Antonia was in Norway with AFS – Here she reports how she experienced it.
My year in Norway with AFS
Antonia’s first report:
I go to the Edvard Munch videregående skole, pretty much in the center of Oslo. There I am in the branch design and textile, which makes me very happy because I like to paint and sew with. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the school was that there is no bell, which was a bit strange at first but I quickly got used to it. In Norway there is no such thing as "you", you say "you" to everyone, including teachers.
I think it’s great because it creates a much more pleasant relationship between teachers and students. What I also find super cool is that it’s standard here to have a laptop, so everything is written on the laptop which is why I don’t have any notebooks, you’re allowed to listen to music with it or look things up if you want to know something. I will miss this very much when I am back in Austria, I hope we are also soon so far that this is normal. In Norway it is also normal that all classes have a whiteboard and a beamer.
I was with my first family from August to December. We felt that it wasn’t a good fit for me to live with them and that’s why we decided to change families. I still had four beautiful months with them. My host mother was from Sweden so I got to know two cultures at once, which made me very happy because I wanted to go to Sweden first. I sewed the pleated skirt last year. That day we practiced painting fashion drawings. From left to right, Elmer (brother), Oskar (brother), Aksel (brother), Malin (mother), Jørgen (father) My class
In December I moved to my new family. I have a host mother (Petrine), a host father (Mikael), a little brother (Noralf) and a little sister (Agnes). My siblings are eight and five years old. I am very happy that I have younger brothers and sisters again, I have missed that. My family lived in Bavaria for a year and my siblings go to a German school so we speak a funny mixture of Norwegian and German at home. My host mother and my brother are pescetarians, which means that they don’t eat meat but fish, so we eat pescetarian most of the time, which I like very much! Our home is very creative, which means that we do a lot of handicrafts and painting, which is probably because my host mother is an artist. My aunt lives in Askim and has a small farm with sheep, chickens, cats and horses. I was riding there recently and it was so great! My aunt practices a certain and rather unknown way of riding, which is about being in harmony with the horse so that it is a beautiful experience for both of them. I am glad that I have a new family because I feel very comfortable with them.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Christmas and New Year’s Eve is actually like at home. We celebrated Christmas with most of the family, there were lots of presents and lots of food. We had a beautiful big Christmas tree that we decorated all together. I got lots of woolen clothes (Norwegians love wool), books and a voucher to go horse riding. I sewed a skirt for my sister, bought Lego for my brother, sewed oven mitts for my host mom and sewed a Christmas hood for my host dad. For New Year’s Eve we invited friends over, cooked sushi and watched the fireworks.
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Antonia’s progress report:
I have been in Norway for about 8 months now. I arrived here in August last year, the first two days I was on a camp from AFS, that was very fun and exciting, I met new people and learned a lot about Norway. Since I slept through the night before I left, the day was very exhausting and I fell asleep quickly in the evening. The day we were supposed to meet our host families was very exciting, we had to wait all day and were not allowed to see the families even though they were already at the camp. It was very relieving when we finally met our families. So now I had a new life with a new family in Oslo.
After that first weekend everything went really fast! The first weeks I was very exhausted every day because everything was new, every day I heard a language I hardly understood, met new people and had a new home. In my family I had a father named Jørgen, a mother named Malin and three brothers, Aksel, Elmer and Oskar. Since my host mother was from Sweden, I had two cultures at home, which was pretty cool because I originally wanted to go to Sweden. After a few months it didn’t fit so well and we decided that I will change the family. So we waited until AFS found a new family and one fine day it was so far, AFS called me and told me that they had found a new family for me. At first I was very excited and curious about who my new family will be but when I finished reading through the family’s application I was shocked. The family honestly scared me and I knew I couldn’t move there. I was worried and talked to my family about it, but thankfully we decided to wait until AFS found another family. And then it was time, I got another call from AFS with the news that they have a family. I read the application and they were very sympathetic to me. And here I am now, with the Lillevold-Vinje family. My family consists of my host mom Petrine, my host dad Mikael and my siblings Agnes and Noralf. They lived in Germany for a year, so they also speak German and my siblings even go to a German school. I was happy that they speak German, because I found a direct connection between Norwegian and German, so I didn’t have to translate everything with English anymore.
While we are on the subject of language, I can also tell you something about it. Since Norwegian is a Germanic language it is not that difficult to learn but since I was a bit lazy I started to really speak it only after Christmas. To help us with our learning we, the exchange students in Olso, had a language course with AFS once a week. In this course we practiced together with one or two volunteers and we could talk about our experiences. In the meantime I speak Norwegian halay fluently, even if I stutter a bit I am very proud of myself to have learned a whole new language in this short time, which is something that would never be possible in school.
Speaking of school, I go to the Edvard Munch videregående skole here in Oslo. This is probably the most creative school here in Oslo. The school has a lot of different branches, for example florist, carpenter, goldsmith or dance, I chose the branch Design og Tekstil, because I am at a fashion school in Austria. In school I have mainly practical subjects, so I have Norwegian, English, German and Samfunnsfag on Monday and Tuesday and the rest of the week I have subjects like knitting, sewing or drawing. I have a lot of fun at school. I have also found many new friends with whom I like to spend a lot of time.
Here in Norway I have tried a lot of new things, including food of course. Since Norway has a huge coastline there is a lot of fish and other seafood here. What you like to eat now in spring are shrimps. You eat them by putting a bowl with all the animals on the table, then everyone takes shrimps and has to peel them by themselves and then you put them on a slice of white bread with mayonnaise and some lemon. Other typical dishes in Norway are tacos and the frozen pizza Grandiosa, yes I know this is not what you expect.
In Norway they celebrate Christmas and Easter like we do, the traditions are very similar. Unfortunately I won’t celebrate Easter with my family, because I will spend five days at the second biggest LAN party in the world, but that will be great as well!
I think on the whole the Norwegian culture is not so dissimilar to ours, but of course every culture has its own characteristics. I am very happy to be here in Norway and very thankful that AFS and the scholarship foundation made this possible for me.
I wish you greetings from Norway and Happy Easter! Or in Norwegian, God påske!
Antonias last report: Finally at home!
Before the year abroad I had to decide if I wanted to be abroad for half a year or a whole year and I thought that I would definitely go for a whole year because half a year is way too little but now in retrospect I know that a whole year was really long, if not too long. The last three months have been really exhausting for me and I have often thought that I would like to be at home. I missed my family, my friends and my boyfriend. What also became a big problem for me were rules I had to follow, on the one hand from the family and on the other hand from AFS. I am and was used to being very independent and actually being allowed to do what I want, when I want, and I couldn’t do that there.
Saying goodbye was very easy for the whole family, there were no tears or drama. On the penultimate day we had my favorite meal, sushi, and a great cake together, that was nice. Otherwise we didn’t do anything really exciting.
The last three days before departure we had a final AFS camp. The first day I didn’t want to be there at all and thought to myself "just let me fly home" but later it became quite fun and I met people there that I had never seen during the year and got along really well with them.
The arrival. I thought the moment I got off the plane "It’s so hot, I can’t stand it" but when I left the airport I felt like I was walking into a wall of heat.
My dad picked me up at the airport and then we went to my mom’s house where most of my family was. That day we went swimming together and had a barbecue and I had to tell a lot about the year abroad.
In the meantime I have settled in well again but I still miss living in my own apartment.