During the academic year 2014-2015, 49 students from University of Valencia received a NILS scholarship (complementing Erasmus) to study in Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein. Among those is Olga Novillo Sanjuan, a 23 year old biology student. The grant took her on a journey to Trondheim where she spent 10 months studying at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Read more about her experience below:
Why did you decide to participate in the exchange?
I decided to participate in the exchange because since I was a child I have wanted to spend at least a year of my life living abroad and a funded Erasmus programme was my chance, as I could not afford doing it on my own. I specifically chose Norway because I’d always wanted to see its landscapes and the northern lights, but going there on a trip was very expensive and there’s so much to see, thus why not to live there with a grant for a year?
What knowledge and skills do you feel that you gained during your exchange that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
I gained extremely valuable skills there. Living on my own in a foreign country requires a lot of logistics and bureaucracy stuff! Also, and more important for my career, I worked in an international environment where there were so many cultures at once. It may seem very simple, but it really makes you more understanding and tolerant, as you know other people’s cultures, ways of life, ways of working and habits. For me this was the most valuable skill, but of course I cannot forget to say how my English fluency has improved!
Do any events or experiences from your stay really stand out in your memory?
I have so many memories that will stay in my mind for all my life. For example, the first time I saw the northern lights or the time in which they were the strongest.
The travels done with my Erasmus friends and the trip to the Lofoten islands when my parents came to visit me also come to mind. However, what I appreciate the most are the feelings experienced during the whole year. So strong and intense!
During the current financing period, Iceland, Norway and Liechteinstein have allocated nearly € 4 million to the NILS scholarship programme. The programme offers the opportunity for international cooperation to researchers at different stages of their careers as well as for Spanish degree and master students to carry out part of their studies in Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein. To date, a total of 219 students from 11 Spanish universities have received scholarships to participate in exchange studies through the programme.