How exchange students manage their finances in Norway

How exchange students manage their finances in Norway

Photo: Dennis Wierstra

Norway is expensive… Um, sorry, it is not the best beginning of an article, when writing about exchange students’ finances here. But to tell you the truth, it is our main concern in this material: how students from different countries manage their budget in Norway, and how they survive here.

How much does Erasmus give them?

People who are not familiar with Erasmus programs may suggest that Erasmus covers almost all expenses while a person is studying abroad. The amount is different depending on the country where the student is from, where he or she is going, and how much his or her parents earn. French and Belgian students receive around 400 euros (4000 Norwegian kroners) per month. Students from Poland receive around 500 euros. Spanish students only get around 300 euros, but at the same time, Germans get 600 euros! So, for some students, scholarship does not cover even their rent in student housing while for others it can cover this, and more.

Where do they find more money?

Even if a scholarship is enough to pay the rent, you need more money to just live. From this arises our second question: where do the students find money for everything else? Of course, each student solves this problem in his or her own way.

French student Antonin Deau who studies Bachelor in Business Strategies, has some savings because he worked last summer. He is very lucky because his parents paid the rent so he can spend Erasmus money on everyday life. Also, his region in France gave him money as he went to study abroad. It is two times 400 euros which means they received 800 euros in total. 

Photo: Antonin Deau

Laetitia Hilgendorf, who studies a Bachelor in Applied Computer Science at the University of Bamberg in Germany, also worked before. But she gets a significant amount of money from the German government. It gives her 250 euros per month as she is under 25 years old, moved from her parents and studies a bachelor.

Polish student Natalia studies Digitization and Data Management in Business at the University of Lodz. She worked specifically for studying abroad as she really wished to have this experience. Natalia saved enough money, so she doesn’t need financial support from her parents.

Other students also worked, but most of them receive help from their parents.

Ways to save money

Let us compare the prices. Meat, milk, cheese, and eggs in Norway are about two times more expensive than in other European countries. And let’s not mention the prices of alcohol… Are there any ways to save money?
As our campus is situated in Halden, most of the students travel to Sweden for shopping. It is much cheaper there than in Norway!

I think it is a real benefit. You don’t have to plan to go to Sweden. That’s one of the main advantages of Halden.

Antonin Deau

Some students also changed their food habits.

We eat 3 dishes for 1 meal in my family, but here I have to make only 1. I try not to spend much money on things like chocolate. And sometimes if I’m not really hungry for dinner, I just don’t eat it.

Iratxe Olaizola Vargas

Photo: Iratxe Olaizola Vargas

But mostly the students eat the same and just try to look for special offers in the stores.

Exchange studies without Erasmus support

However, not every exchange student came here with Erasmus support. There are two Russian girls who really wanted to study abroad even though they had to spend a huge amount of money on this adventure.

Valeriya Iolshina studies her Master in Information Systems at the Saint-Petersburg Electrotechnical University. Her story is completely different from the stories of other students.  
Erasmus was not available for her university so she only had the option to study abroad as an ordinary exchange student without any kind of scholarship. Valeriya had to provide the Norwegian government with confirmation that she had a sufficient amount of money to support herself while studying here.

I didn’t save my own money because I was not allowed to work while studying in Russia and also I was too preoccupied with my studies. But luckily my mother was saving money just in case I would need it someday for an opportunity like this. And I’m incredibly grateful to her for providing me with this opportunity of studying and living in Norway. 

Valeriya Iolshina

Valeriya didn’t change her eating habits. She tries to find offers as all students do. But she added to her menu more salmon as it is the only thing that is much cheaper in Norway compared to Russia.

Photo: Valeriia Melnik. On the picture: Valeriia Melnik (on the left) and Valeriya Iolshina (on the right)

Is it worth it after all?

Although Norway is so expensive and the exchange students were aware of that before coming they still chose this country of fjords.


This simple but very clear answer gave us Cato de Canck, who studies Project Management at the Artevelde University of Applied Sciences in Belgium, Gent.

Photo: Cato De Canck

Yes, Norway is famous for its breathtaking landscapes. Maybe coming here as an exchange student is the best opportunity to travel around it and explore all its beauty.
There were also some other reasons why the students made this decision.

I have two older brothers. One lives in Copenhagen, another one — in Stockholm. The first one lived in Finland for two years. So Norway was the only Scandinavian country which were unexplored by my brothers.

Laetitia Hilgendorf

I wanted to come here since I was a child. To be honest, Norway has an excellent program for students, they got a lot of opportunities and in a lot of countries, they don’t. It is a really nice country to live in.

Iratxe Olaizola Vargas

As I wouldn’t have received any scholarship either way, I could have chosen any other country that’s much less expensive than Norway. But I traveled to Norway with my mother three years ago and I fell in love with this country forever. I loved everything from nature and culture to general values and beliefs of this country and the people living in it. And what also attracted me, especially coming from Russia, was a sense of safety and peacefulness that this country provides.

Valeriya Iolshina

A country of amazing nature, safety and high standard of living may be the best choice of your exchange semester or may be a real struggle with high prices. Talking to the exchange students, we found out that this opportunity – to study in Norway was made possible by support from the parents or students’ work experience. Even though they invested a lot of money in this they all have already received a reward: Norway gathered together people with different cultural backgrounds and allowed them to explore not only Norwegian mentality but also the mentality of other countries.