Semester Grants For Studies In Norway

Study in Norway has spoken to two grant recipients. They say they have benefited greatly from the semester grant that allowed them to study in Norway. 

Andreas Liska is enrolled in the Scandinavian Studies diploma programme (240 ECTS credits) at the University of Vienna in Austria. He was awarded a semester grant for his stay at the Ivar Aasen Institute at Volda University College during the autumn semester in 2012. He is staying on in Volda for the spring semester in 2013.

Why did you apply for a semester grant for your stay in Norway?

I am writing my Magister thesis on the internal history of Nynorsk, that is how the language has developed from the time of Ivar Aasen up until the present day. There are few books on this subject in the University of Vienna library, so I had to travel to Norway to research it.

What are/were you working on during your stay?

I spend most of my time researching sources such as Aasen’s grammar and Norwegian spelling standards.

What have been the most important academic benefits from your stay?

The unrestricted use of the library and having my own office.

Why would you recommend applying for a grant to others?

It is a good opportunity to carry out research in Norway and to work on the things that interest you the most. It was difficult to find a place to live in Volda, but luckily I managed to sort it out. I am very satisfied with my stay and very happy to have been awarded a semester grant.

What first attracted you to study Norwegian? And why Nynorsk?

I am interested in languages. I learned Latin and Greek at school and some Hebrew at university. My grandmother is Swedish, and I enrolled on the Scandinavian Studies programme in Vienna in 2004. First I learned Swedish, then Norwegian. I didn’t do too well with Norwegian (Bokmål) in the beginning because I kept mixing in Swedish. I discovered that Swedish is closer to Nynorsk than to Bokmål. Then I went to Tromsø. Using Nynorsk in a Bokmål region was a major challenge, but it paid off. I did a course in Old Norse language and found that many Old Norse words are still in use in Nynorsk. Back in Vienna, I began to learn Danish and re-learned Bokmål through Danish. If I have the time, I also want to start learning Icelandic and Faroese.

If I compare the three Nordic countries and the four written languages I have learnt, then Nynorsk is the language that suits me best. It is the language most closely linked to its roots (Old Norwegian), but it also has the weakest position in society. Using a minority language is a challenge, but it pays off if you’re being consistent.

What would you like to do when you complete your studies?

There are only a few jobs in Austria that require knowledge of Norwegian language. When I studied Nordic in Tromsø for a year I was also working part time. First as a German teacher but later in other subjects, too. I enjoyed working in Norwegian schools. But I may also want to stay in Vienna and start working on my doctoral thesis – on Nynorsk, of course. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Living abroad is key

Ludmila Pechinkina teaches Norwegian and English at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk in Russia. She was awarded a semester grant for her stay at the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Tromsø.

Why did you apply for a semester grant for your stay in Norway?

My aim was to create a compendium for Russians studying Norwegian at the university in Arkhangelsk. Norwegian has been taught in Arkhangelsk for almost 20 years, and there are now around 30 students studying Norwegian at various levels.

What were you working on during your stay?

Mostly on identifying and editing texts for the compendium. The texts were taken from books and internet sources and cover topics such as Norwegian nature, the political system, religion, the Arctic etc.

What have been the most important academic benefits from your stay?

I completed what I set out to do. I wanted to create a compendium because there aren’t enough teaching materials for teaching advanced-level Norwegian. The compendium is being printed in February, and we will start using it this autumn. I also hope that relations between the two universities have been strengthened with regard to Norwegian teaching. People who teach languages need to go and live in the country where the language is spoken, from time to time at least.

Why would you recommend applying for a grant to others?

It’s a great opportunity to work exclusively on what you have been given a grant for. I had a good tutor at the University of Tromsø and found the university to be a great research environment. You have access to literature. It can be difficult to find a tutor at Norwegian institutions. I hope that SIU may be able to help applicants with this. In my case it was someone I knew from before.

What first attracted you to study Norwegian?

It was quite by chance. I began studying English and was “given” Norwegian to do on the side. Students do not get to decide for themselves which other foreign language to study in addition to English. I am very happy that it turned out to be Norwegian.


Semester grants are awarded for study visits lasting one to three months at a Norwegian university or university college.

Semester grants are primarily awarded to students at European universities with departments for Nordic or Scandinavian studies who have chosen a Norwegian topic for their Bachelor/Master/PhD degrees. The grant may also be awarded to younger Norwegian teachers overseas or candidates wishing to take exams to qualify them to teach Norwegian as a foreign language. The grant shall be used for studies or fieldwork in Norway.

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