At first, I apologise for painting a picture of a four-legged animal in the readers’ mind – I cannot find other options for a perfect analogy. Probably because I have seen too much road signs saying “Reindeer ahead” in Norway. Reindeers (Moose) can’t decide if to cross the road and run franticly – almost what I often do myself.
Anyways, I was a sailor by choice – graduated from a state-run Marine Academy with a peculiar engineering degree. By peculiar I mean, a combination of a two-year semi-commando training and a one-year cadetship at sea – a total of 03 years studies – the only way to become a sailor in my country at that time. It was a fast-track entry to an exciting career for sure, but the degree was pretty much of no use other than for sailing at sea. To add comedy to a comic film, the shipping market took a nosedive just after our graduation. We hoped to fly like an albatross gliding over the peak waves, but in reality, the whirl got some of us. I was reluctant to continue like this and left sea with heavy heart.
After my fling with the sea, I started looking vehemently to top-up my peculiar degree with something utilitarian – but with no luck. Discovered Norway as a no-tuition destination which has a similar structure for the maritime bachelor’s degree (03 years) as my home country. Therefore, getting admission to a master’s program here was fairly easy. Mainly four universities in Norway offers such international maritime master degrees: University of South-Eastern Norway (USN), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), and University of Tromsø (UiT). I enrolled for the MSc in Maritime Management– Technical Specialization program at USN. For your information, this program also offers a commercial specialization.
I arrived at a small town in Norway, Horten, on a late autumn evening with a big suitcase and a 14-hour jet lag. The sun was still shining from an awkward angle; a tiny little house with a small porch; 3-minutes’ walk from the beach – my tiredness blew away. The university is at a stone’s throw from my house – modern, tidy and a welcoming place – liked it too. I settled in, made new friends and re-discovered my lost knack for studies. Soon I found myself involved in different study groups, international student groups, research groups, and so on.
However, no tuition fees in Norway comes with a twist – a very high living cost. I simply could not afford to live here without a source of income. I used to commute back and forth by train to Oslo where I worked in a restaurant once or twice a week – did that for about five months until I was hired as a student assistant at my university. I also washed dishes every now and then for couple of months at a nearby restaurant to supplement my income like most other students from similar ethnic background. My first priority was to maintain a good result; so, turned down many high-paying odd jobs to save time for studies. Sacrificing study-time for earning a bit more doesn’t make sense to me as an international student – money flies away, credentials don’t. The strategy held ground and paid me off with a successful graduation in time and a continued placement as a research assistant at the university.
The journey was not easy but an enjoyable one. I was fortunate to be involved in multiple national and international research projects which supplemented my research training with a culturally diverse team. I wish to advance further and continue a career in the academia. However, sometimes things move so slow that I started to feel like a Penguin as opposed to a Moose. Nowadays, I picture myself more happy standing by the beach and flapping my two wings in excitement seeing a ship form far away than to work on it.
My quest “at sea” did not work out, therefore, “by the sea” it is…
This is a Research HUB original post shared by Hasan Mahbub Tusher, originally from Bangladesh. If you want to share your study abroad experience, write up your post and send to firstname.lastname@example.org with a couple of photo of yours.