Fulbright Orientation in Norway

Posted by Michelle:

As a Fulbright grantee to Norway, I participated in orientation activities this week. US scholars and students met at the Nobel Peace Institute for an introduction to Norwegian life and culture. We heard presentations from faculty at the Universitetet I Oslo about differences in US and Norwegian educational systems and a political specialist at the US Embassy about upcoming parliamentary elections in Norway.

Interesting differences in education:

  • It is common for elementary and middle school students to not receive grades for their work. Instead they receive constructive feedback. At the high school and college level, grades may be numeric, 1-6, with 1 being the highest. There is also a move towards letter grades A-F, comparable with US systems.
  • In the US, primary and secondary schools play a major role in non-academic activities (sports, marching band, chess club, etc), but this is not the case in Norway. Extra-curricular activities such as sports are usually organized by local clubs, independent of the schools.
  • The Norwegian equivalent of a bachelor’s degree is a 3-yr program mainly because general studies are taken in high school. As a result, bachelor studies tend to be more specialized compared to US programs.
  • Student performance in many university courses is evaluated by only a final exam. No mid-terms, homework, or essays, etc. Here, the final exam for a class may take 4-6 hours to complete (written and/or oral) and stresses the students’ ability to apply the learned material.

Moving on to politics, things are much more complicated when there are 7 parties! No one party gains sole control, but must cooperate with other parties to form a coalition government. Interestingly, political ads are not allowed on TV, although there are televised debates among candidates. Most campaigning occurs in the month before the election, which is 14 September 2009.

We also were addressed by the Chargé d’Affaires from the US Embassy (pending the arrival of a new Ambassador) and the director of the Nobel Peace Institute. The evening ended with a reception where each grantee introduced his/her work and where I had a chance to meet members of the Fulbright Norway Board, past Norwegian Fulbrighters to the US and past US Fulbrighters to Norway who have remained in the country.

Group picture of the 2009-10 US Fulbrighters to Norway

Group picture of the 2009-10 US Fulbrighters to Norway

Note: This is not an official US State Department website and the views and information presented here are those of the author and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the US State Department.

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