Jayden Tochkin is participating on a study abroad student exchange with the Norwegian School of Economics organized through the Haskayne School of Business. Here is his postcard home.
Q. Why did you choose to study abroad and particularly in that country/region?
A. I knew I wanted to be somewhere in Europe to have a chance to travel and see the continent. It was also important to me to travel and live somewhere that is not a stereotypical destination. To say that I have lived and travelled in Norway is something not many people can say they have done. I also looked at pictures and saw the beauty of the country. That coupled with the quality of life made the decision easy for me.
Q. Where and what are you studying abroad? What program was it with and why did you choose this type of program/experience?
A. I’m studying Commerce at the Norwegian School of Economics. It is in Bergen, Norway which is on the west coast of the country. I’m here through the Haskayne School of Business International Exchange and I heard that this school has a great exchange student culture. There are over 200 exchange students this semester and it’s been great getting to know the people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Q. How would you describe the country and people to friends and family back home?
A. Honestly, the country is very similar to back home. I’m originally from the Vancouver area and Bergen is so similar in terms of scenery. It is very green and moist, with vast natural beauty and mild temperatures. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, with fjords and mountains carving out much of the landscape.
Q. Have you come across any interesting topics or findings through your courses/experience?
A. The way academics are approached here is very interesting and unique. It is totally different to Canada, with 100 per cent final exams and work during the semester to get approval to write the exams. It has been a bit of challenge balancing what to do and when but once you get the hang of it and get into a routine it all works out.
Q. Tell us about an adventure/journey/trip/experience you have been on?
A. I went on a trip to Russia that was organized through the school. It was me and a few friends as well as other people that I met along the way. We started in Stockholm, Sweden and made our way to Tallinn, Estonia. From there it was on to St. Petersburg, Russia and then Moscow. After a brief stop in Helsinki, Finland we ended in Stockholm and altogether it was a 10 day trip. It was one of the best experiences of my life to be sure. Seeing the differences in all those places was an eye opening experience and Russia was a place that I had wanted to go for as long as I can remember.
Q. Have you experienced any interesting cross-cultural interactions?
A. I would say the most interesting is meeting and hanging out with people from different places. Some people are very similar to us as Canadians and some are completely different. That is probably the most interesting aspect of my exchange. Whether it’s going to a bar with Italians or cooking with Australians there are so many types of people you meet on exchange.
Q. Did you try or learn any new hobbies/sports/interests/food/language?
A. I played a lot of soccer while I was here and picked up a bit of Norwegian. “Jeg elsker Norge” is probably the most appropriate phrase I know and it means “I love Norway”. There are so many opportunities to play soccer, especially because the other exchange students are mainly European. The culture in Norway is similar to that of Canada, but there were also a few interesting types of food. From Norwegian porridge to a fish casserole there is always something new to try.
Q. Upon reflection, what do you personally feel this experience has brought to your life and possibly career?
A. The biggest thing for me was the interaction with different cultures. I am an international business major so it is something I have always wanted to do. It’s been frustrating at times in groups or at class, but working through the differences is something that has shaped the exchange in a positive way for me. I hope to continue to work with different types of people in my working career.
Q. Tell us about your future plans.
A. I graduate in June and to be honest I’m not sure what I will do after that. Law school is a possibility but obviously a big decision I need to make. I have also toyed with the idea of coming back to Norway to do a masters degree in economics.
Q. Would you like to share any words of wisdom?
A. The only thing I would say is if you have a chance, go on exchange. It will change your life for the better. It doesn’t matter where you go or when, just take advantage of the chance if you have it.
For more information on this and other study abroad programs please visit www.ucalgary.ca/uci/abroad. This postcard was supplied by University of Calgary International.