American College of Norway Forever Changed My Life
Jen Ciasullo spent a semester abroad at American College of Norway during her senior year. While abroad, Jen was exposed to Arctic affairs and participated in the Svalbard travel course. These unique experiences at ACN excited Jen and left her wanting to learn more. Now Jen is headed back to Norway to pursue a master’s degree in International Relations at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
In my senior year of college, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to study abroad in my dream country, Norway. My love for Norway began in my senior year of high school when I had to write a paper on Victorian Norway after reading Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. Because of this and also learning about Norway in my European history class, I began to see Norway in a different light and decided that at some point in my life I would visit.
When I started college, I began looking at schools in Norway where I could study abroad. I knew I wanted to be near Oslo, but was too intimidated to study at the University of Oslo because I had no knowledge of the language and had never lived in a city. As I continued searching for Norwegian schools, I stumbled upon the American College of Norway. After getting in touch with the amazing staff, plus seeing the program offered a variety of political science classes, I knew that ACN was the place for me. I liked that ACN was a small community and didn’t have classes on Fridays, giving me the opportunity to travel over the weekends with my new friends, one of whom I now consider my best friend.
What I also found fascinating about ACN was its course on Geo-politics of the Arctic that encompassed a trip to Svalbard during fall break. I would hands down say that this trip changed my life. As an International Relations major, I had to narrow down my area of interest, but didn’t quite know what region was for me. Visiting Svalbard solidified my decision on my academic region of interest. Svalbard was a once in a lifetime opportunity where I learned from students at the University Centre in Svalbard, went on excursions, such as hiking a glacier and a boat cruise to Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement.
Because of this trip and my experience at ACN as a whole, I continued my studies on the Arctic and even wrote my senior thesis on Arctic governance. Now, I am going back to Norway to receive my master’s in International Relations at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and can 100% say that my time at ACN and the Arctic solidified my decision on what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I know it is cliché to say studying abroad changed my life, but it truly did. I encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to study abroad to take it. Emerging yourself into a different culture is such a unique experience and you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll take away from your time there. Everyone comes away with something, whether it be memories, friends, or a foreseeable future in the country, but no matter what, make the best of your time abroad and remember to just have fun for what will surely be an unforgettable semester.