WORKSHOP: 19 STOPS & A LAB MAP

The last workshop. This time we had 19 stops and 60 people - both internationals and locals - with a lab map to help us make Oslo a more welcoming, attractive and enriching city for internationals.

Before this, the research had come down to about 14 questions - all starting with “How might we…”. What we wanted the workshop participants to do, was to help us brainstorm ideas on how to answer them. So they all got a LAB MAP and instructions on what to do, and then they navigated through the spaces by themselves. This proved to work out perfectly - resulting in many interesting conversations and new connections.

Workshop turned mingling event when Oslo Swingers Club showed up with music, and the bar at Skippergata was open. What a great night! Thanks to everyone who participated, and of course: Kris Myhre for documenting it all.  We’ve summed it up below, so if you’re ready for a long-read - check it out!

 
 

OSLO HAS A LOT TO OFFER, BUT MOST EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS ARE COMMUNICATED IN NORWEGIAN. HOW MIGHT WE OPEN UP TO A MORE INTERNATIONAL CROWD, WHILE MAKING SURE NOT TO EXCLUDE NORWEGIANS?

  • Do the events in english and do some of the activities in Norwegian
  • Create one platform in a range of languages that highlights the alternatives to the tourist traps
  • Throw an ethnic food event for everyone – let’s eat together!
  • Social events like this one (#WhyOslo workshop)  is the best option – you should have more of them!

In general it’s important for everyone to provide information in two languages, and in for example support material, marketing and communication. A good example is to provide subtitles on films at outdoor cinemas in Oslo. On how not to exclude Norwegians: “They all speak english, you wouldn’t exclude them. They would probably exclude themselves”. Is this true?

 

OSLO HAS A LOT TO OFFER, BUT MOST EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS ARE COMMUNICATED IN NORWEGIAN. HOW MIGHT WE OPEN UP TO A MORE INTERNATIONAL CROWD, WHILE MAKING SURE NOT TO EXCLUDE NORWEGIANS?

  • Do the events in english and do some of the activities in Norwegian
  • Create one platform in a range of languages that highlights the alternatives to the tourist traps
  • Throw an ethnic food event for everyone – let’s eat together!
  • Social events like this one (#WhyOslo workshop)  is the best option – you should have more of them!

In general it’s important for everyone to provide information in two languages, and in for example support material, marketing and communication. A good example is to provide subtitles on films at outdoor cinemas in Oslo. On how not to exclude Norwegians: “They all speak english, you wouldn’t exclude them. They would probably exclude themselves”. Is this true?

 

 

Norwegians see themselves as a closed group of people who are reserved and not open to meeting new people. Often, this is not the case, but it might seem like it at first glance. How might we create a more positive story - enabling Norwegians to greet newcomers with pride and openness?

  • Introduce internationals to typical Norwegian activities – maybe play with funny stereotypes
  • Make Norwegians think the sense of us, not them and us
  • Promote multiculturalism – events with different cultures
  • Create a campaign around the concept and encourage every Oslopolitan to participate in it
  • Create a vision and brand it, so every Oslopolitan knows it. Fun podcast that introduces Norwegians to hostmanship.
  • Encourage Norwegians to challenge the stereotypes – cold, not good chefs, not talkative. Do a dinner, talk to a stranger on the bus etc.
  • Smile and say hello!
  • Letting people know that Norwegian culture is not something that has been and is unchangeable. Culture and identity has always changed.
  • Make Norwegians realize that being kind and talkative doesn’t mean we have to be best friends.

“The problem is a small-town culture, promote Oslo as a big city with big city responsibility. Everyone has a duty to help people  around us, locally. The government isn’t going to help everyone. “ So how can we create a system where we encourage and support local and community based initiatives?

It should be in Norway's interest, and the country's aim to become the most welcoming and friendly country.

“Norwegians have lots of pride – less openness”.

“The only thing that is constant is change”.

 

Though Oslo’s educational institutions work actively on their onboarding programs, there’s room for improvement. Offers often rely on resources or committed staff at the individual school or university. How might we create better onboarding processes among the learning institutions for international students? Either individually or as a joint collaboration?

  • Have institutions share best practices
  • Translate all the content of university’s website to english
  • Have workshops / classes about the different governmental systems and how they work (NAV, Skatt, bank etc.)
  • Curated information – avoid confusion
  • Systemised platform online
  • An event where everyone can share about their culture, language life and why they chose Oslo.
  • Make the institutions ask the international students what they need, not assuming what they want.

In other conversation and workshops there’s also been a lot of focus on issues regarding visa ( 102 000 NOK for VISA / deposit is an issue), and getting a Norwegian sim card and bank account.

 

Settling into Oslo can be difficult. It’s often in trying to navigate through the systems, and in meetings with the different instances that people experience difficulties and frustration. Though this is most of the time temporary, it’s still a frustration that affects newcomers’ first months in Oslo and makes the experience less joyful. How might we create better tailored and well communicated onboarding processes for everyone arriving to Oslo?

