Studying psychology at UiB

Foto: Nora Paulsen Skjerdingstad

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Studying abroad can be overwhelming. Especially not knowing what you will face when you have pick out courses from a long and confusing list. Facing that problem myself, I decided to share the academic experiences I made while studying psychology at the University of Bergen.

With an increasing number of 3 244 students in 1987 (1)Erasmus: Facts, Figures & Trends – European Commission. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/education/library/statistics/erasmus-plus-facts-figures_en.pdf. to 312 300 students in 2017 (2)Erasmus annual report 2017 – Publications Office of the EU. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/4e5c3e1c-1f0b-11e9-8d04-01aa75ed71a1., you can almost say staying abroad on Erasmus has become a trend. Many of those students fall for the charm Norway emanates on the rest of the world, so that the University of Bergen welcomes over 1 000 exchange students every year (3)3) Studies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.uib.no/en/education/113130/studies.. Being a third year psychology student from Germany, I can conclude that education at UiB was in many aspects different from what I was used to at my home university.

“Culture, Positive Development and Health”, one of my courses while on exchange, was a two week course with four lectures per week. This course comprised only international students and began during the mentor week at UiB. It was taught by two different lecturers, who managed to keep us students involved through group work. They mediated the relevance of the treated content for real life application. After the two weeks of lectures, a group of four students was confronted with a question that concerned daily problems of culture in connection with positive development and asked to provide an example of a solution in form of group presentations. I appreciated this task, since we were able to create our own ideas on practical implications, instead of the pure reproduction of theories and facts. Following a two week study-break, the final assessment was a home exam. Overall, that course was set up very well for exchange students, but it might be wise to start lectures not (at eight a.m.) during mentor-week.

Compared to “Culture, Positive Development and Health” the term paper in cognitive  psychology only required two meetings with the whole course, an organizational meeting at the beginning and a “project conference” in the end of the semester. The term paper itself is written in groups of three to four people, but while it is pass or fail for the regular students, exchange students get graded. Which, in turn, lead to the rule that exchange students and Norwegians cannot form a group together. 

Saken fortsetter under annonsen

While the Norwegian students write their paper complimentary to the lectures in cognitive psychology, there is only limited capacity for exchange students. Unfortunately, my group members and I did not get a spot in that course and we had to work a little harder to gain background knowledge on the topics treated in the paper. In summary, the topics of the course are very interesting and the course organization is well thought through, but it should be adjusted better for exchange students. 

In most aspects I found the quality of education at UiB exemplary. On top the list of things I appreciate about Norwegian university is definitely the teaching style. Lecturers are way less formal and more relaxed than in Germany. Additionally, the contact between lecturers and students is closer, which encourages to ask questions and seek help on course-relevant topics. Most helpful for me was the supervision during the term paper. At my home university we do not have supervisors, who help and guide us students so intensively through the academic writing process.  

Moreover, I experienced the format of exams at UiB more practical. Instead of “bulimia studying” and multiple choice exams, home exams and term papers allow you to have an opinion of your own and critically evaluate sources. Compared to my home university, UiB offers access to many more scholarly articles, meaning that most sources are available through the universities network. But UiB is not only ahead of Regensburg in the matter of digitalization, it is generally a more modern and better equipped university with a nice study atmosphere. 

In contrast, when it comes to “old school” books, Bergen falls a little behind to what I am used to. The selection of books is very small, and once a book is loaned you have to wait a long time to get your hands on it, so for that matter I prefer the system of permanently available books and access to book scanners. More than that, I would have wished for some more integration of international students in courses with Norwegians, maybe through shared group projects. 

Now, I have passed on all of my knowledge I gained on studying psychology in Bergen for the last five months. For all the incoming students I hope you will enjoy what UiB has to offer as much as I did. For all the old hands reading this, you now got the experience of an outsider and perhaps you now realise how lucky you are to be a regular student in Bergen. 

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