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Skandinaviska Institutet

Filip, Oklahoma

Varför valde du att åka på high school?
I choose to become an exchange student to experience the American lifestyle, step out of my comfort zone and improve my English to a more advanced level. There are also other positive factors that I considered like meeting new people, traveling, participating in different activities and learning new culture differences etc.

Berätta lite om din värdfamilj!
My host family consists of my mother Carla, a Liberian for the Grizzlies, my host father Andy nicknamed AO who works in Regional Sales in Oklahoma and Arkansas for Quantum Rehab, an assistive technology manufacturer. My sister Claire who is 21 attends a D1 College the University of Arkansas (Razorbacks) where her major is marketing. Finally Austin, who is 19, goes to Central High School (Tigers) with me and we are both attending our senior year. Austin does cross country in the fall and track in the spring, he is going to attend Missouri Western State University (Griffons) a D2 college for running. My host family cares a lot about family and always spends a lot of time together.

Beskriv området du bor i:
I live in a rural area consisting of 8880 people in between Tulsa and Fort Smith the two larger cities around my area with a population of 402,000 and 89,000 people. My host family lives kind of secluded with trees and bush from our highway 101, they have a lot of land and a nice two story house, with a big shop and a swimming pool. We have two goats, two cats, two dogs, cows and a horse. The people in my town are mostly country people who like to work on the farm, show off their trucks, spend time with family, go hunting for deer, ducks and turkey etc.

The weather in my area is different to Sweden, the average yearly temperature in Sweden is 8 degrees celsius and in OK it is 16 degrees celsius so a bit warmer which is nice. The weather here is usually pretty warm all year around or it is windy and cold because we are located in Tornado alley, around my area OK and TX is where most tornadoes hit in the world. When it’s windy you can never predict the weather, it could be raining, snowing or just be extremely windy. For example, on 31 of Dec 2021 it was sunny and 25 Degrees Celsius and 1st of Jan 2022 it was -8 degrees Celsius and snowing, the craziest weather transformation I have ever experienced so far.

Hur ser en vanlig dag/skoldag ut för dig?
A normal school day for me looks like waking up for school 6:30am eat oatmeal then my host brother Austin takes me to school where I then catch the bus 7:40 to ICTC (Indian Capital Technology Center) which is a trade school where you can do Welding, Automotive, HVAC etc either in the morning or afternoon. I do Construction from 8am to 10:30am where I then go back with my schoolmates in the trucks and have lunch at 11am or sometimes we eat Taco Bell or McDonald’s since we do not start our next class until 11:30am.

There are 7 classes in my high school and ICTC takes up my first 3, my 4th class is Trigonometry then US history, English 4 and then I go to my 7th hour sport which is either Football in the fall or Baseball in the spring. In between each class there is a 5 min break and we have 30 minutes of lunchtime. Then someone takes me home, usually my host brother or a friend from the sport I play.

Vilka ämnen studerar du? Hur valde du dina ämnen och är du nöjd med dina val?
I study Construction, Trigonometry, US History and English 4. I chose the subject I was going to choose in Sweden before my exchange year around April/May. US history and English were compulsory by Skandinaviska Institutet so the subjects I chose were Trigonometry to keep my math skills fresh and Construction in ICTC. Construction covered 3 classes in the morning so basically I chose two extra subjects but could’ve chosen 4 if I did not choose to do ICTC. I was really happy with my choices especially Construction because I wanted more experience working with my hands since I did not know if I wanted to go into a trade career or academic in the future.

Vad gör du på fritiden? Vad finns det för aktiviteter att välja bland?
In the fall there was Cross Country, Fastpitch Softball and Football. Since I have played soccer almost all of my life I was the kicker for the Central Tigers Football Team. It took a lot of guts being the kicker because the team had fought in war the whole game and when I came up to kick it was a lot of pressure but challenging and fun. I did Powerlifting at the start of 2022, then I played Baseball the rest of the year, I played right field. Other sports in the spring are Basketball, Track and Field and Slow Pitch Softball. I was also a part of the school’s first chess club which me and my friend in trig actually started.

