international students, having a good cheese slicer on hand can certainly improve your day. 

It doesn’t hurt that Norway’s public universities are tuition-free.  While certain programs at these universities might charge fees, most general courses of study do not.  Private universities, of course, charge.  

If this is all sounding too good to be true, it’s not – but it does come at a price.  For all its perks, Norway is an expensive place to live—rent, groceries, restaurants, train tickets, alcohol, gas, hotels, books, supplies—all pricey.  Commodities, like gas and beer, are also heavily taxed.  

And the winter—while beautiful—is cold and dark.  Mainland Norway may not be as harsh as Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, but with parts of the country, including Tromsø – home of the Arctic University of Norway – within the Arctic Circle, you should be prepared for long, dark winter nights. Still, the endless night doesn’t stop Norwegians from having fun and enjoying nature. 

Norway is stunning.  The midnight sun.  The Northern lights.  Jagged coastline.  Deep fjords.  Dense forests.  Snow-capped mountains.  Arctic foxes.  Kittiwakes.  Polar bears.  Norway experiences extremes in all four seasons, resulting in extreme conditions… and extreme splendor.  While you’re studying here, it’s worth the investment of a decent camera and maybe a pair of Nordic skis.   

Almost everyone in Norway speaks English, especially at the universities.  This applies not just to Norway, but to Scandinavia in general.  English is essential in Norway—it carries cultural currency.  English and the Scandinavian languages come from similar roots, so it’s not a far cry to learn English if you already speak Norwegian.   Norwegian syntax and English syntax are also similar in their ‘subject-verb-object’ constructions.  Learning English is also a priority for Norwegian primary school students.

If you’re not convinced yet, you should be.  Study in one of the happiest, most beautiful, friendliest, interesting, and academically rigorous places in the world.  You will certainly not regret it. 


Eat: laks (smoked salmon), warm moltebær syltetøy (blackberry jam) with icecream

Drink: coffee, akevitt (aquavit) 

Exclamation: Skal vi gå på ski? (shall we go skiing?)