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December 6, 2021

Two decades of Norwegian studies in Cluj

More than a philology specialization

Although for some, Norway is an exotic presence, in Cluj however, it is more than a philology specialization. Two decades have recently been celebrated since the first Norwegian language study group was created at the Babes-Bolyai University. The number of students has increased over time from the 12 starters to tens of peers, and, a decade ago, the Norwegian Department broadened to one of Scandinavian Languages.

Last year, this successful academic story was crowded by the specialization being awarded a bachelor’s degree excellence award, and that, at a university where reputed departments are not short supply by any means. Professors, interpreters, translators, as well as employees of companies with links to the Norwegian economy, the 400 graduates so far have contributed to Norway being better represented on the map of Romanian concerns. The academic and cultural contacts have solidified a link that would not go beyond the occasional realm. Seven Norwegian colleges and universities, three summer schools, two centres of studies, even the Norwegian film Institute are part of this institutional bridge.

Norwegian literature in book shops, theatre plays, not just the traditional Ibsen – with his swan song “When We Dead Awaken”, but also ‘Elling’, a dramatized adaptation of the  eponymous tetralogy written by contemporary writer Ingvar Ambjornsen, and concerts, including a recent tour featuring a remake of the ‘Peer Gynt’ suite by Grieg. Nonetheless, it is the steadfast interest that the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) has shown in the Norwegian cinematography that is the most visible, whose productions were rewarded with several prizes in the festival, and which will be dedicated a special section at this year’s edition of the Cluj-based festival.

This interest in Norwegian culture proves that Cluj residents see Norway as something more than just a misty romantic land. At the heart of this academic initiative stands Ms. Sanda Tomescu Baciu, praised by none other than the Royal House of Norway for her contribution over the past two decades. ‘A true ambassador of Norwegian culture,’ this is how H.E. Oystein Hovdkinn, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Bucharest, described her, while attending an academic event in Cluj. And that, since, Cluj generates not just ‘doctors’ in Norwegian studies, but also consumers of Norwegian culture, a successful model to any diplomatic strategy.

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