The only destination on my mind this past year has been Norway. I have been eagerly waiting for my study abroad experience throughout this country, and now that I’m actually experiencing it, it’s a dream come true. I am studying abroad with six other students who are also majoring in special education at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. Traveling with this group of individuals has created great friendships with an even greater amount of laughter. We would all agree that the people, culture, food, and natural landscapes here are astounding. While I’m accustomed to cold weather, the Norwegian scenery continually takes my breath away. During my time thus far traveling this country, each stop has offered something new and exciting.
Oslo was our first stop, and I was charmed by its cobble stone paths and beautiful lights that haloed over each street. It is a captivating city that is bustling with Norwegian culture and picture-worthy food. In Oslo we visited some fascinating sights. I had the privilege of visiting the Viking Ship museum, sailing through Oslo’s fjord, taking in the Nobel Peace museum, and walking around the Akershus Fortress. Oslo was a great introduction to the array of experiences and sights Norway has to offer!
Our next stop was a train and plane ride away. Located in central Norway, Selbu is a modest village that is home to the Peder Morset folkehøgskole. This is a school that promotes full inclusion for students with and without special needs. This is considered a transitional school, as individuals may go here after high school or to help decide what career path they are passionate about. All students are immersed together in their classes and activities, and I noticed right away that there was no division between students of diversity. I decided to visit this school because of its inclusive pedagogy and opportunities for experiential learning. The students here don’t have lectures or homework- they learn by going out and experiencing life! A typical day at Peder Morset might include cross-country skiing, throwing a clay pot, horseback riding through the woods, or creating a radio station. The opportunities are endless, and the students here thrive in this nurturing environment.
One of my new friends here summed up this school perfectly. She said, «Peder Morset isn’t about perfection, it’s about passion», and I couldn’t agree more. Each student shines in their own way, and the school does an excellent job of supporting them. The students here have also embraced us with open arms, quite literally. I have received an abundance of hugs and shared lots of laughs with people from around the world. I have been working on my Norwegian skills because only about half of the students speak English. This has proven to be a good challenge for me, as I have mastered the words for «thank you» and «fork» thus far. They usually get a good laugh at my attempts to speak their native tongue. It makes me feel disappointed that I can’t fully communicate with all of them, but a smile goes a long way here.
We had the opportunity to visit the city of Trondheim for a day, and we loved exploring the town! We ate plenty of pizza (but definitely earned it due to the endless hills we walked), loved the views from the TV tower, and enjoyed being tourists and taking pictures.
My Norwegian study abroad experience has been nothing short of amazing. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to study in this phenomenal country, and take in everything I have been experiencing. I’m so appreciative of the memories I’ve made thus far, and look forward to the memories I’ve yet to make with my remaining time in Norway.
Takk for alle minnene Peder Morset folkehøgskole!