Inclusion is at the centre of UiA's and the "fadder" board’s efforts during semester start.
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“I came to Southern Norway last year and experienced a very nice beginning to my studies. I still hang with the same people I met then, and I want to help others have an equally good experience”, says Christina El-Mrabet, leader of the “fadder” (student buddy) board in Kristiansand.
Thousands of students arrive in Kristiansand this week. Monday 12 August marks the beginning of the semester start festival, and for UiA it is very important that the students feel welcome.
“We know that feeling like an outsider can lead to people dropping out of their studies, so it is very important that we do all we can to make students feel seen and included. Everyone will be well received. It is important to ensure that new students get to know their fellow students from the beginning”, says Gro Hodne Gundersen, project manager for semester start in Kristiansand.
Exchange students have their own student buddy programme through the Erasmus Student Network, and they can also be included in the general student buddy programme. International graduate students are automatically included in the university's general student buddy programme.
“UiA wants international students to become well acquainted with Norway and Norwegians and, in addition to the usual semester start events, there will be a lecture with Julien S. Bourelle called “Cracking the Norwegian code”. It will be a entertaining introduction to the Norwegian culture”, says El-Mrabet.
Having good values is also an essential part in the recruitment of “faddere” (buddies), and this year the student semester start festival will also have the support of the police’s “Kjernekar” campaign. The campaign emphasises the importance of acting responsibly during parties and other social events.
“Many associate semester start with partying and alcohol, and this is something we have tried to change in the past years. Alcohol should not be the main focus at “fadder" events at UiA. Everyone should feel welcome regardless if they enjoy drinking or not”, says Hodne Gundersen.
Preparation courses will be held for the members of the “fadder” scheme both in Grimstad and in Kristiansand. The police, Red Cross, SiA Health, The Student Organisation in Agder and UiA rector will also attend these courses and give their contribution.
“Previously we have attended a course about something called “lykkepromille” (optimal buzz), and it will also be mentioned during the course this weekend. We have witnessed a positive tendency in recent years, with fewer cases of drunkenness at our events”, says Ida Heggertveit, project manager for the semester start in Grimstad.