Students gathered on the City Hall Square in Molde during the opening ceremony last Wednesday. Photo: Arild J. Waagbø

Believe it or not ….

… but it is a great pleasure to welcome every new student to Høgskolen i Molde, 2016. It is truly a privilege to be in a position to help you developing your qualifications and as a person.

Professor Hallgeir Gammelsæter er rektor ved HiMolde.
Professor Hallgeir Gammelsæter er rektor ved HiMolde.

At the opening day there is always excitement and expectation in the air. A bit like the first day at primary school, but now you are on your own. Your parents or grandparents are not here holding your hand. Taking care of you.

15 years or so have passed and the excitement is related to such things as finding a place to live, to whom you are going to share accommodation with, how to get to know other students, and gradually the teaching and study program itself. And for you that are foreign students, finding out about Norwegians and Molde.

Being a student means getting closer to the end of a long journey. A journey you started when you went to primary school at an early age. As an infant, a young child that knew very little about the world and how to deal with it.

When the journey is over you are supposed to join the workforce, full time. To get a paid job. To contribute to the gross national product. To the big machinery called society. To my pension, and my colleagues pensions. To be a building block in the community, preferably with a family and children that you yourself put on a similar journey to yours. The journey that qualifies people for working life.

This is the grand picture. A picture of a big circle or wheel that has been spinning through generations. A (simplified) image of how society works. And behind it is a multitude of personal and individual stories, experiences and expectations. One of them is yours.

I am sure you too have your personal experience and this feeling of being on your way to something. Like on a journey, perhaps without knowing exactly where you are going. A journey that brings surprises. For instance, did you know one or two years ago that you should end up here, in Molde?

Friends and family also help create this feeling:

What are you going to become?

What is your dream job?

Are you sure this is the right thing for you?

Why are you going to Molde?

When will you finish?

You have taken a brave new step in your life, and are probably curious, perhaps a bit uncertain, and a bit anxious about what will happen. You hope to meet some new friends and to find your studies exciting, and the place exciting. But it takes time to find out. So there is excitement in the air!

I know my colleagues are keen to offer you high quality education and training, and we will do our best to prepare you for your further career. We hope you will enjoy studying, that you will master and excel in what you study and discover that studying can be meaningful. In the same way doing a job can be meaningful. After all, that is what we all desire, isn’t it, a paid job that we really like?

I remember when I was a fresh student myself. I did not see the end of my journey, not even the middle part. I was in a process of searching. I was trying to find out where to go. And I admit I did not enjoy all the courses and professors I had. My grades were mediocre. But I had to keep on. To take responsibility for my future. And gradually I excelled. My guess is that this is the case for most of you too.

This takes me to another point. Yes, you are students that are preparing for working life, but you should not be reduced to a being student only. You are individual persons, individual human beings that are living your lives. And life is more than qualifying for work. It is more than developing your intellectual capacity in a particular subject or study program: You are developing as individuals. Intellectually, emotionally, socially. To study is not only about what we become at the end, it is also about being a living person here and now.

That is why we work hard to offer you good conditions for living in Molde. We work hard to offer you student-friendly facilities at the college, good housing, a friendly atmosphere where asking for help and advice is easy. We cannot avoid problems, failures or misunderstandings, but we can try to deal with them. Together. As humans.

I am proud that we have very engaged students that has organized a great welcoming week (to be honest, I am too old to really assess the program, but I know the students are proud of it and that they are very engaged and working very hard). Working with the students is inspiring, and together we want to create good experiences and good memories for all our students. I hope the opening week will be a good start.

Enjoy, and take care!

(Editor’s note: The article is the speech that Gammelsæter gave during the ceremony in Molde city center marking the official beginning of a new school year last Wednesday.)

–> Hallgeir Gammelsæter, Kjetil Kåre Haugen, Arve Hjelseth og Jenny Klinge er faste spaltister i Panorama.