We are similar, aren`t we?

BY OLGA GORYUNOVA AND VIKTORIA BOLSHAKOVA, LOBACHEVSKY STATE UNIVERSITY.

Workshop at Volda University College.
Workshop at Volda University College.

Could we imagine some time ago that we will be travelling around the world? Perhaps. Could we imagine that it will be Norway? We did not think so. What did we know about Norway?

Scandinavian country, magical fjords, Vikings, trolls… However, we did not know, probably, the most important – Norwegian people.  Suddenly we got a unique possibility to learn to know them, studying in peaceful and beautiful place, Volda…

Standing at the airport in Oslo on the 4th of May we thought about one thing: next day we will start our workshop with Norwegian students. Are they different from us? What are their interests and hobbies? Do they have different lifestyles? To be honest, we had some kind of stereotypes about foreigners. For example, we thought that our personal aims and values are far from similar. Students from Volda University College proved that it is wrong. On the 5th of May we were standing in front of 9 wonderful guys and girls who were smiling at us, shaking our hands and greeting with warmth. We asked ourselves the same question again. Why did we think that we are so different? Are there similarities between student’s life in Russia and in Norway? That was the beginning of our communication and our researching.

First of all, we have to admit that the differences between lifestyles do exist. All the Norwegian students were older than us by two-three or even more years. This gap between student’s age in Norway and the same age in Russia has some logical explanation. Graduates want to try something new, to taste adult life, to travel, to get work experience. In our workshop in Volda University College we discussed this question with 26-year old sophomore Nikolay Delebek, who was preparing the interview session with one of us.

– Nikolay, why did you go to university at this age? What did you do after graduating from school?

– I was travelling and working in Australia. I was doing two deals at one time: teaching people how to surf, and learning more about Australian people and culture. Besides, it was a good opportunity to practice English.

We think, what’s why Nikolay’s pronunciation is very good.

Most of Norwegian students apply to university with a kind of adult experience behind them. May be this is a wise decision, because, as far as we know, the situation in the labor market in Norway is as tense as in Russia. The requirements of employers become more and more strict every year. So if you want to get an interesting and well-paid job you have to have professional skills and working experience. The first one you can get by studying at university, but the second one you can get only by yourself.

In the same time in Russia, 17-year old teenagers finish their school and face with actual problem – the choice of their future profession and universities, where they will study. Having little adult experience (or lacking it), pupils are affected by parents’ and friends’ opinions and advises in making this important decision. Time goes by and some of these «pupils» understand that a profession, chosen by them – «is not their cup of tea». That is why there are many people in Russia who do not work in their professional field. But starting at a university immediately after graduating from school is our way of life, tradition, prevailing for many years. We got used to it, and society thinks it is a normal. But it has the plus – young and active university graduates start to build their career and reach high-paid job positions earlier.

Secondly, the educational system in Norway has a different structure compared to Russia. If we have to study for four years to get the Bachelor degree, it takes three years to get the same status to our Norwegian colleagues.

– Only three years? Is it enough?

– Yes! Moreover, we have to change specialties each year. For example, if I study radio journalism in the first year, in the second course I can choose television or print media.

– What about the third year of study? Do you have to choose the last specialty?

– I can do it or take the first one.

To our opinion, it is a good opportunity to learn more about different sides of journalism. Norwegian students get more chances to have work related to journalism and mass media. Moreover, the modern labor market needs more universal specialists, who own all the practical methods.

Norwegian young journalists have a good opportunity to take experience from their professional colleagues. How? They can join the Norwegian union of journalists even if they just started studying. We visited this wonderful organization on the 8th of May, at the last day of our trip to Norway. We know that student members get the right to attend meetings and discuss serious problems along with all the experienced specialists. Although, as far as we know, all the members have to pay fee, which can be kind of expensive for students. Then our «media-organizations-trip» continued and we appeared at NRK, an information giant where all the Norwegian journalism students dream to work. We were impressed by the scale of the newsroom and by the conversation with the Head of this company who answered all our difficult questions. So we want to say that all the doors are opened for our Norwegian colleagues, as it is in Russia for our students.

