Winter school in Norway

Norgesskolen offers a snowy immersion

LAILA SIMON
Minneapolis

Foreign exchange in the United States is typically thought of as something for older students, for those privileged enough to have access to it. But what if an authentic immersion trip could have an earlier impact? The Norway-America Association (NORAM) is able to offer just that with Norgesskolen, a two-week-long summer course in Telemark for international students to connect to Norwegian language and culture—an adventure most of us could only dream of!

Norgesskolen was first established by Nordmanns-Forbundet/Norwegians Worldwide (NWW). After the merger in 2020, when NWW and NORAM became one organization, it was decided that Norgesskolen should be continued under the new NORAM.

Now for the first time, Norgesskolen is offering a week of immersion learning during the peak of Nordic winter. Feb. 21–27, 2023, students ages 14-19 will be staying at Solstua, a cabin near the top of the famous Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo. A typical day begins with morning Norwegian language courses and after lunch students will have the opportunity to play winter sports and go on local excursions to downtown Oslo, to truly take advantage of Norwegian winter.

Since 2003, Norgesskolen has been teaching international students to prepare them for potential future Norwegian studies. Next year, 2023, marks the 20-year anniversary of the program. To honor this anniversary in cross-cultural education, they are launching the first year of this new winter session.

Editor-in-chief  Lori Ann Reinhall spoke to the director of Norgesskolen, Kristine Venner Trehjørningen Dehli. The curriculum is based on the “Norwegian curriculum for linguistic minorities,” and the school is open to Norwegian citizens and non-citizens alike. Just like the summer program, the students will be broken into smaller groups for their courses based on skill level. This includes the language classes and the physical activities. The students will be cross-country skiing, sledding, hiking, and will even have the option to try ski jumping.

Norgesskolen
Photo courtesy of Norgesskolen
At the winter session of Norgesskolen, students will stay at Solstua, an idyllic cabin, located near the top of the famous Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo.

Kristine emphasized that safety is a top priority of the program, and the school provides all the necessary sport gear as well as professional specialized instructors. The winter program is smaller, capped at 25 students. The sole focus will be on Norwegian winter, and even the language courses will focus on seasonal words and expressions. Kristine asked if we knew the phrase, “Har vært ute en vinternatt før?” She explains that, “Directly translated it means, ‘you have been out in the winter night before,’ but it really means that you are going to make it [in life] because you have met challenges… and have different ways of sorting out those challenges.”

The program schedule includes optional extra evening courses for language learners. Students in the summer programs requested extra time to learn more Norwegian, and now these additional sessions are built into the school. Evenings will also have a “communication hour,” the only time students will be allowed to use their electronic devices. Kristine said, “I think all the students get to test their friluftsliv, or outdoor competencies quite well, for some of the [summer] hiking was quite far. And for some [students] it was difficult not having their iPhones or computers close by all the time, so they got to test how to have fun without their phones.”

Norgesskolen
Photo: Leon Contreras / Unsplash
Evening activities will include dinner outdoors by a bonfire as well as singing and board games with classmates and instructors.

Other evening activities will include singing, dining outdoors by bonfire, and board games with classmates and instructors. Meals will be traditional Norwegian winter foods and will be freshly prepared by on-site chefs. Daily menus are brødskive-style breakfasts, with bread, sliced cheese and meats, jam and fruit, freshly made soups for lunch, and hot dinners of fish or meatballs and potatoes.

Norgesskolan

Experiences like this are rare and can be life-changing. Students will make new friends from across the globe and begin a relationship with Norway as a country, a language, and a lifestyle. This program could be the perfect gift for a student in your life and will support the worthy goal of cultural exchange.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 15, with availability until the program is filled. The cost, about $1,475, includes transportation to and from the airport, standard liability insurance, all food, lodging, and activities. Learn more and sign up at norgesskolen.no/winter.

This article will appear in the January 2023 print issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Laila Simon

Laila Simon is a writer in Minneapolis. She is a dual citizen of Norway and the United States and has been writing for The Norwegian American since 2017. When she’s not attempting ambitious recipes, Laila translates Norwegian poetry and adds to her houseplant collection.

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