Making up your mind about education, work and a career is not supposed to be easy. Now meet some young Norwegians and learn about the choices they have made. Read the "Introduction" first, then find out more about each person by reading about them in the attached PDFs.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." This line from a Charles Dickens novel plays in Marianne’s mind as she thinks about the exciting but also frightening time she and her friends are in as they come to the end of upper secondary school and wonder what to do with their lives. They have all agreed, Marianne, Mona, Carl and Elisabeth, that it is important to have a plan, but the problem is that there is so much to choose from!
Who are these four young people? They all attend the same upper secondary school in a large Norwegian city and are in their last year just months before they will be spreading their wings and reaching for the horizon. They are close friends and have been called the “gang of four” by co-pupils and even some of their teachers. They all went to the same lower secondary school and all have been together "forever", as Marianne says. But now their interests are diverging and some are doing better at school than others. They are all eighteen years of age.
Marianne has always been clever at school and manages all her subjects well. She doesn't particularly like mathematics and is more interested in languages and social studies. She plays handball and floor hockey in her spare time, but gave up piano lessons after five years. That was her only attempt at any type of artistic pursuit. But she loves to read, especially novels, short stories, history and biographies and she likes to travel. Her situation at home is good and she loves the city, but she admits to being a little tired of her parents and would like to be more independent. She is also concerned about what type of career opportunities she will find in her city and wants to see the bright lights of bigger cities.
Marianne likes being looked upon as the leader of the group, one that the others come to for advice, one who can be trusted to share confidences. Ambitious, confident, full of positive self-esteem, she is well liked by her teachers. She is also patient and often takes time to help the others with their homework.
Mona is perhaps Marianne's closest friend. They have known each other since day care. While they are close friends, they also like to compete against each other. Mona has chosen the same subjects in school as Marianne, perhaps sometimes choosing them because Marianne chose them. But she also has artistic interests. She likes to draw things, from pictures of interiors of houses, to nature scenes. Her favourite subjects are actually mathematics and natural science. Not a few teachers have asked her to pay more attention in class as she likes to sit and doodle. Mona has been a little tired of school lately and is very unsure about her future. She does not read as much as Marianne, preferring magazines and the daily paper to books. Things at home are not too good as she feels her parents are too strict. She dreams about meeting people from other parts of the world and looks forward to getting her own place to live.
Carl is suffering from school burnout. His favourite subject has been religion and ethics as he likes philosophical discussions. He sometimes refers to Marianne and Mona as the "Bobsey twins", but for the most part gets along well with them. But he is quieter than they are and can often be seen just sitting and thinking. He is really not a party guy and thinks there should be something more to life without knowing exactly what it is. While Carl likes to read he can't simply sit and read for an hour or so as he gets too restless. Carl can't really put a finger on what's bothering him and is very unsure about his future. Carl is on good terms with his parents, but they have their hands full with his younger siblings, so he feels it might be good to move away from home for a while.
Elisabeth has good grades. Her problem, she feels, is that she does not see the relevance in much of what she is doing and to compensate she gets involved in political issues in and outside school. She has known Marianne and Mona since first grade and has been very close to them until recently. But when she started upper secondary school her interests began changing, from the latest fashion and clothes to third-world problems and anti-war sentiments. She is a member of various student and political organizations and tries to motivate her fellow students and friends to get involved in anti-globalization demonstrations. She is excited by the idea of the global community and has lots of Facebook friends from other countries, but she is very worried about the exploitative dangers of globalization.