American College of Norway Alumni Spotlight – Benjamin Hannus (ACN 2018/2019 | University of North Dakota ‘21)

Benjamin Hannus started his American college degree at ACN in 2018 and has now recently graduated from University of North Dakota. Read about his time at ACN and UND.

Hi Benjamin! Congratulations on recently graduating from UND! Your adventure began with a year at ACN, what made you choose to study at ACN in the first place? How did your year at ACN contribute to your success in the US?

I chose to start at ACN because it felt more natural to leave my home in Oslo to Moss, and mentally prepare myself to eventually study abroad. In addition to that, I got a taste of the American college life and an insider’s knowledge about the process of applying to colleges and universities in the US. Having all this validated by the mostly American staff at ACN definitely gave me more confidence about my big plans to study abroad.

Coming to the US with knowledge from the staff and American exchange students at ACN mentally prepared me for the changes and alleviated much of the culture shock I experienced when I first arrived to the US. Being familiar with what professors academically expected of me at ACN, prepared me for the coursework in the US as well.


Studying with friends at UND commons (UND stock photo shoot session)

How come you chose to continue your degree at ACN’s partner University of North Dakota?

Factors I did not think of when going to ACN were the connections I would make with people of the same background as me that also wanted to study in the US. Having that stepping-stone gave me a kick-start to my time here in the US as I chose to study at the University of North Dakota with peers I met at ACN.

It made sense for me to study at the University of North Dakota as it was a partner school of ACN with all the benefits I could ask for. In addition to the reduced tuition price and the ACN peers, UND is a fair sized campus in a place were most people have some sort of an ancestory relationship to Norway which I thought was very interesting. I was also interested in UND’s aviation program which also led me to choosing this university.

Korean culture night at UND

How has your experience at UND been?

I have always been exposed to different countries and cultures which is a huge reason for why I contemplated coming to the US. Pursuing academic goals is just one aspect of studying abroad. The other part is diving into the culture and exploring different parts of the US. The US is the biggest melting pot I have ever come across which contributes to my well-being and what I get out of life.

UND is surprisingly diverse, it attracts people from all over the world due the their world-renowned commercial aviation program. Coming here led me to making life-long friends all over the world and not just in the US. This is more than what I could have ever expected.

What would be your best piece of advice to other Norwegian students who would like to follow their dreams and study in the US?

I wish I knew how easy it was to slide into life in the US and how rapidly people tend to adapt to their surroundings. It was something i feared my whole time preparing for my pilgrimage to the US. However as each semester went by at UND, I felt more and more comfortable to a point where I considered to be here beyond my study abroad time. I’m ironically in fear of moving back to Norway now, haha!

Lake Superior

What are your plans and dreams for the future?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. My next step is to work in the US to gain practical experience through Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and eventually get into graduate school. It seems natural to test my knowledge and develop the skills I have acquired before I decide to study more. A number of graduate schools I am looking into do prefer work experience for at least a year anyways.

Read more about Benjamin’s time at ACN in a blog post from 2019 here.

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