For Lars Silseth, a Rotary exchange student from Norway, high school in Summerland is a new experience.
Silseth has been in Summerland since the end of August and is studying at Summerland Secondary School.
But the courses and the school culture are not the same as what he experienced in Norway.
“My school in Norway is pure academic,” he said. “I find school more social here.”
In Norway, Silseth had 12 to 13 subjects each week, all of them in a classroom setting. Because of the focus on academic courses, he did not have the opportunity to learn photography or drama during school, nor did he have a work experience program.
In Canada, he is able to take electives and participate in a work experience program at Maple Roch.
He also has a role in an upcoming drama at the high school.
Because the exchange program is social rather than academic in nature, he has been focussing on taking the classes he most enjoys.
“I look forward to school here,” he said.
His strong command of the English language is the result of a comprehensive program in Norway. English is taught in schools there from Grade 1 and during the last four years, Silseth has had four to five hours of English language instruction each week.
The school system is not the only difference Silseth has noticed in Canada.
He said Halloween and Christmas are celebrated more elaborately than in Norway.
During Halloween, a few homes might have pumpkins set out, but in Summerland, he noticed large decorations set up in the community.
He has also noticed the bright, colourful lights and decorations already in place for the festive season.
But the biggest difference for Silseth has been transportation in Summerland.
His home community of Stavanger, with a population of around 133,000, has a well-developed transit system, with buses running at all times.
“I’m used to having a bus leaving every four minutes from my home, 24 hours a day,” he said. “To not be able to take the bus here is a really big difference.”
Without a transit system, he has had to rely on getting rides in order to visit friends in outlying parts of Summerland.
During his time in Canada, Silseth is staying at the home of Rotarians Paul Barber and Charlotte Burley.
“They’re a great family and that helps a lot with this experience,” he said.
He will remain in Canada until some time in July.
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