Outside of school activities I joined in the fall was a Knife Class where I made knives and handels, I also joined a Flintknapping class. I learned some more history too in this class like flint knapping is what the native Americans did a lot and used as weapons to kill the buffalo which they used as food and shelter before the English people came and killed all the buffalo for gruelity. At home in my free time I like to swim in our pool, listen to my host dad’s vinyl records since I love 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s rock and he has over 500 albums. I also like to hang out with my friends, go to the pool hall, go bowling or just cruise around in the cars and talk. Another thing I enjoy in my freetime is playing with our half poodle and doodle dog named Maverick since we never had a dog in Sweden. I love spending time with him. He is such a human dog and is one in a million.

Vad använder du dina fickpengar till?
I use my pocket money when I hang out with friends and go out to eat or do fun activities like go bowling, play pool or go to arcades etc. I also use pocket money for shopping, gas money for people driving me around and snacks at concession stands and convenient stores.

Berätta lite om de resor du har gjort under året, eller planerar att göra:
I am really grateful for my host family and the trips they have taken me on this year. In the summer they took me to Lake Tenkiller a couple of times with their boat and I got to try wakeboarding which was cool. In November we went to see Snoop Dogg at JJ’s live. It was amazing to see one of the best old school rappers of all time perform live. Then we went to Houston, TX because my host mum’s sister Gil has an apartment in the middle of the city. It was a great experience to see such a big city and to celebrate thanksgiving there. For new years we went to the White River, AR my host dad friends have a house there. It is a beautiful river house by one of the cleanest rivers in Arkansas where you can go trout fishing, floating, kayaking and much more.

At the start of 2022 we went to Red River, NM skiing which was really fun. I got to try some skiing in North America which was a cool experience especially since me and my Swedish family go skiing every year. In April I went to the biggest gun show in the world called The Tulsa Arms Show with over 40,000 thousand people. That was a great experience meeting a lot of gun people and learning more about the different types of guns. In May we went to Silver Dollar City in Missouri which is an amusement park for our senior trip which was a really good day.

Hur har pandemin påverkat ditt utbytesår?
The pandemic has not affected my year at all, all I needed was two vaccine shots in August and a booster in April. It has actually affected me positively because normally you would have to pay a few dollars for lunch everyday but because covid was around lots of people lost their jobs so we did not have to pay for lunch this year.

Vad är det bästa du har fått ut av din tid i USA?
The best thing I have gained from being an exchange student is to try to meet new people, experience new things like sports, cultures, religions and how other people live their lifestyles and interact with each other etc. I have also grown and developed my confidence as an individual both physically and mentally which is a really good thing to take with me when I go back to Sweden. Last but not least, all the English and slang I have learnt for example, that a baby, goofy and goat etc.

Vad har varit den största utmaningen än så länge?
The biggest challenge for me has been trying to adapt to how the people are here and the state’s culture/traditions since I came from an urban area in the suburb of Lerum in Gothenburg that is very different from the rural area of Sallisaw. Another challenge has been walking. I cannot just go for an evening walk like I do here in Sweden because there is no infrastructure in rural areas, no walking or bike trails, no buses, trains or trams. Also the school lunch has been extremely unhealthy for me eating hamburgers, sausages and tacos since I like to eat healthy food. My school in Sweden had much healthier food, although my host mum and dad cook really good food.

Vad skulle du vilja säga till de som funderar på att söka till high school via Skandinaviska institutet?
If you are thinking about becoming an exchange student via Skandinaviska Institutes I think you should really consider it. I think you should consider it because it is a lifetime experience, something that will be with you for the rest of your life, you will meet so many new people, learn new things and develop as an individual. If you do decide to go, make sure to try things that you haven’t tried before like different sports or activities even if you did not do it in Sweden because that is part of your exchange year trying new things, developing and experiencing. Remember it does not have to be a sport, High Schools are so organized that they have everything you can think of: band, different clubs like chess club or student roles etc, you can even be a water boy or girl for the Football team for instance the opportunities are vast for those that want to try.

Remember not to get fixed up upon the places where you end up too much like special cities or states. Wherever you end up you will have a unique experience and a story to tell. You do not need to go to the huge popular cities like New York, Boston or San Francisco etc to have a great exchange year. Sometimes a little small town can even be better than a big one because you get closer relationships with people since everybody knows everybody.

Last thing I would like to say is make sure you’re satisfied and feel comfortable with your host family because it does not click for all exchange students and if it doesn’t click you should consider changing your host family. I think this is important because your host family makes up 50% of your experience. You need to think about this: you are living in their house, eating, spending free time with them, going on trips etc. So if you make sure you have a good host family I guarantee you, you will be living the American Dream.