Last spring, I made a decision that I never thought I would make. Though I love my home, family, and friends, after 17 years of living in the suburbs of Phoenix, it seemed time for a change.
Hoping to get more out of my senior year, I opted for a unique opportunity to get in touch with my Norwegian heritage. Now, seven months and many goodbyes later, I am a student here at Rønningen Folkehøgskole in Oslo.
The Scandinavian folk high school tradition is based upon the belief that young people must take time to discover themselves before they attempt to discover life in the "real world."
This one year of boarding school with no exams and no grades allows for development of interpersonal skills, as well as exploration of one's personal abilities.
At Rønningen, each student chooses from several lines of study, including dance, sports, art and design, band, vocal, social work, and Norwegian language and culture for international students like me.
Although translation is still needed at times, after the six-week intensive Norwegian language course, I am beginning to find my place among the other "Rønners."
I am now a member of the art and design class, where I spend most of my time, as well as several weekly elective classes such as billiards club and Photoshop.
On Saturdays I attend seminars on various topics including Norwegian art, Norwegian politics, and in the coming winter months, Norwegian holiday traditions.
My student advisor at Desert Vista High School, Mark Kulik, was extremely resourceful in making the accommodations for me to complete the Desert Vista graduation requirements from abroad.
I have already completed the necessary electives online over the summer, and I'm currently studying senior English online and will have the two semester exams proctored by a Rønningen teacher. I look forward to "walking" with my Desert Vista High School class in May, in Ahwatukee.
Thus, it seems that the short semester and a half I have left in Oslo will be made longer by its fullness. It is already evident that I will be learning more about myself at Rønningen than a traditional senior high school curriculum might teach me.
Though this kind of experience may not be right for everyone, I would encourage all my fellow Desert Vista students to seek some opportunity during high school or further education to get out of their "element" as a way to broaden their inner and outward perspectives.
• Anna Brielle Caldron is a senior at Desert Vista. She is spending her academic year in Norway.