Hvordan går det? Bra!

During my stay here in Norway I get in touch with many different languages. Italian, German, Spanish, French and Finnish just to name a few, and of course Norwegian and English.

Obviously, one of the languages I hear the most here is Norwegian, followed by English. I already knew from friends who stayed earlier in Scandinavia that people here speak English very well and this was one of my main reasons why I chose to do my exchange semester in Norway.

My English skills was already quite advanced, I think, but I spoke it a little “choppily”, because my vocabulary was not very extensive and different from someone living in an English-speaking country. Since I didn’t use it in my daily life, I wasn’t able to use slang or colloquial language. The lectures I attend here in English help me a lot to improve my academic English skills. The university in Bergen is somewhat more intense than the University of Bern in terms of written examinations. I have had to write many essays so far and I will have a four-hour written examination. Writing all these papers helped me to access and learn the academic vocabulary in English in my field of studies. I am seeing some progress in the end and I know that this exercise is really helpful for my future career, because although writing all this work was and will still be quite a demanding experience, in the end I am very grateful for this experience as my language skills (speaking, writing, reading) will improve a lot.

When I applied for my semester abroad in Bergen, I wasn’t worried about the language at all. I didn’t even think about Norwegian because I was so confident that everyone in this country speaks English. Therefore, I knew that it was not a must-have for my stay abroad. But frankly, I forgot the written aspect of the language you deal with every day. Meaning Norwegian street signs, restaurant menus, food ingredients or gym rules and I had a lot of trouble with it at the beginning. The University of Bergen offers an introductory Norwegian language and culture course for exchange students during the semester. I enrolled as soon as I arrived, but it only started four weeks after my arrival in Norway. That is, the first words I learned were (thanks to the supermarket) “kvittering” and “pose” or “String topper og avlinger er ikke tillatt”, when a girl approached me in the gym to tell me that string shirts were not allowed and if I didn’t see the signs in the dressing room 😉.

Finally, the course began, which lasted about two and a half months. I attended the course twice a week for 90 minutes. My teacher Nina was great, but at first, I was overwhelmed and frustrated. Since the Norwegians skip at least half of the letters in a word and they don’t even read what it says, my skills didn’t improve as much as I would have liked them to in the beginning. I struggled a lot with all the different o- and a- and u-sounds that this language has. Once having learned a few keywords that are different from German or English, I basically understand a lot about written Norwegian. Unfortunately, as already mentioned, spoken Norwegian is still a big challenge. Although many Norwegian words are like English or German words, they sound completely different when in writing as compared to when spoken. Moreover, when Norwegians speak quickly, it is almost impossible to understand or guess what the people around you are talking about. So even after almost four months in Norway I am not able to manage more than an easy introduction of myself or to speak about food, the weather, my family or leisure activities. Moreover, people start speaking English with you as soon as they realize that you are not familiar with their language, so it is quite difficult to practice the few things I learned in the course.

It is very interesting to see how important language is in a culture, and how many different types of Norwegian dialects there are throughout the country. I quickly tried to adapt to some Norwegian expressions like “faen” and “takk” because I heard them all day long in different places. I also started to use some simple greetings and sentences because I wanted to be integrated into the culture and society. Since my Norwegian is not so good yet, it would be an advantage to speak it better/more fluent in order to feel more integrated into the country and probably find more Norwegian friends.

Learning a foreign language helps you to understand a culture, gives you the opportunity to get in touch with other people and to be part of their society and habits.

Laura Perez

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: