Olds High School student Cheyenne Cranston is counting down the days of summer in anticipation of starting Grade 12 classes this fall in Norway.
Cranston, 17, of Olds, and Charlie Thompson, 17, of Red Deer, are among eight students from across the province to receive 2014 Grant MacEwan United World College Scholarships to complete two-year International Baccalaureate diploma programs.
Cranston, a Grade 11 student at Olds High School, will attend Red Cross Nordic United World College in Fjaler, Norway.
“I kind of figured after the initial shock of ‘My goodness, I’m going to Norway,’ it would start to kind of wane. But it’s just increasing with every day I get closer,” said Cranston, who leaves for Norway on Aug. 17.
“The excitement is just unbelievable. I have a countdown set on my phone.”
About 50 students in Alberta applied for the scholarships valued at $80,000 each to cover tuition, travel and accommodation costs, to attend one of 14 colleges around the world.
It’s the single largest scholarship the Alberta government offers.
United World Colleges were created to promote international understanding through education, service and social responsibility.
Cranston will be the only Canadian among 100 international students attending Grade 12 at the Norway college. There will be one other Canadian, from Edmonton, who will be in the second year of the program, which is similar to first-year university.
Cranston said she is thrilled she will be attending class with top students from mostly Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“I think it will foster a lot of learning just because you have a lot of people who are very high achievers, with all these unique perspectives on the world, teaching each other and pushing each other. You will be pushed farther than maybe you would have in another situation.”
She is really looking forward to a class on global politics.
“Just being in a class talking about world wide politics from people all over the world, it will be an incredible experience. Where else are you going to gain that perspective?
“It will be just really interesting getting to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds.”
Cranston has been involved in drama and band at Olds High School and plans to get involved in arts opportunities in Norway, and she will keep family and friends up to date on her adventure by writing a travel blog.
“The toughest part about leaving is leaving everyone behind,” Cranston said.
Grant MacEwan United World College Scholarships are awarded based on academic ability, leadership, community service, references and an interview.
Thompson, a Grade 11 student at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, will be attending Armand Hammer United World College of the American West in Montezuma, New Mexico.
“I feel very lucky about it. It’s going to be a good time. The class sizes will be pretty small so I think I’ll be able to learn a lot more about computers,” said Thompson, who hopes to explore a career in virtual reality computer systems for education or movies.
Born in the United States, Thompson said he’s lived in Red Deer “forever” and hasn’t travelled much to the U.S., but likes the idea of attending a school with an international student body.
He said the hardest thing about studying abroad will be leaving his girlfriend and friends behind at Lindsay Thurber.
“I think we’ll keep in contact and I’ll still be able to come to (Lindsay Thurber’s) graduation next summer. I’ll be here for my friends.”