Mia Mothersill

Norway

Hometown:Longwood, Florida
School: Lake Brantley High School
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club:Altamonte Springs, Florida
Host District: District 2275
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Nidarvoll

 

My Bio


God dag, Jag heter Mia Mothersill! That's Norwegian for "Hi, my name is Mia Mothersill!" As I'm writing this, my brain is still trying to process that in a few months I will be in Norway, thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and everything else that I find comforting... and I could not be more excited! Although I was born in the United States, I grew up on a small island in the Caribbean called Antigua. Moving to America was such a huge culture shock and was what initially sparked my interest in traveling and experiencing foreign cultures. I am 15 years old and am currently a sophomore at Lake Brantley High School. I'm very active in my school and participate in both the Chorus and Drama programs, the National Honor Society (NHS), and the Thespian Honor Society. I live in Longwood, Florida with my parents, Karen and Max, my little sister, Ava, my older brother, Jake, and my puppy, Tigua. I'm also the second person in the family to go on a rotary exchange; my brother spent all of last year in Pamplona, Spain. I think his leaving is what finally gave me the encouragement I needed to apply. Growing up near water my whole life, I've developed a love for water sports. My favorite are wakeboarding, sailing, and surfing. However, I've always loved skiing too and am excited to try the famous Norwegian snow! I've always considered myself to be adventurous, and I'm certainly not afraid to try new things. I am just so thankful to Rotary and everyone who has helped me to make this dream a reality. Farvel, se deg i Norge! "Goodbye, see you in Norway!"

kayaking

kayaking

sunset view overlooking Trondheim

sunset view overlooking Trondheim

going kayaking!

going kayaking!

hiking up the Red Hill

hiking up the Red Hill

climbing rocks by the Norwegian Sea

climbing rocks by the Norwegian Sea

on the pier

on the pier

moose hunting

moose hunting

wrote my name in the book at the top of the Red Hill

wrote my name in the book at the top of the Red Hill

Learning to Snowboard at Wintercamp

Learning to Snowboard at Wintercamp

Amazing View from my Cabin

Amazing View from my Cabin

Skiing in Nesbyen during Wintercamp

Skiing in Nesbyen during Wintercamp

Riding a Traditional Norwegian Sled with my Host Sisters

Riding a Traditional Norwegian Sled with my Host Sisters

Christmas Tree Shopping in the Town Square

Christmas Tree Shopping in the Town Square

Christmas Cookies with my Host Sisters

Christmas Cookies with my Host Sisters

Baking Christmas Cookies with my Host Sisters

Baking Christmas Cookies with my Host Sisters

Trondheim in the Winter

Trondheim in the Winter

Journal: Mia - Noreway

  • Mia, outbound to Norway

    Advanced Warning: Both my written and spoken English have deteriorated a lot so sorry if my blog reads a little funny or doesn’t flow well.

    Last Sunday was February 8th 2015, making it officially 6 months since I moved to Norway. Half a year is a pretty long time to be away from everything you know, so I figured a blog post suited the occasion. A lot of things have happened since I wrote my first entry in November. I’ve switched host families, traveled to London, celebrated the holidays, become almost fluent in Norwegian, learned how to snowboard, broken my toes, and spent the night on a hospital floor. I guess the best way to catch you up is to tell you guys everything in chronologically order, so I guess I’ll just start from where I left off last time.

    In late November, my host family took me on a trip to London, England. I’d never been to the UK before and it was such an incredible trip. We were only there for three days, but somehow we managed to fit in just about everything! We visited the Madame Tussuad Wax Museum, took pictures of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, rode the London Eye at night, dined at the top of a skyscraper, and saw the musical version of The Lion King (my favorite part because I’m a huge Disney movie geek). The only thing that wasn’t so great was me getting pick-pocketed on the subway and losing my credit cards and license but it was all replaceable so there was really no harm done.

    When we got back to Trondheim, I had one last week with my family before I moved to my second host family in December. I wish I could just lie and tell you it was easy, but leaving them was honestly one of the hardest parts of my exchange so far. I had really connected with my parents and my adorable little brother, Eivind, and I felt so comfortable living there that moving was not something I wanted to do at all.

    But because I didn’t have a choice, on December 6th I found myself in a new house, with a new bedroom, having dinner in a new kitchen with a new host brother and new host parents. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my second host family. My parents, Helge and Berit, are really nice and funny, and I get along great with my brother, Andreas. It just took a few weeks of awkwardness to get back into that feeling of familiarity I’d found in my first host family. Thankfully, right around the time I was feeling comfortable again, the holidays came.

