I have always viewed volunteering as selfless or as a way of polishing a CV but inside Chateau Neuf, it’s just plain fun.
Some backstory: my time in Norway has been perhaps a little unusual. I expected to arrive and be rewarded by my lack of planning with endless loneliness and a permanent sense of alienation. But instead, within the week after my touch down in Oslo, I’d done my first shift for Tappetårnet and was drunkenly stumbling along Karl Johan in the 17th of May parade, spilling wine on children foolish enough to get near me. The unexpected variable in all this was being introduced to Det Norske Studentersamfund by my gracious host, a responsibility he now perhaps rues.
As a student in Australia, I’d never really got involved with volunteer work; half out of the false pretense that I couldn’t spare the time from my studies and half out of sheer laziness. So it was a blessing in a way, when I was afforded a second chance here in Norway. Despite its truth, it wasn’t the tired altruistic adage that ‘volunteer work is its own reward’ which hooked me. It was the people I met there, so many of whom have fast become close friends and drinking buddies. I am still active in Tappetårnet and have also taken on the role of Redaktør in Kommunikasjonsavdelingen (KAK). It is a time investment but unlike hours and hours of online gaming for example, this investment matures into valuable work experience, friendships, and some of the most insane parties I’ve been to.
It can be especially difficult to establish a social company of likeminded folk as someone with an international background. But I quickly realised that people from DNS get a stamp of approval and skip the normal stages of interrogation. Generally, being actively involved means you’re motivated, hard-working, open-minded, and a bunch of other great attributes. I do believe it follows, using my significant powers of contraposition, that not being involved makes you a bad person.
Although altruism is often cited as a leading motivation for people to become involved in volunteer work, I feel that ultimately we do it for ourselves. Plainly put, I became active because I wanted to meet people and I stayed active because it’s incredibly enjoyable. When I try to explain to my friends back home what Chateau Neuf is, none of them quite understand. I’ve not previously encountered a society that collects and unites all the students of the city under one banner. Maybe I didn’t miss my time while at university – maybe volunteering just didn’t make sense before I came here.
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