  • Regular events for new people
  • Offer all sites in english
  • Expat centre portal / platform – link more services together
  • Meet them when they arrive – at the airport to guide them to their new place
  • Be present at arrival points – airport, harbour. Maybe small booths or offices that provide a welcome kit.
  • A concierge that follows my journey and is always available
  • Create a brochure for foreigners coming to the city
  • Set up stands at the airport where people can find answers about life and work in Norway

Another feedback to everyone (maybe especially Norwegians) that kept popping up on all the different stops: ‘smile at strangers!.’ Another one that we’ve kept seeing throughout this project, all the workshop and this last event is a need for a one stop shop, both physically and digitally when arriving to Norway ( somewhere that has everything you need - ).  

 

There’s a need for a one-stop-shop, with friendly and helpful staff, when arriving to Oslo. Internationals often experience difficulties when it comes to visas, D- and personal numbers, bank accounts and getting a Norwegian sim card. We need more information in one place, both digitally and physically. How might we create a one-stop-shop that helps solve these issues and has all information available?

  • Creating a network between organizations and the state for newcomers to get easy access to the information. This network can organize information on a website and social gatherings.
  • Advertise the one-stop-shop at places like airports, busses, train stations, NAV, Skatteetaten, UDI.
  • Curated, personalized and facilitated support
  • And NAV could be involved employing helpful people, empowering them by helping them to empower everyone.
  • Staff: educated professionals and service workers, europeans and from other continents
  • Advertise it on Facebook

For some people not having a one-stop-shop has never been a problem because they’ve been hired through a workplace that has either helped them out with everything they needed, or they’ve received help through a relocator service. “I didn’t face this problem because my workplace – simula.no, took care and sorted out everything.”

Another thing in focus is the wish for more friendly service staff, and a one-stop-shop that treats everyone equal.


Internationals find it challenging to understand the dynamics of the city and of social life in Oslo, and often feel left out or different. A sense of belonging is a basic human need, and an important part of obtaining this is understanding how Oslo works. How might we create a sense of meaning, coherence and belonging for internationals in Oslo?

 

  • Mentoring, matching internationals with locals, expat centre guides
  • Meet-ups, interesting both for Norwegians and internationals (like language exchange)
  • Allow tourists and other people on all different people to volunteer
  • Hvordan ber du internasjonale ta hånd om internasjonale? Change roles at UDI?
  • More info on what life looks like in Oslo/Norway.
  • That is true, I think cultural differences are huge. But it’s possible to change this by creating a proposal where internationals can live with a Norwegian family for a week at a time at the beginning of their stay / arrival.
  • Tip: the poor man’s guide to Oslo
  • Expanding the concept ‘humans of oslo’, to more than an exhibition – an event?
  • Encourage workplaces to have more socializing events
  • Invite internationals in to voluntary organizations
  • Encourage Norwegians to open up their homes and social circles to include internationals
  • The Netherlands has “undutchables” for people who are not Dutch – Norway should have something similar.
  • And again; just with a simple hello.

One participant  said: “The city needs to be a good listener”, and we totally agree, and this is the main reason for doing this project. It's also important to change Norwegians awareness when it comes to having international friends and networks. “We don’t know that we need international friends, we don't see value in it”. Another statement: “Norwegian mindset doesn’t know talent when they see it”.

If anyone is interested in solutions and more articles on this, check out one of the participants websites: Theoslobook.no - Good read!!

 

  On a scale from one to ten - where ten is positive - how welcome do you feel in Oslo? Well, Oslo -- doesn’t look so shabby after all.

On a scale from one to ten - where ten is positive - how welcome do you feel in Oslo? Well, Oslo -- doesn’t look so shabby after all.

Oslopolitans lack international experience and impulses (is this true?).

Anyway, it is important for the city’s growth – socially, culturally and professionally – that Norwegians aspire to go abroad for study or work. Gaining new knowledge and the experience of being a foreigner first, might be of help to others when returning to Oslo. How might we inspire more Norwegians to move abroad?

 

  • Universities should collaborate more with international student organizations and together promote student mobility abroad (hilsen ISU)
  • Make information available at early age, at highschool
  • Make a big deal out of it, invite kids to events that involve the theme
  • Asking Norwegians that have been abroad or internationals to explain their experiences
  • Make shit interesting. Mark the importance of discovery.
  • Making the idea of a leap to study or work for a period abroad, a clearly positive career investment. So knowing it would be appreciated, more people would be confident to do it.
  • Maybe engage embassies in the process?
  • Encourage them to meet with others that have been abroad (ANSA, NGO’s)
  • Organize events in which people / foreign students present their country.
  • More language and exchange programs at pre-school
  • School kids to have a year volunteering abroad before university.
  • Many companies don’t bother with the expense of sending people abroad. They just hire locals with international experience in that country.

