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Foreign Student “Ghettos”

Ena Kreso

Norwegian student media are looking into immigration issues within student housing. If international students are not mixed with domestic students in housing offers, it might create problems of isolation. Pandeia’s Tinuke Maria Iyore translates an article from Universitas.

In a student apartment building in Lower Kringsjå, Oslo, nine out of ten residents are international students. Nafiza Ferdowshi, from Bangladesh lives here, but does not plan to stay for long. “I’m going back to Bangladesh when I finish my studies. I really like Norway, but I hardly know any Norwegians,” she says.

Statistics from the Student Association in Oslo (SIO) show that most of the international students live in the older buildings in Lower Kringsjå, where block 24 and 26 have the highest percentage of international students. Here ninety per cent of the residents are foreigners. In Upper Kringsjå the numbers are completely opposite. Nine out of ten are Norwegian students.

Nafiza Ferdowshi and Tanima Ferdous, both from Bangladesh, are mostly content with their lives in Lower Kringsjå, but Ferdowshi does not plan to stay.  She thinks getting to know and communicating with Norwegians has been difficult. “I’m going back to Bangladesh when I finish my studies. I really like Norway, but I hardly know any Norwegians,” she says.

Moving up

In one of the newer buildings in Upper Kringsjå (the area with a high concentration of Norwegian students), we find Sven Sondre Frøshaug in the living room with his roommate Sindre Godager. Frøshaug previously lived in one of the blocks in Lower Kringsjå. “I avoided going into the kitchen as much as possible,” he says. “It was dirty and small. And I found it exhausting to speak English all the time.” In his new student apartment Frøshaug has a private bathroom, and shares living space with three Norwegian friends.

A Problematic Situation

Sveinung Rotevan is a politician for Norwegian political party Venstre. According to him the large number of international students in Lower Kringsjå is problematic. “It is important that the international students are mixed with the Norwegian students to secure language advancement and networking opportunities,” he says and adds that the student organizations should put in an effort to ensure a more mixed environment for students.

Contradictions

Trond Bakke, who is responsible for housing within the student association, says that nothing can be done to ensure a better allocation of the international students, as the allocating process is random. “The situation is a result of the fact that international students are prioritised higher, when allocating the student apartments. Additionally international students are more concerned about price than Norwegian students, and often prefer the blocks with lower rent,” Bakke says.

Missing out

Statistics show that four out of five international students in Norway return home after completing their education.

The director of Erasmus Student Network, Maria Mastrangelopoulou, thinks a reason could be that the international graduates have difficulties finding jobs in Norway, partly because their Norwegian network is non-existent. “It would be great with a career fair targeting international students, as this could help put them in contact with relevant employers,” she says.

Sveinung Rotevatn, thinks that it’s important to keep the international students in Norway afterwards. “We’re missing out on great knowledge and expertise,” he says.

Original Article by Ragnhild Sofie Selstø & Thea Storøy Elnan for universitas.no

Photo: Ena Kreso

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