Foreign exchange student explores American high school culture at Redlands East Valley


Isabelle Ingebrigtsen is a foreign exchange student from Norway. She was Redlands East Valley’s cross-country manager last semester and plans to be a manager for track as well. Ingebrigtsen was inspired to study abroad after hearing the stories her father would tell her about times in the 80’s when he was a foreign exchange student himself.

She is involved in the program EF, Education First, which has provided “life changing education for global citizens” in 114 countires since 1965. When Ingebrigtsen was browsing on Youtube, she came across educational videos about EF. She also watched Highschool Musical, which depicted the idolized idea of American highschool. This popularized her traverse and she decided to try the American highschool experience.

In all places of the world, culture can differ widely. Coming from Norway, Ingebrigtsen’s culture is very different so when she came to the United States, she explained that, “people talked a different way and communicated differently than in Norway.” The American school system is also very different compared to hers. She does not have organized sports at her school, so if she wanted to participate in extracurriculars, she would have to participate in activities outside of school. Because of this, her school lacks the school spirit that REV displays. Because of this, she wanted to get involved and campus. She was Redlands East Valley’s cross-country manager last semester and plans to be a manager for track as well. 

The Norwegian school system is typically state-supported to ensure equal education for all. Meaning that the state also funds students’ college education. The school system is also divided into three levels. Elementary school, which is kindergarten then grades 1-7. Then, middle school (lower secondary school), grades 8-10. And lastly, highschool (upper secondary school), grades 11-13. 

When coming to the United States, Ingebrigtsen did not find it hard to adjust. She has been prepared for one of the many difficult parts of adjusting to a new country–the language. Ingebrigtsen began to learn english in grade 1, which is usually typical for other international countries because of the broad use of english around the world. When entering middle school, in order to get a diploma, it is required to pick a third known language to study, given the options of German, French, Spanish, or Chinese. So, she is very cultured for her age when it comes to foreign language.

Ingebrigtsen doesn’t have the opportunity to visit home during the school year, so she video chats with her friends and family in Norway whenever she gets the chance. Nevertheless, she does “love to hang out with friends” in her free time. She also likes to travel “so [she] wants to see everything including the culture and the sites in California.” Her favorite place she has gone to is the beach and seeing it’s “beautiful sunsets.” 

Before coming to America, she had dreams to live here, but after seeing how expensive everything is compared to Norway, those dreams came to a halt. However, she  “would love to come back for a couple months at a time in the future.”

When Ingebrigtsen leaves she will miss “[her] friends, the language, the access that [she] has to the beach, and the amazing food.”

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