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Norwegian enjoys Nebraska life

Jayde Teusch

November 22, 2019

For the past three years, West Point-Beemer High Schools has opened its doors to foreign exchange students. These three students have been male but all were from different countries. This year, WPBHS student is Fredrick Røyset Spalder, a 17 year-old boy from Asker, Norway.

            Fred has been placed with the Harlyn and Terri Vander Griend family, his host for the year. Two years ago, they hosted Alex Gianella, a boy from Italy.

Fred arrived in August and will be staying with them until he goes back home in May.

            The reason Fred came to the U.S. was to learn more about America and what it has to offer. When asked what he’s liked most during his stay, Fred said, “It’s gotta be the food. The food and the sports.” Back home, his school didn’t offer sports.

Fred played on the defensive line in Norway. He didn’t play for his school though. He had to play for a club. A club is a group sport you have to pay a fee for, like a special league. Fred played the same position at WPBHS and even started a few games.

            His school also didn’t offer any extracurriculars. Because of that, Fred is enjoying all the clubs and sports West Point has to offer. Fred is in FBLA, participated in football,and is planning to join the wrestling team this winter and the track team in the spring.

                         Comparing WPBHS to his, Fred said that so far, the biggest difference has been the schedule. Back home, they might only have three subjects a day but each for two hours. Also, they don’t get to choose their classes until their senior year.

            Another difference is the culture. In Norway, Fred ate fish several times a week. Terri has offered to cook him fish, but Fred has kindly declined in exchange for steaks and hamburgers.

            In addition, Fred enjoys sharing his native language. Fred is always open to saying a phrase in Norwegian for high school boys or answering any of the Vander Griend’s questions.

            In Norway, ads are hung up everywhere promoting trips to foreign countries. When he started the process of coming to the USA, Fred had to attend meetings explaining the trip. He also had to provide medical and school records after paying a small fee upfront to confirm he was willing to go.

This process, however, is not new to Fred and his family. His brother Sivert, who is 22, went to Australia and encouraged Fred to become an exchange student as well. Fred said he had “always liked the idea of living in the USA” and most likely would have come even if his brother hadn’t gone to Australia. 

            Fred had to specify what type of family he wanted, though. He wanted a family that was invested in football, and that family happened to be in Nebraska. 

Since arriving in West Point, Fred has gotten his driver’s license and made tons of friends. Zach Vander Griend thinks that Fred has found a lot of people that he clicks with and wants to be around.

 His host mom, Terri, said that Fred’s grasp of the English language has helped him fit in. She also said that he’s been adjusting quickly to cultural differences and finds it easy to make friends to hang out with.

The Vander Griend family has taken several trips to show Fred the Midwest: Mount Rushmore, tubing down the Niobrara River, and visiting family in Okoboji. They take time to sit down and get to know each other and learn about Fred’s hometown.

Also, they started developing a connection before Fred was in Nebraska. Fred would sit with his parents in Norway and facetime the VanderGriends so they could become familiar with each other.

Fred has brought a little bit of the Norwegian culture to West Point, and in return, West Point has shown him Midwest hospitality.

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