To the International students
Julie Paus-Knudsen welcomes the new exchange students to UiO
I will first like to thank you all for choosing to come to Oslo, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak in front of you today.
Welcome to you, international students. Welcome to a city packed with cultural events, and to the highest ranked Educational institution in Norway. My name is Julie Paus-Knudsen, and I am the President of the Student Parliament at the University of Oslo.
The University of Oslo gives unique opportunities, offering Norway’s most diverse education and research. The University also has a thriving student democracy, and we are always available to help and assist you.
The Norwegian Act relating to universities and university colleges states “The students attending universities and university colleges may establish a student body to safeguard the interests of students and present their views to the board of the institution. ” At the University of Oslo the Student Parliament is a part of that student body. The law further states that ”Student bodies shall be heard on all questions concerning students at the level in question ”, and that is the reason why the Student Parliament exists. As students, we are by law ensured the right to participation in all decisions that affect us at the University of Oslo. To ensure this, students have been given at least 20 per cent representation in all boards and councils at the University. These representatives are elected from the student bodies at the various levels, either trough general assemblies or by electronic elections.
The student Parliament is the highest-level student body at the University of Oslo. The parliament consists of 35 elected representatives. After being elected, the Student Parliament appoints five students to its executive Committee. These five elected candidates work full-time on issues of student rights, educational quality and student life in general. Each year the Student parliament agrees on a plan of action and a political platform. These are political documents with visions and demands in all matters related to education.
The student parliament meets once a month, and the meetings are open to everybody. All students have a right to bring matters before the Student Parliament, and we in the executive committee are responsible of following up the policies adopted by the Parliament. In addition to the executive committee the Student Parliament has three separate political committees: The studies and research committee, the international committee and the environmental committee. Our offices are located at Villa Eika, the old Dragon style villa next to this building, and we always appreciate someone coming by.
As important as it is to be aware that we, as students, have the right to voice our opinion in students matters, we should also be aware that we do not only have the right, but also the expertise to voice our opinion in the global world community.
As students, we play an important role in the global world community. And as international students you play an even more important role. The global promblems of our time cannot be solved without collaboration that exceeds borders. Our generation faces the climate crisis, conflicts and war. As students, we are equipped to contribute towards solving these global problems. This is because we possess the latest and greatest knowledge and because we can share this knowledge with each other. Just a few months ago, the world leaders signed the Paris agreement. In order to meet the goals in the agreement, it is more important than ever to exchange ideas and thoughts on how we, together, can solve the problems we face. The global challenges will not be solved without international collaboration.
Therefore I hope that you as an international student here at the University of Oslo get a new perspective on your own field of study, that you learn something every day, and that you build skills that are important to yourself, to your future employer, and to the local and global community.
As much as I hope, and as much as I encourage you to acquire academic knowledge during your stay, I also hope that you will participate in the social life here at Blindern, and here In Oslo. When you came to Oslo you did not just bring your suitcase, you also brought your cultural and academic competence. Share it, broaden the horizon both for yourself and for the students you meet during your stay. International students contribute greatly to the student community, and your perspectives and insights enrich both the educational institution and your fellow students. Get to know students from other countries, make your stay an unforgettable experience and build lifelong friendships.
If you have googled Norway and Norwegians you might have read that Norwegians are a bit hard to befriend. Some ways to deal with this is: 1. You don’t try 2. You read the book “the social guidebook to Norway”, made by a Canadian rocket scientist that lives in Norway or 3. You can actively involve yourself in social gatherings and invite people to things you want to do. I think that you can rule out 1 immediately, and combine two and three. The book is both funny, and actually quite useful, and probably available in the building we are in right now, which is the university library. One known fact about Norwegians is that we need some sort of frame for our social activities. Some reason for meeting even though we just want to meet. Therefore I want to provide you with a few examples on frames for social activities: we have over 250 student societies at the University of Oslo, and we have Norway’s oldest student Union, The Norwegian Student Society, which has its own house called Chateau Neuf situated just one kilometre away from here. There are also pubs in the basements of almost every faculty building, which is a great place to meet new friends and interact with Norwegians. If you want to do something outside of the university campus, you can explore the Norwegian excitement around skiing. The skiing trails are just a short subway trip away from the city centre, and if you want to try it yourself you can rent skies from the student welfare organization. If you are more interested in art than in outdoors winter activities, you should visit the Munch museum. Munch is the painter that painted the famous “Scream” and the museum is a great place to spend a couple of hours. I was there myself on Sunday, and currently they have an exhibition connection the artworks of Edward Munch and Gustav Vigeland. Speaking of Vigeland, when the spring finally takes it hold of the city you can go on a picnic in the Vigeland Park, which is the worlds largest sculpture park that was made by one single artist. And if you get too warm (yes it is possible to get too warm in Oslo) you can take a swim in the freshwater just a metro trip away from the city centre or you can take the ferry to one of Oslo’s wonderful islands, I´m sure you will find someone to join you.
With these words and on the behalf of the Student Parliament I welcome you all to the University of Oslo and to the city of Oslo. I wish you all the best for the forthcoming stay! Thank you all for your attention.