I arrived in Oslo on Monday night, Jan 11th. On UiO’s page there is a detailed description of available services to get from Gardermoen airport to campus where you would have to pick up keys to your housing unit and a nice little welcome package with your semester card in it. More about it later. It was too late to catch a train from the airport, but fortunately there was an airport night bus service. Unfortunately, all I knew about it was that it exists but does not have a set schedule during night hours.
As I said, I arrived a little too late. There are 2 main ways to get to the Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) from the airport: the Airport shuttle bus and the Airport shuttle train. You have to get to Oslo S to take public transportation to UiO. Or you can choose to taxi all the way. But because it was night time, I only could choose to taxi all the way or to bus from the airport to Oslo S and then taxi. Not too great of a choice! Plus, I did not want to deal with the after hour key delivery service–as you may recall I had to pick up keys for my dorm. I decided to be original and book a bed at a hostel close to Oslo S for a night and head to UiO in the morning.
I knew there was a bus service but I wasn’t sure how it worked. All I knew is that I could purchase a ticket online, which was perfect. But for some reason my card did not work and I decided to figure out everything on the spot. Oh no! Since I didn’t have Norwegian kroners nor a card (Bank of America’s fault) the bus driver overcharged me a lot. So much for a good first impression, Norway. Plus, when I was heading out of the airport I realized that it would have been totally fine to stay the night there. I was considering this option but I was concerned that there would be no space to sit (read: sleep) in the outside hall after I walk out with my luggage. But guess: there are a few wonderful chairs with leg holding flaps! Even if are all occupied, you can sleep on the floor–it’s SUPER clean, of course. And need I say that the airport itself is beautiful? One thing I would have done differently about my arrival is to stay at the airport until morning. Oh well.
When I finally got to the hostel biting my frosted lips and full of worries, I was able to sleep for a bit. The actual nightmare awaited me when I awoke. IT SNOWED. Yay I love snow, oh wait, I need to carry my luggage through sidewalks that suddenly became snowy fields. They might even compare to snowy paths they climb through in some Oscar-winning movies for dramatic effect and Nature vs. Human contrast. Rolling a suitcase was almost impossible that day–I ended up playing the worst sort of tug of war with my semester-worth of stuff. I won, though. Getting to Blindern, the main campus of UiO was otherwise okay. The easiest way to get there is on T-bane, which is kind of a metro system; for Bay area people–think about it as BART of Oslo. The Blindern stop is 4 stops away from Jernbanetorget, the Central station stop.
The process of getting keys was efficient, though we still had to wait for everybody to be processed. Everything has a system: you get a number, wait to be called, get processed and get issued a card. You need to get 2 numbers though, one for a student card with your face on it, which will give you access to all of the campus buildings after hours, and another for the dorm keys. You also get to pick a room for yourself, depending on your preferences: 3 to 9 flatmates sharing a kitchen/bathroom, price range, etc. You can choose any room you prefer among housing units of the student village and room types (furnished vs. unfurnished) you applied for and got assigned before arriving. I was even asked if I preferred a room with a window to the East, although that was my only available choice other factors combined.
A day of struggle ended with me having a simple dinner, taking a warm shower, and falling asleep in an instance.
The moral of this story is that the first days are always tough and that’s okay. Hope you gathered more than just a moral though, and now you know how to get to Blindern, the main campus of UiO.
So I hope it would be appropriate to quote Ibsen again, who decades ago wrote words that consoled my mind today:
I will out, I will out, God’s nature’s there,
The joy of a bright spring day;
My bosom bursts, at my cage-bars I tear,
I’ve the wings and the heart for the fray.
I’ve the heart for a battle with worldly woe;
It has fettered me far too long.
Now I must revel and laughing go
With the spring-time’s fluttering throng.
From “Life’s Spring” by Henrik Ibsen, trans. by John Northam
You can read the whole poem here.