Last week I was interviewed by a journalist of Stavanger’s biggest newspaper, Stavanger Aftenblad, together with my friend Daniel. We were asked about our work in a student organization called ISU (International Students’ Union), and here you can find the translation:
900 smart, foreign students
They have organized themselves in International Students’ Union Stavanger, and want to work towards making the University of Stavanger an attractive place for more.
23 year old Paul from Ecuador, and 31 year old Daniel Hernández Iniesta from Spain are good underway their studies. Paul is taking a Bachelor in Tourism Leadership, and Daniel a Master’s Degree in International Hotel and Tourism Leadership. Students from more than 40 different countries are represented in the Norwegian Hotel School at the University of Stavanger. Many of them take the Master’s Degree in Hotel and Tourism Leadership.
Skeptical of Norway
“The master degree is attractive because the lessons are in English,” says Daniel Iniesta. He came to Stavanger from Barcelona in 2010, has gotten accommodation on campus and is surprised of how well he enjoys his time here: “I didn’t think about studying in Norway. I had heard that it was cold, that people were cold and that everything was expensive. I had thought about studying in Finland or Germany. But a friend convinced me.”
“In Norway the only problem is the weather. In Spain we are suffering with the economy, with unemployement and with social problems,” he says.
Paul took a one-year Norwegian course before he started his studies. He already speaks good Norwegian. “In order to get into the studies I needed to study for one year at a University in Ecuador, write a motivation letter and have good grades.” The purpose of awakening the International Students’ Union from its sleep the last years are many: “We wish to improve the quality of life of the international students. We want them to feel integrated. We arrange activities and social gatherings no matter what they are studying.”
“We have done a good campaign and got to have two representatives in the Student Parliament. We are very proud of that,” says Daniel Iniesta. He is the President at ISU. “The biggest challenge for international students is to get a place to live which they could afford. It can be very expensive if they go out into the private market. If Stavanger wants to become an attractive student city, more student residences must be built.”
Competition for the best
The International Students’ Union has received help of Manuel Sanhueza from Chile, a nursing student. “All the Universities compete for the best international students. Some conditions have to be made then, like more student residences. The international students I have met at the University of Stavanger are highly motivated. They will be very good ambassadors of Norway after they are done with their studies. Innovation Norway should take this into consideration.”
Daniel Iniesta has already made himself an active and positive individual in the social environment at UiS, and won the Begeistringsprisen (the “Enthusiasm Award”), 20.000 Norwegian crowns and a trophy. “My wish is that international students will have the best possible reputation in Stavanger. We want to work together with the municipality, with the Red Cross and with others to make an effort in helping with the integration as good as we can.”
This week there will be new elections for the new board of Directors at ISU. The current President is running again, and the rest of the candidates come from many countries outside Europe”.