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Seeing the world one country at a time through foreign exchange

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Andrea Mathisen, a junior on foreign exchange, has been traveling to exotic places all over the world since she was a child.

She is currently studying abroad in America to gain greater insight into American culture.

“I wanted to become more knowledgeable about the American culture and of different ways of thinking,” Andrea said. “Developing my language skills was important to me, as well as getting to know new people and trying new things.”

When she was younger, Andrea traveled to Denmark, Finland, and Thailand a few times with her family. It was not until the summer of 2014 that Andrea seriously began traveling.

“I had saved up for years to go for a three week long language trip to Antibes, south in France. I made a lot of great friends and stayed with a local host family,” Andrea said.

After, Andrea visited England, Scotland, Italy, Monaco and now the U.S.

“I went to a MUSE concert in Portland with my friend from back home who is on an exchange year there,” Andrea said. “I visited Chicago and went skiing in Taos, but going to Hawaii with 52 other exchange students was by far the best.”

Andrea is from Hammerfest, Norway, “the northernmost town in the world,” where she, her thirteen-year-old sister and mother live.

“I miss my friends a lot and not being able to go for a nice long hike in the mountains. I also miss some of the food, skiing, and having less homework,” Andrea said.

Austin has a very different culture and climate from Hammerfest, where Andrea grew up skiing and hiking close to home.

“In my experience, people here are more casual than what I am used to. There are also so many types of food available here. We only have one Chinese restaurant, a pizza place and some local cafes,” Andrea said. “However, the greatest difference would have to be the weather. We have 6-8 months of snow in my town, so coming here to 104 degrees and bright sun was a huge change.”

When Andrea goes home at the end of June, she is going to Stockholm, Sweden with a friend from back home. She will most likely visit her host family in Scotland and stay a couple of days outside of Copenhagen with a Danish friend. Then Andrea gets to spend some time at home.

“ I still have my senior year left, so I will finish that and probably go off to college somewhere in Europe, Asia or the U.S.,” Andrea said.

While living in Austin, Andrea has learned a lot about the local food and culture.

“I have learned more about the culture and definitely become better at trying new food and listening to different music. I also learned how to cook a few different dishes that I had not even heard about until moving here,” Andrea said, “I learned to be more open-minded and that if you really set your mind to a goal, you can achieve it.”

Even though Andrea gets to go visit different places all over the world, she has to say goodbye to one adventure to start another.

“I think I really would miss the school spirit. Back home, we have no mascot nor school color and nobody wears clothes with the school’s name on it.  I will miss playing lacrosse with my teammates that I love so much and going to football games,” Andrea said. “There are a bunch of things that I really appreciate with living here: the food, the music and all the social events. But most of all, I will miss my host family.”

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