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Living with Strangers

Ingrid Fevang, Staff Writer

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When running away from home there are several different ways of doing it, I chose to go to a random family, on the other side of the world I don’t know, and have my parents pay for it all.

 

I am an exchange student from Norway. That means that for this school year I left my family back home and am currently living with a family here in Murray. No, I did not know this family before I came here, neither did my parents. And it was totally not weird or awkward in the beginning. Like at all. I promise.

 

Unless it’s Russia, most countries in Europe are relatively small compared to the U.S. Norway is small on its own. It’s a tiny country in the north of Europe with a little more than five million citizens. We have a king and queen who let people hang out in the backyard of their summer house when they’re not staying there, and you’re more than welcome to take a walk in the park surrounding their castle. Our prime minister will pose with you for a selfie when she’s reached one of our many mountain tops and you might even run into the guys behind “What Does the Fox Say” (sorry for putting that in your head). What I’m getting at, is that Norway is not big, so living in the states, where everything is big, is quite the change.

 

After being on two different flights, one of which was over ten hours long, and a third, almost four hour long flight, still ahead, nothing seems less appealing than going through customs and being met by the oh-so patient workers of the American airport. When you get through this step, after being questioned about so many things that even you are starting to doubt your reasons and motives for visiting this country, you’re almost there. I had one flight left and then all of a sudden I was hugging a family I had only Skyped with twice.

 

Soon school started and my adventure was well underway. It’s always a bit scary and nerve-wracking coming to a new school, but when it’s in a new country where you essentially know no one, the nerves are just a tid bit more intense. Luckily for me I had already met a couple of people who showed me around and prevented me from eating lunch alone.

 

School in the U.S. is at a lower level than what I’m used to, and with a lot more busy-work. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much homework, I have never had as many multiple-choice tests and I had never used a scantron in my life before I came here. School spirit is not a big thing in Norway. Sports aren’t connected to school, we don’t have dance companies or drill teams, and cheerleading is just now becoming a thing, but as its own sport, not for cheering on a team.

 

Another huge difference is all of the dances. The average Norwegian won’t dance until at least mildly intoxicated, and even then it’s a rare sight. We’re cold and closed up people who prefer keeping to our small circle of friends that we feel comfortable around. But then you have the people, along with any country in Europe, who want to be American so badly. Just last week a principle at a school in the eastern part of Norway had to cancel their prom (the only prom we have) because teenagers were booking helicopters and limos for their grand entrance and it was apparently getting out of hand. At least they captured some American spirit; go big or go home, which then ended with the latter.
Being an exchange student is great. You learn so much and there are new experiences around every corner. Traveling to different cultures is the best way to explore and experience this amazing world of ours and I encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest to do something like this to definitely read into it and see if it is something you would want to do. There are so many countries in this world, so many places to see and interesting people to meet, why not start now?                  

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Living with Strangers