Connecting to your Norwegian roots through education

Getting off to a running start at the American College of Norway

American College of Norway

Photo courtesy of the American College of Norway
Once in Norway, American students experience the fun of outdoor winter sports with their Norwegian classmates at the American College of Norway.

MONIQUE ØSTBYE
Adelphi University, Garden City, N.Y.

Photo courtesy of the
American College of Norway
The American College of Norway is affiliated with eight colleges and universities in the United States.

Is one of your parents Norwegian, or have you never lived in Norway before? Are you looking to study in the United States to get a bachelor’s degree? Do you want to experience living in one of the happiest countries on earth? Or all of the above?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, I have the perfect program for you: the American College of Norway (ACN). Located in the coastal town Moss, Norway, you can experience a taste of the American education system while immersing yourself in a Norwegian-American lifestyle.

My name is Monique Østbye, and I attended the American College of Norway during the 2018-2019 school year, right after I graduated from high school. During my junior and senior years, I really wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do, what I wanted to study, or even where I wanted to live. That was until I found the American College of Norway.

I was born and raised in a small town in Connecticut to a Norwegian father and a Brazilian mother. Each year, we would make our annual trip to Norway to visit family, friends, and co-workers. I loved these trips, because I was completely mystified by Oslo and how magical it felt.

But as I got older, I would have preferred to stay home and spend the summer with my friends. It wasn’t until after I had participated in a Rotary Youth Exchange program to Spain that I had ever considered what life could look like for me outside of the United States. After that one exchange year, I was hooked on experiencing new places and decided that after my senior year of high school, I was going to Norway to make it my own.

I scoured what felt like the ENTIRE internet looking for ways to study in Norway without knowing Norwegian. I looked at Study in Norway, study.eu, and NORAM—but I couldn’t find anything suited to what I was looking for. Then I finally stumbled upon the American College of Norway’s website.

The American College of Norway is a one-year program in Moss that counts as the first year of your four-year bachelor’s degree, which you can complete at virtually any school in the United States. I thought there was no way that this could be real and mentioned it in passing to my dad when we were talking at dinner one night. He immediately found the website and reached out to the school’s executive director, Krista Lauritzen, to schedule a visit to the school the next time we were in Norway.

When I was visiting ACN with my dad and older sister, I met the entire staff and decided that it was where I was going to be spending my first year of university—and I am so glad I did. The school has about 40 to 50 students a year, which allows for a tight-knit community. I think this program can be beneficial for both students from Norway and students from all over the world! I will break down the benefits for each group below:

American College of Norway

Photo courtesy of the American College of Norway
Studying in Moss isn’t only about book learning, it’s about cross-cultural experience. American holidays, including Halloween, are celebrated with fun and flair.

Students from the United States:

If you are looking for a different way to start your college experience, live in Europe, or take a semester (or two!) abroad while earning your degree, ACN is an amazing option. Most of the students at ACN are Norwegian, which means you will experience life in Norway. Most study abroad programs at other schools consist of all foreign students, making it much harder to make local friends, which is not the case at ACN. You can make friends from all over Norway and be able to travel around on your three-day weekends (every weekend at ACN). This enables you to get a better feel for the country and experience the amazing scenery it has to offer.

Studying at ACN is also an easy way to get many of your general education requirements out of the way for your bachelor’s degree. During my time at ACN, I earned 36 credits, instead of the normal number of 30 credits. I did this by taking extra courses, doing the travel course, and completing a marketing internship for ACN as well. I highly recommend taking advantage of the small and personal classes to get ahead in your degree.

Along with being able to travel around Norway, you can also travel around Europe, because of the close proximity to Oslo and the airport there. During my time at ACN, I traveled all over Europe: I went to the Netherlands, England, Spain, and Poland.

If you are a student with Norwegian heritage but have never lived in Norway, this is also a great time to live in Norway and earn some time toward obtaining your permanent citizenship. This is extremely important if you already have citizenship to make sure you don’t lose it!

Students from Norway:

At ACN, students from Norway who wish to study in the United States can get a taste for the U.S. education system before making the jump to move straight across the pond. This allows students to get more accustomed to the different ways of teaching and structure of the American university system.

ACN has a student adviser, who helps students decide what school they want to go to, what they want to major in, and what classes they should take, among other things. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the U.S. system and how to make the best decisions moving forward. It is also a great way to save money if you know that you want to study in the United States in the future, as the program is much cheaper and can help you get scholarships to U.S. colleges and universities.

Importantly, ACN has strong and direct partnerships with eight schools; University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.), Adelphi University (Garden City, N.Y.), West Chester University (Chester County, Pa.), Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, N.H.), Springfield College (Springfield, Mass.), Hult International Business School (San Francisco, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; London, England; Hertfordshire, England; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Shanghai , China), Mayville State University (Mayville, N.D.), and Pace University (New York, N.Y.).

Your transcript from your time at ACN comes from the University of North Dakota, which makes transferring your credits to any school in the United States much easier. After my year at ACN, I decided to attend Adelphi University, one of ACN’s partner schools. I ended up choosing Adelphi because of their Levermore Global Scholars program. They also offered a few programs I was very interested in, so I felt I had options, in case I wanted to change my major. I’m so glad I chose Adelphi, because the staff there has been extremely helpful in working with me, and I have had access to incredible opportunities because of it.

Alongside academics, ACN has a plethora of opportunities to prepare students for campus life in the United States. On campus, there are monthly events put on by the activities committee, which is open to anyone to join. All of these events, including homecoming (where I won homecoming queen!) and a haunted house, are similar to events or activities that you would experience on an American campus.

The American College of Norway is an outstanding option for students all over the world to experience Norway and the American educational system with a close-knit, friendly community at an affordable price. If you are looking for a meaningful educational experience in Norway, I highly recommend checking it out and considering it as a unique way to start your college education.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at monique.ostbye@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 4, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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