The year of your life at Norway’s school of pop culture
TEXT: JULIE LINDEN | PHOTOS © MARIA VATNE
At Buskerud Folkehøgskole you will find every creative soul’s paradise – whether you are a gamer, an animator, an aspiring author or a musician. Take the opportunity to learn from the very best of Norway’s creatives – developing new skills and making friends along the way.
Known as Norway’s ‘school of pop culture’, Buskerud Folkehøgskole provides a meeting point for creative students and practitioners alike, providing each student with the confidence, tools and mentorships to succeed in the creative industries. Featuring a long list of educators with successful careers as writers, artists, illustrators, and even professional gamers, Buskerud Folkehøgskole represents creative development in a welcoming environment.
A push in the right direction
“Our teachers are rather atypical – definitely more like mentors,” says acting principal and creative gaming teacher Eivind Røbekk Hagerup. “They are all active in their respective fields, which provides an invaluable link to the chosen field of study for the student. The programmes come alive that way, and provide the student with a mentorship relevant to their field of interest,” he says.
Whether you are enticed by the prospect of writing your own novel or that of starting your own band, Buskerud Folkehøgskole will give you a push in the right direction. Offering six programmes – comics and illustration, creative gaming, film and animation, authorship, rock and metal, and e-sports – the school lets you choose from a wide range of programme options, while maintaining a pronounced focus on the creative industries. No matter which programme you choose, you may also add electives to your schedule, with examples such as yoga, 3D-printing, culinary arts or theatre on the school’s list of elective subjects.
Norway’s only rock and metal programme
“Our rock and metal programme is the only one offered in Norway,” reveals Røbekk Hagerup. “We’re proud to have seen some well-known Norwegian artists start their careers upon completing a stint at our school.” He explains: “We try to stay innovative and on-the-ball, offering programmes with the times. We’re very versatile that way, and try to offer something that’s not necessarily found at other schools.”
The innovative approach shows in the number of prospective students applying to the school each year. Each cohort consists of a maximum of 90 students, a number that is always met, according to Røbekk Hagerup. “For the past five years, we haven’t had a single spot to spare,” he says. “It’s great seeing the interest for our programmes.”
‘Proud to be nerds’
As for the popularity of the pop culture school, he thinks the combination of exciting programmes, a welcoming atmosphere, an advantageous location and top-of-the-line equipment makes for a winning recipe. Situated only an hour west of Oslo and close to the towns of Kongsberg and Drammen, the school is ideally placed for taking part in programme-related fairs, concerts, excursions and events. Furthermore, the school premises are modern with the very best of amenities and equipment – such as drones for filming, high-speed fibre internet (“especially popular with the creative gamers”), a gym and an art room. The school’s Eiker Scene, a concert- and theatre hall with space for 250 seated spectators, boasts brand new lighting and sound equipment readily available for theatre students.
While the school’s facilities are impressive, Røbekk Hagerup highlights the school’s social environment as particularly attractive to new students. “We have a motto – ‘here, you’ll find someone who’s weirder than yourself’,” he says, smiling. “I think a lot of our students have looked for like-minded friends before coming here, but perhaps not found them. Here, they experience inclusivity and acceptance just by being themselves and nurturing their interests. We’re proud to call ourselves nerds!”
Personal development and social confidence
Furthermore, the inclusive milieu promotes personal development and self-confidence. “That’s the best part of the job,” comments Røbekk Hagerup. “Seeing these kids grow and find a sense of confidence in themselves and feel safe in a social setting – it’s truly awe-inspiring. A year on one of our programmes doesn’t just offer the chance to develop one’s interests, but it can mean a world of difference for someone’s social skillset.”
Add a state-of-the-art kitchen with homemade meals every day, with no-cost-added vegetarian and vegan options, and you will feel well taken care of – from classroom to dinner table. After all, it is outside the learning environment that a lot of memories are made, comments Røbekk Hagerup, adding that the school offers study trips to several locations in Europe, included in the tuition. “The trips make great opportunities for the students to develop strong friendships and get to know their teachers even better. By the end of their year with us, students will definitely have memories to last a lifetime.”