    And by holidays, I mean Christmas!!! A ton of relatives came to visit, including my host grandparents and my two older host sisters, so spending time with them was great, but some other things seemed very strange to me.
    Traditions in Trondheim are very different from what I’m used to back home but I can sum up Norwegian Christmas in two words: dinner parties. No joke I went to eight dinner parties… eight! That’s a lot of food! I swear I gained like 20 pounds from it haha. Besides the dinner parties, Christmas here was also weird to me because they celebrated it on the 24th instead of the 25th, and they treat it as a much more formal occasion.

    They were very confused when I told them how in America my family and I wear all pajamas all day long. Luckily, my mom sent me a Christmas package full of gifts, including a huge, obnoxious, American flag onesie. (Side note: Hey mom, so remember when I told you I wouldn’t open those gifts until Christmas? Well I may have torn through the box the day after it arrived… two weeks early. But in my defense, it was a box of presents just staring at me all day! Sorry you had to find out like this.)

    Okay back to Norwegian Christmas traditions! That evening, we had a very popular holiday dinner called ribbe. Ribbe is the meat that comes from the side of a pig and, although it’s really fatty, it tastes amazing! We also ate rice porridge for dessert and my family played a game where we put one almond into the mix and whoever ended up with it won a prize. After everyone is done eating we all guess who has it because if you find it you’re supposed to try and keep it a secret until the end. My host sister, Hanne, was the lucky winner of the night.

    Then it was time for presents! I got a lot of warm mittens and scarves, a ski shirt, a book on Trondheim filled with amazing photos, a super soft blanket, and a pair of fluffy socks that I love! I think my family might have picked up on the fact that I packed very poorly for the weather haha. All in all, it was really a fantastic Christmas.

    Things kind of died down after that and everything was pretty normal until about midway through January. I had just gotten back from winter break and I was playing football in gym class. Now those who know me are already aware that I am just about the most clumsy and unathletic person alive but for those who have never met me… it’s true. Norwegians, on the other hand, have all been playing football since they were like seven so they’re extremely good. Anyways during a game I went to kick the ball and, at the same time, my friend Erik came up and did some magic football voodoo and managed to teleport the ball away. (Seriously, I still have no idea how he moved the ball. One second it was there, and the next it wasn’t.) However, my brain didn’t register the fact that the ball was no longer there so my foot kept going… into the wall… shattering my toe. Yupp that’s right. I had to go the hospital and explain to the doctor that I kicked a wall with so much force that I broke my toe. So I’ve been in a boot for the past 4 weeks now and I still have one more to go. Unfortunately, I would be back in the hospital again in 2 weeks but I will get to that in a bit.

    At the start of February, I got to fly down to a city called Nesbyen to go to Rotary’s Wintercamp. It was so much fun! I got to see all of the exchange students again and I met the new inbounds from Australia and Argentina. I became really good friends with two of the Aussies, Courtney and Lilly. As this was the “winter” camp, we spent a ton of time doing winter activities. We went alpine skiing, cross country skiing, sledding, had a BBQ in the snow, and learned how to snowboard. On one of the days, they took us on an amazing 18km cross country trek! It was really long, and I was exhausted by the end of it, but when we got to the top we had the most amazing view! The few of us who made it that far all stopped to take photos and two of the Canadians even stripped down to nothing but their Norwegian flag hats to take the “ultimate postcard picture”. It was so funny and the picture actually came out really good!

    On the last night, the Rotarians who were there through us a really fun going away party. There was food and music, and at one point everyone started dancing! Earlier in the week, my friend Courtney and I had been doing that dance move where you slide someone between your legs and pull them back out, so we decided to do it again. But this time it didn’t work. Courtney slipped on the way down and knocked her head into the ground and actually passed out for around 20 seconds. Obviously, once people realized what had happened, the party met its abrupt end and, when Courtney started to float in and out of consciousness, the Rotarians decided to take her to the doctor.

    It took us about 40 minutes to drive to the hospital and when we got there (Courtney was feeling a bit better thankfully) they did some tests and said she had a minor concussion and had to stay for observation. So, Courtney and I got spent our final night at Wintercamp in a hospital bed! Well, technically she was on the bed, they were out of mattresses so I got to sleep on a comfortable section of tile flooring next to her lol. She had to be careful for the first week but Courtney’s fine now and we actually make jokes about it all the time. Our favorite is the fact that the first thing she remembers after falling is hearing my voice “calling her to the light” haha. I’m really excited to see her and Lilly and all of the other exchange students again in March when we meet in Oslo for another weekend trip!

