Being an exchange student

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I often get emails from people asking me about my time as an exchange student. For those of you who do not know, I was an exchange student in Hong Kong in 2013 and in Sydney, Australia, in 2014. I did the exchange as a part of my bachelor’s degree in business administration. In this post I will answer some frequently asked questions and tell you some of my thoughts about life as an exchange student.

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Palestine: Betlehem and The West Bank

In January I spent a week in Tel Aviv, and I went on a day trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Bethlehem used to be a part of Israel, but from 1995 the city has been under Palestinian control. As our Israeli guide said; “I have been to Bethlehem more than 1000 times, but now I am not even allowed to guide you there”. Personally I do not know a lot about the conflict between Israel and Palestine and I do not want to get all political here – but everything seemed so strange and complicated.

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Israel: Jerusalem

Jerusalem is probably the holiest place on earth; the city is sacred for Muslims, Christians and Jews. It is also an amazing place to visit for tourists; the UNESCO World Heritage Site has so much to offer. As I was on a family vacation in Tel Aviv, we only went on a day trip to Jerusalem. Guess who regrets not spending more time in Jerusalem?! What an interesting city! The culture, the religions and the history – I loved it!

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Israel: Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a very popular tourist destination in Israel, with its long beaches and great shopping opportunities. The city is often said to be Middle East’s New York, and after spending some days in the city I absolutely agree. It is a very modern city with all the facilities you can wish for. But, it is also a city of contrasts; in-between the skyscrapers and shopping malls, you can find street vendors selling amazing falafel and hummus, old men fishing and historical neighborhoods like Jaffa.

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Vietnam on a shoestring

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Two years ago I went on a week-long trip to Vietnam. As you may know, I love Asia. The culture, the nature, the weather, the people – what is there not to love? Before this trip I had already visited many countries in Asia, but not Vietnam. A good friend of mine is Norwegian-Vietnamese, and after hearing her stories about Vietnam and the culture, I was really excited to visit the country.

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Yangshou – a Chinese village

Recently I was looking through my old travel videos and I found this video from Yangshou in China. I went there on a weekend trip in 2013 while I was studying in Hong Kong. Over the years I have spent some time in China, but I have usually stayed in urban areas. I went to the village Yangshou because of the beautiful nature in the area. We started our stay in Yangshou on a river boat in the sunrise, which was amazing! We spent the days in Yangshou enjoying the charming village and its lovely atmosphere. We also went on a trip to the even smaller village Xingping, watched old Chinese play traditional games and ate the most amazing street food I have ever had. I loved Yangshou!

Oman’s amazing nature

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When I went to Oman, one of the things I really wanted to see was the desert. Wahiba Sands is a desert located 2-3 hours from Muscat, which was perfect. When I did research about Wahiba Sands, I found a few other attractions in the area as well, which we visited on the same trip. Our route for this road trip was Muscat – Bimmah Sinkhole – Wadi Shab – Sur – Muscat. We did all this in a day, and we used around 12 hours.

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Oman: Nizwa and its surroundings

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Oman is so much more than the capital Muscat. We rented a car during our entire stay so we would be able to see more of the country, and I am so happy we did that! We did two road trips from Muscat. On the first road trip we drove to the city Nizwa and explored the mountains surrounding the city. Nizwa is a popular weekend destination for people living in Muscat, as it is a short drive from the capital and offers great nature experiences. It is possible to see Nizwa and its surroundings on a day trip from Muscat, but we chose to stay in Nizwa for a night to have some more time.

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Oman: Things to do in Muscat

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Muscat is the capital of The Sultanate of Oman and the biggest city in the country. When you are in Oman, spending a few days in Muscat is a must; just the name itself makes the city sound exotic. Oman is not a country we hear a lot about, and the average Norwegian would probably not even know where Oman is on the map. Oman is actually growing as a tourist destination, and tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in Oman. In addition to the oil, of course; as the rest of the Gulf states, Oman is quite dependent on oil. At the same time, Oman differs from the other Gulf states. Omanis actually have regular jobs and the foreign workforce is smaller than in for example Kuwait and Qatar. One explanations to this can be that Oman’s oil reserve is smaller, but also that the government has a big focus on creating other sources of income than oil.

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Kuwait City

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I just came back from a trip to the gulf where I visited Kuwait and Oman. The plan was to visit Bahrain as well, but because I did not have enough blank pages in my passport for the visas/stamps we decided to spend some more days in Oman instead of going to Bahrain. I am really happy we prioritized Oman, as the country really has a lot to offer – but more about Oman later!

We spent two days in Kuwait City, which was more than enough time. It is not much to see in Kuwait City – if you ask me, the city only has one real tourist attraction; The Kuwait Towers. It was really hard to fill the days with things to do. Even the malls (where Kuwaitis seem to hang out) were boring. During the day, the streets were empty and nothing was going on. Such a weird place, I have never experienced this kind of emptiness in a city before. Continue reading

Stay strong, Nepal

I just had to share this video. It shows the damages of Kathmandu after the earthquake. The worst part of this tragedy is of course the deaths and injuries caused by the earthquake, but when you see this video, you realize that an important part of Nepal’s history is gone. Kathmandu Valley is full of amazing, old temples and there are even seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.

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TRAVEL GUIDE: HONG KONG

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When I was studying in Hong Kong in 2013, I spent a lot of time exploring the city. Hong Kong is the city where East meets West, and you will find everything from beautiful beaches to old temples to amazing skyscrapers here. You can spend weeks exploring the city, but if you only have a few days, here are my advices for your stay:

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Tokyo 2013

When I was an exchange student in Hong Kong I went to Tokyo for a weekend. I had always dreamed about going to Japan, and Tokyo totally lived up to the expectations. What I love the most about Japan is the culture, because it is so isolated and so far from everything else I have experienced. You can read more about my Tokyo trip HERE.

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