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Skandinaviska Institutet

Julia, North Dakota

What were your reasons for applying as an High School Student?
I wanted to become a High School Student because i wanted to experience something new, something I had never seen before. My mom went to France when she was in my age and encouraged me to go on an exchange year as well, I’m very grateful for that! I thought that a of scenery would be nice, and it really has been a complete change of scenery which has been a big part of why this year has been so good so far.

Tell us about your host family, siblings or no siblings, relatives to the family:
My host family consists of my host mom, host dad and two host sisters (10 and 2 years old). They are a very active family always doing things, I’ve had a chance to see things I never thought I would get to see! They are also very close with their relatives which has lead to me coming very close to my host cousins as well, beings as they are quite close to me in age. I also attend to the same school as my relatives since our town is so small (my school is an Elementary and High School combines in one Public School). We often have cook-outs and dinner with the entire family, it’s nice to once in a while gather the entire family. My host family also values family strongly, this being one of the best things here- we have family game nights, we often go to the movies or do something as a family during the weekends, as well as eat dinner as a family as often as we can.

Describe the area you live in:
I live in a relatively small town, to most people a very small town. New England consists of approximately 650 people, located in the South- Western part of North Dakota. North Dakota as a state is very unknown and has the smallest population of all states in comparison to the size of the state. It is located in the most Northern part of the US, so the climate is not very different from Scandinavia in the winters. The exception would be the winds- there are practically no trees or hills here, the flattest area I have lived in, so the winds are very strong (and cold in the winters). The summers are very warm however, even the little part of the summer I got to experience was warm (just the end of August/ September). My town is small and most people know everyone- my friends and I can easily rollerblade or bike on the streets beings as no cars really pass on them. But since the town is so little, it is also a very close community, in the summers for example, they have cookouts every Tuesday, for the entire town to attend to! School sports also become big events that most people, even if they don’t have children enrolled, attend to.

What does a typical day look like, how do you get to school and home after school?
I start school at 08.18 am and end at 03.06 pm every day, but playing sports as I have I end up leaving school around 5 pm anyways. To school during the winter I got a ride from my host aunt since her children and I attend the same school (my host sister is enrolled in a school in a bigger town near ours). In the spring/summer however I will walk since my school is located so close to me. My High School consists of approximately 70 students, and being that little of a school means that everyone knows everyone. My school is smaller than most and doesn’t offer as many classes as bigger schools do, and I have the same schedule throughout my entire school year here. I am a junior (11th grade) and my class consists of 16 students (the entire junior class that is). We all take most classes together, with exception for esthetic classes (choir, band, PE etc.) as well as Spanish. I have, up until now, played sports ever since I got her, so if I didn’t have a game after school I usually went home, did homework and ate dinner with my family. When we had games we would usually come home around 11 pm, leaving school at 2 pm, so there was not much time after school.

Did you get help to choose subjects in school. Which subjects did you have to take. Which other subjects have you chosen. Are you happy with your choices?
My schedule is as following:
1st period: Choir/ PE (every other day choir, every other day PE)
2nd period: US History
3rd period: English III
4th period: Spanish 2
5th period: Algebra 2
6th period: Anatomy
7th period: Study Hall
My classes had to be chosen before I had arrived, but my host mom had a meeting with our consoler and chose my classes while texting me to find out what I wanted to take. I also had 2 weeks in the beginning of the school year to switch any classes I wan’t happy with (I ended up switching one class). I am happy with my choices,although I am struggling a bit with math, I have come to realize that the math education in Sweden is not the best.

Tell us about any activities you participating in or are planning to join? Give examples of what is offered.
My school does not offer many activities that are not sport since the school is so small. We do cooperate however with a bigger, Private Catholic School in the bigger town near us in speech, as well as football. We cooperate with other schools as well with smaller sports, that aren’t as popular such as dicing, golfing and wrestling. I have played volleyball and basketball, two of the three sports (track is offered as well). I had never played volleyball before I came here, but I am very glad that I chose to join the team because it did make it easier to make friends, and many of my best memories are with my teammates.

Tell us about any traveling you have done or are planning to do:
So far I my host family and I visited Disney World in Florida for one week before Christmas.We drove to Indiana after Christmas to visit relatives there, and we have also made smaller trips such as Minnesota for a weekend (Mall of American and Disney on Ice) and South Dakota. We are planning to go to Mississippi in May and Yellow Stone (a National Park) after my graduation. I will also go on a closeup trip to Washington DC with my school in April for a week. We also have plans to go skiing in the end of March.

What have you gained (lärt dig) during the year?
I have become more social and outgoing, and braver if I may say. These are tested a lot during the year since you often meet new people and try new things, getting the most out of your year here. I have also learnt many educational things of course, even if I think that school here is a bit easier than in Sweden.

What has been the best experience so far?
I have had many amazing experiences here, Disney World, Mall of America, and Indiana are the highlights, but there are many smaller moments with family and friends that I always will remember- all of our games, going iceskating and family dinners.

How have you been spending you pocket money?
Living in a smaller town make sit easier to not buy unnecessary things all the time, but I have mainly spent pocket money on eating out with friends (and after games) and during our trips for souvenirs etc.

What has been most challenging so far?
In the start it was harder to make friends, but after a while it got easier, but also going outside of my comfort zone to try new things and meet new people. Having my school year soon over has been hard to handle since it’s hard to realize that I will leave everything here, my life that I have built up here for ten months.

Write anything you can think of that you feel could be of help to students coming after you?
Join clubs and sports, it´s a great way to make new friends and at the same time makes you work out- even try the things you’ve never done before, you could end up loving it and even bringing it home! Attend many school activities such as sport events and school dances- they are a big social meeting place and it’s always fun to cheer your school on! Don’t bring too much clothes, even if you think you will lack clothes when coming her- bring the items you actually use, you will find yourslef having maore clothes that you expected in the end.

Write a short message to exchange students thinking about joining Skandinaviska Institutet / ASSE:s High School program:
ASSE:s High School program has been a really good one and I’m very happy that I chose it- you can easily contact your contact-person here as well as in Sweden. It’s worth gong, gaining this experience is one of the best things thathas happened to me.