    Well that just about sums up everything since my last blog! If you guys haven’t noticed by now, my blogs tend to be realllllllyyyyy long because I‘ve been trying to cram three months of my life into one journal entry so I’m going to try and post more often from now on. (Like once every month and a half) Alright well yea I guess that’s it. Ha det!

    P.S. Okay I lied. There is one more random thing I want to add. I’ve noticed something else on my exchange that no one told me would happen and it is honestly freaking me out. My taste buds are completely different. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is. All my life I’ve been sure that I hated the taste of three things: coffee, oranges, and ketchup. But in the past month or so I’ve tried them all again and now I love them which I find super weird. Seriously, I don’t know if any of the other exchange students have experienced this too but it’s really starting to annoy me haha.


  • Mia, outbound to Norway

    Two Months. That's how long it's been since I boarded the plane that changed my life.

    The other day I was on Facebook, and I saw a post from Scott that absolutely blew my mind:
    “Up to sell the Dream to the next generation...look out, Lake Mary High School!”
    Why did this freak me out so much? Because I realized that, one year ago, I had been the “next generation”. It was like all of sudden I was back in 2013 telling my parents I wanted to be an exchange student. I remember my mom rolling her eyes, my dad holding back a laugh, and me spending the next several weeks pestering, annoying, and complaining until they gave me an insincere “maybe” just to shut me up.

    I remember filling out forms that seemed to have no end, going to doctor after doctor for medical checkups, suffering through a dreadful online US History Class, having to give up the lead role in a show I had been rehearsing for months to go to my RYE interview, and freaking out when I thought I bombed it.

    I remember all of it, and I wouldn't change a thing. Because later that month, Scott would call me to say that I had been accepted, and I would gladly take the weird looks I got from the kids in the cafeteria as I broke down laughing and crying in the middle of lunch…. (Yea that actually happened) So now here I am, 12 months later, trying to find the words to describe my new life half way around the world, and utterly failing at it. (Seriously I wrote that first part a week ago and still don’t know what to say)

    Ok well let’s just start from the beginning. On August 7th, I left Florida and headed for Norway. My first flight was from Orlando to Newark and it was awesome! (First class baby ;P) But my second flight… not so much. It was supposed to be an 8 hour flight from Newark to Oslo. What I hadn't anticipated was spending those 8 hours with the man who was sitting behind me becoming ridiculously drunk.

    Long story short, he had way too much to drink, woke me up three times  by dropping his suitcase on my head, asked the flight attendants for “a smoke”, shouted some very colorful things at me and other passengers, had to be physically restrained multiple times, and delayed our plane for 30 minutes on the landing strip while he was arrested by the Oslo police. (On the plus side, I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier) When I did get off the plane,

    I met up with my host dad and saw my host sister, Ingeborg, for a little bit before boarding my last plane to Trondheim. At this point I had been without sleep for over 24 hours so the rest of the day and most of the one after that are a blur. I remember meeting the rest of my family and coming home and that’s about it.
    In my new family I have two parents, a 14 year old host brother named Eivind, and a dog named Smilla. I was really nervous about meeting them, but they are absolutely amazing! It was a little awkward at first, but now it feels like I've been here forever. My host brother and I just kinda clicked and now we get along really well. It’s actually freaky how much we are alike sometimes. I've also become quite attached to Smilla and she usually sleeps in front of my door at night.

    My family is very active so we do a lot of things outside. On Sundays, we usually go hiking up Goat Mountain in the morning. At the top, you get an amazing view of the city and there are tons of large rocks to climb and picnic on. (Funny story though, the first time we climbed it, I fell into a huge hole filled with mud and got my leg soaked in it) When it was still warm, we also went swimming. There is a beautiful lake near our house that has become my favorite spot in Trondheim. The water is too cold to go swimming anymore, but a few weeks ago we took a boat across the fjord to visit some friends and we went kayaking and boating in the Norwegian Sea.

    Another time, we drove up to the family cabin and stayed there for the weekend. We hiked a mountain there as well, only this one was much larger. It was named the Red Hill and took us a total of 6 hours to climb the entire thing and get back down. (Another funny story, towards the end of the hike, my right leg randomly gave out and I ended up falling and sprawling down a huge hill as my host dad and brother watched laughing)

    At the top, there was a book where everyone who reached the summit was supposed to write their name and because all of the water in Norway is safe to drink, we drank straight out of a waterfall going down the side of the mountain. We always seem to be planning new stuff to do around here and I love it! Tomorrow for instance, we’re going zip-lining, and next month they are taking me to London! :D

    A lot of my exchange friends think I’m absolutely mental for saying this, but I love the food! Maybe it’s just my city, but I think almost everything tastes great. It’s illegal in Norway to genetically mutate the food so everything is really fresh and natural. For breakfast I normally have a ham and cheese omelet, or bread with raspberry jam. On Sunday mornings, I make my host family American pancakes with chocolate chips or blueberries and bacon. My host brother and his friends love them!

