Anna Thompson

Norway

Hometown: St. Johns, Florida
School: Creekside High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Bartram Trail, Florida
Host District: 2305

Host Club: The Rotary Club of Hadeland Syd

 

My Bio


Hello! My name is Anna Thompson and I am excited to say that I will be living in Norway in just a few months! I live in St. Johns and I am currently a junior at Creekside High School. I am 16 years old. I live at home with my parents and my older brother Chase (18) who is in college. My oldest brother is Nicholas (22). He lives in Georgia and attends UGA.

I was born in South Georgia and when I was 12 my parents moved the family to St. Johns, Florida. My freshmen year I joined the Color Guard at my school (we spin flags with the band). I continued Color Guard into my junior year. I am in the NAHS (National Art Honors Society).

In my free time I like to spend time with friends and go to the movies. My parents have always enjoyed taking the family on vacations. Many of the vacations were to another state and a couple was out of the country. That is what sparked my interest in traveling. While on the vacations I always enjoyed seeing the different cultures and ways of the people around us. I hope to try many new things and to make lifelong friends. I would like to thank Rotary for being able to send me on this amazing journey and once in a life time opportunity.

Top of Galdhøpiggen

Top of Galdhøpiggen

Norway

Norway

Standing on the top of Mørkganga

Standing on the top of Mørkganga

All Of the Rotary Students in Norway

All Of the Rotary Students in Norway

Pia, Liv Nenny (host sisters) and I at the Cabin

Pia, Liv Nenny (host sisters) and I at the Cabin

Isbade- Ice bathing with my second host family!

Isbade- Ice bathing with my second host family!

The first time it snowed my family took me out to play.

The first time it snowed my family took me out to play.

Out for a ski trip with my Rotary friends

Out for a ski trip with my Rotary friends

In Oslos at the palace with Rotary

In Oslos at the palace with Rotary

Journals: Anna - Norway 2015-2016

  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    Now it’s below freezing everyday. It gets dark around 3:30pm. But, coming from where it does not snow, I have no idea how to dress for the snow. So, I find it often when others have to tell me how to dress.

    Since the last time I have written there was Halloween, Thanksgiving (a Norwegian version), and Christmas. It has been an emotional roller-coaster, as exchange always is, but I survived it with a big smile on my face.

    About five years ago, Norway had no clue what Halloween was. Some people still do not know what it is. People sell pumpkins but do not carve them. Then, there came Thanksgiving! Wait! What? Thanksgiving in Norway? Many Norwegians have moved to America and back to Norway and brought the holiday with them. My host family wanted to throw me a Thanksgiving. That was very sweet of them wanting to include my traditions. We invited our grandparents and it was a great day! It even snowed that day!

    Norwegians start decorating and getting ready for Christmas in the middle of November. That was very early for me! They believe in the Nisse (gnome) that comes into your barn to leave presents for the good kids and coal for the bad kids. If you have been bad, the Nisse could also put a spell on your barn animals to make them sick. The children will leave out Grøt, rice pudding, for the Nisse to eat. Norwegians celebrate on the 24th of December instead of the 25th. We had dinner and opened up presents on the 24th. I was very grateful to receive presents when I was not expecting anything! We also had another dinner on the 25th with more family. It was very hard being away from my family in Florida during Christmas. But, my host family made me feel special and at home.


    To see my homepage and some photos click HERE


  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    The first week of February, I had a ‘Winter Camp’. It was where all the inbounds come together and spend a week in Nesbyen. I was so happy to be with the other exchange student because it had been such a long time since we had been together. Its nice to be with people in the same situation as you. We were able to go skiing, snowboard, and downhill skiing. I was able to try so many new snow sports. It was such a great experience and being with my friends made it even better.

    The day I returned home, I had to pick up a Spanish student from the airport. Why? I have the great opportunity to have a ‘mini exchange’ inside a big exchange. My Spanish class will travel to Barcelona, where my Spanish student came from, for a week. They already had been here for a week. They came here to practice their English skills, because the Norwegians are so good at English. They also came here to learn about the Norwegian culture. I will do the same thing in Spain but I will be practicing my Spanish. It was a special experience it me because when they came I was no longer an 'American'. I was considered a 'Norwegian'. I was able to introudce the Norwegian culture and life to them, just like it was my own.

