Meet Asnath

Photo: Study Bergen

Meet Asnath

Written by: Study Bergen

Photo: Study Bergen

Meet Asnath from Tanzania, studying at University of Bergen. Asnath came to Norway to continue her education and reunite with her husband. Asnath’s husband may have paved the way, coming to Norway to study several years ago, but Asnath has also been drawn into the Norwegian education system. 

About Asnath

Before she decided to come to University of Bergen, Asnath was considering a master’s programme in her home country. After becoming a medical doctor, she spent 7 years working in the Public Health Sector in Dar es Salam. Her work in public health fostered a desire to learn more, expand her skillset, and give something back to her country.

When she thought of a taking master’s degree, she intially thought she’d study in Tanzania. She has children and prioritizes spending as much time with them as possible. But, as she explored the idea of further education, she also took into account the many years she had been separated from her husband. He had come to Norway for a master’s programme and continued on to a PhD and a postdoc, so it had been many years since they had lived in the same country. After much consideration, she decided to explore the options available in Norway.

When she found the Global Health Master’s Programme at UiB her interest was piqued and she applied. She laughs now that at the time she thought Bergen was Norway’s capital – now, having been accepted to UiB and having lived in Bergen for several months, she knows better! She says she’d be happy to stay on and do a PhD here, but at the least, she is aiming to do well enough to qualify for a PhD so she can continue her studies and eventually substantively contribute to Public Health in Tanzania.

Adjusting to new surroundings

Knowing Bergen was Norway’s second largest city, Asnath had been expecting the skyscrapers associated with so many cities. Instead, she was suprised to find Bergen unintimidating, quaint, and charming. And, she was ever more suprised - and pleased - to discover Bergen’s quaint aesthetics are synergistic with a very modern and technologically advanced culture and lifestyle.

Coming to Norway from Tanzania has been an intense experience for Asnath. From crossing the street (in Tanzania they drive on the left), to trying to navigate in a new place where all the street names sound funny, to the weather, to adjusting to a very different cost of living, overwhelming might be an appropriate word.

Not all of it has been a challenge, however. Adjusting to Norwegian public transportation has been much more pleasant. The fact that the light rail here has a schedule and runs in a timely manner was a welcome difference from home. “It is so reliable. And not having to drive is great, I don’t like to drive.” Additionally, life in Fantoft (student housing) is comfortable; she appreciates the reliable electricity and hot water, also not a guarantee back home.

A day in the (student) life of Asnath

Asnath’s typical day begins with the struggle to emerge from the comfort of bed; the weather does make it harder for her to want to get out from under the warmth of the duvet. Her day starts early, her lectures are usually at 8:30. Sometimes she grabs breakfast before taking the bybane into the Sentrum (city centre) for class. After lectures she often has group work for class, then she heads back home to Fantoft to read a bit, call her kids, talk to friends and maybe watch a movie. Asnath enjoys her experience as a student in Bergen. She feels comfortable here, and finds the programme informative and student friendly.

Spare time, what spare time?

Asnath’s demanding programme doesn’t leave tons of free time for a conscientious student to fill. When she arrived she had fantasies about joining a student organisation and regrets that she hasn’t gotten involved in one, at least not yet. She claims to be a lousy actress and thought of joining the acting group (Studentteateret Immaturus) in order to improve. Because of her dedication to her programme, however, she hasn’t felt that she can make the time. But, she admits she tends to be hyper-focused on school, and should maybe make more of an effort to have fun while she’s here. In the spare time she does have, she likes to hang out with friends, play Table Tennis at Klub Fantoft, window-shop in the Sentrum, watch films, and occasionally have a night out with her husband or attend parties with friends and classmates.

#NorwayGoals

Asnath has a lot of Norwegian culture she wants to experience. She says she especially looks forward to the 17th of May (Norway’s Constitution Day) when the streets are filled with Norwegians in traditional dress for a long day of celebrations and parades. She also plans to attend Bergen’s Lysfestivalen (Festival of Light) in early December, an annual gathering with Christmas (and other) songs and torch lighting around a pond in the Sentrum. Additionally, she and a group of friends contributed a pepperkakehus (gingerbread house) to Bergen’s annual Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread City). Other Bergen cultural goals include seeing every historical site in Bergen (she has visited the Leprosy Museum and it inspired a desire to explore and learn more about Bergen’s history). Beyond Bergen (and Ikea in Åsane) she hasn’t yet gotten a chance to explore, but she’d also like to visit Oslo.

Nature, wow!

“The nature is - wow - it’s the best feature, better than most everything else”. Asnath loves the forests and the trees of Norway. She deeply appreciates that Bergen is a city filled with trees, an unforgettable pleasure compared to other cities she has lived in and visited in Africa. She cites hiking Fløyen with a friend as her favourite Bergen experience to date. That hiking experience placed the top of Fløyen at the top of her list of favourite places in Bergen. She found the lake, the shops selling ice cream, the goats, and in particular the view of the fjords and the city… transfixing, “You can dream while wide awake up there”. 

Friends and transportation

Asnath says when she came she didn’t expect to make friends – but then she made friends! She says she will treasure her friends and she will definitely miss them when she returns home. When speaking of what she’ll miss from Norway, the nature and trees are also high on the list. But she also wants to emphasize, again, how much she loves using the public transportation here. She will miss the bybane a lot. She says she wishes she has a better word for how impressed she is with the transportation here.

Recommendations

Asnath says she absolutely recommends Bergen as a study destination. She’s even trying to convince her sister to take a master’s here. To students who want to study in Bergen, she says, "They are making a good choice, they should definitely come". She recommends, however, to do as she says, not as she does, by making sure to have fun while learning. “It’s totally possible!” She insists. Hopefully she will heed her own words from now on! Her number one piece of advice for new international students in Bergen is to make sure they are on Facebook, and to join any Facebook pages and groups linked to their university or their interests in Bergen. Facebook is where the most information tends to be in Norway, and Asnath wants to let everyone know how helpful it is to have a Facebook profile.

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