Moving to Norway

Hei alle sammen! So I am from America and planning on moving to Norway after I graduate high school. But I am scared I will be making the wrong choice. You see I was supposed to go to West Point after high school and join the army as an officer like my dad wanted, but when I was 16 I discovered Norway and fell in love with the language, the landscape, and the people. I get good enough grades to where I have a good chance of getting accepted into a Norwegian college like UiO, but I am terrified that I will end up missing out on a secure future like I would have gotten had I gone to West Point. Should I go with my gut and follow my dreams of emigrating to Norway, or should I opt for the more secure and economically stable future? I know it will be difficult, but something keeps pushing me towards Norway.

January 3, 2018


I'm a university lecturer, and I'd say that you should never do a course or follow a career because it is the one your family decided for you. I've seen too many students miserable because they were pushed into a career choice that wasn't their choice - better to finish a degree in a "foolish" subject than drop out halfway through a "sensible" subject. You need to do what YOU have chosen, it is your life, your future, your career - for better or worse. Having said that, it can be very difficult to know what you want when you are young, or have confidence to make a meaningful choice.

How about taking a year out before starting university - ideally a year in Norway, then you can decide based on better experience and more time to think over your long term goals.

January 4, 2018

That's honestly a great idea, taking a "gap" year. But I have my dad constantly telling me that West Point will view the gap year as laziness. He believes I should go to West Point straight out of high school, even though I will only be 17. It's just really scary that I alone have to make the choice and risk my dad being disappointed in me. I have never had to make such a huge decision before and the idea of being all alone in a foreign country is an idea that excites me yet also scares me. But again I have that innate reason sort of pushing me towards Norway, and if I take in your suggestion, I could take one year after high school and see if Norway is everything I thought it would be. Tusen takk, for replying to me!!

January 5, 2018

In which case, contact West Point and ask for their opinion on gap years. In the UK (in Universities) we view them as positive, as you will arrive at Uni with an extra year of maturity, and that can make a real difference to a student's commitment to study. If you choose to go to West Point after a gap year, you will have proven genuine commitment. You might also find (after a year in Norway) that it is not all you had hoped for so West Point would become your choice.

I get where you are coming from with your dad pushing you. I had similar, my dad pushed me to a 7 year course.* The West Point course is even longer is it not? If it is not for you, you will certainly drop out halfway through and then your dad will be even more furious and everyone will have wasted their time. Better to start the course later and be genuinely committed to it, then be pushed in early when it is not your choice. Remember, West Point don't want people leaving halfway through either.

  • It involved 2 qualifications, ended up having to retake a year and then dropped out after forcing myself to complete the first qualification. I never took up that career, but instead went to work in something artistic but also lucrative. I've done very well for myself but that degree was misery and delayed my career by 4 years.
January 5, 2018

So what you ended up choosing made you happier overall? I hope that will be the case for me

January 6, 2018

I've seen even more misery from people who had no direction from anybody (starting from themselves), but I agree in that a military career is one of the most extreme careers and probably one that can hardly be converted to other things. I agree with the gap year. Can't the academy post-pone recruitment once all the tests have been passed? A lot of high-flying corporate jobs do that, to the point they even give you a small gap year loan to be repaid back when you start working with them...

January 10, 2018

If you attend a college in Norway how many subjects will be taught in Norwegian and do you have the requisite language skills to cope?

Perhaps you could sit the Bergen test or something similar. This would give you an idea of your ability to cope with the language in an academic setting etc. without having made a final commitment to emigrate.

Alternatively, you could go to West Point. Do the requisite number of years post study as an army officer and then leave the armed forces and move to Norway.

As you're still in high school you have plenty of options to explore which will enable you to achieve your dreams and create a secure and economically stable life in the future.

Best of luck in your endeavours.

January 3, 2018

Thanks for replying! I had never thought about taking the Bergen test so I'll definitely look into it. It's a scary choice, but I hope either option will lead me to a great future in the end. I actually wanted to become a part of the Norwegian space program. I am not sure what I would have to study but I heard somewhere most of the courses taught at UiO are in English and in order to be admitted, even Norwegian applicants must speak English. So I figured me being from an English speaking country would have a better chance of learning. But I am a junior right now so I can only hope to achieve fluency in Norwegian in the last year and a half of my school. But my worst fear is going through with my decision, getting there, and not being able to find a job or even communicate, and all my hard work will have been for nothing and I would have sacrificed a spot at one of the US's most renowned school, West Point. And if I go to West Point I have to serve for 5 years after I have attended for 4 years, so a total of 9 years I will have spent in the army! And by then I will be 27 and never know if things would have turned out differently had I gone to Norway and took a chance in a foreign country.

