«There's a profound sense of humility and tranquillity that comes from being alone in a foreign country, surrounded by unfamiliar languages. It's an experience I believe everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. One quote that resonated deeply with me during this time was, “The place where your greatest discomfort lies is also the spot where your largest opportunity lives” (Robin S. Sharma). Moving abroad was undeniably the most difficult thing I've ever done. Dealing with the constant language barrier, feelings of isolation, bouts of homesickness, the unfamiliarity of it all, and the mental and physical exhaustion from the journey was incredibly challenging. However, these hurdles ultimately strengthened me, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.

Coming from Alaska, I was drawn to Norway for its similar environment. From the moment I arrived, I was captivated. I vividly recall strolling to the fjords just outside my bedsit, marvelling at the birds soaring above and the waves crashing against the rocks below. Many nights were spent by that fjord, painting with watercolours, reading, journaling, practising yoga, making new friends, and eagerly awaiting the Aurora. Norway proved to be one of the most serene places I had ever visited. I resided in Levanger, Norway, a charming town just an hour by train from Trondheim, which had amazing thrift stores and a picturesque charm.

Photo by Shannon Klein

I enrolled in a program called Friluftsliv, which translates to outdoor education/recreation, and it turned out to be a series of unforgettable adventures. We embarked on numerous thrilling trips, including backpacking in Sweden, ice climbing, canoeing expeditions, rock climbing, solo journeys, and more. Among these, my favourite was undoubtedly the glacier trip; conquering the ice climb out of the crevasse was both incredibly challenging and nerve-wracking. Standing atop that climb filled me with an immense sense of pride and exhilaration. I also discovered the deep-rooted Norwegian value of cherishing nature and the outdoors, a value that resonated deeply with me.

Participating in these Friluftsliv courses not only provided me with valuable recreational experiences but also heightened my awareness of education in a foreign setting. I chose to study Friluftsliv because I wanted to try something completely different from my previous studies. I was unsure of my career path, so I took a break to explore and understand myself better. It proved to be a transformative period, during which I became more attuned to my aspirations. Constantly pushing myself beyond my comfort zone during these adventures also greatly boosted my confidence.

Photo by Shannon Klein

During my stay, I forged deep connections with people from around the globe. Despite Norwegians being typically reserved, I managed to make a few Norwegian friends, but I primarily found community among other international students. This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way. I'm eagerly anticipating future travels and reunions with my international friends in their homelands. I feel incredibly fortunate to have explored more of this beautiful world, and it has ignited a passion within me to continue travelling and discovering new places. I would highly recommend anyone to step out of their comfort zone and study abroad!» © Shannon Klein