Til hovedinnhold

- We should have had folk high schools in Canada as well!

This year, three sisters from Canada are students at Nordvestlandet folkehøgskole in Nordmøre. They are finding it difficult to explain to friends at home what kind of school they are attending.

-We had never heard about folk high schools until my mum just happened to come across the offer, says Celeste Pomerantz (21) from Vancouver. This year she and her two younger sisters, Tamar and Aliya (20-year-old twins), are students at Nordvestlandet folkehøgskole in Torvikbukt in Nordmøre.

-We’re having a fantastic time here! They ought to have folk high schools in more places, she adds.

Because when the sisters have tried to explain to their friends back home in Canada what kind of school they are attending, they usually have problems.

-Our friends just call it an «outdoor school.» They don’t understand what a folk high school is, says Tamar.

The offer sounds almost too good to be true!

Bilde av folkehøgskolen

The girls think that Høgtun folkehøgskole is situated in a idyllic location in Torvikbukt. It’s not far from the mountains that they love climbing.

Read more about Nordvestlandet folkehøgskole

Learning Norwegian

The girls’ mother is Norwegian, but they never learned to speak Norwegian at home. The only thing they could manage before they arrived at the folk high school was a few phrases such as «thanks for the food» and «hi». Consequently their motivation for attending a folk high school was to spend time on outdoor activities and to learn Norwegian.

«We have a lot of family members living in Norway and it’s nice to combine going to school with meeting our relatives. We want to come back to do a master’s degree here in Norway. For that it would be an advantage to be able to speak Norwegian,» says Celeste.

Although all three have chosen outdoor activities as their main subject on the school’s Outdoor Life Top 30 and Outdoor Life Explore courses, they are taking Norwegian as an additional course. This means that they have Norwegian lessons two to three times a week. However, they are learning most of their Norwegian from their fellow students.

It’s much easier to learn Norwegian when you’re surrounded by Norwegians all the time. The girl I’m sharing a room with is my best teacher, says Aliya.


Climbing mountains is one of the best things the girls know.

-Attending folk high school has been a great introduction to getting to know Norwegian culture, says Tamar. Although the girls have been to Norway several times before, it is the first time they have been here for such a long time.

-For example, the food here is very different from what we are used to. At home in Vancouver, we eat a lot of international food, especially Asian food, while here they serve traditional Norwegian food, says Celeste.

-We have probably eaten too many potatoes,» she smiles. But some of the best things I’ve ever tasted are what we have cooked when we’re off on one of the school’s trips,» says Tamar as she lists all the various meals they have cooked on an open fire. Cooking outdoors is fantastic!

The idyllic nature and the small village of Torvikbukt are giving the Canadian girls a constant feeling of staying in a holiday cabin.

Provincial and «holiday cabin feeling»

Moving from the big city of Vancouver to the village of Torvikbukt, which is located midway between Molde and Kristiansund, was a huge transition. All three sisters had attended the university in their home town before moving, and the difference from 40,000 fellow students to 100 students was massive.

-It was a huge transition,»says Celeste.

-At the same time, it’s great with fewer students. Here you get to know each other much better, and you see each other every day – 24/7, she says.

After this year, we have people we know with open doors all over Norway. It's the perfect starting point for returning as a student, she says.

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Do you want to learn Norwegian in Norway?

-The village we are living in now is quite small. It’s almost feels like we are staying in a holiday cabin all the time,» says Tamar. It’s quite cosy!

The girls really noticed the difference when they went home for Christmas.

-It was a bit of a shock when we arrived at the airport. Had there really always been so many people there, laughs Aliya.


The Nordmøre countryside is great for anyone interested in the outdoor life, both summer and winter.

While others choose a folk high school as their first step away from their childhood homes, preferably a long way away from their own families, the girls think that being together at folk high school has been great.

-The whole journey has become like a family trip. We have got to know each other and our relatives in Norway much better, says Celeste.

-Travelling together as sisters has actually been pretty safe, Tamar adds.

They have also become fond of the Norwegian countryside and think that it is perfect for cultivating their outdoor interests.

-It’s lovely here, even though it’s a bit cold in the winter, says Aliya.

-The countryside is similar to what we are used to at home in Canada, even though the fjords here are different and the tree line is lower down in Norway, says Tamar.

-We’ve always loved being outdoors, so it’s fantastic to come to Norway and cultivate this interest, says Celeste.


They have had many trips to the mountains during their year at Høgtun!

Out of one’s comfort zone

-One of the nicest things about folk high school is that you learn a lot about yourself, you find new interests and you become aware of your own abilities, says Celeste. But that’s also the hardest thing to explain. We don’t have schools like this in Canada to compare this to, she says.

-It’s good to be somewhere without any pressure to gain good marks, Tamar says.

-Even though I’ve actually started to miss revising. But it’s a nice feeling, and then I’ll be ready to study again in the autumn, she says.

Folk high school is also all about moving out of your comfort zone, learning something new and testing your own boundaries, says Aliya.

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Apply Now if You Want to Study in Norway

For example, I get cold really easily. When we went surfing in the icy water in Stadt this winter, that was something that I never thought I would do. But it was amazing there and I’m really happy that I got to be a part of it, she says.

Folk high school is also about testing boundaries and learning something new.

When choosing their folk high school, they looked for somewhere where they could be close to their relatives, learn Norwegian and also engage in outdoor activities. So for the girls, Høgtun was the perfect choice.

-We’ve seen a lot of Norway during the year,» say the girls, who are looking forward to returning as students one day. They are still not sure if they will go to Bergen, Trondheim or Tromsø.

-My best friend here at school comes from Lyngen, and I would really like to travel north to see what the countryside is like up there. If there are no courses available in Tromsø, I will at least go there and visit it, says Aliya.

-Folk high school is also somewhere where you go to meet new people, because everyone is open and keen to get to know each other. It’s a very social place, says Celeste.