A Journey of Learning and Reflection: My Norway Adventure

by Nga Phuong H. (Safe & Sound 2023 alumna)

In the digital realm of my laptop, there exists a treasure trove titled “Norway Journey.” It encapsulates the essence of my adventure in Norway – a compilation of notes, reflections, presentations, and articles that bear witness to the profound impact this Scandinavian haven had on me. Norway, with its breathtaking nature; and kind and inspiring inhabitants, has not only fueled my wanderlust but also stirred a literary fervor, resulting in thousands of words chronicling my experiences.

To encapsulate the beauty of Norway’s natural landscapes is a daunting task. From the mindful hikes up Bergen’s 7 mountains to the awe-inspiring vistas from the Pulpit Rock in Stavanger, each step resonated with the majesty of Mother Nature. Even the perpetually rainy city of Bergen revealed its unique charm, offering a poetic backdrop for my musings. The ethereal dance of the Northern Lights in Tromsø added a surreal touch to my Norwegian odyssey.

However, amidst the enchanting landscapes and captivating experiences, one aspect of my journey stands out in this blog—the transformative time spent as a humble learner at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN University) and then at the Center of Crisis Psychology at the University of Bergen (UIB).

In my capacity as a visiting Ph.D. student at INN University, even the stay was short, I received a warm welcome and had the opportunity to present the initial phase of my research. Engaging in meetings with esteemed researchers and professors, we collaboratively explored the upcoming steps for our partnership. Given the opportunity to explore the remarkable journey of Norpart, I hold great admiration for individuals like Ms. Kerstin Søderstrøm and Ms. Minh Dang H., as well as others, who exhibit a humble attitude coupled with significant efforts in steering and managing Norpart. Their dedication ensures that we, the exchange students, not only learn but also embark on a remarkable adventure.

Over a span of almost three months, I fully engaged in meticulously crafted Global Mental Health courses at UIB. These courses not only explored community-based mental health programs but seamlessly integrated theoretical knowledge with practical, real-world applications. This wasn’t a mere series of lectures; rather, it unfolded as a tapestry of genuine stories emerging from real-life scenarios.

Guided by the seasoned professional, Prudence, I found myself immersed in a learning experience that transcended conventional boundaries. Within this educational journey, the captivating narratives shared by the adept storyteller, Unni Heltne, skillfully painted vivid depictions of therapeutic sessions with individual clients. Unni’s storytelling not only enriched our knowledge but also brought to life the human side of mental health, fostering a holistic appreciation for the complexities involved in the field.

The richness of the journey was added by the zest Ragnhild Dybdahl, a passionate advocate for humanity, whose care transcended borders – from projects during the Bosnia war in the 1990s to ongoing initiatives in developing countries. An impressive visiting lecturer, Bjarne Hansen, left an indelible mark with an obsession for the number 4 – be it the four ingredients in an OCD cassette or the Bergen 4-day treatment (B4DT) for OCD.

All of these accounts resonated deeply, leaving an indelible mark on both our professional understanding and empathetic cores.

Adding another layer to this enriching experience was the diverse international crew. Hailing from four continents—Europe (Norway definitely, and Turkey), Asia (represented by Nepal, Vietnam, and Bangladesh), South America (with a touch of Peru)—we formed a microcosm of global perspectives and experiences.

My Norway Journey folder is not just a compilation of travelog entries; it’s a testament to the multifaceted experiences that Norway generously bestowed upon me. From the grandeur of its nature to the depth of its academic pursuits in mental health, Norway has been more than just a destination—it has been a journey of self-discovery, learning, and embracing the richness of global perspectives. This chapter of my life is etched in the pages of the Norway Journey, reminding me that true exploration goes beyond geographical boundaries—it’s an exploration of the mind, the heart, and the uncharted territories of personal growth.

So, Norway, ‘till next time!