    At the end of February, we had another winter break. At the end of the winter break, I moved to a new family. It was hard to leave my first family because I had been with them so long and we had made very good connections. But I was also excited to move families because it would be a new experience. My new family has a daughter in Florida and the older brothers do not live at home. So, it is just my host parents and I. It’s a bit more quiet then my first family (they had four kids). I moved on a Sunday night and I had dinner with my first family and my second family.

    In the second weekend of March, we had another meeting with the inbounds. Here we were able to visit Oslo, the capital. The day before we met was my birthday. My host mom threw me a party, she is so sweet! I was so happy to be able to see the other exchange students. I live near Oslo, so I visit it often, but we still did many things I have not done yet. We visited a Viking Ship museum. I found this so interesting because the Vikings did so many curious things. We also visited the Nobel Peace Prize Center. Did you know the Nobel Peace Prize is given out in Oslo, Norway? This was also very interesting. They had a temporary piece that was about what soldiers around the world aim at. We also visited the palace, the Vigeland Parke (the famous park with naked statues), and the Resistance Museum.

    At the end of March, we had a week of for Påskeferie (Easter break). My family went to the cabin for the week. We went skiing every day, it was so much fun. My skiing has been improved from nothing to something! We were in the cabin with my host mom’s sister and her family. We were nine in the cabin. I thought it would be crowded and not so much fun being there for a week. But in the end, I had so much fun! On that Sunday, we ate Lamb and I was given an Easter egg with candy. I thnks its intersting how much Easter is celebrated in Norway. Most people in Norway are not religious. But Easter was celebrated with everybody and a big celebration. It has rained and now the snow is almost gone! I will miss the snow, it was so pretty.

    My language is certainly better than it was in the beginning. It a great feeling when you speak the language with a native and they understand you completely. It’s a great accomplishment and I am so proud. Now I look at my time left and I realize I only have three months left?! Did I not just arrive in Norway? But time flies when you are having fun.

    To see my homepage and some photos click HERE



  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    Now it’s below freezing everyday. It gets dark around 3:30pm. Coming from where it does not snow, I have no idea how to dress for the snow. So, I find it often when others have to tell me how to dress.

    Since the last time I have written there was Halloween, Thanksgiving (a Norwegian version), and Christmas. It has been an emotional roller-coaster, as exchange always is, but I survived it with a big smile on my face.
    About five years ago, Norway had no clue what Halloween was. Some people still do not know what it is. People sell pumpkins but do not carve them. Then, there came Thanksgiving! Wait! What? Thanksgiving in Norway? Many Norwegians have moved to America and back to Norway and brought the holiday with them. My host family wanted to throw me a Thanksgiving. That was very sweet of them wanting to include my traditions. We invited our grandparents and it was a great day! It even snowed that day! I had so much fun with my family!

    Norwegians start decorating and getting ready for Christmas in the middle of November. That was very early for me! They believe in the Nisse (gnome) that comes into your barn to leave presents for the good kids and coal for the bad kids. If you have been bad, the Nisse could also put a spell on your barn animals to make them sick. The children will leave out Grøt, rice pudding, for the Nisse to eat. Norwegians celebrate on the 24th of December instead of the 25th. It was a little weird not celebrating on Christmas Day. We had a typical Norwegian Christmas dinner and opened up presents on the 24th. I was very grateful to receive presents when I was not expecting anything! We also had another dinner on the 25th with more family. It was very hard being away from my family in Florida during Christmas. But, my host family made me feel special and at home.


  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    I finally had two Rotary camps. Well, the first one was a district conference in Hamar. Here I was able to meet the other exchange students in my district. They were all Australians or went to Australia on exchange. My host sister Liv Nenny was there too. The Australians have been here for ten months. We had to ‘mingle’ with Rotarians and I was proud to have people think I had been here as long as the Australians had with my language skills. We also had to stand on the stage in front of 150 Rotarians and introduce ourselves. Then we sang ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen in Norwegian. That was interesting. Many people were laughing but they were laughing with us. We received a big round of applause afterwards and that was a wonderful. Then, I had another camp the next week where I learned about Norway’s history (yes, about the Vikings). We also had some language lessons but it was hard because the teacher spoke a different dialect than the majority of the class. The camp was so much fun. I was able to meet all of Norway’s 27 inbounds. We went bowling and had pizza.

