Norwegian students visit WSU

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Oksana Carlier/Winonan

Students from Norway visited Winona State University as part of a school trip last week.

The students stopped at Winona State during their three-week long trip around the United States put on by their respective Folk school, said the director of outdoor education and recreation, Eric Barnard.

During their four days in Winona, the students sat in on classes, skated on Lake Winona, took pictures at Garvin Heights, shopped in La Crosse, toured the Downtown area, scouted out bald eagles and spent time with their host families, Barnard said.

The exchange between the Folk school and Winona State has been going on for a few years now, with the connection deepening to a friendship between the two schools, Barnard said.

Yogesh Grover, the global studies department chairperson, said that the students like the area because it is so beautiful and they “keep coming back because we keep welcoming them.”

Furthermore, Barnard said Folk schools in Norway are focused on different things from Liberal Arts to Backpacking.

“Folk schools are basically a gap year school,” he said. Students attend the school between high school and college.

The government largely funds the Folk schools and students go on trips to other countries during their time at the schools.

The Folk schools tailor the trip so that each stop emphasizes a specific trait. Barnard said that the students try to learn about the culture in the United States.

When asked about the differences between Norway and the United States, Inger-Lise Westeng, one of the Norwegian students, said, “I know that the people in grocery stores and clothing stores are much more helpful.”

Another of the students, Veronica Gangstø, agreed that the customer service was much better. She added that the breakfast is much different, as they have bread with cheese and healthy cereal in Norway.

Westeng said that the food was much sweeter and greasier and the prices are much cheaper in the United States.

“We love America,” Westeng, who was wearing a sweater with an American flag on it that she had purchased in Norway, said.

The two students explained that the whole school also went to Israel in October. The United States trip was one of a few other choices that included Africa and Australia.

“It’s been a good kind of partnership between the university and their Folk school,” said Barnard, who got involved with the program last year. Barnard has family from Norway, giving him a connection with the students.

Most of the host families also have connections to Norway and a few have even visited the Folk school.

Winona is the only stop where the students stay with host families rather than a hotel or similar lodging.

Contact Oksana at [email protected]