Seated across from senior Tomine Vikre, looking through her sociology textbook for the answers to fill-in-the-blanks and gathering yesterday’s notes, one may not suspect anything especially unique about the redheaded, freckled teenage girl. Until she speaks.
“Too-meen-e,” Tomine said, correcting the pronunciation of her name. She speaks in her distinct Norwegian accent and in disjointed English. Her classmates, seniors Alex Horan and Taylor Lambert help her to find the correct chapter in her sociology book, and she begins to write in the fill-in-the-blanks armed with a Norwegian-English dictionary.
“The students here think it’s so cool that I’m from Norway, and people tell me they like my accent even if I don’t think it’s anything special,” Tomine said.
Tomine arrived in Texas on August 22nd, four days before beginning her foreign exchange program at Legacy, living with a host family in Arlington. She stays until the end of school in June.
Tomine, accustomed to cool summers frigid winters, mountains, living by the coast, a school of less than three hundred students and bike rides to her near-by school now enters a very different atmosphere. She now faces a September that is nearly forty degrees warmer than her native Norway and a school of 1993 students. Tomine now lives in a mountain-less city considerably far from a coast and scorching heat during her soccer practices.
“I’m not used to the heat and the really dry air here. I feel like I can’t breathe, when I’m working out,” Tomine said.
Although Tomine speaks fragmented English and often uses a dictionary to translate unaccustomed words, she relates to many of her newfound American friends in various ways.
“The language is the main difference,” Tomine said in her distinctive inflection with a smile. “People are not so different.”
· Grocery stores are not allowed to be open on Sundays
· Gas is more expensive in Norway than almost anywhere.
· Because food prices are so high in Norway, many Norwegians drive across the border to Sweden to shop. These purchases amount to over 2 billion USD every year.
· It can cost in the thousands for Norwegian teenagers to get their license (minimum age 18).
· Norwegians love Grandiosa, cheap frozen pizza (doesn’t everyone?).
Why Norway’s Cooler (And Tastier) Than Here:
· “THE BREAD.” Norwegians typically eat bread with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
· They ride their bikes if a destination’s about one or two miles away (exercise, America.)
· Tomine and her family eat fish for dinner at least twice a week along with potatoes, not McDonalds. They’ll eat outside when the weather’s sunny as well.
· Unlike the U.S., they don’t typically lock their doors. They also know their neighbors well (what a concept).
· Get this—Norway actually has snow in the winter. Imagine it.