    On Saturday, we went to another conference and they wanted all of the exchange students to perform something. So all of the countries grouped together. The Americans danced to ‘American’ songs like the ‘YMCA’ and the ‘Cupid Shuffle’. The Australians did Australian slang. The Latin Americans did poetry and a Taiwanese girl sang a song she wrote. We all made so many friends in such a little time it was hard to leave them in the end. It was nice to have other exchange students to talk to.

    I was expecting bread but not THIS much bread! Bread for breakfast. Bread for lunch. Sometimes we even have bread for dinner. Don’t worry, I’m not complaining! I like it. The most typical way to eat bread is with butter and cheese. An ‘open’ sandwich, with no top slice. However, you can dress it up with egg, ham, jam, peanut butter, or chocolate. In my family, we have Friday night tacos. However, it is not tacos; it’s the tortilla wraps that you roll up into a burrito. Many families have some sort of taco night. It is the exact same in every house, ground beef and a buffet of toppings. Saturday is Dad's Pizza. Pepperoni is never a topping. Its always ground beef. Sometimes we have had corn and hot dogs as toppings. Saturdays we eat the pizza in front of the TV and watch their favorite TV shows. I am always looking forwards to Fridays and Saturdays! One of my favorite foods so far is “Kjøttkakke og brun” sauce. Its like meatballs with a brown sauce. It is often served with potatoes.

    Some days I feel great! I feel like I can understand everybody around me. It feels as if I will be fluent by next week. Then, some days I wake up and it seems as if everybody is mumbling words to me. I can’t understand half of what they are saying. Then, it feels like I will never learn the language. On those days, I come home very sad and exhausted. But then I remember I WANT to learn the language and I do NOT want to give up.

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE


  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    My Rotary meetings are every Monday at 7 PM. We usually have the meetings at a church. My counselor has been so kind as to pick me up every week to take me to the meetings. I have been invited to dinner with her family a couple of times. This Rotary club has about 12 members. Sometimes we have the meetings at other sites, like a “field trip”. We have been to a hiding spot from the Nazis in WW2 and a 1700 mansion on a golf course. Here the Rotarians were taught to play golf; golf is not a common sport here in Norway. The meetings are in Norwegian, of course, so most of the time I'm not sure what they are talking about. My councelor tries to translate some but she is usually too involved With the conversation. I can tell when they talk about me because I hear my name and everyone stairs at me. I get really nervous but I have just learned to just smile and nod.

    My typical school day goes like this:
    -I wake up at 6.45-get dress, ready, etc…
    -I eat breakfast and make my matpakke. (A plastic container that my lunch is stored in.)
    -My host Dad Drives Liv Nenny (sister) and I to school because he is a teacher at our school.
    -School starts at 7:55 and that is usually when I slide into my seat.
    -My school day usually ends around 2 and by the time we get home we have dinner waiting on us.
    -Then we pass the rest of the night with family time. My host dad will play some guitar and my host sister will play the piano. There is a great deal of time where there is music playing in the house. Eventually, most nights we end up in the family room all watching TV together.

    At my house in America, recycling was sorting the trash into 2 bins. One was cardboard, bottle, cans, and paper. The rest of the trash went into the other bin. Here in Norway there are 5 different places to throw your trash away/recycle. There is a bin only for food. There is a bin only for paper. There is a bin only for plastic, but we separate the plastic bottles. Then anything that cannot be put into those four bins goes into “restafall” (the rest). Even though I have been here for almost two months, I still have to stop and think before I throw anything away. They can take the plastic bottles to the grocery store and turn them in to this machine, which will give them money toward their next purchase on bottles products. They get paid to recycle!

    Before I left people kept telling me about how cold and isolated Norwegians could be. They kept telling me it would be months before I could make friends with them. I must have gotten lucky because my class is very nice to me. They ask the other exchange student and I to events after school to get to know us better. It is so great to have a nice class. We are not already best friends like Americans would be but I think we are on a good track to being great friends. They make me feel so welcomed and not so much like an outcast.

    These past few weeks I have been signed up to take a dance class. It is a hip-hop dance class and I take it with two of my host sisters. It is a great way to spend time with them outside of the house. The class is so much fun! They play, of course, music in English but it is a great way for me to just be myself and blend in. This class is great because there are some girls from my school taking the class also. They like to see if i can understand what the teacher is saying, if not, they help me to understand. Sometimes it is not that hard to understand because it is a dance class and I can just follow along.

