Make an effort

Norwegian and international students socialize at a much lesser extent than they should. It is our responsibility to do something about it.

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You could say that there are two kinds of students in this city: On one hand, you have Norwegian students who mainly keep to themselves and that for various reasons are reluctant to make contact with international students. On the other hand, you have international students who mainly hang out with other international students. It doesn’t have to be this way. We should hang out together.

One challenge that could be said to impede socialization between Norwegian and international students, especially for Norwegians, is the necessity to speak English. Many students find it difficult enough to make new friends to begin with, and even harder whilst talking in a second language. These challenges are often compounded when you move to a new city, where you don’t know anyone. But people need to set their inhibitions aside, and dare to try something new. «Just do it».

Nevertheless, change won’t happen by itself. It will require that both Norwegian and international students make an effort together to get to know each other, in order to maximize our chances of success. Because if we fail to seize this opportunity – if we fail to get to know each other despite our differences – Norwegians miss out on new inputs and insights that only someone from other parts of the world can give them. And international students will not have the opportunity to truly experience the country where they have chosen to study.

The easiest way to get to know international students, is just to start a casual conversation when you meet them. Simply start by saying ‘hi’. If they seem nice, you could invite them to a party. And if you struggle to come up with anything to say, you could start off with a general topic like music, you could speak of places you’ve visited around the world, or just talk about how excellent or terrible your professors are. You might be majoring in the same field, or you could be part of the same student organisation. Chances are that you’ll find you have a lot in common. Soon you’ll forget all about any cultural differences that might have previously existed. You should also remember that most people you meet, don’t speak English as their first language either – so don’t let the language barrier stop you.

It is likely that you’ll meet students from other countries either in your classes, through Studentersamfundet or through various other student organisations. In reality, it’s not any more difficult to make friends from all around the world than to befriend Norwegians (or vice versa) while you’re studying in Trondheim. It only requires that you’re willing to make an effort to get to know them, and that you know where to find them.

You have a choice now, and the ability to shape your own future and make friends across borders that would have seemed unlikely just one generation ago. My advice is that you take this opportunity. Because when you’re old, you’ll regret the friendships you didn’t make more than the ones you did. At least I can say, from my own experiences, that I’m glad I’ve made so many friends from around the world, and I wouldn’t want to be without them. So let’s all come together to show what a unique, international and truly vibrant city Trondheim can be.