January 3, 2018

That sounds like an insane commitment. How would dropping out of West Point look on a CV?

January 10, 2018

Good luck with learning Norwegian :)

January 3, 2018

Tusen takk!

January 3, 2018

As you may be already cognisant of, universites and colleges in Norway are free for foreigner, regardless of their nationality. That being said, let's assume you successfully complete a university in Norway and you obtain a degree (perhaps a bachelor's standard four-year degree). Even if you do not find a stable work there, you have a degree that from a country that is well respected in the Nordic Union and has a positive global reputation. Thus, the opportunities are endless having a Bachelor's degree from a Norwegian University or College. Not exclusively in Europe, but almost in every country of the world.

Nevertheless, it is worth keeping in mind that not everything will be great. You have to consider that Norway is one of the most expensive countries to live in. Therefore, although you may not have to cover tuition fees, you should expect to pay inordinate amounts of money due to the high cost of living in Norway.

It should be noted, that you will need to be flexible. Nothing can be garanteed when taking such decisions. You should have a back-up plan, just in case.

My advice for you would be to follow your dream. It is sad that nowadays most people give up on their dreams and they later regret it in their lives.

Do not be afraid of taking risks, it is the only way to reach the top.

January 4, 2018

You're really kind, thank you for taking the time to reply. Its a really tough decision but the more I research the more I am leaning towards taking a chance in Norway. And your right, college in Norway definitely holds up to its standards around the world, and I probably would have no trouble finding a job if I secure a degree from a Norwegian college.

January 5, 2018

As a fellow American, there are two things I'd like to note, one in support, one as a warning:

First, the support: The thing is that if you can provide the requisite financial requirements(around $13,000, provable, in the bank every year) you can go to school 'for free' in Norway. That's a huge difference than ending up in enormous debt in America. But that's just proof you can pay for rent, etc, while you're studying. Along with that, after your graduate, you will have been in the country long enough to potentially qualify for permanent residency, which opens all of Europe to you.

Second, the concern: Have you been to Norway? Have you spent time there? Do you know many Norwegians, like personally? It is a little bit crazy to want to change your entire life to go to a place you've never even been. It's a beautiful country, but it's also very, VERY, different than America . Try to at least experience day-to-day Norway before setting all your hopes and dreams on it.

January 5, 2018

Takk. No I haven't been there yet, only scene it from youtube videos and movies. Yet the way others describe it who actually live there it seems like the perfect place for me. The only job I have ever had is at a skating rink where I made less than 200 dollars a month. Finding a job for rent and food could also be difficult when I first get there. Thanks for your feedback.

January 5, 2018

Mannutenland makes a good point. As a US citizen and an international student you need to go through immigration and one of the strictures is that you provide money to pay for yourself to live in Norway, up front, into a Norwegian bank before you start your course to prove you can support yourself. If your family refuse to help you with this, then studying in Norway can only be a dream. (International students tend to come from rich families.)

January 5, 2018

Please note, as a student you would only be allowed to work 20 hours per week, and expected also to be a full-time student.

January 5, 2018

Hei! I'm an Asian looking to immigrate to Norway in several year's time as my fiance is Norwegian.

Honestly, I agree with loladesu and feel it would be good for you to actually live there for some time - eg gap year, student exchange etc, before deciding further if you want to uproot your entire life.

Movies, youtube, talking with others are great, but they don't compare to actually living there for a period of time. Hell, I've visited Norway twice, living with my fiance for about 2 months time in total, and "holidaying" still cannot compare to actually living there, being immersed there.

Do you read blogs of people who've immigrated? It can be a very long and hard road even for people who had carefully planned and have resources such as a spouse to support them. They write about it being hard to find work despite high qualifications and good work history. They write about difficulty integrating and being accepted.

And yeah, Norway seems like the perfect place for me too, though my fiance and myself have always maintained the view that it's going to be hard. And I'm someone whose had a good work history, sizeable savings and a vocational education though I don't have a Bachelors.

I strongly feel it would be better if you "tried Norway out" via a gap year, student exchange first.

