It’s hard to believe that my time in Norway is almost over. I have lived here for almost five months, and this feels like home now. I never thought I could love a country as much as I enjoy Maine and America, but Norway is somewhere I can see myself living for the rest of my life. I really have my sister to thank for helping encourage me to study abroad.
My sister is ten years older than I am, and she is living in Brooklyn in NYC, not far from you all! Since I am much younger than she is, I always looked up to her for help and advice. My sister traveled a lot. She was born and raised in Portland, Maine, where I was born. When she was 20 she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to go to school. Then she moved back home and finished her college at the University of Southern Maine.
Once my sister finished college, she wanted to see the world. She wanted to see what life was like outside of the United States. So she started saving her money, and she worked as a yoga instructor for the YMCA. At the same time she worked a second job as a waitress. She worked every day of the week. The work was worth it, because one year later she saved enough money to teach yoga with the YMCA in New Zealand.
After a year in New Zealand she traveled to Thailand for a month and went to many other countries in Europe. She even came to Norway! Eventually she came back to the U.S., and we got to talk all about her trip. She told me I have to go to college, study hard, and study abroad. She said we should learn about different cultures, and find out what we are interested in. She was able to learn about different cultures and find what she was passionate about when she lived in New Zealand.
Once I got into college the first thing I made sure I was going to do was study abroad. I wanted to see what the world had to offer, and where I wanted to go. In order to afford to study abroad, I worked every summer. I also worked during the school year. I saved up as much money as possible so when the time came to pick a country to go to, I could go almost anywhere I wanted.
I had to make sure I could study biology in the country I chose, because this is my major. I like learning about different animals, from geckos to human beings. I thought Norway would be a perfect place to go to be able to do this. I could study whales, fish, polar bears, and lots of other interesting animals. I didn’t know much about this country, so I also was able to study the people. I wanted to learn about their culture, and to learn about how it is different from America.
After the first couple of weeks being in Norway, I wanted to learn about even more cultures and countries I didn’t know much about. In order to do this, I started teaching English to other international students. They came from Indonesia, Russia, Italy, and lots of other countries around the world. This is when I really started getting interested about all the different cultures I was surrounded by. It interested me so much so that I decided I wanted to continue teaching English to other internationals who do not know the language, and now I will travel to eastern Europe this summer to do so.
I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I like biology, but I also like learning about people. I enjoy making things better, whether it’s with studying a polar bear and how humans affect them, or helping someone learn a new language. So I am not sure what I will do once I am graduated from college. But this is not a problem. My sister moved from Indiana to Maine to New York to New Zealand. She made sure to work in all of these places, so she could save money while finding out what she wanted to do with her life. Now she is teaching yoga still and she is very happy. As long as I work hard and continue to do what I am interested in, I will be happy as well.
I was a bit scared of coming to Norway at first. Leaving my family for six months and traveling to a country where English is not the first language is a scary thing. I only saw the sun two times my first month here, and that was also a bit scary. Now I look back and feel happy about my experience. I was worried at first, but I made this experience into something enjoyable. I met Norwegian friends, I traveled to different countries and I put all the money I saved to good use. I was able to do what I wanted because I worked and studied hard. This has been the most wonderful six months I have ever had.
Are you students interested in traveling abroad? You don’t have to leave the United States to learn about different cultures. Instead, try making new friends. Talk to someone who is not from America, or ask someone where his or her relatives and ancestors come from. If you do want to travel out of the U.S., then you have to study hard. When you get good grades you can get scholarships to study in a different country, and I got a scholarship that helped pay for my study abroad in Norway.
I hope you all consider learning about a new way of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in biology, art, math, history, or music. You can go to so many countries, even some that don’t speak English as their first language! This is what I did. I learned so much about biology, culture, and how to find a happy place in a country far away from home. You can do this too.
You have been a wonderful class and I will miss our Skyping sessions and writing to you about my experiences here in Bodø, Norway. I hope we will meet someday, but until then, ha det bra (goodbye)!