My name is Suusaat (29 years old), from Uummannaq Greenland, studying Masters of Human Rights and Multiculturalism student at USN Drammen.
Kandy, Sri Lanka
I have been to an exchange in Kandy Sri Lanka, and I was there with two other students from same Masters program at USN Drammen. We've got the possibility for the exchange because of an agreement between our home institution, University College of Southeast Norway (USN) and University of Peradeniya, which means that there were also other students from Peradeniya that went to Drammen in exchange for us. It was the first time USN has sent students to Sri Lanka.
Intense and challenging lectures
Even though the lectures can be a little bit challenging due to a complete different study program, we’re doing very well here. We only got lectures during the weekend, and are following three courses in Master’s of Political Science. One of our challenges are that there is no syllabus or any agenda on for example readings, so when we’ve got assignments to write, it is up to us to figure it all out, entirely from finding references to give an outline, one of the examples of subjects are, Impacts of colonialism in Sri Lanka, or Religion’s Influences on Sri Lankan Politics. It has been particularly challenging because there are limited academic papers that recently has been published. On the other hand, our first few weeks has been intense, as each course requires an assignment and had to be written within the 4 weeks from our arrival, accordingly to our fresh knowledge of the country, we had to read a lot just to be able to write one of them. As it is noticeable, we study a lot, mainly because we have to do our Master’s thesis at same time.
Yoga, Buddhism, Sri Lankan Stories
One thing we enjoy a lot in our spare time is, private Yoga practices with a local instructor, he is highly professional, and teaches us how to relax or meditate, one thing he truly advices is not to think or stress too much about our studies. He has become a very good friend of us and shares his knowledge of Buddhism, Sri Lankan stories, and sometimes simply just about toxic snakes, where to find them, and what to do if we ever should got bitten. Our times with him are very helpful in our daily life, especially because he teaches us the importance of breathing, as we can be hectic students now and then.
Ravi and Anushika
Last year Ravi and Anushika came on exchange from Peradeniya to USN, campus Drammen, and we met there. Now, Jeanette and I have visited Ravi and his family for two days, he lives up in the mountains around 2000 meters above the sea level. It was a very special experience, everything is very still and silent compare to busy and loud Kandy. His wife and mother prepared traditional food for us, he showed us their garden and how they provide for themselves from it. We went to a waterfall, and he took us to a temple. The place he and his family lives on is magnificent, I’ve never seen a sight like it, and we are very grateful for him to invite us. We also got to spend this time with Anushika and her husband, because they joined and stayed with us, and agreed on to that next time we are going to visit their place. I am very happy that I met Ravi and Anushika when they were on exchange at USN, and that we also get to see each other here in Sri Lanka. They are very welcoming and are very keen to show us around their home land.
"The nicest people I've ever met"
To sum up, what we have experiences is very culturally rich, people here take good care of us, and they are the nicest people that I’ve ever met, very generous and kind.
Beside our studies, and yoga practices we visited many historical places like Sigiriya, Dambulla cave temple, Gal Vihara, Tooth Temple, and many other enriching experiences of culture. One thing that was significant is, the diversity of everything, people, religion and even every city we visited was different, and the nature was stunning.
From Colombo to Nuuk
When our exchange ended, I came almost directly back to Nuuk Greenland, which is a contrast of what Sri Lanka is, I came back to snowstorms at -20 degree celcius from +30 degree celcius in Colombo. Traveling between two completely different cultures and environments, made me realize how different my own home country is in culture and in climate.