God Jul to Oslos international students
Julen is special in Norway as it is in many other countries. Hence it might be a very emotional time to spend abroad and - for you - here in Oslo.
I have spent Christmas abroad my self as student - in Japan - and I remember I spent the Christmas eve with friends from Hellas and Brazil - in Tokyo. An evening I still remember with great pleasure. I even managed to eat reindeer - Rudolf not - while my brazilian friends were in tears over their bacalao.
But life in Japan, although Christmas and shopping was and is clearly visible this time of year in Japan, went on more or less as usual.
It is different in Norway! Julen - is for most people about their closest family. Extremely family oriented in fact. For that reason, Norway is more or less closed down for a couple of days.
Hence, it might feel a bit special to be a student in Norway these days. You are probably missing your own country and family. For that reason I am happy to visit a Christmas dinner for Oslos international students at Diakonhjemmet this evening.
Wherever you spend the Christmas eve, please enjoy the evening. We do have some special traditions in Norway - eating rotten fish, porridge with an almond and much more - some of these dishes and traditions may be foreign to you - while the decorations and the singing of carols may be more relatable.
Still, what I enjoyed mostly with my two-years stay in Japan was to get to know and understand a different culture. Important for my evolution as a human. But I got to know not only japanese culture - I learned to know also other cultures through all these interesting and fine fellow students that I meet - students from all over the world.
This is your option as international students in Oslo as well. Use the opportunity. Learn the language - learn to be curious on other humans and their thoughts; get to know other cultures and meet people with openness.
My house will be filled with family today: norwegians off many flavours; those coming to Røa today with genes from Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Iran - other parts of the family have genes from Saudi-Arabia, Indonesia - moreover as modern genetechnology clearly implies - certainly from many other parts of our globe. We are living in a small world; the population is getting more diverse and intermingled; more interesting and better.
The people that visit us today are my closest family. In addition we will use Julen to meet my family by choice - my friends.
Today, your family - your temporary family - is here in Oslo. I urge you to be inclusive, curious and brave. I wish you a wonderful and tranquille Christmas eve, and hope that you make new friends; the family that you can choose yourself.
Manuscript for a small speach during a dinner for international students at VID Diakonhjemmet tonight. Thus not perfect sentences - but Julen is a struggle if everything has to be perfect.
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Vårt ønske er at UiO styrker sin evne til samspill internt og eksternt. Målet er å utnytte den enestående posisjonen vi har som hovedstadsuniversitet i en av de mest kunnskapsintensive regionene i Europa.
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