An Unforgettable Experience

At Augustana University, there are so many opportunities and activities to get involved in!  I am only in my second year at Augustana and wanted to make sure I was getting the full college experience. When asking my sister what I should do in college, she replied, “My biggest regret was not studying abroad.”  When I found out that one of my favorite professors was leading a special education practicum in Norway over J-term, I knew I needed to take advantage of that opportunity.  When explaining to my parents that I wanted to study abroad in Norway… in January, they were very surprised.  “Are you sure you don’t want to go somewhere warm?” “It’s awfully close to the Arctic Circle.”  Those were just a few of the responses I got back, but I figured with the right professor and group of students this course was going to be great!  Luckily being from Nebraska, and going to school in South Dakota, I was prepared for the cold and snow.  It turns out, Norway has been warmer than the Midwest almost everyday though!

I chose to study abroad in Norway because I wanted a new experience and adventure.  I am an athlete on the track team at Augustana, and there are a few Norwegian athletes who have inspired me to visit their home country.  They have told me wonderful stories about their hometowns, their adventures, and their values that they’ve learned from growing up in Norway.  I chose Peder Morset because it is a transition school for young adults, which will benefit me in understanding multiple cultures when pursuing my career in Speech Pathology.  I chose this setting in hopes that being the same age as the young adults attending this school would give me the advantage of being able to connect with them better.  We couldn’t have asked for more amazing, welcoming staff, student body, and volunteers to guide us and include us into the school.

From our first couple of days in Oslo, I was hooked to the quiet, relaxed culture, fresh seafood, and wonderful and abundant coffee.  We’ve visited several museums, historical landmarks, and modern city neighborhoods.  The bulk of our course in Norway though has been spent observing and participating in the schools.  We have two boys in Hamar observing a school and five girls, including myself, at Peder Morset.  All of us girls agree that we are so lucky to be involved here at Peder Morset because we have been fully emerged into the Norwegian culture and folkehøgskole mentality.  I’ve been able to enjoy outdoor activities with the students such as cross-country skiing with the Outdoors group, toving and knitting with the Arts and Handcrafts group, and writing articles and being featured on the school’s radio with Media.

This course has been filled with many firsts.  I had never been out of the U.S. before this course and never been cross-country skiing, eaten raw fish, or even heard of brown cheese.  Although few, we’ve encountered a few challenges along the way.  One being the language barrier.  Before coming to Norway, I was expecting there to be more of a language barrier so I was surprised when arriving, that almost everyone can speak English.  Even with students who don’t know English, it has been fun to learn new ways to communicate and connect.  One fun way we’ve learned to communicate without a common language is through games, specifically card games.  We’ve come to find out many students love UNO!  It was a joy to find other students who knew the games we grew up with back in the U.S.  Some of my favorite memories from Norway thus far have been the fjord boat tour, our Trondheim visit, and multiple occasions of crying from laughing so hard due to the students’ and volunteers’ jokes!

Thank you to everyone I have met here in Norway.  You’ve truly made this  an unforgettable experience!


McKenna Hotovy

Augustana University, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA


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