International Orientation Week at NTNU, Monday

Monday, Aug 15, was the welcome meeting for all international students. There were about 1400 of us in the room.

I was inthe middle-back of the room

The meeting began with two women in bunad (traditional Norwegian dress) singing a Norwegian folk tone. They were then introduced and sang another song, although this one was Swedish about how you shouldn’t be afraid of the dark winter (appropriate).

Example of bunad (photo av Elin B)

Then came a message from the Rector about what makes NTNU special and why all international students who come should stay. (It sounded a little like a sales pitch, but that was refreshing in its own way!) The Head of the International Office came onstage next to talk about the program, ask why we would leave our warm climates and activities to study in the dark snow, and suggest that we initiate conversation if we want to make friends with Norwegians. This last sentiment was reiterated at least three other times throughout the meeting; Norwegians are very shy! A few others spoke: the Mayor of Trondheim, some students from various on-campus organizations, and others I’m forgetting.

The student organizations impressed me because of the emphasis placed on student volunteering to make the campus a better place. One of the commonly forgotten (in the USA, anyway) tenets of democracy is the idea of civic responsibility in volunteering and providing for each other. We are okay at voting in elections, debating issues, and even protesting (although we should do much better in most of these), but volunteering is a thing emphasized in order to get into college and something required of Greek organizations once you’re in college. There is little (or I see/saw little of it, at least) of Rousseau’s attitude stated in The Social Contract: that we have reached a “point in the state of nature when the obstacles to human preservation have become greater than each individual with his own strength can cope with” thereby requiring civic responsibility of each individual for the success of the State and the People. You are An Extra Special Good Person if you mention you volunteer regularly in the States, rather than someone doing what they ought. I think this makes sense given how we Americans emphasize individuality and self-sufficiency. Perhaps I’m wrong and lived in a city/went to a college that was too big for every student to hear the spirit of volunteering preached. Nonetheless, I was impressed with how the students and staff at NTNU approached the message.

One organization in particular stood out to me: ISFiT (International Student Festival in Trondheim). From their webpage: “The vision of ISFiT is to create a better future for young people in the world. ISFiT is arranged every other year, and each festival has a theme related to social and political topics with international relevance… The workshops are the very essence of ISFiT… ISFiT’s concept is ‘Trade Your Ideas’ because we believe that an exchange of ideas and dialogue is the solution to the present challenges at hand. We wish to create a constructive debate on the theme across ideological and national borders.” This year’s theme is discrimination. Their application opened today and you can bet I’ll be applying as soon as I have a working telephone number!

The rest of the meeting went on, with many jokes from one particular speaker about the love/hate rivalry between Trondheim and Bergen, 
(¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and concluded with the students funneling into a back room for soup and (really good) bread.

We took a photo at the Main Building at Gløshaugen.

I’m somewhere in the flood with a Hook ‘Em!

Then we went to Kristiansten Fortress for some team challenges (flying egg, sack race, tug-of-war).

Kristiansten Fortress in the dreary (love it) weather

Afterwards, some friends and I went to the local IKEA.

Norwegians like their sandwiches open (smørbrød)

Here’s a little something from REMA 1000 (local grocery store)!

I’ll post more later in the week! Ha det bra!