This post is part of a new segment through the International Centre and Dal Student Life profiling Dalhousie students who have gone abroad. Interested in going on exchange? Visit dal.ca/exchange and check out Brett’s story right here!
Brett Goreham is a computer science major who went on exchange to the University of Bergen in Norway last fall. His goal: to make the most of his degree. While Brett agrees his academics are important, he believes there’s more to university. “I think we should also get cultural experiences that make us more aware of how the whole world works and not just our little corner,” He explains. “It’s important to get different perspectives from other people.”
Personally, Brett went on exchange because of his love for travel and experiencing other cultures. He was also hoping to broaden his course selection, which he did through a Norwegian Language course.
Across the Atlantic
His host university, the University of Bergen, is located in the southwestern side of Norway. Although its location is closer to Northern Labrador in terms of latitude, Brett was surprised at how warm it was. “Bergen was actually warmer than Halifax! While I was there many people were wearing shorts into November.” Brett mentioned how the Gulf Stream keeps coastal Norway relatively warm.
Many students think their exchange should be in a warmer climate to ‘escape’ the winters of Nova Scotia. For Brett, Norway was the place to be.
“In Norway you get the best of both worlds!” Brett said. “ In August, September, and October you get perfect weather to go hiking in shorts and t-shirt, then in November and December you can go snow shoeing or cross country skiing in the mountains even though the towns on the shore have really no snow.”
His favourite moment
Spending an entire semester in a different country is a whirlwind and Brett had a difficult time choosing his favourite part. “Splitting 5 months of exchange into just one moment is a hard task,” he explained. Brett’s most memorable moment was in the city of Tromso in the Arctic Circle where he went to see the Northern Lights.
“While I was there I met people in my hostel and we decided to take a walk to a nearby lake to hopefully see the Northern Lights. Approaching the lake we started to see glimpses, but it was still dampened by the city lights.” Brett said. When they finally made it to the lake, the lights put on a show. “Laying on the shore of the lake watching the Northern Lights dance above us in green, red, and purple was amazing.”
Be prepared for the unexpected
While an exchange is filled with once in a lifetime moments, there are usually bumps along the road. Brett advises other students to be prepared for these moments and not to be discouraged. “The best advice I could give to students thinking about going abroad is to expect things to go wrong. Whether it is a trip not working out, missing a flight, or getting sick mid-exchange like I did, not everything will work out, but that is okay.”
For Brett, his time abroad has made him more open to other opinions and ideas, including plans for his future. Now in his fourth year, Brett graduates this May and hopes to return to Norway. His exchange has made him want to live abroad for a longer period of time, and what better time than after graduation?
Delainey wants to go back on exchange.