Hey! My name is Andrea, I am 18 years old, and I come from a small town in the northern part of Norway. On this blog I am going to write about all the adventures my exchange year has to offer here in Riverside. I will also share my experiences and thoughts on being an exchange student in the US!
The weekend before graduation and my last week of American high school..
Before driving to the river, I went to my first ever powderpuff football game! The boys and the girls switch roles, so the girls play football and the boys are cheerleaders (which was quite hilarious).
And the road trip began.. Chad wanted to watch a movie called “42” and would not let it go (for months), but we ended up watching Finding Nemo.
I think we got there around 1 am or sometime around that? Anyways, here’s some photos from the weekend.
It was a really great weekend, even though I was melting in the heat (as usual). I also went on my first (and second) river float, where we put on our life wests as diapers and just floated with the stream – surprisingly fun hahah! And I also had my last s’more.. (but at least I didn’t get sunburnt).
On the way back we stopped at a museum (that I can’t remember the name of right now) for Memorial Day.
So many things have happened since the last time I wrote, one of the most memorable being my first visit to Disneyland and California Adventure with two of my exchange friends – Oda from Norway and Christian from Denmark!
We had literally been planning this trip for 6 months, and we finally found a weekend everyone could go – so I woke up around 5 and got picked up by Christian and his host dad about an hour later. The annoying thing is that we all live quite far away from each other, so figuring out the logistics took us a while lol, but we did it!! We drove to Oda’s house and left our bags there cause we were spending the night, and her host mom drove us to the park(s). We had to wait soooo long in traffic, literally right outside where we were going… but we made it right when they opened!
So here’s some Disney spam with two of my favorites
So yeah, we spent 15 (!!!) hours at Disneyland and California Adventure, and both me and Christian passed out in the car on our way back to Oda’s house. We were planning on watching Eurovision, but we were all too tired hahah.
I’m gonna share an unpopular opinion – Disneyland is kind of overrated. I can see why people love it so much, but I expected more from the rides and the park itself actually. It was totally worth the money, but I think California Adventure is a better park when it comes to the rides and everything, Disneyland rides are more kid friendly hahah. But I still had an awesome time with these two amazing people (and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon!)
SPRING BREAK!!! Something I’d only heard about on tv and in movies (like everything else I’ve experienced here). It was quite special – and the reason being a visit from home.
My dad and Helen came to visit us for the week, and as usual, it was almost fully scheduled. When we picked them up at the airport I was literally jumping I was so excited. They were mostly nervous, as they were renting a car and had to deal with LA traffic! We only came close to dying once, so it was pretty successful if you ask me haha!
The first day was the calmest one – we had a barbeque and just chilled at home.
DAY 2 – Sunday
Sunday we started the day going to church. Being non religious, their church is always a unique experience, so that was cool to show my Norwegian family.
After church we headed to have lunch at the Olive Garden where Hal and Cindy had their first date – because it was Cindy’s birthday! My Norwegian family got to meet some of my American family, it was great.
Before heading to the Ducks-Rangers game (hockey ofc) we went to kill some time at Downtown Disney!
And then it was time for the hockey game!!
We (Ducks) won!! My dad rooted for the Rangers because they have the best Norwegian hockey player – Zuccarello. I went there in my friends jersey, and left with my own!! (Tusen takk pappa <3) I had to get one of the Swedish players, so I ended up with Rakell as he his name was actually short enough to fit a woman’s jersey haha – and the moment I pulled the jersey over my head, Rakell got an assist (it was meant to be).
DAY 3 – Monday
Monday is the day we went to San Diego, but first we had to have the essential breakfast – JuJu bar!
We drove the coast down to SD, and stopped at Stone Brewery for a tour.
After the brewery we had dinner at the best Pizza Place in San Diego (after my opinion) – The New Yorker, and my Norwegian family got my meet even more of my American family!
