First Impressions of Bergen

In August 1090 new international students arrived in Bergen, according to SiB. Here are some of their first impressions of Norwegians, Bergen and cultural clashes. 


We talked with six international students from Spain, France, Japan, Romania and Netherlands about their experience coming to Bergen and trying to understand Norwegian culture and people.

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Interacting with Norwegians

Norwegians have a reputation for being quiet and shy when it comes to interaction with new people. And many international students find it hard to get to know Norwegian students.

– International students often say that they wished they had more Norwegian friends, says the leader of the International Committee in the Student parliament at the University of Bergen, Johanne Vaagland.

– In class most Norwegian people just looked around for the first couple of weeks, and didn’t say nothing at all, explains the international student Thomas Hartendorp, from the Netherlands.

Johanna Lenoraterian from Romania tells us that she appreciates this distance.

– People are nice, friendly and they help you, but they keep the distance and I like that because I love having my own space, she says.

Advices to get to know Norwegians

One tip to an international student is to join a student organization, according to Vaagland.

– It’s a nice way to meet Norwegian students. Join arrangements through these organizations, and find other arenas outside Fantoft to get to know Norwegians, for example Kvarteret.

Another advice, given by Michelle Green who is the leader of organization Education in Bergen, is to join hiking trips.

– It is easier to get to know Norwegians when you go hiking in the mountains. People then get less restrained then, Green says.

Sports and alcohol 

This interest in nature and sports catches the attention of international students.

– Norwegians are very sportive. I come from Paris and everyone is skinny in Paris, claims Jérôme Saint-Sevin from France, though he says he is shocked by Norwegians weakness in a different area:

– When it comes to alcohol, they can’t stand two beers.

Alejandro Marchito Amunátegui from Spain is also surprised by how alcohol affects Norwegians.

- In Spain we are very openminded and friendly. Here, when you take a train, no one speaks to no one, they just look out the window. In the weekends it’s more like in Spain; then they speak a lot. With the alcohol in the equation they become Mediterraneans.