Norway is a country of breathtaking glaciers and fjords and avid winter sport enthusiasts. Check out a traditional folk festival or one of Norway’s famous stave churches, which are among the oldest wooden buildings on earth. You might even get to see the spectacular aurora borealis, the northern lights. There is a strong sense of history and civic engagement and on special occasion some Norwegians wear traditional clothing, bunad. During the warm months Norwegians of all ages love to be outside, hiking, fishing and barbecuing are popular.

Young people in Norway are often involved in after-school activities such as sports, music, arts and crafts. Community organized activities, scouting, politics clubs and the Red Cross are also quite popular. And like most teens everywhere, weekends are for movies, parties or hanging out at cafes.

People & Community

You will most likely live in small rural communities with a population under 20,000. Your host parents will probably expect you to be quite independent, and your host siblings might have part-time jobs. Weekends are often family focused. 

School

You will probably attend the Norwegian upper secondary school in the general studies track. Even though Norwegian schools don’t usually offer extra-curricular activities, many of your Norwegian friends will take part in drama, choir or sports outside of school. Norwegian teachers value initiative so you should be quite independent and don’t expect constant reminders to do your assignments. You can expect to have a relatively informal relationship with your teachers, and address them by their first name.

Language

Norwegian is the language of Norway. It is a Germanic language related to Danish, Swedish and Icelandic and has two official forms of writing—bokmål (Standard Norwegian) and nynorsk (New Norwegian). Some schools might include you in the Norwegian classes for immigrants and AFS will share links and materials with you to help you learn the language.

Food

One of the most popular foods in Norway is fish, but people also eat lots of meat, potatoes, vegetables, milk and cheese, and there are various sweets. Open-faced sandwiches are also popular and are often eaten for breakfast. Dinner is the main meal of the day and a favorite dish is meatballs and potatoes with gravy. Even though Norwegians still appreciate traditional Norwegian dishes, the international cuisine has had a lot of influence the recent decades. Try out the pizza, pasta and Norwegian “tacos.”

COUNTRY HIGHLIGHTS
– A lot of outdoor activities as we love being active
– A wide variety of winter sports such as ice skating and skiing
– Cozy Christmas celebrations packed with traditions
– The Norwegian constitution day May 17th
COUNTRY OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
Norwegian
RELIGION

Most Norwegians are Christian-Lutheran. However, they do not go to church very often, and they seldom participate in religious activities. Some people will go to church during Christmas and Easter and of course during weddings and funerals. Since Norway historically is a Christian-Lutheran country, the constitution states that the Norwegian laws should reflect Christian-Lutheran values and humanitarian principles. The Christian traditions are also reflected in national holidays like Christmas and Easter. About 73% of Norwegians are members of the Christian-Lutheran church, but only 20% claims that religion plays an important role in their life.

DIETARY CUSTOMS

Food in Norway is often based on meat, fish, potatoes, vegetables, milk, cheese and sweets in wide varieties. Norwegian food is usually a mix of traditional and international cuisine. Pizzas and pasta are very common to have for dinner, and Friday/Saturday nights we often have a Norwegian variety of Tacos. Norwegians customarily eat open-faced sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is usually the only hot meal of the day, and is served earlier in the day than in most countries. Norwegians eat more fish than their European neighbors do. Even though it is becoming more common to be a vegan/vegetarian, it still proves somewhat challenging to recruit HFs open to accept students who do not eat meat, fish or lactose, as it is such a big part of our diet. It is also difficult to find HFs for students with lactose or gluten intolerance, mainly because milk and bread are such a big part of our diet. Many families eat together, and the student will be expected to take part in this. It is important that students are informed that they will be expected to follow the families habits concerning mealtimes and diet.

HEALTH

Candidates must be in good medical health, both physically and mentally. As many Norwegian families have pets, we cannot accept a large number of students with allergies. Students with pet allergies tend to take longer to place.

SMOKING

Very few adults smoke in Norway today, and we cannot accept smoking students.

ENVIRONMENT AND GEOGRAPHY

Norway is a northern European country that stretches 2500 km from our south across the polar circle to the far North. It is a rugged country with a disperse population and most students will live in small communities of less than 20 000 inhabitants. The terrain is glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north. The climate is temperate along coast, modified by North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; rainy year-round on west coast. Midnight sun and winter darkness north of the polar circle.

Students are expected to be independent, mature and take initiative. Norwegian schools are based on “responsibility for your own learning”. Most Norwegians are actively engaged in their local communities and participate in a wide variety of sports, outdoor activities and voluntary work. Students will be expected to participate. The Norwegian society is normally quite open and liberal, and there are varieties of family structures. Students should be open to HF placements of all kinds, including single parent placements (and same sex placements). The cost of living in Norway is high and stus will find Norway expensive. Stus must be able to pay for their own activities. We advise all AFSers to have at least NOK 1500 at their disposal per month. All the exchange students coming to Norway need to bring a laptop with them. If the student is not permitted to use their own laptop at their hostschool, the student needs to rent a laptop at school. AFS NOR will not cover these expenses. All students need to have a liability insurance when coming to Norway. Students coming from EU-countries should bring European health insurance card with them to Norway. Language: Average English skills are required, but even more important is a strong motivation to learn Norwegian. All students are expected to be committed to learning Norwegian while in Norway (not English). destination. Motivated students will be able to achieve a level of proficiency needed for daily life by the end of their stay. Please do not promote the program as an English-speaking.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Go abroad with AFS to discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.
TEEN PROGRAMS (UNDER 18 YEARS OLD)

Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding, throughout your time abroad, and as you return to you home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family through your learning journey abroad.

ADULT PROGRAMS (18 YEARS OR OLDER)

The Global Competence Certificate (GCC) program will support your intercultural learning experience. This state-of-the-art program prepares you to successfully navigate new cultural environments—during your AFSNext experience and long after you finish the program. Online intercultural learning modules combined with in-person sessions help you develop practical and global skills, knowledge and attitudes that employers need and mission-driven organizations believe will help achieve their social impact goals. You will receive your certification upon completion of the training program. 

Explore the Programs Available in Norway