Norway: An adventure of a lifetime
Editor’s note: Reno Bobwhites 4-H Club member Catherine Davidson spent time in Norway as part of the 4-H International Exchange Program. These are accounts of her adventure, which will be divided into parts for a series. Davidson takes classes at Johnson County Community College and also through home schooling.
Velkomen! Jeg heter Catherine Davidson, and this summer I got to experience an adventure that I will never forget.
Along with 16 other teens from around the United States, I traveled as a delegate to Norway to spend four weeks immersed in the Norwegian Culture as part of the United States’ 4-H International Exchange. 4-H International coordinates programs with Costa Rica, China, Finland, Japan, Norway and Korea, and more than 50,000 American families have hosted delegates and nearly 8,000 American youth ages 12-18 have participated in exchanges abroad since 1972.
Norway is one of four Scandinavian countries that also include Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.
It lies to the west of Sweden and borders the Norwegian Sea. Each of the delegates was placed in a different county in Norway. Throughout my stay, I was in the area of Oslo, which is the capital of Norway. While there, I stayed with two families.
My first family was the Vøllo family. They live in the village of Uvdal in the county of Buskerud, about 200 kilometers west of Oslo. Uvdal is a small municipality of about 2,700 people that is situated in the Numedal Valley surrounded by mountains. Although everyone spoke Norwegian, they also spoke English very well.
My host dad, Nils, was part owner and a manager at a hotel in the nearby village of Rødberg. Rødberg is a small village of about 450 people, with mostly mom and pop shops and tourism. The hotel is similar to what you might find in the United States in mountain tourist towns. The rooms are sparsely furnished with a television, twin beds, a dresser, and a bathroom. My younger host sister, Sigrid, works part time at the hotel as a rooms keeper cleaning and preparing the rooms, and I helped her while I was there. My host mom, Ingrid, also works in Rødberg as accountant. My host brother, Reider, attends a university in Oslo, but was home for the summer. My older host sister, Gunhild, is in the military in training as a military police officer. The family also had their grandmother living with them. Like most of the houses in the area, their house is about 100 years old with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and four bedrooms. The rooms are smaller than what we are used to in the United States, but they are comfortable and tidy. Overall the people in Norway didn’t seem to need as many things as people in the United States; they kept things pretty simple and didn’t keep a lot of knickknack type things around the house.
The second family I stayed with was the Mølstad family, who live in the city of Oslo. Their home is a modern house in a suburb of Oslo, built only two years ago. Their everyday life was quite a bit different than the life of my first family. They lived a much more city life, and we used the bus, trains, and subways a lot to get around. This family also spoke Norwegian, but could speak English very well.
My host dad, Robert, is an accountant and my host mom, Torun, is a civil servant. My two hosts sisters in this family are twelve-year-old Hannah, who is just starting secondary school and 16-year-old Maaike, starting high school this year.
— Read more about the Norwegian journeys in upcoming editions.