Easy start for foreign researchers in Norway

Frenchman Christophe Raufaste is pleased with his overall reception at the University of Oslo (UiO) and found the Norwegian system for receiving foreign researchers to be very straightforward. Getting his Norwegian national identity number, the key to a smooth transition, went quickly.

“In cases like mine, I can’t imagine how the system could be any better,” says Dr Raufaste. He came to Norway in January of last year to accept a post-doctoral research fellowship at Physics of Geological Processes, a Centre of Excellence at UiO, where administration secretary Karin Brastad was ready with information and assistance.

Norwegian identity number is the key

“It was really helpful to have a contact person to turn to for all the necessary information,” Dr Raufaste recalls. “Then I applied for my Norwegian identity number and tax card at the Service Centre for Foreign Workers. Everything was completed in just six hours. Admittedly, these hours were spread over three days, but compared to what I’ve experienced in France, that is a very short time. The Norwegian identity number is the key to opening a bank account, obtaining a tax card, setting up salary payment, being assigned a local doctor, and many other necessities. Since I was assigned my personal identity number so quickly, I was able to start working straightaway.”

Raufaste: Happy with Norwegian administrative procedures

Raufaste: Happy with Norwegian administrative procedures

Getting to know Norway and Norwegians

Christophe Raufaste came to Norway with his partner, who is also employed at UiO. What attracted the couple to Norway in the first place was their desire to experience something different and to try living in a country where people have a closeness to nature. Other factors were the high-calibre research being conducted at the Physics of Geological Processes centre and the good working conditions.

“I’ve really gotten to know the group at the centre,” Dr Raufaste adds, “and it is an easy place to integrate into. The working language is English, and all the information is prepared in or translated into English. “Still, I wanted to get to know Norway and Norwegians, and to do that you have to learn the language.”

Dr Raufaste took an intensive Norwegian language course at the beginning of his stay and has used Norwegian consistently ever since. “You have to make a point of it. In general, Norwegians speak good English and will often answer in English if a foreigner stumbles a bit in Norwegian. So if you want to learn their language, you’ll have to insist they speak Norwegian to you.”

Norway or France?

Christophe Raufaste’s post-doctoral research fellowship draws to a close in 2010; where he will head from there is still unanswered.  “In Norway, academia offers many doctoral and post-doc fellowships, but few professorships. In France it is the other way round, and finding a job within my speciality, physics, will probably be easier in France than in Norway. We’ll see what happens, but I will definitely miss Norway if I end up leaving,” he concludes.

To read more visit the Research Council of Norway.

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