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The plan for me, moving with A to Oslo was, to start studying at the University of Oslo. I didn’t even once spend a thought about requirements or proficiency tests. I assumed my appearance, our story and puppy eyes would be enough to get me enrolled into classes. Sadly, that was not the case. Early September, a couple weeks after we moved to Oslo, I learned that in order for me to start studying at the University of Oslo, I would have to pass the bergenstest first (language proficiency test at University level) and then get enrolled. If I do pass before July 1st, I would be able to start classes in August. That was a huge bummer, having to wait a whole year to continue studying… but maybe, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all to take a year off from classes and just explore the culture, the language, the customs. Yeah, maybe that’s not too bad after all… But then the councilor, whom I spoke to, told me that the next test would take place in the middle of January, which gave me a little less than 5 months to perfect a language (unknown to me) to a degree where I could pass 5 different language parts without any problems.
So first things first. I tried to find information about language classes and requirements for the test and tried to figure out, how to best pursue my goal. I learned that there were 7 levels of language-classes AND a preparation course specifically for the bergenstest. So I thought to myself, how much can I teach myself? Which classes do I really need and how do I teach myself to stop panicking? I immediately started to study Norwegian, you know, the basics. Hello, my name is… At the end of September I started taking classes. Every class taking 3 weeks, 4 days a week, 4 hours daily: I took levels 2, 3, 6 and the bergenstest preparation course and shortly before Christmas I was done with all my classes. Since I only went to 4 classes, it meant extra homework every day plus course work and assignments. It meant reading the newspaper, reading books, listening to the radio, writing essays, living and breathing Norwegian. So I could pass these five parts:
The first part: Leseforståelse. You will have to read a couple pages and then answer some questions about the texts or pick the right word to fill the blank.
The second part: Referat. You will have to listen to a 4 minute conversation, write down some important bullet points and then write a one page summary about what you heard.
The third part: Lytteforståelse. You get to hear 25 short conversations and have to mark the right answer. E.g. what are they doing? What are they talking about? Where are they?
The fourth part: Grammatikk og Uttrykk. 30 sentences A, that needed some kind of change (grammatically or idioms) in sentence B.
The fifth part: Skriftlige Produksjon. You write a two-page essay about any given topic.
By the beginning of January I was already completely burnt out. All I did was wake up and study, eat, while studying, study and study and study. But was it really enough for the bergenstest? After all, we have only been in Oslo for 5 months and I still had big troubles understanding people when they talked to me face to face, thankfully I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this during the exam, right? Conversational parts that is.
So early Saturday, January 14th, I got up, got ready and left for the bergenstest. The test was supposed to be a whole-day gig, from 8.30-15.00 with 30 minutes of a break in between. About 400 people showed up for the test, 20 of them shared a room with me and were given the same instructions I was. Not to talk to each other, not to try to cheat, that kind of business, you know. If we had questions, only ask the supervisors, the usual.
And then the testing time started. I felt pretty good about the first two parts, thinking that if it continues like this, I’d pass this easily but then: the listening comprehension. Even if I thought I understood one sentence, it wouldn’t match the answers and vice versa. So I knew, I’d bomb this. In order to pass the bergenstest, you have to pass at least 55% of every part of the test. And being so unsure of every little conversation I had to listen to, I just knew that I basically should study for the next bergenstest already. But I pushed the thoughts away and did my very best. I was done a few minutes before 3 with my entire test and decided to pack up and not look back, what is done, is done. If I failed, I failed, nothing I can change now, right?
The next 6 weeks were spent with waiting and hoping and praying that I did pass the test. I told myself that if I could find out the place, where the teachers corrected the tests, I could break in and change my results to the right answers, so I would pass the test without any problems… However I pushed those thoughts away too, thinking it wouldn’t be worth it. So today, Monday, February 20th of 2012 when I clicked on the bergenstest-homepage, I didn’t really expect anything. Over the last few weeks I checked the homepage periodically for results and never found a change but today, there was one:
So yes, I did pass. All parts, even the one where I was sure I didn’t pass. I passed and am unbelievably happy. A said that it was all me, that he didn’t do a thing, that he didn’t help. But the truth is, he did help. Every step of the way, he supported me and he gave me the time I needed to study, he would provide me with food, when I said, I wasn’t hungry and he’d tell me, to eat it anyways, it’d help me. He did everything he possibly could and I passed, not only because of him but because he was and still is here for me. He is the best help I could ever wish for. And without him the feeling of passing would only be half as good.