    I can already tell that the days are slightly shorter than when I arrived. The sun rises later and sets earlier. The air is becoming chiller by the days. All of the fields and trees were green when I arrived but now they are changing color. They are becoming this beautiful mix of orange, yellow, and red. One of my favorite things to do right now is to take a walk into the fields/woods around my house. I have already fallen in love with the Norwegian nature. It is just so beautiful. I have to take plenty of walks now before it gets too cold later to go for walks.

    I have been hiking again. This time I went to Mørkganga, which was not far from where I lived. I went with the other exchange student at my school. We went with her host mother and some of her friends. It was a very steep climb towards the top. You could hold onto a rope at the top. At the top of the mountain, there was a river. You could not see so much of the view climbing up because of all the trees but when you go to the top, there was a big, beautiful view, and a lot to look at. There was clear blue skies and a huge lake below us. I could of sit on the top of hours. You could see for miles! A Norwegian tradition is to bring chocolate with you so when you get to the very top you can stop and celebrate by having chocolate. The most common to bring on hikes is Kvikk Lunsj. It is like the American Kit Kat.

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE

  • Anna, outbound to Norway

    It has been almost a month since I have arrived in Lunner, Norway! I have no scary airport stories to tell. My flights were smooth besides almost missing my last flight because of a late flight. I made the flight but my luggage did not. When I arrived in Oslo (with no bags) I heard many "Anna"s and "Hallo"s. I was rushed with many hugs by my first host family. My third host mom was there along with her daughter who was flying to Orlando in a couple of hours. My Rotary counselor was also there to greet me. My little host sister made me a sign that said "Velkommen Anna" After I explained that we had to wait for my bags we sat down and had lunch. This gave me a chance to talk to everyone.

    The ride home was very quiet except for my host dad pointing out stuff. We stopped by a shop so I could meet my other host sister Liv Nenny who went to Brazil last year. I had arrived around 2am Florida time so I was very tired. I managed to stay awake all day. That day I meet I all the grandparents and they brought over fruit and ice cream. That night (like may to come) we sat down like a family and watched Modern Family with Norwegian subtitles.

    Breakfast consist of bread, butter and your choice of cheese. But of you don't want cheese there is plenty to choose from- jam, ham, salami, and spreadable meat. We sit down as a family to eat breakfast together.
    I learned very quickly that Nowegians love nature. I have already been on many walks through the forest. I have been with family, dogs, and horses. Everywhere you go there are trees and flowers. Any house that you go in is covered in plants and flowers.

    My school is called Hadeland Videregående Skole. They rent out computers to the students for their studies. My classes include Sicology, Math, Gym, Marketing, English, Spanish, Norwegian, and History. The English teacher likes to compare my accent to hers because English is my first language and not hers. I am in a general studies "line". A line in school can determine what extra classes you have like music, art, mechanics, and cooking (there are many more). The school schedule is different everyday and you could have a lot of time between classes. Some of my days end earlier than others. If you have time you are allowed to go across the street to a mall. The kids in my class are very nice and the like to help me in all my classes.

    I was told I was going to be the only exchange student at my school, and that worried me a little. The first day there I met a girl from Switzerland named Maren. We are they only exchange students and it's great that we have each other.

    My second week in Norway my host family took me on a trip to the mountains. We went to Galdhøpiggen. It is the highest mountain in Norway and northern Europe. I was told we were going to climb a mountain. I was not sure what to expect, which was probably a good thing. We hiked/climbed 10 miles in 7 hours. We had to cross a glacier- Styggebreen. It means ugly glacier because it has cracks in it that people could fall in. We had to tie ourselves to each other on a long rope in case someone fell in, the person would be caught by the rope. It was my first time on that much snow. Everyone took turns helping me walk on the snow. They said it was a good bonding time.

    They have also taken me to Hunderfossen which is an amusement park in Lillehammer. It's theme is trolls and Norwegian fairytales. The Swiss exchange student came with us. It was so much fun to hear about the Norwegian fairytales.

    The first month of settling in has been full of English AND Norwegian. But my host parents are "forgetting" how to speak English. This will be helpful with my language skills because in Norway everybody speaks Englsih.
    I live in the countryside. It is hills and farms everywhere. There are sheep in the street and cows are walking freely.

    I have been so happy to be here. This has already been such a great experience. I am so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you Rotary!

    Ha det!

    To see my page and some photos click HERE


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