On October 12th, I joined over 300 other international students gathered at Oslo’s beautiful, Art-Deco City Hall to discuss how to make Oslo an even better city for foreign students. BI was well represented by a diverse cohort of our international classmates, as were the University of Oslo, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, and The Oslo School of Architecture and Design. It such fun to learn the personal journeys that had led all these bright young people to Oslo.
Oslo: a City for All Students
The evening started off with Oslo’s Governing Mayor Raymond Johansen sharing his commitment to improve Oslo as a city for international students and his admirable commitment to including students in that process. After a chance to mingle, we students got down to business, sitting down in small groups made of representatives from all the schools and nationalities present to start brainstorming ideas for improvement.
As we shared our personal experiences of adapting to life in Oslo, it was interesting to find so many commonalities, and some significant differences, in our perspectives. For example, nearly all students expressed frustration with the difficulty of finding jobs in Norway after graduation, but around half of the students found Oslo’s public transport system simple and easy, while the other half found it hopelessly complicated.
We discussed everything from housing woes to language learning strategies to tips for navigating Norwegian supermarkets. In the end, we all had a chance to “vote” (via stickers) for the issues we deemed most worthy of the mayor’s attention. More housing options, post-grad job opportunities and better community integration where the highest priorities by far.
The overarching tone of the evening was one of inspiration and hope. Students from all sorts of background have come to Oslo seeking new challenges, experiences and opportunities. They’re overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunities they have been offered in Norway and eager for more chances to get involved and give back to the country, city and communities that have granted them these opportunities. It was encouraging to know that our voices were heard by the mayor and that Oslo is committed to making our new home an even more welcoming place.
Of course, integration and involvement doesn’t only take place on a broad scale. Take the chance to get to know your international classmates personally and you may be surprised by the rich expertise they have to offer!