Norwegian culture night at Fantoft

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POPULAR LAPSKAUS. International students are forming a queue for Lapskaus, the traditional Norwegian dish. FOTO: SP-UIB

Klubb Fantoft hosted, "A Norwegian Evening of Trolls and folklore", an event designed to introduce Norwegian culture to international students and foster integration.

On Wednesday February 18th, Klubb Fantoft hosted, “A Norwegian Evening of Trolls and folklore”, an event organized by the Student Parliament (SP-UiB).

The idea behind the event was to introduce Norwegian culture to international students and to help them to integrate with Norwegians.

“We want to bring Norwegian student[s] up to Fantoft. We think it is a pity that Fantoft is so far away from [the] city center where the majority of Norwegian students live,” said Erik Lavik, the main organizer of the event and a member of SP-UiB’s International Committee.

“We decided to make an event in Fantoft and to show the Norwegian culture: folk dances, traditional food and comedy,” explained Lavik.

“We decided to show the things that you don’t see [in] your everyday life in Norway,” clarified Johanne Vaagland, SP-UiB’s Executive for International Affairs, Equality and Environment.

“Some of these things international students might not be able to see during their semester here,” added Vaagland.

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FOLK DANCE. Strilaringen, the Norwegian Folk Dance group, performing one of their dances. FOTO: SP-UIB

Good impressions

About 100 people attended the event which began with a presentation of bunad, the Norwegian traditional costume, and tasting of lapskaus, a traditional Norwegian dish made of sausages, potatoes, onion and other vegetables.

Then Strilaringen, the Norwegian Folk Dance group, performed traditional dances accompanied by live music, and recruited some of the attendees to share a dance with them.

The event closed on a humorous note with Generell ImproKompetanse, an improvisational comedy group, who performed sketches together with members of the audience.

“It is definitely an interesting experience. These are the things you would not necessarily see if there was not an event like this,” said Iliana Papadimitriou, from the UK.

“It was quite a welcoming event with lots of things happening. As an international student you want something like this,” Papadimitriou added.

“We [had] not experienced Norwegian culture before this event, so it was quite new to us and very interesting,” said Adéla Ficová who hails from the Czech Republic.

Missing Norwegians

Despite the good will of organizers the turnout of Norwegian students was small. About ten Norwegians had singed up for the Facebook event, but even fewer actually showed up.

“I don’t know why it is hard to get Norwegian students to come to Fantoft,” said a puzzled Vaagland.

“Among all the Norwegian students I’ve talked to, those who have been here once, always come back. So, we are trying to get them to come here,” Vaagland told Studvest.

Erlend Søbye Grønvold, one of the few Norwegians who came to the event, says that he came to see what people expect to be the real Norwegian attractions.

“I live in Fantoft so I didn’t have to go a long way,” added Grønvold.

What’s next?

The problem of including international students into Norwegian social life is not new. SP-UiB recently started offering cash to local student organizations that include international students.

“I don’t know if we are going to have more events this Spring, but we always continue working with international students, and we always think [about] what we can do next,” said Vaagland.