The new year brought us four new RCN community members: Nimra (Pakistan), Gautham (India) and Festina (Kosovo). The last arrival, in late January, was Desiree (Congo). They were supposed to join us at the start of  the fall term, but visa issues prevented them from reaching Norway before the Winter Break, so they were invited to begin a foundation term in January. This will give them a firm grounding in the College practices and people before they begin their first year officially in August, 2014.

They have faced special challenges as they have been catapulted into a completely foreign, but friendly and supportive environment, arriving at a time when friendships and routines were well-established, the winter darkness was at its peak. Here are a few of their first impressions and experiences.

Desiree. Just arrived - and her first snow!

Desiree. Just arrived – and her first snow!

Desiree has studied quite a bit of English, but is getting used to actively using the language in daily life for the first time. She hopes that gaining confidence this term will make her future IB studies easier. It will! Shortly after she reached Flekke, she touched snow for the first time, and she has very much enjoyed her first experiences in the Haugland swimming pool, on the gammaldans floor, the badminton court and in TSK.

Gautham was “totally homesick” at first, but his compatriots reassured him that time would pass quickly, advised him on subjects, and fed him home-cooked dishes, which lifted his spirits. He has thrown himself into new experiences, joining a trip to the mottak to visit asylum seekers and demonstrating considerable talent in gammaldans. He was also awestruck by the snowfall which greeted him on the journey from Bergen to Flekke.

Festina comes from a city environment, and like Nimra, was unaccustomed to walking alone, particularly at night. She is adjusting to the quiet, missing the noise and hubbub of her home, but enjoying the natural beauty of her new surroundings. “If I ever feel homesick, I go for a walk and feel better.” When asked about things she has experienced for the first time since coming here, her immediate response was “instant noodles”! She was also surprised to be invited into teachers’ homes and is enjoying working in science labs for the first time, learning through practical experiments.

Nimra is poetic in her recounting of first impressions, commenting on the moonlight reflections on the fjord under the stars. She and Festina meet every evening to share experiences and talk about the many new experiences they are having – and once even to sing, looking out over the water, in English and then in their own languages. Although she feels somewhat overwhelmed by the newness of everything, she explains that at the same time she feels deeply connected to her own culture, appreciating the strong and constant foundation that she has in her family.

With the arrival of these four new students, our family is complete!