Whenever I tell people that I’ll be spending the next year in Norway they always ask me why. This is a very valid question, especially when you consider that I am from California and that my four years of living in Boston has taught me (and my friends) that I am not the biggest fan of any weather under 60° F (My answer to the conundrum of winter is that I will have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights as well as have the chance to do some great skiing. All in all I figured the perks outweighed the cold.) I’ve included both the short answer to this question and the long answer.
The Short Answer
I was drawn to Norway because its high level of English fluency meant that I would be able to thoroughly interact with students and teach them more about literature and American culture. I also found the egalitarian culture of Norway and its education system really interesting and wanted to have the chance to immerse myself in it for a year.
The Long Answer
After I decided to apply for a Fulbright, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be in Europe. I had spent the past three summers in Asia and knew that I wanted to try something new. My Spanish proficiency wouldn’t have been good enough to qualify in South America, and Africa doesn’t have many ETA programs, which left me with Europe. Furthermore, I had done nearly all of my undergraduate research on Europe and loved learning about it.
Once I had decided on Europe I decided to jumpstart my research on ETA programs by asking my British dad to send me a list of European countries that he thought might be a good fit. Norway was right up towards the top. My dad’s reasoning was that I would like it because it’s beautiful, there’s a high standard of living, and most people are near fluent in English. For me, a high proficiency in English was a huge draw because it would mean teaching kids at a higher level of English and Literature. This was confirmed when I read about how Norwegian ETAs worked with university and secondary school students. Working with students who are near fluent in English means that I will have the opportunity to interact with kids on a deeper more analytical level and that I can do things such as read The Great Gatsby, instead of reviewing the basic concepts of English grammar. Once I realized all of this I did some more research into Norway and its educational system and was completely sold. Overall I think that the question should not be “Why Norway?” but “Why not Norway?”