From one small town to another
Eudora High School senior Anne Froiland left a small community in Norway to experience small-town Kansas
Getting used to small-town life in Kansas hasn't been that difficult for Norwegian exchange student Anne Froiland.
She tells people her hometown is Haugesund, but she really lives on the outskirts in a town about the size of Eudora.
"It's the one that is on the map," she said.
Froiland chose the Midwest because she has relatives in Minnesota, and although she has relatives in California, she'd already visited there. Besides, Kansas provides a change from the mountainous landscape of her home country.
"It's kind of different from Norway because it's so flat," she said.
Although her high school in Norway is about twice the size of Eudora High School, this senior has gone to a school with four students in her class.
"I've always been going to small schools," Froiland said.
The experiences of living in a small town aren't the only experiences that have come in handy for the exchange student. Froiland, who sings in the choir at Eudora High School, sang in a gospel choir in Norway.
"English songs are popular in Norway," she said. "It's mostly faster songs. They're a lot of fun to sing."
In Norway, singing and other extracurricular activities aren't part of school life as they are in the United States.
"School is just math and science (and the like)," Froiland said.
After students get home from school about 3 p.m. they do homework and then head out to organizations like sports clubs and musical groups.
For the choir at Eudora High School Froiland is getting a chance to play teacher by instructing her peers on pronunciations of a traditional Norwegian Christmas carol they will perform for the holiday season.
"They're doing very good," she said.
Her extracurricular activities at home include seven years spent playing soccer and three years spent playing handball, a game Froiland describes as being something between basketball and soccer.
"It's very different, but it's probably one of the most common sports.
Froiland, who will be a basketball manager, isn't too sad about not having a soccer team at her new high school.
"It would be fun, but I haven't played soccer for three years," she said.
On the other hand, she's been learning English for eight years.
"I've been doing it for quite a long time," she said. "It's just easier when you get into the system."
But living and learning with English speakers mean some changes for her name. At home, she would go by her first and middle names, as is tradition. Moreover, Anne would be pronounced "Ah-nuh."
"It's easier to go by Anne here," she said.
She can also take some liberty with her last name, which should be spelled Frd. Since English doesn't have a character for the sound, she switches between spelling her last name Froiland and Froyland.
Probably the most common question she gets about being from Norway comes from store clerks and is prompted by her credit card with a photo, which serves as a form of identification for many Norwegian teenagers before they can get a driver's license at 18.
"They're always commenting on that," she said.
But if people aren't familiar with Norway at all, that doesn't bother Froiland.
"A lot of people haven't heard of Norway," she said. "It's not like everyone in America knows where Norway is. It's not a big country. It's not a big deal if they haven't heard of it."
Coming from outside the United States has given Froiland plenty in common with other exchange students at the high school.
"We're pretty good friends," she said. "I think the American students are nice, too."
Froiland said she misses family and friends most, and uses an occasional phone call and plenty of letters and e-mail to keep in touch. Several friends have plans to visit her in Eudora during her time away from them.
"It makes friendships stronger because you see who your true friends are when you get back," she said.