«The drama programme at the University of Stavanger (UiS) encourages you to step out of your comfort zone. It also teaches you how to communicate with people from other cultures», says American exchange student Kelly Hughes (22).
As part of the UiS’s aim to nurture more internationalisation, the academic community at Department of Education and Sports Science proposed that Drama and Intercultural Communication should be instructed in English during the spring semester. This would make it possible for international students to sign up for the course. Hughes is the first exchange student enrolled in the programme.
Hughes is from a fairly small city in Alaska called Anchorage. She is in her final year of a Bachelor degree in International Studies and, even though she specializes in European studies, Hughes had never been to Europe. She was still living at home with her parents and felt that her life in Alaska was becoming too much of a routine. She decided it was time for her to leave home for a while.
«The University of Alaska Anchorage granted me a one-year scholarship, which made it possible for me to come to Stavanger. The biggest difference between my university and the UiS is probably that I don´t have to pay tuition in Norway, which makes it a lot easier for me financially», Hughes explains.
The course´s main goal is to promote communication through theatre in a multicultural society. The program is designed to teach students how drama can be applied in education and how it can help cross cultural borders.
«We try to make a difference with theatre work, by making people express their emotions and through finding similarities between all of us, even though we are different», Hughes says.
Head of administration at the Department of Education and Sports Science, Birgitte Tysdal, encourages other international students to apply for the Drama and Intercultural Communication course. The programme is offered to Norwegian students as a one-year course or as a part of a teaching degree.
«This makes for a unique opportunity for international and Norwegian students to interact in a class environment and to learn from one another», Tysdal explains.
Hughes is the only international student in her class. She describes the Norwegian students as open and welcoming.
«My class is small, so I´ve had a good chance to socialize with the Norwegian students and get to know them. The course has made it easy for me to be integrated into the student community», Hughes says.
The university is located in the city of Stavanger in the beautiful southwestern part of Norway.
«Stavanger is surrounded by grand nature, which is easy accessible and really good for leisure activities like hiking, surfing, kiting and skiing», Tysdal says.
Hughes’s best memory from her stay in Stavanger is from the very first week, when she went on an organized hiking trip to the mountain plateau «The Pulpit Rock », a major Norwegian tourist destination. The Pulpit Rock is situated 604 meters above sea level and offers great scenery.
«The track was harder than I thought, but it was awesome when we finally got to the top. I had butterflies in my stomach because of the height», Hughes says.
Hughes just came back from a study trip to Denmark. As part of the course, the drama class attended the theatre festival “Aprilfestival” in Holstebro, from Wednesday to Monday.
«The trip was really good and we went to a lot of shows. I’m also travelling to Amsterdam in a few days and then to Copenhagen next week. I look forward to experience more of Europe», Hughes says.
Read more about Drama and Intercultural Communication and student exchange at the UiS.
Text and photo: Camilla Brandt