This isn't meant to discourage you - I think it's great that you want to pursue this dream! However, I really feel a compromise would be better, compared to throwing yourself into the deep end.

January 5, 2018

Realistically, don't even dream of going there without some 5000 USD to live off of while you look for a job. I think being an au pair is your best bet. You are a native speaker of a desirable language, I think your chances are good.

January 10, 2018

I can give you some advice from my personal life experience, which I learned the hard way, and that is do not let your parents wishes decide your future for you. Also don't make choices because one is "safe" and the other is "unknown" and a little scary. In other words, don't let fear stop you from living the life you want. I'm not necessarily saying definitely choose to move away to Norway, because only you can decide that, but if that is what is pulling you the most, make a plan and do it. Like another poster said above, it's not like you can't ever change your mind and move back, or make another plan.

I wish I had someone say these things to me when I was in high school. I really think my life would be very different. :P

Lykke til!!!

January 5, 2018

Tusen takk!! :)

January 6, 2018

Okay so this doesn't totally pertain to learning Norwegian but a little over a year ago we moved from Indiana to California mostly on a whim. We never lived here, visited once, and really just wanted a change. We don't have children so we thought "why not?!" Cut to now where we both aren't in love with it and have thought about moving back. We're going to tough it out (I am having a MUCH MUCH MUCH harder time than my husband) for a while longer and just see how it goes. My best advice is to make sure you have money! Money is going to make your life much easier should you want to move back or move elsewhere over there. If you're trapped and broke it's miserable. Good luck!

January 8, 2018

Okay, so here's some big sisterly advice from someone who had similar goals at your age:

This doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. Choosing one thing rarely precludes you from changing direction if things don't work out (you can start at West Point and still drop out if you're really not feeling it; you can try Norway and come home if it's not what you imagined). There's more than one pathway to a goal. Although 27 seems positively ancient when you're a teenager, you'll likely feel just as young and energetic when you get there (so long as you don't totally trash your body with alcohol, drugs or junk food in the meantime!).

I'm at the older end of the millennial/gen y spectrum. I've done a bachelors and masters degree, lived and worked abroad for a combined 5 years in Korea, Japan and the UK, travelled to 20+ countries, and had three entirely separate careers, all by my early 30s. And I don't consider that particular amazing - plenty of people around me have done similarly. It wasn't easy; I don't come from a privileged background, so I was working two or more jobs and seven days a week at times to afford to do the things I did. But it's doable.

Have you considered a compromise? Like a university that would let you do a semester or year on exchange at UiO? Or a gap year after college/uni? Or if you choose West Point, doing a gap year at 27? (Yes, that's really A Thing - I did one at 27, and a couple of my friends did one at 30.)

There's no such thing as a secure future in the 21st Century. You or a family member might become ill or have financial trouble due to unforeseen circumstances. Technology might make your career obsolete in 10 years. You could find you fall out of love with a passion and decide on a completely new career. Recessions happen. Wars happen. Marriages and divorces happen. The best thing to do is get comfortable with being a bit uncomfortable; make plans but be flexible to change and opportunities.

Ahhh, I wish someone had told me all this in high school ; )

Good luck!

January 4, 2018

Wow this is honestly the best comment ever. Thanks for the advice, I am glad I got to hear from someone who has actually had a career abroad. I only live with my dad who was an officer for 22 years in the army, so I am always getting his one-sided opinion. I could always go to West Point, save what I earn, then travel to Norway, but you put my thoughts into words perfectly, I don't know why I view 27 as incredibly old, possibly because it is so far from my age now, but your right, it is still young and being in your late twenties still doesn't mean I can't be youthful. UGH, there are so many scary things about following through with this. I thought perhaps I could join the Norwegian army, but I found out online that you have to be a citizen to join and in order to be a citizen you have to have lived in Norway for 5 years.

January 4, 2018

Good luck. I want to move to Denmark or Singapore after college and you should always dream on.

January 6, 2018

Go with whatever you feel I would go to Norway but I've still got a few more years before I'm able though I know I'll probably go to Norway,Finland or Scotland! But this is about you,yeah you could go with a less adventurous career path and be more sure of getting an ok paying job and work at a mind numming ofice job of you could join the army a hard cor life but you would be making your father proud (I'm sure he'll be proud no matter what you choose) or while your young go to Norway and live an adventurous life maby youl live their for a few years or the rest of your life if you find a decent job you choose your path.

May 27, 2019
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