NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL
Yesterday we got to speak to all the new international students at the University of Oslo. The Student Communication and Information Office hosted an event called Norway in a Nutshell, and invited to a fun introduction to student life in Norway. The principal - Ole Petter Ottersen - opened the event and the blogger behind A Frog in the Fjord (a french take on Norwegian culture) spoke about getting to know Norwegians. She adviced everyone not to give up, although it might seem difficult at first.
Everyone got to taste brown cheese, makrell i tomat and smøreost. The students learned how to eat healthy on a budget — remember to eat legumes and brew your own coffee, you guys! A social anthropologist told us about the Norwegian hyttekultur, hyttekos and that 49% of all Norwegians have access to a cabin. Also, a passionate representative from the student associations urged people to volunteer, get involved and become part of the campus family. Not to mention: there was an introduction to dressing properly in the cold. Backwards — so instead of dressing up, he dressed down (read: strip show). Layers, people. Layers!
How about the other aspects of student life in Oslo?
This being a “fun and social event”, we didn’t expect it to be very formal. However, we can't help but worry about the lack of information and excitement about everything Oslo has to offer! People who choose to study abroad are often strong, talented, independent and outgoing. So why were the students being introduced to frozen pizza, “get used to being cold and not stylish” and to how the language is weird?
How about the fact that Oslo is the fastest growing European capital? And why didn’t we hear anything about the luxury of having short distances — from urban centres to quiet forests, from ski slopes to the waterfront, from the place you study to the place you live? How about the uniquely short distances in our society — from people to power, and from words to action. Why are the students not being introduced to those aspects of student life in Oslo?
Of course we just saw parts of an entire week of introductions, so this might have been covered at some other event. We hope so, UiO!
Let's get back to the reason we were there:
We contacted to the organizers a while back, and had six minutes to speak. The message was simple: We need you. More precisely, we needed 4-8 students for a focus group and as many as possible willing to answer a survey. We told them about the project, and how we needed new eyes on Oslo. We need first impressions, initial challenges and thougths. Exciting! Hopefully, their experiences will help us get a sense of what our challenges are as a city. And maybe we can get their input on how to solve them.
We got 13 people to sign up for the focus group and interviews, and about 30 for the survey. Add that to the rest of the students we’ve been in touch with earlier, and we have a satisfying number of people.
Oh, and more importantly — we got the students to say hello to all of you: