My School

Did you know that there are schools in Norway that are very similar to American and British schools? Below you can read about an American teenager who lives in Stavanger. Her school is in many ways different from yours.

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My name is Erin Umberger and I am a student at the International School of Stavanger, which is a school for English-speaking students living in Norway. The school was originally meant for American students, but today it teaches people from more than 25 different nationalities.

Attending an international school is a unique experience – something I could not have found in the US. I get to be with kids from all over the world every day. The classes go from 8.30 in the morning until 3.15 in the afternoon and are often very exciting since people from different cultural backgrounds often have different opinions about many things. This way, I learn a lot about many cultures and countries that I normally would’ve had to read about in books or newspapers.

The subjects taught at ISS include English, Math, Sciences – which means Biology, Chemistry and Physics – History, Sociology, Psychology, and foreign languages. You can even learn Norwegian if you like! Each student chooses classes with help from the counselor.

ISS is different from the American schools I have gone to, but of course there are similarities that all schools share. Such as when you enter the cafeteria around lunchtime, laughter and chattering voices fill the air. People talk about everything from the latest news events to their weekend plans. Just like any school, I guess! The kids wear a variety of clothes, but the most common thing to wear is denim jeans and college sweaters. Hats are allowed and many of the boy students wear them. Girls are normally in pants, though there is the occasional skirt or dress too. We don’t have to wear uniforms, thank God!

The students’ goals are also similar. We are here to learn by attending classes and then move onto higher education, whether that be a university or vocational school.

But ISS is also different, as I mentioned. One difference is the size of the school. Currently, there are about 600 students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Most schools I have attended have that in a single grade! But the small size offers many opportunities. I can for example be a stage manager for the school theater production, play volleyball on the school team and take part in the Model United Nations – where we meet up with kids from international schools from all over the world to discuss and get to know each other. All this, and time for school work too! This is often impossible at other schools.

When the bell rings to signal that the school day is over, some go home, of course, but many stay at the school and change into their sports attire for another two hours of afternoon activities. They can play volleyball like I do, or basketball, soccer, softball, swimming or track. Other activities include Model United Nations, student government, Amnesty International, International Friendship group, theater productions, bands or choirs.

Another thing that is special at my school is that we have students of all ages. I am a high school student, but on my way to class – we switch classrooms after each class – I pass through herds of middle schoolers and children in kindergarten. And we also have many scholarship students who are native Norwegian and help to give the school its international feel. They have been given a scholarship, which means they don’t have to pay to go here.

When I finish my high school career, I will walk across the stage in the auditorium to receive a diploma. A student can receive either an American high school diploma or an International Baccalaureate diploma from ISS. In this way, generations of students have attended a unique and yet typical school.

a) What is the teenager's name?
b) What is the school called?
c) How many nationalities are represented at this school?
d) When does the school day start and end?
e) Which of her subjects are different from yours?
f) What is the most common thing to wear at her school?
g) How many students attend the school?
h) What kind of activities does she take part in?
i) What can the students do in the afternoon?
j) Are there any Norwegians at this school?
k) Make a list of similarities and differences between this school and yours.
l) Do you think this school sounds better or worse than your school? Explain your answer.
m) Why do you think some Norwegians want their children to attend this school?
n) Explain in English what the following words from the text mean. Use a dictionary if necessary.
Example: counselor. A counselor is a person who gives advice to someone, for example at a school.
– conversation
– goals
– kindergarten
– sports attire
– high school
– middle school
– scholarship students
– alumni
– diploma


The International School of Stavanger