DAY 4 – Tuesday
We stayed at the Catamaran by the bayside, so we had the bay on our side and a 5 minute walk to the beach. Tuesday morning the Norwegians walked to the beach to have breakfast and to have a look around. When we got back to the hotel we went to lay on the beach with the Americans, and then me and my dad went to work out before dinner (I was dead after).
Sean and Kimmie picked us up in their boat to go to dinner – we made it maybe halfway before the boat ran out of gas. I swear I’m cursed when it comes to boats. Chad used a paddle to rotate us to the shore and Sean’s dad came to the rescue with gas hahah. At least we got a good story out of it! We made it to the restaurant just after dark.
DAY 4 – Wednesday
Wednesday we decided to sleep in and have breakfast at the hotel. We walked to the beach again and then to a fish taco place for lunch.
The Americans drove home, but we decided to spend the day in San Diego and be tourists. Hannah (Hal’s sister) guided us across the bridge and helped us with the ferry. So whilst we were waiting for the ferry to come we had ice cream from Cold Stone (not a hit for them haha), and then we took the ferry from Coronado Island over to the city side. I showed them the Unconditional Surrender (the kiss) statue, and we just walked around Seaport Village and then to Gaslamp to have lunch.
After a disappointing lunch we headed to the ferry and went back to Coronado. I convinced them to stay to see the sunset, so we got a coffee and sat down by the water.
After it got dark we drove back home – and we survived!!
DAY 5 – Thursday
Thursday is the day we went to Hollywood. We got up early, Hal showed us the way to the train station, and we took the train and the underground in to the city. We had breakfast at a place called Juice Crafters – acai bowls again! So good.
My dad really wanted to see the Hollywood Strip, so we walked for well over an hour to get there + a lunch stop, and it was literally just a street. He was so disappointed. We took a taxi back to where we got off the subway, bought Starline tours tickets, walked to a mall where we could get a good view of the Hollywood sign, took some photos, and spent the next hour on a tourist bus. That was a long sentence. Anyways, it was super cold on the roof of the bus, so my dad had to go down and sit! When the bus dropped us off we took the subway back to downtown LA before taking the train back home.
At this point we were starving, so I took them to my favorite restaurant – Yard House!
DAY 6 – Friday
Last day 😦 we wanted a more relaxed day, so we slept in and just waited for Alanna to come over before going to my American High School – Eleanor Roosevelt, and then Victoria Gardens to do some shopping.
They were quite impressed by basically everything at school, which is totally understandable for any non Americans! I literally had to walk around with a map my first week here.
I almost found my prom dress this day. I didn’t buy it – but I actually ended up with the same dress in a different color in the end, so I couldn’t really let it go! We spent a couple of hours at Victoria Gardens, had lunch at Yard House, again, and called it a day (almost). After a while back at the house we went out to get some groceries for the house, and of course, we had to get them to In-n-out!! Only the most Californian thing ever.
DAY 7 – Saturday
Saturday is the day that they left to go back to Norway. We said goodbye, and before 9 am they were out the door. It was bittersweet, as they could have stayed another week, but I knew that I’d see them again in around two months. And I didn’t really get time to think about it as I had to do a livestream for EF an hour later haha.
So after some gps trouble and a lot of stress, they made it to the airport and got home safe within the next day!
Best spring break, thank you for coming to visit me!!
I have now officially completed my “collection” of big American sports, finishing off with basketball – an LA Clippers game.
I have come to the conclusion that I like sports more than I’d like to admit – and particularly hockey. Hockey has quickly come to be one of my favorite sports (thanks Alanna), and I’ve never really watched it until this year. It all started with my first Anaheim Ducks game in January, after that I was kind of hooked. Now I basically know the whole team, have a jersey (Rakell!!) and find myself sitting down and watching games by myself (which I’m actually doing as I’m writing this.)
Within three weeks I went to a baseball game – the LA Dodgers, a basketball game – the LA Clippers, and 3(!!) hockey games – the Anaheim Ducks. The last hockey game being a playoff game – that’s crazy?!
