Erin Hensel
2013-14 Outbound to Norway

Hometown: Dunedin, Florida
School: Dunedin High School
Sponsor: District 6950, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Røa, District 2310

Erin's Bio

God dag, Jag heter Erin! That is Norwegian for Hello, My name is Erin! I am a sophomore at Dunedin High School and will be in Norway for my junior year. At Dunedin High I am in over five clubs (including interact) and I am very involved with my friends and other activities. While I am on my exchange I will be turning 17 years old! I live in the quaint town of Dunedin, FL with my mother, step-dad, two younger sisters and three dogs. They all are excited and supportive of my exchange and can’t wait to see how it goes. When I found out that Norway would be the country that I am spending a year in, I was and still am ecstatic since it was one of my top choices! When I broke the news to all of my friends they were shocked and thought I was crazy for wanting to live in another country for a whole year, but I just say ‘why not?’. There are no limitations to life so why not enjoy it. I can’t wait to immerse my self in the Norwegian culture, language, style, and their way of life. While on my exchange I hope to fluently speak Norwegian and to see the Aurora Borealis. Norway’s climate is almost the exact opposite of Florida’s hot sunny weather, even so I can’t wait to play in the snow and go skiing! When I learned about Rotary Foreign Exchange I was glued. Since I have a burning passion to travel and explore new lands I think that my Rotary Exchange will be mind boggling. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to go somewhere, meet new people, and explore the world. I took my first flight by myself at the age of five! One of my major traveling experiences was when I was nine, my father took me with him to France for two weeks! That is when I decided to learn some different languages. So far I have taken two years of French and two years of Spanish. Norwegian though is my all time favorite! Also I absolutely love sports such as volleyball, basketball, flag football, and track. I play each one of these sports at my school and thoroughly enjoy it! While on my exchange I want to play some type of sport in my school so I can meet more people and make life long friends. My parents have always traveled and have been to over fifteen different countries. Norway is different though only my uncle has been there and he loved it. I know I will to! I couldn't have made it this far without the support and love from my friends, family and Rotary. Thank you so much for giving me this life changing experience and opportunity.

Erin's Journals

October 17, 2013

Well I been living in Norway for about 2 months now..but who’s counting right? About a year ago I never thought I was actually going to become an Exchange student. When I told my friends and everyone, they thought it was a joke and even I didn’t think I was going to go through with it but I just kept telling myself that I can take this opportunity and run as fast as I can with it, and well here I am! :)

I left Florida at 11am on August 10th and arrived in Norway on the 11th of August at 8:20 am! The people in the airport were so nice and I even was given a free dinner at the airport since I was an exchange student! When I first arrived I was greeted at the airport by my second host family and my host sister who was leaving for the US the next day. Since it was early morning my host mom decided she should take me everywhere in town and that we should go hike up a mountain to see the famous Olympic ski jump Holmenkollen. It was great but I don’t really remember much since I was SO TIRED and I had forgotten my camera in my luggage. For that week I traveled around the city, Oslo. I learned how to get around with the metro, tog (train), busses and walking! I live about 10 minuets away from the center of Oslo! It is so beautiful here, the old buildings, castle, opera house, fjord and all of the parks! I have gone hiking or what norwegians call a tour and have been out boatin g in Oslo fjord. I went ot Frongenparken the other day and it is just so beautiful! Frongenparken is a park with hundreds of sculptures of naked people. We literally drink coffee everyday or tea! I moved to my first family’s home after spending the week with my second family.

My second week was crazy! I had just switched homes on Lørdag (Saturday) and then had to start skole (school) on Mandag (Monday). The fist day of skole was actually quite nice but hard since I couldn’t really understand the teacher or Norsk (Norwegian) for that matter. You can’t tell one word from the next in a sentence or who is yelling at who in class but it’s much better now. We ended up doing yoga in class and it was more like you spend time with your classmates and get to know who is in it with you.  I have made some amazing friends and just being gone from them for one week was hard. Since I went to a week long language class out of town and meet 23 exchange students there. Harry Mehri was there and I WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE HIM! It’s nice to see a familiar face every now and then We both tried to speak to each other in Norsk but we live so far apart that he has a different dialekt than me. We use different words for the same meaning. My friends here are Norwegian and we meet in English class when my teacher sat me with them since they didn’t want to speak english, so when I was put with them they had to. They talked to me everyday even when I was with the Exchange students. I have made deals with some of them that if they teach me Norsk then I can help them with their English. I now can comprehend most of what people are saying but i just don't have a large enough vocabulary to respond completely. I AM GETTING BETTER THOUGH! I have a good base layer for norsk. Jeg er flink. :)

It is SO easy to get around here. I just get off school hop on the mero and I can be in Majorstuen ( the main shopping veien (road)) in 8 min. I go everywhere with my friends and It is starting to get cold and I am freezing my tush off. I have to wear my ugg boots with wool socks on and I bundle up in everything I have but you know everyone just keeps telling me it's going to get worse. Make sure I you co to any cold country to bring wool clothes not cotton or nylon.. the cold just goes right through it. Now it has just turned into fall and you can surely tell! The trees are so beautiful! I can't wait for the snow!!!! I should be used to the cold by then!

A few weekends ago I worked at the Golf club for a tournament and met Suzann Pettersen. She is 3rd in the world. It was such a great experience! I have also started to play some football (soccer) here! I love my team and they really like me :) i have grown fond of football.