But what about extracurricular life of Norwegian students? How do they entertain themselves in their free from lectures time?

The 6th of May, in the evening after lectures and classes. We spend our free time with our Scandinavian colleagues at Student House Rokken – the gathering place for all the students on campus. Having hearty dinner and chatting with students, we enjoy the special atmosphere of this wonderful place. As we understand, Rokken is not only a low price cafe liked by local students. This is also a concert hall which hosts a series of social events such as live sport broadcasting, concerts, open mic nights and many else.

We spoke with 22-year old Andreas Augdahl on hobbies, interests, work, student’s life in Russia and Norway. It is raining outside the window. Funny, we did not notice it earlier. Somebody says: «It is already about 8 p.m. – time to leave cosy Rokken and go back to «Porse studentheim» (Student dormitory). Trying to cover our heads with our bags, we are in a hurry to reach the warm and dry building of the dormitory. Future journalist Brage Oppedal Berglund look at us and give his personal black umbrella. «I think, you need it more, than me», – he says, pointing to his very short-cut hairstyle. Norwegian gentleman.

Our evening gradually turned into the night with music, jokes, funny stories in the big students group at the dormitory kitchen. We recognized that our colleagues broke a stereotype about Nordic human nature. They was so outgoing, communicative and cheerful. Now we can confidently say that Norwegian students likes to spend their free time, hanging out with fellow students, instead of surfing the Internet in their rooms, for example. It is an integral part of their student life and something that makes us closer.

The 7th of May, in the Student dormitory. We unsuccessfully tried to share the latest news with our parents in Russia by Skype, using our smartphones. Getting angrier, we decided to ask for help from our neighbour, the graduate-year journalism student Linn Enger Leigland. She was so cute and gave us permission to use her MacBook, although she was preparing for final exams. That’s was the way we knew each other. No doubt, Linn was glad to take a coffee break in exams preparing and talk with us.

– Volda is so small and quiet. How do you spend your free time here?

– Well, I like to climb local mountains, because it is pleasure for me to see picturesque nature, make photos of these amazing sceneries and share it in social networks. You will be tired, following my Instagram account («laughs»).

We also asked the same question our interview partner Nikolay.

– How do you like to spend your free time?

– We have a lot of activities here in Volda. We like doing sport, go hiking and enjoying beautiful landscapes, attend concerts and festivals. And of course, we like gathering with friends, drink beer and just communicate with each other. As you already noticed, we like beer, Nikolay joked.

We noticed that Norwegian students are very interested in an active leisure time and different kinds of sport. Besides, there a lot of activities that Volda University Сollege offers to students. For example, students can express themselves on university’s radio. They can make playlists or running their talk-show. If you dream about singing on the stage in a good company, the college choir is your best place. In the beginning of our acquaintance Norwegian guys sang a beautiful Norwegian traditional song. If we were students of Volda University College we would join them, we guess. There are also big opportunities for musicians, animators, young producers to find their supporters and friends with the same interests.

In Lobachevsky State University we have got a lot of activities too. Our talented singers are in the famous University choir, which took prizes on different international festivals and The World Choir Games many times. Also we have wonderful classical theatre and informal non-theatre where students can participate in unusual performances. There are a lot of sport and dance clubs. Besides. many active students join student organizations on their faculties where they prepare wonderful celebrations and competitions. Each autumn and spring we take part in big festivals which called Autumn Debuts and Students Spring. Each faculty presents performance with a lot of dances, songs, decorations, poems and actors’ game. And as it sings in the song, “the winner takes it all”.
We also have the media centre, which has the most modern TV and radio equipment. There are student television, “Lobachevsky TV”, and a student radio called “Radiotrand”. Everybody can join wherever he wants.

Now that our fantastic trip is over, we have to admit that we missed our communication with Norwegian students because we feel we became good friends. We understand that there are a lot of similarities between us, not only our studying field, but many other like taste in music, ways of spending free time, favourite films, food, etc. All the foreign people are similar to us, they just speak the different languages. So we shouldn’t be afraid about talking to them and sharing experience. After all it is the reason of the language barrier. Thank you for opportunity to break it!

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