Vera Gomes in Norway:

[Sunny days in the city park.]

Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2010/2011.
Home institution: ESAD.CR, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal.
Course: Multimedia and Graphic Design.
Host institution: Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen, Norway.
Course or field of study: Visual Communication.

Why did you choose this school?
The school, I chose it mainly because of the country. I decided to do Erasmus as a way to accrue my possibilities of working in a European country and so I was led to search for schools in countries with good quality of life. In addition, the KhiB was recommended to me by several people who knew the city and the school. Doing a little research it was not difficult to decide to what would be my priority.

[KhiB printing workshops.]

Did you like the school?
Yes, very well organized, well-managed resources, which promotes opportunities beyond the study area. The structure and curriculum is ideal for those who want to pursue projects that combine several areas.

How far were you from the city?
The school is spread over several buildings in the city (restored), some right in the center and others further away.

Your field of study is well developed in the school?
Visual Communication in KhiB focuses heavily on digital media. The school fails for not having a Digital Workshop for prints intended for students of graphic design. But for an Erasmus student, it becomes easy to combine subjects of Visual Communication with subjects from another department of printing techniques and if the student interest is exploring the printing, this combination is very enriching. The development work method is very healthy, they give much value to the process and the development of a strong concept. However, there are also technical and “down-to-earth” subjects.

You can see here the three most important projects that I developed in KhiB:

[Book binding workshop.]

Besides Visual Communication, what areas of study are developed in this school?
In addition to Visual Communication, the school includes a department of Furniture and Spatial Design, Textiles, Ceramics, Fine Arts, Photography, Design and Specialized Printing Arts. Each including various mutations and derivatives.

How did you relate to native teachers and students?
Both teachers and students of the school are very open to exchange students, communication was never a problem because English is quite common.

This school is “ideal” for…
…Develop projects of personal interest to combine several areas. Ideal for those who enjoy printing techniques, for those who like to concentrate on one thing at a time, for anyone who wants to change the clock, learn a strange language. To have initiative is a very appreciated and very special: therefore, someone with energy.

Where did you stay?
I stayed in the residence Fantoft in the first 4 months and later in an apartment in the city center.

[At Left: The Norwegian Constitution Day (17th May). At right: Residence room.]

How was the residence? How much did it cost?
The conditions of residence were the basics. Compensated by the quality of work space and price. It cost 2800 Kr, + – 350 Euros per month.

Other information / experiences:
This residence includes all Erasmus and exchange students. Because it is located relatively far from the city center – from the school you have to walk 20 min.; by metro – is a little insulated from the Norwegian life for those who want to engage in social life and habits of the city.

What did you think of the city?
Despite being the second largest city of the country, its area is ideal for those who enjoy walking or cycling. The fact of being surrounded by mountains (so is the rainiest city in Europe) makes it easy to escape to nature very suddenly and whenever you want. In the cultural level is very lively: lots of live music, galleries and many organizations, events and festivals.

[The colors of the city.]

Did you experience difficulties with the language?
No matter how much problems you have with the Norwegian, they never have problems with English. The trick is to ask people directly. For those who want only to study, the language is not a problem.

Did you like the food?
The gastronomy goes hand in hand with the schedules, with strange hours the gastronomy also becomes strange. But in general I think knowing what we want to eat, anything is possible to find in supermarkets, although there are, in parallel, a lot of fast food. The gastronomy is not as important as for the Portuguese people, so I’m still looking to find out what characterizes the Norwegian cuisine beyond the “matpakke”. Good for those who are brave with the cheeses.

[Nature, a walk distance.]

How was the standard of living?
Very high.

Did you visit other cities in Noruega?
I was in Trondheim in the first three weeks, a little further north. A town considerably smaller than Bergen and more cosy.

What do you think are the major cultural differences?
Probably the level of impulsivity. Period.

Did you receive a grant?

Did you make Norwegian friends?

[Vera and a friend barbequeing at the fishing port.]

Do you return to Portugal since “Erasmus”?
My plans were to stay. And I’m still here.

What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?
Brought me many different perspectives in relation to personal and cultural identity; boosted my confidence and my independence. The Erasmus experience was actually what drove my professional life, and having found a job, I learn to be more practical, “to the point” and more efficient.

The link of the company that hired me:

It is impossible to make a conclusion of what is to make Erasmus, because grabbing the opportunity with all the strength, it can provide a large opening of new “paths” that will change all future prospects.

Did you experience some adventure ou strange situation you’d like to share?
Think I would be able to walk with 20 degrees below zero in the street and return home running in fear of losing my toes. Oh!

[Walking on water, winter time!]

A recommendation for future “Mobility Students”:
Invest in a good jacket and a good pair of boots for winter, learn the language (EILC), try hiking. Being a country so different from Portugal, virtually everything will be new, be receptive to unexpected experiences.

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