Home away from home
Norwegian foreign exchange student Daniel Storelid wanted to attend school in Miami, Florida, but a few weeks before he was set to head to the Sunshine State there was a change in plans.
Storelid was heading to North Dakota, instead.
“I didn’t know much about the state,’ he admits. “The first thing I noticed when I arrived was there was lots of fields.”
Yes, plenty of fields, but no palm trees or warm ocean breezes.
Nevertheless, Storelid’s past nine months in the Peace Garden State have been enjoyable and he will have many memories to share when the 18-year-old returns to his native land early next month.
He stayed with Allan and Bev Meckle who were his host parents. “They were very good to me,’ Daniel said.
His hometown of Flora is actually an island community on Norway’s west coast with a population of about 12,000, so coming to Rugby wasn’t a big stretch in terms of people.
Daniel comes from a large family which includes three brothers and two step-brothers. His mother works in a county office while his father is a retired carpenter who now works in management at an office.
He’s looking forward to returning home to see family and friends, noting nine months is a long time to be away from them.
He was able to talk with his parents by phone about once a week, but noted that was challenging given the time difference. Norway is seven hours ahead of Rugby.
When Daniel arrived in North Dakota his main concern was the language – whether he would be able to communicate well. He learned English in school in Norway, but putting it to the test in America was a bit unnerving.
“Actually, my English took off the more I talked with people,’ he admits. “That wasn’t a problem.”
Neither was making friends and he said his fellow classmates made him feel welcome. Daniel was involved in many activities, including sports where he participated in football, wrestling and track.
He added participating in sports was much easier here since they are affiliated with the school and not in private organizations as is the case in Norway.
His favorite class was Mrs. Leah Johnson’s composition, saying it’s been challenging.
And what about North Dakota’s winter weather?
“It’s a lot colder than home,’ he joked. “We don’t have that extreme cold.”
Another early adjustment was the food, but over time dishes such as pizza and barbecued ribs became favorites.
All of Storelid’s time wasn’t spent in North Dakota, however. He attended the national FFA convention in Indianapolis this past fall with fellow Rugby FFA students. He also traveled to Omaha, Nebraska with the Meckles and he also had the opportunity to go to Canada for a quick visit and Minnesota.
Daniel will receive an honorary diploma from Rugby later this month, and is looking forward to taking part in the graduation ceremony before setting his sights on home.
He’s waiting to learn whether he will be enrolled in further studies, or will be serving up to 19 months in the military, a requirement of all Norwegian men.
Whatever Daniel’s future holds, his time in North Dakota will forever be etched in his memory.
“I’ve enjoyed it.”
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