"Taking Norwegian at UW has changed my life forever — I studied abroad in Norway, where I met my husband (who is Norwegian). I plan to travel to Norway with my husband as often as we can afford, because I am now a part of a bilingual and multicultural family — I truly love it."
Major(s) and Certificate(s)
B.S. Human Development and Family Studies, Certificate in Scandinavian Studies, Certificate in Art
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?
Since graduating from UW, I moved to Norway for one year for a year-long course in Norwegian Language and Culture. After that, I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina where I am enrolled in an MS/PhD program in Human Development and Family Studies.
What motivated you to study this/these languages?
First, I wanted to take advantage of UW’s wide variety of language options, UW provides a unique opportunity in this area. Second, I wanted to take a language that was spoken by my ancestors in hopes of potentially traveling back to their home country/region. I am 1/4 Norwegian and I wanted to learn more about my ethnic background.
How have these languages enriched your life?
Taking Norwegian at UW has changed my life forever — I studied abroad in Norway, where I met my husband (who is Norwegian). I have used my Norwegian language skills to meet new friends from both Norway and America. I have been fortunate enough to make connections with individuals I meet who also have connections with
Scandinavia. I plan to travel to Norway with my husband as often as we can afford, because I am now a part of a bilingual and multicultural family — I truly love it.
What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?
They were so much more fun and a nice break from my other classes. I remember starting off my day going to a statistics class and then taking an active “break” with Norwegian. I also felt that since I was learning a language that felt close to my ethnic identity, I was in a way learning more about myself.
How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?
I studied abroad in Bø i Telemark, Norway. It was a small town, but there were many opportunities to have fun and meet other international students just like me. Like I mentioned, I met my husband studying abroad, so my experience might be a bit different than others, but I can confidently say that studying abroad was notably one of the most life-changing events I have ever experienced.
On the home front, I participated in weekly language table events on campus with fellow Scandinavian language students. I really liked these because it was a more fun and relaxing way of learning a language — I was able to just take one hour to have something to eat and drink and talk with my Norwegian language friends.
My second time around in Norway, I studied at the same university as I did when I studied abroad. When I went back, I had the confidence to become more engaged with the community. I was a research assistant for a professor, I worked as a Zumba instructor for an elderly fitness group, and I volunteered for the Norwegian Red Cross. I found that I learned double the amount of Norwegian when I become engaged with the community.
How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?
I have continued to attend the Norwegian language table whenever I am back in Madison (about twice a year). Like I mentioned, I have formed intercontinental friendships that exist mainly through social media, but when I return to Norway, I have places to stay 🙂 I watch Norwegian reality TV in my free-time, all of my social media accounts are in Norwegian language setting, I have adopted Norwegian Christmas traditions, I listen to Norwegian music etc. I am also a member of Sons of Norway in my hometown (a Norwegian settlement in southwest WI).
What advice do you have for current language students?
DON’T QUIT. Find the things you like about the language class you are taking and just run with it. When I would have to do homework for class, I would just think “Just hang on, each paper is getting me closer to seeing those Fjords.” And people always say it, but STUDY ABROAD. If you are worried about financials, the program that I attended in Norway was one of the cheapest ones offered at UW, and I ended up only spending slightly more than my living expenses for a semester at UW (the cost of school is much lower in Norway).
What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?
Ut på tur, aldri sur (Translation: “Out on a walk, never upset”)