I even got to take my dad and Helen to a game – Ducks v Rangers!! The NY Rangers have one of the only Norwegian players in the NHL – Mats Zuccarello, that’s the only reason they’re my dads favorite team haha.
The experience was something unique, the atmosphere was insane – all you could see was orange.
Baseball will never be a favorite, but it’s always more exciting watching a sport live.
We had a VIP tickets and a suite at the basketball game!! That’s a crazy for a first game if you ask me. Before it started we had dinner at a restaurant across from Staples Center, I had a veggie pizza and it was amazing (I mean it’s pizza so ofc).
So now I’ve been to all the big sports – American football (San Diego Chargers – now LA Chargers), soccer (LA Galaxy), hockey (Anaheim Ducks), baseball (LA Dodgers and Angels), and basketball (LA Clippers).
I feel like prom is the most American thing ever, so how could I not go?
Before coming to America, I imagined prom to be something students looked forward to for years – something they spent a lot of time and money on. And that is 100% true. But I also imagined it being in the school gym, decorated by the students. That was not the case with my schools prom..
My school doesn’t hold back on anything, they always go all out. This year, prom was held at the Santa Anita Race Track, which is kind of an odd place to hold a prom if you ask me (but they made it work haha). I didn’t really know what to expect, but I know that I too spent a lot of time and money getting ready – so I was just hoping it would be worth it – and spoiler alert, it was!
I found my dress one week before prom, which was kind of stressful. Other girls had found their dresses months in advance, so the selection had drastically shrunk when I went to look.. during spring break I had found a burgundy dress at a store called Windsor (which is where basically everyone gets their dresses), but I didn’t buy it cause I believed I could find something better… I struggled to say the least. When I went last weekend with a couple of friends, I could only find one dress that actually fit me, and it wasn’t even a dress, it was a two piece. I wasn’t completely sold when I first tried it on, but in desperation I figured it would just have to work. That’s the dress I ended up going with, and I’m so happy I did! I worried it looked too much like a wedding dress, but I just told myself that it was pink, not white, and that others would probably go all out so I shouldn’t really worry.
We obviously had to get it hemmed, cause it was wayyyy to long for my short feet. And moments before going in and getting it hemmed, we went by a shoe shop an I ended up finding a new pair of shoes too!
On the day of prom, my American sister Alanna came over and I did her makeup before doing my own hair and makeup. (Winter formal all over again)
Around 5:30 we headed over to a park to take some pictures.
They called the one above the “pageant pose”, I called it the “American pose”. Same same but different if you ask me!
After our little photo shoot my American mama dropped me off at the house the limo was picking us up at. Riding to prom in style – with some incredible and gorgeous people!
When we got to the venue, we literally had to wait in line for AN HOUR – we arrived at 8 and got in at 9.. people were sitting down and taking their shoes off, and I was pretty darn close to doing it myself. Over 1100 people came, and when you have to check every purse and ID, it takes time..
They had these pink and white Cinderella carriages, so of course we had to go in one!
There was also tables outside where you could go and learn how to play poker and different card games – as well as get airbrush tattoos. Inside you had the dancefloor (should have been two), the snack tables, places you could sit down, the bar, and a room where you could take professional photos (which we also did). I actually didn’t really dance until like the last half hour, cause that’s when they started playing songs I actually knew. I was in the middle of the crowd, and Americans are crazy when they dance, you have all the different types of dancers (and the there’s me). But it was so much fun, I wish it would have lasted longer!
I kind of forgot to take photos after getting there, but I have the before photos (and the memories). So I’ll end off with this one, which kind of makes me laugh.
Overall prom did not disappoint, and I’m so happy that I went. It was worth every penny – so now I can say that I went to an American prom, and that’s kinda cool if you ask me.
A night to remember, with people I’ll never forget.
I have a lot of things to write about, but not a lot of time to actually sit down and write – so it’s now almost midnight, and I will try my best at remembering everything that’s happened whilst not falling asleep and dropping the phone on my face (fingers crossed).