    My favorite snacks are apples and a cinnamon pastry called Lefsa which is mind-blowingly good! The apples here are a lot smaller than in America, but they taste ridiculously good. We also make fresh fruit smoothies a couple times a week that are to die for! Our biggest meal of the day is dinner. My host dad normally cooks, but we all take a turn. The food is different every night, but it’s almost always served with baked potatoes or rice. My host family also drinks a lot of coffee, tea, and cola. We don’t have candy or sweets except on weekends.

    My school started two weeks late because almost all of the teachers were on strike, but now that it has I love it! Schools here are also a lot less strict and formal than back home. The first thing I noticed is that there is no dress code. You’re allowed to wear spaghetti straps, leggings, short shorts, shirts that expose your midriff, hats, bandannas, and anything else you want. Another odd thing I found is that teachers here are addressed by their first names. Students can also leave school whenever they want. During lunch, my friends and I love to go to cafes around town, or shop at the mall before returning for our next class.

    I go to a public school called Trondheim Kattedralskole but the students call it Katta or Hogwarts for short. I am a junior and I take 6 classes: Math, Physics, Norwegian, International English, Gym, and Chorus. Each class is about 90 minutes long but every day I have a different schedule so I’m constantly forgetting where I’m supposed to be. All of my classes, except for English, are taught in Norwegian so most of the time I’m pretty lost, but it’s starting to get easier.

    My favorite subjects are Math and Gym. Almost all of our homework is sent in online on a site called itslearning.com but, like everything else, it’s completely in Norwegian so I find it very confusing. The textbooks and notes are also in Norwegian so I usually have to put everything through Google Translate. I also have yet to fully understand the grading system but I’m just kinda going with it for now.

    Two weeks ago I went to a Rotary Language Camp and got to meet all of the other exchange students. It was so much fun meeting and spending time with everyone! There are a total of 23 of us in Norway, but I’m pretty far from everyone else. Most of them are farther south near Oslo. The gathering was held in my city so I got to spend a lot of time with my Rotary Club that week which was great!

    On Saturday they had all of the exchange students come to this huge hotel for a big dinner and ceremony. My Rotary President also invited me to go moose hunting with him and it was AWESOME! We shot two moose and I got to ride on the back of a tractor and a four wheeler.

    I’ve lived in Norway for almost 2 months now but it never feels like that long. Some days it feels like I’ve only been here a week, and other days I feel like I’ve been here my whole life. There have been times where I’ve been so happy I was practically dancing everywhere I went, and there have been times where I’ve cried myself to sleep at night wishing I’d never boarded that plane. And I know that these are only the first of many. I know I’ll have days where I feel overjoyed and even the littlest thing will make me smile, I’ll have days where I feel completely ordinary and normal, and I’ll have days where I feel miserable, homesick, and completely alone. And you know what? I can’t wait to feel all of it! This has been the hardest, greatest, craziest, stupidest, most amazing thing I have ever done, and I am so grateful and excited to be able to experience every bit of it.

    Being an exchange student isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to test you, and push you, and open your mind, and broaden your horizons to levels you never thought you could reach. I have seen and learned so much in the short time that I’ve been here, and I can’t wait to find out what’s waiting for me in the months to come! Ha det bra!

    P.S. Below is a list of just a few of the things I have learned so far:
    •You should not make eye contact with, talk to, or smile at strangers in town. In America it may be seen as polite and welcoming, in Norway it’s seen as creepy. My Norwegian friend explained it to me this way “When a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume that: A. He is drunk. B. He is insane. C. He is American D. He is all of the above”
    •Everything is ridiculously expensive (a tall Starbucks drink costs almost $10)
    •No one wears flip-flops… ever
    •People here love to eat lutefisk, fish that has been soaked in lye (a chemical used to make soap)
    •Their favorite cheese is brown
    •If you bump into someone, or vice versa, the polite thing to do is to ignore them and act like nothing happened
    •Hugging people you don’t know really well is really freaky (I’ve scared multiple people by forgetting this one)


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