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Article Welcome a stranger image

Welcome a stranger

Student Society leader Sande welcomes the international students, and recommends taking part in the upcoming ISFiT events.

This February, Trondheim will once again be the host of the world’s biggest thematic student festival: the International Student Festival in Trondheim, or ISFiT for short. Over 500 people from more than 150 countries are coming to a snowy and cold Norwegian city to discuss migration, and we as Trondheim's residents are yet again inhabitants of Scandinavia’s most diverse city. Coming to a foreign country can be a challenging experience, however, this challenge is eased by a warm welcome.

Migration takes many forms. For instance, if you do a semester or a year abroad, you are considered a migrant. When I was in high school, I spent my second year in another country. Even though the country I lived in, the United Kingdom, is close to home both culturally and geographically, I regularly experienced a feeling of otherness that was difficult to shake off. Now, obviously, I was in a very fortunate position: being able to call home or talk to friends, and in worst case having the opportunity of going home. Still, I believe that this experience has been a valuable lesson about the feeling of not belonging, and what it’s like to feel like you live on the outside of a greater society.

Les også (article in norwegian): 300 studenter mangler soveplass under ISFiT

All in all, these lessons have shaped me and been some of my most valuable life lessons over the course of the almost 25 years I have spent on this planet. From experiencing another country, I have learnt a vast number of things about myself. For instance the fact that I am able to overcome difficult situations and feelings, and I also in a way feel like I am able to put myself in migrants’ shoes when it comes to similar encounters. I genuinely feel like my year in a foreign country has been beneficial to me and my life, and I would definitely recommend everyone to do the same at some point over the course of a lifetime.

Living abroad is not easy, even when everything goes according to plan, and when you factor in a different language or culture than your own, it becomes a lot harder. Some of you reading this may be international students living in Norway over a longer period of time, and may be able to relate to that feeling. To those of you who aren’t, and who don’t, I would like to say: spend some time abroad! Experience it for yourselves! And if you happen to reside in Norway due to unforeseen circumstances: you will eventually feel like you belong.

Lastly, I would like to remind you that during ISFiT, everyone can gain some insight into what being a migrant and migration is all about. Go out and experience other cultures firsthand through the festival’s cultural events. If you attend the plenary sessions, lectures and debates happening over the course of the next couple of weeks, I guarantee you will know more about migration by the end of the festival than you do now. No matter how much you already know by now, I am sure it will be worth it. Happy ISFiT!