OH! I’m also editing a video from this week, so if you don’t feel like reading this novel I’m about to write then you can keep an eye out for that (if I can get it done before my hair turns gray)
THE DAY MY AUNT ARRIVES!!! I had been counting down the days and annoying my friends about this for weeks – so I was pretty excited, as I hadn’t seen any family since last August (and also because my aunt is one of my favorite people).
Before heading to Orange County, which was where she would be landing, me and my host family drove to Whittier to have dinner, and to see some pledging thing (don’t remember what they called it) for Hal’s fraternity at my host parents’ college – Whittier College. It was actually quite interesting and pretty impressive to watch, they had been practicing what they were for a long time, and you could tell. Cindy also gave me a tour of the campus, which was smaller than I expected!
From there we went to pick up my aunt at the airport – I had Chad record our reunion (gonna be in the video!), but when I saw her it didn’t actually feel like it’d been that long, it’s odd to think that it’d been 6 months. I also noticed how rusty my Norwegian was and how much I struggled to organize my sentences, which my aunt actually commented on hahah! I was stumbling quite a bit, but the funny thing is that one of my friends told me that she could tell I’d been speaking Norwegian again, because my English had gotten worse! My brain was quite confused. 02/24 FRIDAY
As you can imagine, my aunt was pretty jet lagged from traveling almost 20 hours – so 5 am Friday morning, I was woken up by a lovely medley featuring Eminem, Party Rock Anthem, and a wide variety of different songs that she was DJing until I decided to get out of bed (not really a traditional alarm, but it was still fun hahah).
When school for me was over, I took my aunt to show her the campus and to meet some my teachers. I really enjoyed showing her my new normal, and I think/hope she liked it too!
After showing her my high school we went to the Tyler Mall to attempt to do some shopping – I ended up finding something, but my aunt couldn’t make up her mind on what she was looking for, so that wasn’t really successful. Eventually we went to have dinner at Yard House (one of my favorite restaurants), which I’d been looking forward to, but of course they didn’t have a table, so we ended up wandering around the mall looking for a place to eat – we eventually found this BBQ place (which is kind of ironic for a vegetarian) and had dinner there before we went home.
Now to the exciting part – looking for a place to stay in LAS VEGAS!! We decided that we wanted to do something special with my aunt since she was here + something for my 18th birthday, so Vegas is what we decided on (and I do not regret that choice, obviously)
We were up and ready before the sun, and started the day driving Troy to a baseball job he was trying out for, followed by breakfast at one of my favorite places in Riverside – JuJu Bar!! They serve fresh smoothies, juices, vitamin shots and THE best acai bowls (seriously, the best). I had my regular order – the tsunami bowl, my aunt had the same as me and Cindy had her twilight bowl. They’re always a success, I think I could have it for every meal.
Then, the road to Vegas. After breakfast both me and my aunt needed some caffeine – so of course we had to stop at Starbucks and get a coffee on the way!
I think it was around 1 pm we could start seeing the city pop up from the desert (and the massive ads were getting more frequent) – and our first stop, obviously, the Las Vegas sign!
We drove down the strip to the older part of the city to kill some time before checking in to our hotel, the Paris. Both me and my aunt were glued to the windows hahah.
After a couple of hours relaxing at our hotel we walked down the strip to have dinner at Hard Rock Cafe – and the strangest thing happened, I found out that several of my exchange friends were in Las Vegas too that weekend!?
We were all quite tired after eating, and that combined with being jet lagged was not a good combo for my aunt, so we went back to our hotel to rest before we were gonna head out again. Both my aunt and Cindy fell asleep, so I was just kinda sitting there waiting to go explore. Turns out laying down was the kiss of death for Cindy, so me and my aunt went out to watch the water show at the Bellagio (literally right across the street). It was amazing!! Exactly what you’d expect being in Vegas.
