University in Oslo – “Knot Dot” Friendships

You made the move from far away and into an international student village. Each day you start branching out more and speaking a foreign language when you’re grocery shopping or grabbing a coffee at a café. But how do you make friends? Part of student life in Oslo is finding ways to get plugged into the new culture and discovering your group of friends. Learning to read the “Knutepunktet” Treasure Map is key to finding some of the most convenient ways to jump into the culture, get yourself some gems called friends, and fully experience life as an international student at the University in Oslo.

In accordance with my USAC Digital Internship and the Follow On Service Project proposed for my awarded Gilman Scholarship, I’m sharing about my study abroad experience through a series of posts on my blog and Instagram.

Like the way a knot overlaps and ties together separate places of a string, a Norwegian “Knutepunktet” (translates to “Knot Dot” in English) brings things closer that may have otherwise stayed farther away. Typically an area of commerce and community, it usually means shopping centers and indoor markets. For students at the University in Oslo, however, the Knutepunktet has the purpose of bringing together the international student body and hosting events that contribute cultural and social elements to academic life. Students abroad can sometimes struggle with finding their sense of home while overseas, but the University in Oslo wants to help you have a more pleasant, engaging, and connected experience. Check out their suggestions and see which fits your life abroad!

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Volunteer at a coffee shop or student pub
Each faculty on campus has a café in their respected building, and on Fridays, it turns into a relaxed pub where you can play cards and board games and get an affordable beer. One fantastic option for students is signing up to volunteer for a few shifts throughout the semester. It’s more than fine to speak English with the customers, and you’ll be able to interact in a really friendly manner with the patrons just by being a part of the team. In the afternoons, it’s popular for Norwegians to stop by a shop to buy a coffee and some thin waffles or a pastry. The cozy atmosphere is a great place to mingle with locals, and as a volunteer barista it’s your job to ask people how their day or week has been. On top of that, the team hosts fun weekend escapes to the student cabins and even a ferry trip to Denmark together!

Peruse the booths during Student Association Day
The University in Oslo boasts of over 200 various clubs and associations, and there are over 450 total in the larger Student Life organization in the city! There’s something for everyone and an entire crew of people to bond with over your shared interests. Are you an avid Dungeons and Dragons player? Big into swing dancing? An outdoor enthusiast? Want to talk good reads over great coffee? There are avenues for every passion: humanitarian, athletic, political, philosophical, or a shared love for food… these provide solid opportunities to connect with people in Oslo. It’s common in Norway to be introduced to one another through focused social functions, so join one (or five) to meet friends as well as add to your resume and life experiences!

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Attend language cafés
Participating in our language café is a great way to learn Norwegian or another language of your interest, and to meet new people from all over the world. Seventeen countries were represented in my Norwegian Level I class! Everyone is trying something new, something foreign, and the language cafés are held monthly to encourage everyone to keep sticking with the difficulty of speaking a different language. Find the table with the flag of the country whose language you’d like to practice. Sit down to enjoy some good food and easy going conversation at whatever skill level you have for speaking. There are dictionaries scattered around and lots of friendly faces to help each other figure it all out. Little by little, you will develop your ability to speak a foreign dialog and you’ll get to know some other linguist enthusiasts, as well!

Join the International Students at The University of Oslo (UiO) Facebook Group
Get notifications about events, participate in polls and other research projects by other students, or organize get togethers for BBQ or park days. Ask questions about housing, affordable grocery stores or find inside information about where to stay when you take a weekend excursion! With over 1,500 members, this network is a great resource for your time studying abroad in Oslo. [link: International Students at The University of Oslo (UiO) ]

Play board games at the Public Library  
Arabic, English, and Norwegian speakers are all able to play the linguistic board game “New Amigos” at the Public Library. Groups of UiO students like to get together and join some of the local Oslo residents who are also improving their language skills. Going to a city event with some University Students helps strengthen your ties as a resident of Oslo, and once you’re there you’ll have a chance to hear about everyday life from non-students, too. Chat about daily differences and similarities with people who work, live, and raise their family in this Scandinavian snowglobe, and aren’t here just for school. This is a great way to be exposed to the local life in Norway.

Whether you stick to campus opportunities or find a way to integrate yourself into the city on a larger scale, your time in Oslo is going to be remarkable if you follow the leads the University suggests for how to get involved. Think about hobbies you are passionate about and there is bound to be a student association or club to share that interest with… Pick a new activity to try and you’ll find a group who is more than willing to introduce you and teach you about it… Take advantage of getting involved in Oslo and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and cultures from all over the world. Little by little, your experiences will tie memories and new friends together like a “Knutepunktet” or “Knot Dot” charm you can wear ‘round your heart for the rest of your life.

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Thank you to USAC and the Gilman Scholars Program for this extraordinary time!

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