When you head off on exchange to the other side of the world I think the most important considerations when selecting your university accommodation should be both what suits you best and affordability. When I received my offer of acceptance to study at the University of Oslo I was advised that there were two key accommodations that international exchange students normally picked – Sogn and Kringsjå student villages.
Time to talk pros and cons
The pros and cons of each student village I thought were clear. Sogn is only 10 minutes from the city and 5 minutes by train from the university’s main campus. Kringsjå on the other hand is 20 minutes from the city and 10 minutes by train from the main campus. Kringsjå is on the train line whereas Sogn is a 10-minute walk from the train line. Kringsjå has a café that doubles as a bar and restaurant at night, a large supermarket and a gym whereas Sogn has a pub that closed for renovations in August 2019 and won’t be reopening until 2020 and a far smaller supermarket but is close to quite a large shopping centre. Kringsjå is also only 5 minutes from a stunning lake, Sognsvann, and plentiful hiking trails. Given all of these factors, I made the decision to choose Kringsjå despite it being further away from campus because I thought it would better suit my lifestyle and because I am used to having a lake nearby (hello Lake Burley Griffin!)
I am no newbie to student accommodation. I lived at what is now Wamburun in 2017 and 2018 whilst new Bruce was under construction and for the first half of 2019 I lived at Bruce Hall. Kringsjå however is unlike any accommodation offered by the ANU – there are 72 buildings that are all part of the Kringsjå accommodation complex – it is huge! Included in that building figure is multiple child-care centres and playgrounds, an obstacle course, an outdoor gym and there are singles, couples and family apartments all mixed together within each building.
In my apartment, I share a kitchen with 6 other people and I share a bathroom and small corridor with one person.
Norway is expensive right? How much does this cost?
Because I’m sharing a bathroom with one other person and I don’t have my own, I’m paying 3654 NOK a month which is roughly $600 AUD a month or $150 a week. That is certainly less than many residences offered at the ANU. By deciding to share a bathroom, I save around $200 a month that can go towards the extortionate prices of groceries in Norway instead. All accommodation options at the University of Oslo are self-catered.
Is it difficult to apply for accommodation?
Not at all. When I received the confirmation of my acceptance to study, I just had to preference up to 5 different types of accommodations that I wanted in order of preference – mine went something like Kringsjå shared bathroom, Kringsjå private bathroom, Sogn shared bathroom, Sogn private bathroom etc. etc. I ended up with my first preference and all exchange students accepted to the University of Oslo have an accommodation guarantee.
As already alluded to, Kringsjå is quite big so events that would cater to everyone I think would be quite difficult. There is, however, a 12pm walking group around the lake every Sunday as well as the occasional event held at the café and bar. Just the other day, there was an outdoor movie night that had around 1000 attendees! Other than this, it’s quite an informal accommodation that certainly would not be comparable to the kinds of culture present at the ANU’s halls.
It has only been a month of living in my apartment so far and I love my room and that there are so many great things nearby. What I am surprised by the most is just how different it is to what I am used to – not necessarily in a bad way – but just that it is far less social than the experiences I’ve had with Daley road accommodation at the ANU. I do think however that this is the nature of accommodation at the University of Oslo particularly when they pair so many different people of varying ages into a shared kitchen environment. Most people go over to their friend’s places to cook instead so that’s what I’ve been doing and that works out well for everyone!
I’m looking forward to the next few months living at Kringsjå particularly given Sognsvann lake supposedly doubles as an ice skating rink as Norway heads into winter!