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‘I wouldn’t trade it in for a thing’: An American student’s experience in Norway

Meagan Leber, an American master's student in Norway has plans to stay there because of the abundance of opportunities. Source: Meagan Leber

Meagan Leber is an American master’s student getting her degree in Strategic Marketing Management at BI Norwegian Business School. For her, the opportunities in Norway are unmatched — worth the trip from Oklahoma to Norway. Not many Americans go abroad to study every year. In 2018, only 347,099 Americans did. Leber is glad she is one of them. 

In Norway, she drove through mountains and marvelled at the majestic beauty of the Norwegian Sea as she made her way to the city of Stavanger from Oslo. They stand in stunning contrast — in a good way —  to Leber’s hometown nestled in the Northeast corner of Oklahoma. Another difference? Food. Growing up, Leber was accustomed to eating Southern food with a heavy Latin American influence. Norwegian food, on the other hand, is far simpler. 

Despite these differences, she loves the challenges she faces in her day-to-day life in Norway and plans to remain in the country for a while. What’s keeping her here? 

What made you decide to be a master’s student in getting a degree in Strategic Marketing Management in Norway?

I have always loved storytelling, and also been fascinated by strategy. Marketing for me is the perfect balance between storytelling and strategy, so naturally I was drawn to it early on. I have also always been fascinated by other cultures and how your storytelling and strategy takes a different focus under different contexts. Being a master’s student in strategic marketing in an international environment had me sold. 

What made you choose to be a master’s student at BI Norwegian Business School in Norway?

I actually did an exchange semester in Norway back in 2018. I visited a few times prior to this so it always felt safe. After my exchange programme at BI Norwegian Business School, I knew that the teaching matched my expectations. So this, combined with my love for Norway was all I needed to apply to become a master’s student in Norway. I did this the same day I returned to the US and never looked back. 

Marketing is the perfect combination between storytelling and strategy, therefore, it was only natural Leber pursued that for her master’s studies. Source: Meagan Leber

Do you think it would have made a difference if you were a master’s student at a local institution in the US? 

Absolutely! I have always believed studying is so much more than what you learn at school. It is a journey you take with yourself and those around you as your stumble through your young adulthood and early 20s. However, when it came to my master’s degree, I was ready to take on a new challenge that matched my stage in life as I felt like I had outgrown the city I was currently in. I have learned so much more about myself and others through this journey as a master’s student in Norway. I wouldn’t trade it in for a thing. 

What has been your most memorable class so far?

In my curriculum, it would have to be Customer Value Analytics, it really showed me the customer journey from an analytical perspective that broadened my conceptualisation of marketing as a discipline and its impact on the bottom line. Outside my curriculum, it would have to be Norwegian language class. My understanding of this language has come a long way and I am really proud of that. I’ve been able to navigate through Oslo better, and it has allowed me to connect better with friends and colleagues. 

Do you have any fond memories with teachers at your university that stood out for you?

The teachers at school here are really passionate about both their research and pedagogy. I appreciate their commitment to both and their ability to make themselves available at all times throughout the semester. One of my fondest memories so far is probably when I went to a professor’s office, and he and I ended up talking for a few hours about everything from life in Norway as an expat, to his children. He was super invested in my learning experience, and shared his own which I really appreciate. 

Do you get to apply the theories you gained in lecture halls and classrooms to the real world?

BI Norwegian Business School does a great job of combining theory with real life examples. I think the incorporated internship programme they offer really exemplifies this. At my internship, I actually used a few core theories from class to build an internationalisation strategy for the company I was working at. Not every theory is highly relevant to the real world, but they comprehensively contributed to my way of thinking. Being a master’s student at BI Norwegian Business School really shaped the way in which I approach and solve problems.  

What are your academic goals as a master’s student?

My academic goals as a master’s student were two-fold. Firstly, I wanted to work with as many different types of people as possible in group work. Secondly, as many students might say, I wanted good grades. I moved to Norway with a purpose and ambition and I wanted that to reflect in my work. I have also been juggling two part-time jobs in addition to my studies, so I think it is safe to say that my time management skills have improved. 

Do you plan to progress into further study in this course?

I don’t see myself ever pursuing a PhD, but never say never! I think this is the end of the road for my student life. After graduating, I hope to continue working with strategy and storytelling in Norway as I continue to build a life in Oslo. 

Meagen Leber enjoys the outdoors, particularly the scenery on her trip to Stavanger in Norway. Source: Meagan Leber

What do you like most about Norway?

There are so many things! Living here has proved to me that I am much more capable than I thought I was. Everything is so different from what I’m used to here, and I love the way it challenges me. It’s also really cool when I see tasks get easier and easier every time, really showing how I am learning and growing in a new environment. I will forever be indebted to Norway for the personal journey it has taken me on. 

Extrinsically, I love the architecture here — specifically, in Oslo and Bergen. Every building here has a story and I think that’s really fascinating. I enjoy just walking around the city with a cup of coffee. 

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