 

Meeting new people expands their horizon as it develops original thinking and an outside the box thinking. “Don’t just travel abroad, live abroad and you’ll get the point”.

“Do you really need them to go abroad?” Someone asked. We think it sometimes helps to broadens people's horizons and to bring back different experiences and knowledge that you wouldn't necessarily gain here. Like someone else said: “working abroad gives skills and knowledge they won’t find here, as the work culture is different. Going abroad pushes your limits and makes you push yourself, and figure out what to do in life”.

 

Internationals have expressed the need to come in contact with locals. To make friends. To share experiences. To expand their network. To have someone to turn to for help. How might we create solutions that connect people on both a social and professional level – offering internationals a helping hand?

 

  • Social networks + international bars = smile
  • Connect Norwegians looking to move or work internationally to meet with people from those countries
  • Get volunteers for a welcome committee that guides online or at a location
  • Marry ANSA alumni with an expat
  • Volunteer work office at associations – maybe student associations
  • It would be helpful if high-skilled professionals (foreigners) could get some advice from locals working at the same field
  • Connect Norwegians that have moved from other areas in Norway with internationals, those Norwegians need to build their network as well. Winwin. Connect Norwegians and Internationals who are working in the same industries, this will not only enable Internationals to adjust in Oslo, but will enable Norwegians to become more global and get knowledge of the global work market.
  • Create a program in which Norwegians can “adopt” an International and start something – a collaboration for social and professional development
  • Invite for social events, create a bigger network in which Norwegians wants to participate – facebook groups
  • Host family (similar to the foster care system)
  • Mentorship incubator program (there is a company in the US doing this for young professionals moving to a new city)
  • Norwegians seem to be very into volunteering, let them do this for foreigners. Hopefully it would become an activity to do, not a charity
  • Get businesses to showcase I talent

 

Again a one-stop-shop has been mentioned. A place where you can get access to all services you need, and tailored information. And maybe even events where newly arrivals are introduced to other Oslopolitans and social events.

 

Language is often a barrier for internationals - both when looking for a job, and making new friends. Everyone in Norway knows how to speak English, but (to the surprise of many) not everyone wants to. How might we enable more internationals to learn the language?

 

  • Match students with willing locals to show them around and exchange in norsk
  • Try to arrange a language exchange evening where Norwegians  and Internationals can talk to each other
  • More tandem classes / exchanges to actually practice Norwegian, not just follow a course
  • More opportunities for real communication where it isn’t a lesson as such, but where it is ok to be a little embarrassed
  • Have a cool start-up dedicated to it.
  • Norwegian online / audio / podcast office – conversation partners
  • Include us in Norwegian only social events and translate if needs be – a little effort on your part is all that’s needed
  • Joining Norwegian organizations on your free time, feks Better Norsk and Better Networking, and socializing with dugnad
  • The question is rather: HMW help Norwegian learn basic skills in initiating a nice, friendly and informal conversation in english.
  • Offer advanced C-level N classes, specialized subject matter for vocab (medical etc) and pronouncing classes
  • Practice with kids

 

A general experience when it comes to most language classes in Norway is that they are not tailored. People find themselves in groups/classes with people from completely different backgrounds and a mix of people who either get the course for free or has to pay big amounts for the course.

“It’s challenging when you’re taking a class when people also are needing to learn english. Slow and expensive”. Could the schools provide better and more tailored language programs for people who wants to learn Norwegian? There’s also a problem with the cost of the courses, as many internationals coming to Norway have to pay for these. Would it be possible to develop a system like Denmark where foreigners who has just moved to the country get free language education for a limited amount of time?

 

Internationals arriving in Norway are often talented and resourceful, bringing with them new knowledge. How might we make Norwegians aware of what internationals contribute with, and that having international friends or contacts can benefit them and Oslo?

 

  • Show, don’t tell & share success stories
  • Set up programs where internationals are the experts & mentors to locals
  • Have a Norwegian mentor: “Once I found one, my whole world opened up”
  • “Arrange events encouraging people with different backgrounds to bond through workshops like this, but invite more people and headhunting agencies”
  • Intercultural exchange
  • Include Norwegians when they travel in other countries, so that they will return the favour.

 

“I have no idea” - that’s also an answer to the question that means a lot. These are big challenges to tackle. Which is why input from the internationals themselves is crucial.

There were many comments and ideas based on the idea that many locals in Oslo fear foreigners. “Not wanting to work or live with foreigners, assuming it’s too much hassle and fearing culture shock – that’s just silly.” Often the challenge is to communicate that everyone has something to offer. Interaction should be based on points of interest – not of difference.