I just had a week of holiday! I went to Hamar and met all the exchange students from all over Norway! The Australians are so much fun, and are really nice. I spent 3 days there it is about 2 hours north of Oslo. There was a circus going on and DJ Broiler was having a concert there! It was awesome!! He is one of the best Norwegian djs. Hanging out with all of the exchange students was so much fun and I would love to see them again. Then on Mandag (monday) I went to Lillehamar and stayed with my host family (staubo) at their grandparent's home where my host mom grew up. I climbed to the top of a mountain there and went to one of the largest collection of old homes in the world. Lillehamar is where the 1993 Olympics was held. It is so beautiful it is located right on a large river. I went to the norsk theatre (norwegian thearter) and there was an event going on in the streets for the theatre. I was standing on the sidewalk and suddenly all these police show up. I asked him who the man was that they were standing around was.. It was the King of Norway! I was so shocked! Then after that I went to Holmenkollen the olympic ski jump for the second time :) it ceases to amaze me even though I can see it everyday from the window at my school. My first day back after a week of break was really fun. I’m so happy to see my friends again! I missed them but later this week i'm going to see the Edward Munch Art Museum with my second host family. There is an expedition going on and can't wait to go see it. Oh and there was a race in Oslo a few weeks ago and that was fun so nice. The food here is SO DELICIOUS! Vaffles are my favorite! They are like waffles but thinner and sweeter <3 you normally put jam and yogurt on them it taste so good! Eple kake (apple cake) is also really yummy since you use fresh apples to make it. It is true though that you eat fisk (fish) and potatoes every week at least once a week.

I am going to switch families at the end of this month and I cannot wait to see what the future holds! What else is possible? I haven’t talked to my family as much as I thought I would but that keeps me from being homesick! I haven’t gotten homesick yet but it’s the little things that make you remember people back ‘home’. I saw a bag of Oreos and thought of my mom. Since the day before I left we took my host sister from Switzerland to Walmart. Where we opened and ate the box of Oreos in the store. It was so hilarious to see Celine’s face. (it wasn’t normal!) We gave the cashier the empty box and my host sister was so shocked that we had just bought a empty box! That was just some small things here and there that reminds you of someone or something back in the USA or where ever you come from. So far I am EXTREMELY thankful to Rotary, my family, friends and everyone who helped me to get to where I am now! Tusen takk alle! ~ Erin Hensel 2013/14 Norway RYE

January 25, 2014

Well these past few month have been extremely exciting and hectic! I have switched families, the Holidays have come I have been on winter break had an amazing New years in Norway and I LOVE IT HERE! Where do I start, okay so Christmas! I spent Christmas with my host family, my two host parents and me. It was really calm and quiet, we opened presents and had a special Norwegian meal of Ribe ( It is a sheep rib that has been salted and dried for a few months.) The first time i had it i was really excited but it had a certain taste to it that I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed it or not. Then the next day we had the leftovers and it tasted SO much better the next time I had it. For Norwegian holidays it is all about what food you eat! For the days during Winter break each day had a specific food for each day. We drank Gløgg it is like a spiced sweet tea type thing you add almonds and raisins to it. It is really good. Then for lunch we eat a type porridge which had one almond in it. Who ever found the almond got this pig that had marchipan in it. Marchipan is like this creamy almond dough type stuff that is amazing! When it is covered in skjolade(chocolate)it is to die for!

Okay enough with the food. It has recently snowed and hasn’t stopped for two weeks now there is three feet of snow and it continues to deepen! The coldest day here so far was -19C That day I had decided it would be a good idea not to dry my hair and as soon as i had walked 5 minutes to the bus stop my hair was frozen like popsicle sticks. I could not feel my face hands feet or just in general my entire body. when i had finally arrived at school everyone look at me and were shocked. I was so white and the school nurse had to give me a blanket and dry socks. That is one thing I have noticed with Norwegians it there little sayings or knowledge of things. The most i hear is if your feet are cold then you will get a cold. or if your gloves are wet then you will freeze. I first thought you can’t get sick if your feet are cold! Colds come from bacteria and poor Immune systems. Well you know I got sick. They were right. SO what ever you do do not go outside with anything wet on, have thick socks and a scarf to cover your neck OR you will get sick and have to lay in bed and feel terrible for a while.

School is very different as well at first since I didn’t really know what was going on i just kind of sat in class and just sat there until the teacher handed me a paper or something but well that did nothing to help my grades so I tried to ask what was going on and took some effort that helped some but then there are the teachers who don’t know how to grade you well that’s tough but you just have to let them know that you are trying to do your best. If not then you are just as the desk in the room, empty space. TO EVERYONE OUT THERE READING THIS: Do not give up, yes, okay things do get tough maybe even scary or you are hurt and don’t know what to do. Just cry a bit lift your head your and keep moving forward. There is nothing that can stop you from what makes you happy. Give others strength too. Try to please the people who expect from you, but honestly when you look back on life what do you want to see? It is your choice. Man I have really gone throu gh a lot here but it is just a rock in my pocket now. I just have to keep working and not stop. I rather enjoy being busy even with Norwegian physics or German.

I have yet to go skiing in Norway and I have gone sledding (aking) recently, I love all of my friends here and just want to take them all home with me! I am at my half way point on my Exchange here in Norway and it has come to me as such a shock. Where has all the time gone? It just slips right through your fingers. I don’t ever want to leave Norway and yes I am torn. My heart already belongs to Norway, the culture and the people. Oslo my heart will always be yours! I am moving to my third family in March and I am so excited! I Know I will really miss my second family. They are so kind, but new experiences are coming my way! I can not wait to see how everyone has changed over their exchange but i can wait forever to come back to Florida, not because i don’t miss it but i have found a new me and new love here in Norway. My eyes are open to everyones point of view and not just my own anymore. Well there is not much going on now besides school, food, friends, family and sleep. I rather enjoy the regular days. Thank you to everyone who supports me and a special tusen takk to Doug and Cindy! Love you all! Thank you so much Rotary for everything!