Finding “Hygge” while on a Fulbright

I set off on my third Fulbright adventure, this time as a Fulbright Specialist heading to Oslo, Norway. While working on various nursing curriculum strategies, conducting leadership development workshops and giving talks on evidence-based practice to improve health care, I started noticing something else. There was the essence of  “hygge” all around me. As a newcom er to Norway, I wondered, could I gain some of this cultural experience while I was here?


at left: Enjoying Fulbright celebration in Oslo with retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Braithwaite, U.S. ambassador to Norway. He is a strong supporter of nurses and nurse practitioners!


If you don’t know anything about “hygge,” it is a term used primarily in Scandinavian countries (but it is spreading to the U.S.) that describes a mindset or state of being. Originally derived from Danish (Oslo sits almost right across the sea from Copenhagen), hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a word used when acknowledging a feeling or a moment,  that is cozy, warm, contented, comforting, special or charming. To be “hyggeligt” doesn’t take extraordinary events or activities; hygge can occur, and often does, in day-to-day activities or experiences. What hygge definitely is not is a thing or something you buy (there are no “hygge foods” or “hygge furniture” for sale) and you sure don’t need a class on becoming hyggeligt (although I am sure someone in North America will offer one sooner or later – sigh).

What it took for me to become more culturally-integrated with my Norwegian (and other Scandinavian) colleagues was my taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and slowing my mind, activities, and spirit down a notch or two. Case in point, busy American at work in the office (type, write, read, type, write, read, repeat) – you get the picture. Suddenly the faculty all gather for lunch – together – all take time to come out of their offices and break bread as a group. Not just a few buddies, all of them, and, of course, I am invited. Bowls of fruit or sweets are placed on the table. Everyone gets settled and no one gobbles down their lunch getting ready to spurt back to their paper, lecture, meeting or whatever (oh, except me the first time we did this as I had no idea how to settle down). Everyone focuses, not on work issues, but pleasant conversations of last night’s good concert, the new restaurant reviews, plans for family gatherings and the like. It is just a cozy, relaxed, good-feeling lunch – a little bit of hygge at work. Oh, remember to save room for late afternoon snack time when everyone will gather again for a brief relaxing moment together with cake or sweets and, of course, kaffe.

One of the wonderful opportunities provided by a Fulbright experience is the chance to get to know professional acquaintances on a deeper level as people. I was the happy recipient of many meals prepared by my new friends at their homes. And, of course, the hygge continues. Everyone loves candles – lots of them – and they come out for every meal. Setting a beautiful table, preparing meals from scratch, vases of fresh flowers, enjoying hours of conversation, all are standard hygge experiences when invited to a friend’s house. How relaxing! With a furry seat cover or a knitted throw to cover yourself with on the balcony after dinner…how cozy!


at right: Catching a little of the “hygge” spirit (yes: cake, candles, coffee, flowers)



When in need of a contented, comforting experience never downplay the impact of a good kaffe (A.K.A. coffee) – and in Norway kaffe is a big deal! Wonderful kaffe machines in every office and kaffes all over the town. Whether it’s the typical start your day kaffe, mid-morning break kaffe, mid-afternoon pick up kaffe, and post dinner delight kaffee – kaffe is a simple way to hygge it with friends and co-workers. No wonder Norway is the second leading nation for consuming coffee.  But please, china cups are preferred as they are extremely green-friendly here.

I tried to give you a little feel for my entry into hyggeligt but, to me, this also included the contented, comfortable feeling you get being with new friends from around the world. Each of my Fulbright experiences has allowed me the opportunity to develop creative ideas in research and clinical practice, share educational approaches, learn a different way of thinking and forge closer bonds. I include here each of the Fulbright pathways for faculty and students. I, myself, have had the Scholar (Scotland), Administrator (France) and now the Specialist (Norway).   In a nutshell – Fulbright is life-changing! Check out their website ( for students or for faculty scholars) and their Twitter account @FulbrightAssoc. You can also find many of my Fulbright experiences @DMorrisonBeedy as well. I’d love to write more but guess who just got invited for cake and kaffe? After all, it is afternoon in Oslo.

The uplifting power of partnerships

There is something about working with others who have the same passion, interests, and energy that you do which can be absolutely uplifting. There is also something that takes place within a true partnership, where each person or group is both giving and receiving, that really empowers you to believe that, together, you can accomplish great things. At The Ohio State University College of Nursing we have many opportunities for students to engage with global partners and share an uplifting in-country experience. Our faculty have described the inspiring capabilities of these unique educational offerings below.

When Dr. Lucia Jenusky considers her study abroad work in Honduras, she reflects from two perspectives. “What do our students get out of this experience and what are we doing while in-country for such a short term that can truly transform health care in Honduras and impact the health and well-being of Hondurans? When students have the opportunity to study abroad, they have different travel experience histories, different cultural backgrounds and different reasons for wanting the study abroad experience. As I look at course objectives and student expectations pre- and post-trip, I see the transformation of the students. Even though this trip is short, students can get a great understanding of another culture’s religion, education and healthcare systems, language, food, etc. This trip also introduces students to the impact of NGOs on a country’s education and healthcare. We were very fortunate to be able to ‘pay it forward’ in that we educated future Honduran nurses within the first-ever nursing high school in Honduras. Ohio State University students are part of history in Honduras. We educated the first graduating class of the first nursing high school in Honduras.”

In partnership with The Center for Development in Central America (CDCA), a project of the Jubilee House Community, Inc. (JHC) that has non-profit organization status in the U.S. and “International Mission” status in Nicaragua, Dr. Elizabeth Fitzgerald has led undergraduate and graduate students in a unique service-learning opportunity for many years. As she describes, “Our partnership with CDCA/JHC enables the people they serve to find their own solutions to the problems they identify and connects them with resources to solve their problems. I have found joy through my service experiences and built personal relationships based on trust. The Nicaraguan people are warm, generous, friendly and very proud of their cultural heritage.” Students leave this experience with new insights as they combine a pragmatic educational experience with community service that meets the needs of the people in this Central American country.

Faculty lead Dr. Penny Marzalik writes about an education abroad experience for graduate midwifery students that has been underway on the Isle of Jersey, a small British Crown Dependency Channel isle off the coast of France. “We partnered with the University of Chester in Chester, England for an annual student exchange program. With diligent work and countless Skype sessions in between, last year we welcomed our first two Chester midwives from the Isle of Jersey to Columbus, thus strengthening a collaboration between Chester and Jersey aimed to address the concerning shortage of midwifery staff on the isle. This year, we excitedly await the journey of two of our own Buckeyes. They will travel to the British Isles to gain experiences in midwifery care with the wonderful people of Jersey, continuing during their stay to strengthen our bonds with the University of Chester on this important initiative.” This experience is a great example of reciprocal educational partnerships.

This year, our newest global offering is a partnership with Lovisenberg Diakonale University College in Oslo, Norway. We are so looking forward to this opportunity where graduate entry master’s students, who already possess a bachelor’s degree in another field, will partner with Norwegian nursing students to complete required community health clinical hours. Working together in pairs and teams, these students will address the health care needs of disenfranchised and vulnerable populations including the homebound, refugees and the elderly. The ability to compare and contrast healthcare, educational, and social systems across these two nations in “real-time” will be truly transformative. During this experience we will also provide a “virtual global classroom experience” for those students still stateside. Working together, these students will share learning and life experiences while enjoying all that Oslo as a capital city provides.

No matter the setting here or abroad, students can gain so much from an actual or virtual global experience. Such opportunities provide chances to improve your language skills, travel, imbed in a different culture, see educational and healthcare systems from a different lens, find new interests, and make new friends and connections. Ultimately, for you and the people you meet, work with, and study with, the positive outcomes of becoming a citizen of the world start with these transformational partnerships. #OSUGlobalTransformation



Dianne Morrison-Beedy

Dianne Morrsion-Beedy serves as the Chief Talent & Global Strategy Officer and the Centennial Professor for The Ohio State University College of Nursing.