 

Research shows that ⅓ companies in Norway are hesitant or negative to recruiting from outside of Norway. Work life is often characterized as “very Norwegian”, and there is a need to have greater international focus to maintain competitiveness. How might we encourage more companies to recruit, value and develop international talent?

 

  • Provide more info for foreigners on what Norwegian work life looks like. It can be confusing in the beginning, but most people want to be a part of it. How is the culture?
  • International exposure and expansion. For instance: Hire 10 French people, and one year later open an office in France with them
  • How about quotas? Fex: Every business needs to have 5% of their employees to be internationals, and get offer tax reductions to hire internationals
  • Organize international fairs where international talent and advantages are presented - spread awareness
  • Better facilitate job recruiting within the Norwegian market and for a closer cooperation with the EU. Giving them the understanding that people from other countries might have similar work ethics as well. Offer training on intercultural communication at work.
  • Train HR staff and leaders on discrimination laws

 

As one workshopper wrote: “We can't be naive to the fact that sometimes you need to speak Norwegian”. However, this does not mean we can’t improve. Improving Corporate Social Responsibility was mentioned. Shed light on the variety of experience they could gain by hiring international talent. “Competence and the will to work should count more than: I trust you, because you are Norwegian”.

Also, an interesting point: In the 70s the oil industry needed international talent, so we positioned Norway as a knowledge centre for petroleum - focusing on obtaining the best of the best. How can this mindset be used today?


 

 What would a Welcome-to-Oslo kit contain?

What would a Welcome-to-Oslo kit contain?

 

Internationals find getting to know Norwegians challenging. Internationals meet with internationals, and Norwegians meet with Norwegians in different arenas. We need to embrace the opportunities in targeting Oslopolitans as a whole - separating by interest, not by origin. How might we make more people meet by blurring the traditional line between locals and foreigners?

 

  • Low key language café, that is also a cool place to hang out
  • More access to Norwegian activities
  • WhyOslo 2 with participants both from Norway and abroad
  • Have a foreigner to dinner-day: Make it a big, cool thing on Facebook people want to attend
  • Check out Kompis Sverige!
  • Stop calling it Internationals and Norwegians, lets talk about “us”
  • Events and alternatives without alcohol
  • Provide more information on culture for all Newcomers - no matter if they’re from Tromsø or Taiwan
  • Global Village-day: People having stalls and representing their own countries
  • Learning Norwegian through work - not only by talking about yourselves at språkkafé. Might make it easier when it doesn’t have to be so personal.

 

People ask for English friendly events that do not only target Norwegians. One workshopper said “I LOVE OSLOPOLITANS - lets use it more!”. Could it be a common denominator, blurring the line? Some wanted “more workshops like this” to connect more internationally-minded Norwegians with internationals. And how about some genuine curiosity? We are happy to hear that some believe WhyOslo is a good start: “Create more genuine opportunities for people to meet as people. Not just charity for the poor foreigners, but something mutual and rewarding.”


 

Oslo offers a range of different activities. However, the initiatives are fragmented – spread across the city and promoted in different channels. This makes it hard to discover the endless opportunities. How might we highlight all the existing initiatives in Oslo, gathering them and making them easily accessible to all?

 

  • Common platform or website gathering all social initiatives, available in a range of languages
  • One-stop info page: Let Visit Oslo and similar channels list everything
  • Facebook and Twitter pages where people can promote events and stay up-to-date
  • Maybe through an app like Foursquare, and a system that matches you with relevant events for you

 

These things need continuity. How about arranging something every month, so you can be prepared. The importance of building a stronger SoMe profile was stressed, and platforms like the oslobook.no was mentioned as good initiatives to gather information. Not only about the touristy stuff.

Due to several reasons – especially the lack of a professional network – it is hard for internationals to get a relevant job after their studies in Norway. To be able to stay in Norway on a visa, they are however forced to get hired within six months. At the moment there are few direct collaborations or links between educational institutions and the labor market that can ensure a smooth recruiting process. How might we help students get relevant work after their studies?

 

  • Career centers at schools should be very active and doing a job in partnering with local companies
  • Provide information about what is needed, and offer help to get in the door. language courses, CV writing, interviewing and networking
  • Have alumni groups with monthly seminars
  • Matchmakers and headhunters founded by both the government and businesses
  • Networking events that aren't just for students
  • Create an online platform that serves two purposes: Portfolio for young professionals, and opportunities for businesses for get in contact with potential employees

 

Many mentioned this could be solved through more networking events arranged by schools, private and governmental organizations. Together! Encourage companies and organizations to employ people with diverse backgrounds, and especially those whose language skills are still developing. Also, this question was posed: How do you showcase talent? Take inspiration from the RSA & student design awards.

 

Soooooo… This is what we have to work with. A LOT. Next step is to gather all of this, narrowing it down to the most important parts and making them opportunities for design. Let’s go!


 

 

Emergence