After three consecutive years of being a persistent applicant for several scholarships, finally, the reward came. This reward was presented in the most unexpected way I could imagine. Now, I had the opportunity to choose between the cute and nice one, the cosmopolitan and sophisticated one, but also, I had this third option I never imagine before: that shy and handsome guy who fell in love with me at first sight.
I tend to compare this experience with that moment when you are looking forward to dating with someone, since after being rejected twice for the scholarship that I thought was my “prince charming”, another Viking gentleman coming from Norway attended my first call.
The long story of my applications is that basically since 2015 I had been applying for Chevening Scholarship (sponsored by the UK´s Government) to study in the Middlesex University of London, twice for the University of Sussex in Brighton, and with a very remote possibility of success, I decided to apply for Erasmus Mundus scholarships aimed at non-European students in Mexico. The second semester of that “remote” possible program brought me here, to Norway, with the shy and handsome guy: Stavanger. “Congratulations!, The University of Stavanger has completed the processing of your application. We are very pleased to inform you that you have been granted scholarship and admission to the European Master in Social Work with Families and Children. It is necessary for you to log into our Application system and click in the confirmation of acceptance. ”
Without further ado, I clicked it to say “Yes, I do”. This occasion, I was who rejected Chevening, that had finally awarded me the scholarship as well, but just as it happens when you fall in love at first sight, I ran away with my new love. Since that moment I knew that my life was going to take a completely different path with this opportunity, and it happened.
But, the essential: Why am I here? Why did I accept? Well, when I said “Yes, I do” I did it for me, for the experience to study abroad, but also on behalf of my beloved country and one of the most vulnerable groups over there: children and young people in prison. When it comes to this issue, all the Nordic Region, but especially Norway is a reference point, since here many of the strategies to face juvenile offenses are focused on preventive strategies more than punishing ones.
On the other not-entirely-academic hand, being in Norway represents a unique opportunity to learn from the best of this country, its cities, its customs, and its people, especially that: its people. Academically, the available sources are vast, and I am working hard to learn as much as possible during this time. Nevertheless, the most significant lessons have come from the people I have met here. Whether Norwegians or International Students, the University of Stavanger is a seedbed where not only knowledge but also people can grow and develop their different capacities.
Undoubtedly, my most significant Norwegian learnings have been outside the library, and if I could summarize them, I would list in a “Be - top three” that I have learned to:
- Be my awesome-self
- Be the best together
- Be trustworthy with each other
In Norway, it does not matter if you are not perfect, if you are not the best dancer, the best athlete, the best student…you do not feel the need to compare yourself with the rest, because this is not a competition between us, it is a race where we all have to reach the finish line together. Being my awesome-self, with my awesome characteristics and my awesome abilities and put them at the service of others. Then, we can be the best together.
Sometimes this race could present obstacles: trust others and be a reliable person. Here a high percentage of life is based on trust. Nobody is going to take advantage of your disadvantage. The trick is to correspond with the same. Then, the chain of trust is strengthened and can support small things such as lending you a ski equipment for several days without the need to ask for your name or address, even some more complex like enjoying a transportation service throughout the country that does not depend on a police body to assure that its users pay for it. Do you know why? Because Norwegians know that all those awesome-selves outside will do it. No matter who you are, no matter where you come from or how you look like. Just be trustworthy with each other. Easy, right?
Well, most of the things are that simple in Norway. Anyone with a letter of admission to the University of Stavanger or any other Norwegian university will discover that this “Yes, I do”, is the best he or she could reply ever.
In my case, neither the low temperatures, nor the distance from my home and family nor the prices of the supermarket nor the eccentric flavor of the brunost, will stop me to say at the end of this Master: studying in Norway is the best thing I could ever do. And no matter what others say, the taste of the brunost is amazing.