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5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad in High School – From a Returnee

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“Thank you to everyone who made this amazing experience possible.” From Olivia’s Blog and Instagram

Studying abroad has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. I want to give some reasons why American students should study abroad, and some more for specifically why you should study abroad in Norway. Hope you enjoy! — Olivia from Pennsylvania, Norway program returnee

1. You meet so many incredible people and make so many great friends.

Seriously how cool is it that you can have people wishing you happy birthday in different languages and people liking your Instagram pictures from halfway across the world? Plus if you ever go back to your exchange country you’ll always have a place to stay.

Some of the people I’ve met here in Norway have been the kindest, most accepting, funny, wonderful people on the planet.


From left to right: Olivia, and her friends Hege, Matilde, Siren, and Aina

2. You learn so much.

From learning a different language to another country’s culture, the random facts you collect are endless. Did you know that Norwegians wear their wedding rings on the right hand? I thought everyone here was single for almost a month.

3. It looks incredible on your college applications.

I’ve already been accepted to 3 colleges (University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University, and Washington & Jefferson) and I honestly believe that the reason I got into Pitt main, got a scholarship from Chatham, and a personal note at the bottom of my W&J letter was because of my exchange.

It shows colleges “what integrity [they] see in you [and] what a tremendous experience you create;” this was a direct quote from my W&J letter. Colleges are always worrying about how their students will handle life at college and exchange students prove that, while in high school, they could live in a foreign country where they know no one. I was a pretty good student in high school and I believe that my exchange really pushed my application over the edge.

4. The views!!!

It doesn’t matter where you study abroad. No matter where you go you will definitely see one view that will take your breath away. There are so many amazing places to see. Even if you live in a small town in Switzerland, you are bound to travel to other places. And who knows, maybe a nearby mountain will be your new favorite hiking spot with an amazing view at the top.


Olivia and her host sisters at Preikestolen, Norway

5. Everyone loves hearing about it!

Okay, so this one only lasts for about a week after you return. BUT it is an amazing conversation piece when meeting new people. Just don’t sound too cocky about spending a life-changing year abroad while everyone was just sitting on their couch at home.

BONUS: Reasons why you should study abroad in Norway!

1. Norwegians

The Norwegians are a particular type of people. They are shy when you first meet them for sure. When they open up they really open up. I have heard countless stories that I really, really wished I hadn’t heard. They also become super inclusive. Every time there’s an event someone always invites me which is really nice because I’ve gotten to go to so many parties and hang out with so many people.


Olivia and Aspect Norway representative Ragnhild at the Opera House in Oslo

2. The Norwegian language

As long as you learn some of it beforehand! At least how to pronounce the Ø Å Æ sounds as well as the Norwegian R sound. Simple phrases are easy to pick up though and basic words and fruit are easy. A lot of words are also really similar in English, too. I REALLY RECCOMEND LEARNING AS MUCH OF THE LANGUAGE AS YOU CAN BEFORE YOU GO! Even if it’s not required it can never hurt.

3. The history

Norway is so old. Grimstad is older than the United States. Isn’t it crazy? Simple things like that stun me. There is even an Ibsen museum in Grimstad because Henrik Ibsen actually worked as an apprentice to a pharmacist. There is so much history in Norway and Norwegians are so, so proud of their history you can’t go anywhere without learning something.


Olivia’s attempt at a jumping photo during her visit to Grimstad

3. The views!!!

I know I mentioned this above how there are amazing views everywhere but Norway has the best views. In the morning on my walk to the bus stop, I can see across the harbor in Fevik to the iconic white houses that this part of Norway is known for. On the bus ride home, I drive past two fjords, a beach, and two harbors all in under 20 minutes. Today it was foggy, rainy, and we only had eight and a half hours of sun, but all I was thinking was how lucky I am to be here.


4. It’s different.

With Aspect, right now, there are two American’s in Norway. There’s one other exchange student in my school from Brazil. What I’m trying to say is that no one goes to Norway. And they should. Most American students don’t even think of Norway. Some people come here because of their Norwegian heritage. My family is mostly Eastern European, Irish, and German so no Norwegian, but Norway is a great place for everyone. Norway is the 17th safest country in the world, pretty high considering that America is 94. Norway is also considered the highest developed country in the world based on the HDI scale. It is so amazing here. I highly recommend spending your exchange in Norway — you will not regret it.

It was around this time last year that I was finalizing all my documents to study abroad. I really recommend studying abroad in high school (especially with Aspect). I hope that you all decide to study abroad and have a great time while you’re there!

Learn more about our study abroad programs here, and find out which program fits you best! Aspect host families receive a $500 discount on academic year and semester program fees. Application deadline for France, Belgium, and Italy are coming up on February 1. All other semester and year-long program applications are due March 15.