Welcoming new students

– Our advice to new international students at UiB is to take part in the introductory programme when they arrive in Bergen, Karine Skavhellen says.

Bilde fra internasjonalt studentmottak august 2011, brukt i forhåndssak om...
INTERNASJONAL MYLDRING: Slik så det ut utenfor Studentsenteret da det forrige internasjonale studentmottaket fant sted i august 2011.
Arne Halvorsen

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The first week of January 2012 sees 230-240 new international students arrive at the University of Bergen (UiB). Once in Bergen, the students receive a checklist to see them smoothly through the semester start procedures.

The introductory programme is at Studentsenteret on Thursday 5 and Friday 6 January. But for those arriving early, we also have a stand at Bystasjonen – the main bus station, between 2 and 4 January, Karine Skavhellen says.

Skavhellen works as Higher Executive Officer at UiB’s Division of Student Affairs. Along with her colleagues, she oversees the intake of international students, whose numbers vary between an intake of 550-600 in the autumn semester to 230-250 in the spring semester.

Broad range of activities

Once they arrive for the introductory programme, the students get information about a range of activities at UiB and other useful information about Bergen. Everything from practical advice regarding payment of semester tuition fees, access to local banking services, student housing and local bus services to more leisurely activities such as SIB’s sporting activities or student democracy at UiB.

Students can also register for the voluntary Buddy Bergen programme, where each international student is linked to a Norwegian student. There are also Norwegian language courses for those wanting to learn the native tongue.

One of the students that uib.no spoke to at the international student’s introductory programme at Studentsenteret in August 2011, was Suzan Mbatudde from Makerere University in Uganda.

– Studying in Bergen is quite different from Makerere, she says when we meet up with her again. – The type of instruction is different. Here we have to study more by ourselves than I was used to in Uganda.

Mbatudde is enrolled in the Master Programme in Administration and Organisation Theory and is on her first year of two in Bergen.

– It was hard at first, she concedes about working more independently than at Makerere. – But I think it’s good, because it challenges me. It gets you out of your comfort zone. I read a lot more and work harder than I used to do.

Many German students

Fifty, or more than one in five new international students at the University of Bergen in the spring semester, are from Germany. Italians are a distant second, with 16 new students at UiB.

– The information I received as a new student in the autumn was very good, Italian student Marco Poletti says.

The computer science student from Parma is doing the last year of his master degree at UiB. Like Mbatudde, Poletti arrived at UiB last August.

– Compared to Italy, the courses here are more focused on exercises than what I’m used to. It’s also easier to get credits for the courses here than in Italy. That is good, Poletti says and smiles.

Fantoft is the place

Both Poletti and Mbatudde are staying in the student housing at Fantoft, just outside of the city centre.

– I’m glad that I got a place at Fantoft because the students who live there get closer to each other. My advice to new international students is to stay there rather than choose any of the other student accommodation on offer, Poletti says. – Fantoft is where the student life is!

Mbatudde agrees.

– It’s easy to get to the university in the city from Fantoft with Bybanen, she says and echoing Poletti adds. – Also you make friends easily when you stay at Fantoft.

First week guidance

For Skavhellen, the main task is to guide all the students through the opening week and make sure that the transition from universities in their home countries to UiB runs as smoothly as possible.

– That is why we have created an easy-to-do checklist that is listed in the UiB semester start brochure that all new students receive upon arrival, she says pointing out that the team at the Division of Student Affairs are at the disposal of the international students who may need special assistance when settling into student life at UiB.