Student Spotlight

Exchange in Both Directions

August is the month of arrivals. Airport pick ups, new school years, sports practices, and the hints of a new season. This August, Olivia from Pennsylvania will be making her own arrival – to Norway, a new host family and a semester studying abroad.

“I have been practicing my Norwegian a lot, which is hard but getting better,” Olivia said. “A lot of the words are really similar to English, but the pronunciation can be really different! I think it will be easier when I get into school and am speaking it all day.”

Ida and her host family during her exchange year in Wisconsin

Ida and her host family during her exchange year in Wisconsin

She will have a friendly face with her in the halls, her new Norwegian host sister, Ida. Ida was an Aspect exchange student in Wisconsin last year, and has a unique perspective to share with her American exchange host sister. “I am beyond excited that we are going to host a student, especially from the United States!” Ida said. “When I first came to the U.S., I felt a lot of comfort in having someone I knew go to the same school as me, so I want her to feel that too.” Sharing advice from what to expect to what to pack, Ida has been able to reflect on her own exchange year through talking with Olivia. “I told her that it is already special just by her coming here [to Norway],” Ida explained. “I would tell her not to feel obligated to do something super special just because she feels that she needs to experience as much as possible.”

Ida is looking forward tIMG_2428o being on the hosting side this year, after having a wonderful connection with her second host family in Wisconsin. “We loved to play board games and card games and just spend time together in general,” Ida said. “We watched a lot of Family Feud and college basketball and we really had a blast doing those things.” She already misses the people she met in the U.S., and hopes to give a similar experience to Olivia.

The school systems in Norway and the U.S. have significant differences, which proved to be one of the biggest transition points for Ida last year. “I was not used to every day being the same schedule, but it got me into a routine,” Ida explained. Olivia is also anticipating an adjustment to the high school system in Norway, and is grateful that her host sister and friends will be guides along the way. “I’m really most excited to meet everyone in my host family,” Olivia said. “Ida has been so helpful.”

Despite the challenges of adjusting to a new exchange year ahead, Olivia will arrive armed with good advice from a host sister who was in her shoes just one August ago. “Ida told me I should pack warm,” Olivia said, “so I’ll be bringing all my sweaters!”

Here are more photos from all the fun trips Ida took with her host family during her exchange year in Wisconsin she sent our way. It is no wonder that she is now excited to be a host family to Olivia in Norway!