By Marthe Stærkebye
There are a lot of things Americans can do in Norway, but most of them usually don’t try to live like one while they are here. The people you see in the picture above are the Americans who spent nine days in Norway. They survived a blizzard in Oslo, dreamed away on the train ride to Flåm and got drenched in the rain in Bergen. Before they got on the plane they went through two intense weeks of language, history, and cultural lessons. And the initiator of all of this? Yours truly.
From idea to reality
Most of you guys know that I was an exchange student at UHS last year. I fell in love with a lot of things while being at the school, but my number one favorite was January Term. My personal J-Term experience inspired me to propose a J-Term about Norway, with the fancy name «The Norway Way». I motivated both students and teachers, and came up with ideas for a syllabus. I also promised to come back in January of 2015, if the class passed. I got on the plane on January 9th.
What would the Norwegian do?
My job in the classroom was relatively simple. I had to teach the Americans how to speak Norwegian and live as a Norwegian. After five intense days the Americans knew exactly what to do: talk about the weather, make fun of Swedes, and eat pizza with utensils. There were, of course, a couple of questions on the road. For example, they didn’t understand why restaurants don’t give out free refills or why you can’t talk to anyone on the bus. However, they all promised to follow our culture to the best of their ability. Only then could they get the authentic experience. And they did.
On their last day in Norway, I had dinner with the group at their hotel in Bergen. They grinned from ear to ear when they told me about the visit to the Parliament, all the nice people in Bergen, and last, but not least, the fjord safari in -20° C. The last thing one of the teachers said before saying goodbye was that I should be proud; this wouldn’t have possible without me. I nodded modestly and realized she was right. Thanks to these 19 Americans, among others, I could live in the United States as an American for a year. Now I made sure that they could live in Norway as a Norwegian for a week. It was the least I could do to say «tusen takk».
Image courtesy of Emma Troughton.