You never turn off your lights Chinese students in a unique exchange program between Norwegian, Russian and Chinese universities share their experience before their final exams.

Source:Nord universitet

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Av:Hogne B. Pettersen

Publisert:04. desember 2020 kl. 14:00

Enjoying Norway: The Cinese students had to spend two semesters in Bodø, instead of one in Bodø and one in Moscow, but they really enjoyed the relaxed attitudes of Norwegians, as well as fresh air and nature. Even the dark times in winter. Photo: Private​

In January 2020, 11 exchange students from Shanghai landed in Bodø to take part in the exchange semester "Business and Governance in the Arctic" at Nord University Business School and the High North Center for Business and Governance.

Unique cooperation​​​​

These students are a part of the cooperation between Nord University, the Moscow State University for International Relations (MGIMO) and East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. It’s aim is to educate specialists within International Business and Governance, and with a strong perspective on the business opportunities in the Arctic. 

The Chinese students will soon have their final exams, before returning home to China. On Thursday November 26th they all gathered together with Elena Dybtsyna study coordinator, Sandra Wiik, international coordinator and Frode Mellemvik, the director of the High North Center for Business and Governance. 

The purpose of the meeting was for the students to give feedback to the university about their studies (e.g. courses, work in groups, exam, group assignments) during both spring and autumn semesters. 

Goodbye meeting: International coordinator Sandra Wiik (center) with the Chinese students during the farewell meeting where the students shared their Norwegian experience via photos and a powerpoint presentation. Photo: Hogne B. Pettersen
Covid-19 turned one semester into two

The students were initially only supposed to be here during the Spring semester, before leaving for Moscow where they would be studying during the Autumn semester. However, Covid-19 destroyed all such plans, and instead they spent two semesters in Bodø.

International coordinator Sandra Wiik at the Nord University Business School had to help the students apply for new visas when they had to prolong their visit. She’s been the go-to person for the students when they need any kind of assistance. When they needed to rent bikes, for example. Elena and Sandra were also the ones who arranged this session. The Business school is eager to learn about the students experiences, as they are the first group doing this program. 

Associate Professor Elena Dybtsyna at the High North Center for Business and Governance is coordinator for the study program. This includes teaching and supervision. 

– It was very exciting to have Chinese students here, she says. –​ I also think they brought in their perpsectives in the group work discussions and lectures.

Travelling: This summer the students travelled around Norway and Europe. Photo: Private
Four bottles of soda​

Yujie Chen and Jing​wen Liu did a very interesting presentation where they told about the student group’s experiences. And the first thing they pointed out what was what most foreigners say about Norway: It’s expensive! 

– It’s 50 kroner for four bottles of soda, which would have been 10 kroner in China, Yujie Chen said during her presentation. 

– A haircut would set me back several hundred kroner here. That would have been at most 50 in China.  So we never got a haircut, she joked. 

It was also a big change having to deal with electric cookers in the kitchen. 

– In China we use gas cookers, and in more rural parts of China we still use coal, even though that’s not environmental friendly.  

The lights are on​​

But, as she pointed out, Norwegians are not very environmental friendly in other areas. 

– You never turn off your lights, Yujie Chen mused. 

– Sometimes when I left the library as the last student, I was looking for a light switch. You don’t even turn off the lights when you leave your apartments, and shops have all their lights on, even after closing time. That would be unthinkable in China. Also: You fly wherever you go when you travel domestically. In China we take the highspeed train. And in China we never ever waste water. 

Speaking of transportation: In Norway buses are clean and on time, but very slow. In China they have no timetable, because of the heavy traffic. On the other hand: A train ride equalling the distance between Oslo and Bergen would never take 8 hours.

– We also quite liked the relaxed lifestyle in Norway, Yujie Chen continued. 

– People work five days a week, while in China we work six days a week. We also work from 9 AM to 9 PM, so there’s no family time. 

She also said they liked the level of trust we show in Norway. 

– When I do a self checkout at the grocery store in Norway, nobody checks my bag. In China they would check that I had actually paid the right amount. 

Full swing: The students liked the more relaxed lifestly in Norway, compared to what they are used to in China. Photo: Private
Group work vs individuality​​​

Jingwen Liu then talked about their academic experiences. Having so much group work was a new experience. In China the focus is much more on individual work and studies, but working in group had sharpened their skills for critical thinking and helped them develop good reading habits. 

However, the focus was too much on the theoretical side, according to Liu. More practic exmamples would have been welcome. 

How to survive in China​

Yujie Chen gave also a survival guide for the Norwegian students that will go to China as part of this program: 

  • Do not drink the tap water – boil it!
  • Use the WeChat App instead of Facebook Messenger
  • In China people don’t pay with cash or cards, they use the Alipay App on their phones

We were also treated to photos from the summer holiday spent in Norway and in various European countries. 

Working late

Two of the Chinese students present were Iiu Yunhong (23) and Oiyang Hon (23). After their exams in December they will return to Shanghai. They both would like to come back to Norway. 

Both loved how freely Norwegians were able to lead their lives. They also found it amusing that most of the Norwegian students studied between 9 AM and 3 PM. But at the end of the semester, they were working a lot more, slightly panicked about the approaching exams. While the Chinese students were working late into the evenings the entire semester. 

This didn’t stop them from enjoying what Norway had to offer, and Oiyang was proudly on display in several of the photos, fishing along the coast of Bodø. 

– But Norwegian students party more than us, he tells us smilingly. 

– And they drink, says Iiu. 

– A lot, she adds with a wink and a smile. 

Trasnportation: Trains are much faster, and the common way to travel in China, according to the students. In Norway we go by plane. Photo: Private

About the program​:

Master of science in Global Management with a focus on geopolitics and energy ​​in the High North region

Nord Univeristy Business School and the High North Center for Business and Governance do this in cooperation with Moscow State University for International Relations and East China Normal University in Shanghai

First semester is at the students' own university. The second semester is in Bodø. The third semester is in Moscow and the last semester will be in Shanghai

Because of Covid-19, the Chinese students in Bodø colud not go to Moscow, and had to do two semesters at Nord University