Crossing borders, sharing cultures

Photo courtesy Scandinavian College of New York

Photo courtesy Scandinavian College of New York

Experience North and South America with the Scandinavian College of New York

By Kelsey Larson

Scandinavian College of New York is a unique, and relatively new, educational institution that offers classes in both New York City and Taiba, Brazil.

“Although you are far from home, you have a Norwegian student life and support around you. You meet more new people and get to know other cultures,” said Anna-Maria Feodoroff (19), a Norwegian student who studied with the program in 2011. The program focuses on helping Norwegian students experience both North and South America. Students can choose between the Brazil and New York campuses, or they can choose to study in both countries. While the New York group attends classes held in rented spaces at Colombia and experiences life in a big city, the Brazil group lives at a resort and studies near a small fishing town.

“The fact that we had the opportunity to experience two completely different worlds in only one semester is an important reason that I chose to study with the Scandinavian College of New York,” said Feodoroff.

SCNY was founded by Tone Lind Jørgensen and Eivind Harum in 2010. Jørgensen holds a Master of Art from Universal of California, Los Angeles. She has worked extensively with cultural projects in Norway, such as the opening of the Royal Palace and the Nobel Peace Center, both in Oslo, for the general public. She is also known for her work as a reporter for Norwegian public TV.

Harum has had a long career as an actor and dancer. Among other roles, he had the lead in “A Chorus Line” on Broadway for several years. He was also the principal dancer for leading modern dance groups. He plans all the excursions in New York.

Jørgensen and Harum started and operated a similar college program in New York for another Norwegian company for three years. But after the owner decided to move, they decided to start their own company in June 2010 under the name of Scandinavian College A.S. They brand their exchange program under the name Scandinavian College of New York as a tribute to the city where it all started. They have been responsible for a total of 600 Norwegian students in the city.

Students have the option to study law, travel, marketing, economics, dance or photography. “The subjects are very relevant to both Taiba and New York as travel destinations. These subjects can also be used in later studies and the lecturers have been really superb!” said Feodoroff.

The curriculum is very excursion-based. Students are able to attend cultural and sporting events, see many landmarks, shop, tour Washington and West Point, in addition to taking classes in English to help get around.  In Brazil, they visit a banana plantation and participate in local events. “We believe the excursions included in the fee sets us apart from other providers of this kind of program. The students know how to shop and party themselves, but we feel that the lasting impression is much richer by taking them on excursions they might not come up with on their own. We take them to the Amazons, Hamptons and Washington, to theatres, museums, galleries and sports events. And the semester is an adventure they never will forget,” said Jørgensen.

The students are mostly fresh high-school graduates from Norway, around 19 years old. The program is good for this demographic, as it provides the travel and experiences many of these students crave. “They see this as an opportunity to have a guided and safe introduction to their student life,” Jørgensen explained. The program also sets them up for pursuing a bachelor’s degree when they get home to Norway through connections to various universities. “Several of our students have continued their studies in New York, and hopefully one day we will see some of them attending Columbia also,” she added.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and others. In addition, I have grown a lot during the course of this semester.  I have become more independent and learned to make my own choices,” said Feodoroff about the program.

The Scandinavian College of New York may be young, but they are already looking to expand. “We are currently looking for an American partnering college for a new program, that will be a cultural exchange program that will require a J-visa,” said Jørgensen.

For more information about SCNY, visit www.scny.no.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 24, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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