Learn About Tina Sletten, Norwegian Exchange Student

Anna Gratzer, features editor

Zephyrus sat down with one of Edina High School’s very own foreign exchange students. Senior Tina Sletten is here through Rotary International for almost 11 months from TØnsberg, Norway. Below, she shares her unique perspective on life in the Minnesotan suburbs.


Zephryus: What program are here through? How long is your stay?

Tina Sletten: I am here through Rotary for almost 11 months.

Zephyrus: Where in Norway are you from?

T.S.: I am from TØnsberg, Norway.

Zephryus: Why did you want to come to the United States?

T.S.: I wanted to come to the United States because I was born in California, so I’ve always felt very American and I wanted to experience American high school and learn more about the culture.

Zephryus: What is your favorite part about living here?

T.S.: I just love speaking English everyday and learning slang and new terms. I love when people teach me new words or show me new weird food. I also like the culture and I love meeting other exchange students from all around the world.

Zephryus:  What is your least favorite part?

T.S.:  The bread and the lack of public transportation. In general, things are so far from each other so it’s difficult to bike or walk places. I feel very dependent on people driving me places.

Zephryus: What surprised you about the United States?

T.S.: This is a really small thing but I was actually a bit surprised with how different the US is when it comes to different measurements and units. Most other countries use the same ones, but here they use separate ones.

Zephryus: Where did you learn English? How well did you speak before you came?

T.S.: In Norway, learning English is required so I started studying English in first or second grade. In total, I’ve been studying English for 11 or 10 years.

Zephryus: Are you happy with your decision to come here?

T.S.: Yes! I didn’t choose to come to Minnesota because I wasn’t able to pick a specific state. If I could have picked, I really wanted to go to California. When they told me that I was going to go to Minnesota and I was a bit disappointed because of the similarities to Norway. I, however, am so happy that I came to Edina because I really like it. I think it’s so funny that everyone hates Edina!

Zephryus: What do you do outside of school?

T.S.: Ultimate, theater, choir, girls acapella, French club, and Rotary Interact club.

Zephryus: Is school harder or easier here?

T.S.: I think it’s hard to compare because I’ve never had any of these classes that I’m taking here in Norway. I think how we have cheat sheets for final tests and multiple choice tests in general are much easier. I found finals to be made super easy in comparison.

Zephryus: What’s your host family like?

T.S.: I love my current host family. We are seven people in total and we are all involved in Rotary. We just get along so well. Everyone in my family has been or will be an exchange student at some point so everyone seems to understand me and my situation.

Zephryus: Had you visited the United States before? Where did you go?

T.S.: I was actually born in California and then I moved to Norway when I was three years old. I visited California when I was 10 years old for a month to see where I used to live and places we used to go.

Zephryus: Were you initially nervous when you got here?

T.S.: Yes, I was a little bit nervous, but I was mostly excited. I couldn’t wait to finally arrive, the whole summer I couldn’t wait to leave and it was all I thought about.

Zephryus: Where have you visited since you arrived in August?

T.S.: I’ve been to Edina (of course), Minneapolis, St. Paul, up north somewhere to stay at a cabin, Redwing, Chicago, Wisconsin, and I am going to Florida for spring break next week.

Zephryus: In what ways do you think this experience will affect the rest of your life?

T.S.: I would say that I’ve learned a lot of independence. I’ve also learned to adapt to new situations and families and just speaking another language in general. You’re forced not to act shy and to leave your comfort zone. It seems impossible but then you learn you really can do it!

Zephryus: What has been the hardest part of your exchange?

T.S.: I haven’t had a lot of problems…I haven’t been homesick.

Zephryus: Do you have any advice for students that are going to study abroad?

T.S.: Say yes to everything. It’s just so true. The key to not being homesick is keeping yourself occupied. It’s scary in the beginning but it’s totally worth it.

Zephryus: Is there any random cultural difference that you’ve observed?

T.S.: I think it’s really funny that everyone eats with a napkins on their lap. Also, eating with only a fork and not a knife.

Zephryus: How did you enjoy your first Minnesotan winter?

T.S.: I expected it to be so much worse.

Zephyrus: Do you have a favorite memory of your time here?

T.S.: It’s so hard to pick. I really enjoyed going to sports games like the Vikings game. The weekend retreats with all the exchange students are also super great. I love the dances from school. Lastly, the high school spirit in general is very fun.