Fans of fantasy and folklore will find it hard to resist the emotive imagery associated with Norway; think Vikings and troll tribes, coastal fjords, panoramic vistas, rolling green mountains, and of course, the neon-smeared, polar lit skies in the North. Norwegians are often told that they sound like they are singing when they communicate with each other, and you’ll definitely want to be able to synge a response back. Language programs in Norway, “the land of the midnight sun,” are a fantastic way to experience some real Norse magic and immerse yourself in its ancient landscape.
With a population of 4.5 million spread across masses of glacier, fjord, and rugged mountain, Norway is an explorer’s paradise. The country sits on the Scandinavian peninsula in Northern Europe and borders Finland, Sweden, and of course the Atlantic Ocean, which is credited for carving out that deep and dreamy coast line. Given the country’s high latitude, most of Norway experiences intensely bipolar seasons. Summers are full of endless daylight and winters vault the land with a deep and lovely darkness made prismatic by the glow of the aurora borealis. No matter where you opt to learn a new language in Norway’s sprawling terrain, you will notice that Norwegians carry an overt appreciation for the natural environment. Some of the most popular locations for language learning in Norway include:
Oslo. Located in the southeast portion of country, Oslo is an attractive choice for language learners who want to experience the cosmopolitan lifestyle of a grand European city that still has small town appeal. Oslo is big, really big, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore with ease, thanks to a connected network of public transportation options, including trains, metros, trams, ferries, and buses. Norway’s capital city is certainly not lacking in things to do; it comes equipped with eight ski centres, an opera house, and a boat-load (pun intended) of maritime museums that showcase preserved Viking ships and the overall ship-building acumen of the country. Reputable and intensive language programs are available through Oslo University and other private institutions, some of which even feature modules on Norwegian history and literature to help supplement your foray into the Norwegian language.
Bergen. Also known as the “gateway to the fjords,” Bergen is another fantastic choice for students that want to station themselves in a city with enchanting natural wonder within mittens reach. Bergen is a port town hemmed by mountains and is only about one third the size of Oslo. Complete with great walkability and a bustling main-street, the vibe in Bergen is largely youthful and vibrant. Thanks to the dense population of students from private and public universities, there are several recreational clubs and youth groups available for those looking to plunge right into the local scene and integrate with the community during language courses in Norway.
Tromso. Located 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromso is home to the chimerical concept of Polar Night and Midnight Sun. From May to July, the sun will never drop below the horizon, and from November to January, you can expect a perpetual sky-scape of soft blue darkness. Though Tromso is small and geographically isolated, it boasts a busy main street and there are lots of free and easy ways for language students to connect with locals. Opportunities to test your language skills in the real world will manifest themselves organically through yoga, meditation, and even walking groups (because yes, walking is a recognized sport in Tromso). Applying what you’ve learned in a classroom setting is easy with such varied options and will undoubtedly increase your command of Norwegian before you can say minoritetsladningsbærerdiffusjonskoeffisientmålings-apparatur.
Language Programs in Norway
Norwegian is arguably one of the easiest languages to learn in Norway, and functions as the perfect entry point for those interested in mastering additional Scandinavian languages. A fair command will allow you to effortlessly engage with citizens from Sweden and Denmark, and even read Dutch text, making it an excellent hack for those interested in expanding their language aptitude even further.
There are three main Norwegian languages: Bokmål, Nynorsk, and Sami. Nynorsk and Bokmål are recognized as official languages, while mastery of Sami is reserved for a minority of the indigenous population. Depending on your specific needs and learning preferences, there are several language programs in Norway, from intimate Bokmål homestays to intensive three month language programs in Nynorsk, Bokmål, and even English; you could even pursue a full (and free!) degree in Norway. The truly hard part about taking language courses in Norway is deciding where to station yourself at the advent of your adventure.
Costs & Affordability
Rated the third most expensive country in 2015, the elevated prices of Norway can be difficult to digest from the onset. Though the KRON is dropping, costs can really rack up if you’re not thoughtful with your spending habits. However, a high quality of life is commensurate with the high living expenses and visitors will enjoy a low crime rate and comfortable accommodations in exchange.
Language programs in Norway do vary in cost, but affordable options are available. Be diligent, research opportunities in your desired location, and of course, review any and all available scholarships and fundraising resources at your disposal, because a little effort goes a long way! Also, keep in mind that the pursuit of a masters or bachelors degree is free for all eligible candidates, and often comes packaged with Norwegian language classes and complementary health care, so this is definitely worth looking into if you’re interested in a longer-term, more immersive experience!
On a daily basis, it might make more sense for your wallet to ditch any raucous nights out in favor of day trips that highlight the area’s natural beauty. There are a manifold of outdoor activities to choose from, so you won’t have to cut any corners to participate in the social scene as most students are in the same kron-pinching boat as you and will gravitate toward free forms of recreation.
Accommodation & Visas
Citizens of the EU and the European Free Trade association (U.S. included) can enter Norway on a visa for up to 90 days. For those interested in a matriculating beyond 90 days, contact your program coordinator or a Norwegian embassy in your home country for support and information about the visa process.
Once enrolled in a language program in Norway, most schools will help place you in a student house within close proximity to the city centre. These communal hubs are well manicured, dot most major cities, and are great for connecting with fellow international explorers. Some well-known houses include Fantoft in Bergen, which is 50 percent foreign, and Kvarteret, though the choices are boundless and mostly depend on the experience you are looking for. Homestay options that rest more on the perimeter of the city are also available and offer interested students a glimpse into a more suburban Norwegian lifestyle.
Benefits & Challenges
With its vast infrastructure and emphasis on personal well-being, it’s no wonder that Norway consistently rates as one of the happiest places in the world. However, before jumping longship, those considering attending language schools in Norway should know a few things:
The weather. Do you hate the cold and the dark? Be sure to choose a summer language program in Norway as temperatures can and will descend into oppressively negative numbers when the sun refuses to break the horizon. That being said, these conditions won’t dissuade citizens from embracing the koselig (cozy) comforts that winter totes. Say hello to blazing fires, tea candles, pillowy waffles, and cauldrons of lamb stew; these are just a few of the anticipated staples that mark the start of a Norwegian winter.
Norwegian Philosophy. The guiding precepts of Norwegian culture are largely liberal and this translates to a community that embraces egalitarianism in all its forms. The concept of workspace hierarchy is loose, education has been democratized, and people are quite literally free to roam wherever they want thanks to allmansrett, which translates to “All Men’s Right.” For up to two days, citizens can pitch a tent or hike through any uncultivated land that may pique their curiosity, regardless of who owns the land.
Learn how to say snow in 20 different ways at a language school in Norway, and immerse yourself in a country full of UNESCO world heritage sites that encourages freedom, discovery, and exploration. Go on. Exercise the same daring our Viking forefathers did and etch out an indelible experience that will stay with you for a lifetime in Norway, that is, unless a troll casts a memory spell on you.