As a student at UiB, whether international or native, you are almost certainly familiar with the Student Welfare Organisation in Bergen, more commonly known as SiB (at as of 2017, known as Sammen).
If for no other reason, you know them because of student housing. Perhaps you, like me, spent hours perusing different student hostel options online, meticulously google-mapping the walking distance from your faculty building in order to whittle your copious options down to the 3 allowed choices.
Perhaps you too wondered what ‘white goods’ were (large electrical goods used domestically such as refrigerators and washing machines), and weighed the value of washing machines and furnished rooms against proximity to the Sentrum. Perhaps you carefully selected your top three options so they would all be within walking distance to the campus, and then, of course, you were placed in Fantoft (and if you’re experience mirrored mine, you made some great friends because of it). Well, okay, maybe you didn’t do all that google-mapping. But you navigated around the SiB housing site, certainly.
In the crunch to get your housing choices in, did you also have time to explore the other offerings of Sammen?
Well, if you did, you may already know that in addition to housing they have far too many offerings for me to detail them all in one blog post, take a look at the bottom of the page for some examples. But I at least want to highlight their counseling services.
It’s winter time, the holidays are over, and many of us students are far from our families, loved-ones, and communities. If you are dealing with the winter blues, loneliness, if you need help coping culture-shock, or anything that is challenging you and pulling focus from your studies, you can talk to a counselor through Sammen. It doesn’t matter if you are a native to Bergen, a Norwegian, or an international student, Sammen is available for you.
Today Marianne Elisabeth Bang Hauge, one of the counselors at Sammen, was kind enough to sit down with me and talk a bit more about their individual counseling services.
Marianne is warm, personable, and easy to talk to; if you attended an international introductory program, you may remember her from ‘Meeting the Locals’ (which I wrote about in a past blog). She described for me Sammen’s counseling service, comprised of four counselors, one of whom is also the director of the department. Each counselor has specialties, Marianne’s include stress and eating disorders, but she is quick to mention that the counselors talk to students about a huge variety of issues. Sammen is there for students whether they’re concerned with practical issues, such as financial stress, study and organization techniques, or navigating Norway’s healthcare system; or emotional concerns from motivation and stress issues to coping with relationship difficulties, anxiety, sadness, or that ‘just can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning’ feeling.
Some students feel like their problem might not be important enough, she says, and they don’t want to waste the Sammen counselors’ time when other students might have more intense issues. She wants to make sure students understand that even if that question occurs to you, your problem is worth taking to the counseling service. “No problem is too small”. And, not to worry, no problem is too big, either, they are able to refer to a psychologist if both counselor and student agree that it would be helpful.
Sammen offers confidential individual counseling regarding any matter you would like to discuss, free of charge.
You may book a counseling session online, or drop in on a Monday when Sammen offers 15 minute drop-in sessions from 13:00-14:30. No appointment is necessary in the Monday drop-in period. Marianne informed me that the Monday drop-in periods are very accessible, students generally get seen with ease. If there is an unusually busy Monday drop-in, Sammen counseling makes sure you get an appointment booked. So don’t hesitate to show up!
If you don’t want to meet with an individual counselor, but you do want to learn more about relaxation, you can join the Sammen relaxation class. This is a new addition to Sammen services that Marianne is especially excited about. Sammen counseling offers other group courses, but they are in Norwegian, this is the first group course offered in English. It is open for both Norwegian and international students, so it may be another way to make that Norwegian friend. It is Tuesdays from 15:30-17:00 in the Student center, it started on 3 February, and is planned to run at least 10 weeks. Man, do I ever want to join! Maybe I’ll see you there.
(2018 update: check for relaxation and meditation classes through Sammen trening)
Questions for Sammen counseling?
Call 55 54 52 50 or visit the reception desk between 9:00-15:30, Monday through Friday in the top floor at the Student Center (Parkveien 1, 5007 Bergen). It’s above the swimming pool on the top floor.
If you speak Norwegian, or if you like to use a translator to explore Norwegian websites, check out their Facebook. Otherwise, explore the English language version of their website for more information or to book an appointment with the counseling services. Or just learn more about Sammen and the types of services they provide, including extensive information about the training (gym) facilities available to students, as well as the cafeterias, and counseling and health services. And it is helpful to keep in mind that the career & counseling services at Sammen includes information for international students who are job-seeking in Norway.