I was really tired that night, and the proof was in my phone – I actually don’t remember doing this, but when I woke up the next morning and unlocked my phone, I saw that the last thing I’d googled was Justin Trudeau (the Canadian prime minister) and Joe Biden (former vise president)…? I honestly don’t remember why or when, so I was quite confused to say the least (I think it’s hilarious though).
Sunday was the do-as-much-as-possible day, and I think we succeeded.
Both me and my aunt were kind of freaking out over the fact that they had a Carlos bakery, so obviously we had to try it + we had lunch at his restaurant.
We also did get some shopping in, and I got to buy some presents for my nephews and grandparents.
We figured we couldn’t go to Vegas without seeing a show – so we ended up choosing Mystere, a Cirque du Soleil show at Treasure Island.
So worth it!! I would definitely pay to see that again. I don’t understand how it’s possible to do what they do, and I love it.
Before the show we had dinner at Guy Fieri’s restaurant.
The first thing we did was go and get my new phone (finally!!!) – I’ve been having trouble since September, so getting a phone that I can basically live in has been amazing.
We had lunch at the Bellagio, and they had this beautiful display with tons of flowers inspired by the celebration of Chinese New Year.
Before going home, we decided that we were gonna go zoom lining in the old part of Las Vegas(!!). We probably stood in line for almost 2 hours, but oh my gosh was it worth it – it had gotten dark when it was our turn, so all the lights were turned on and the view from the top was amazing.
We were laying down (super man pose) and flew over the people walking the street below. Cindy didn’t go, so she filmed us as we passed her.
Last year for my 17th, my aunt took me to go in a wind tunnel (like skydiving), and this year we went zoom lining, so I see a tradition forming..
Seeing the city lights when leaving was quite spectacular.
My 18th birthday!!
When I got to school, 3 of my friends surprised me with donut holes and a poster that they had made with 18 envelopes that they’d filled with memories we have together + photos!! Couldn’t have gotten a better gift, thank you guys!
After school we drove to downtown LA to have dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Takami, and I fell in love with edamame beans, they were soooo good.
The restaurant was on a roof I believe, so we had a view over the city.
Celebrating my 18th in America was something really special that I’ll never forget.
Last day with my aunt..
The only thing she hadn’t really seen was the beach, so after school me and Cindy took her to my favorite, Laguna Beach, so she could see the sunset over the water. We made it just in time!
To end the night off we had dinner on the roof of Sky Loft – highly recommended!! The food was good, the company was better.
Up at 4 am to drive to John Wayne airport in Orange County. Goodbyes are always harder than I think they will be.
Thank you so much for visiting me, see you soon!!
It’s 2017, it’s february, and it’s time for an update.
January was eventful (like every other month since coming here), and it was also the month I created some of my favorite memories with some of my favorite people, and the month where my eyes and mind were opened to so many new ideas and realizations. Let’s look back and re-live the beginning of the end of my exchange year.
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I started off 2017 with a hockey game!! I had no idea I even liked hockey until I came over here, but it’s become one of my favorite sports to watch. The Anaheim Ducks are now “my” team (even though they don’t have any Norwegians).
Exchange students are the most amazing people in the world, and I got to spend a whole weekend in Boston surrounded by them. I dedicated my last post to the Student Ambassador Summit I attended in Boston with these 15 incredible exchange ambassadors (go read it and watch the video!)
Love you guys!
I hung out with Christian aka. one of my favorite Danes at the mall. We may or may not have planned to adopt an exchange puppy named Cali that we were gonna hand over to our IEC Sandi when we leave..
Me and my host family flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend a b’nai mitzvah for Hal’s fraternity brothers kids! We went directly from school to the airport – when we landed, Caitlin picked us up and drove us to our hotel.
Friday we had the day to explore Minneapolis before going to temple and the Shabbat dinner – so of course we went to the mall of America! They had like a tiny amusement park inside in the middle of the mall, so we had to try a couple of the rides – it ended up being the spongebob and Simpsons ride, which were surprisingly fun!
Saturday we went to temple again around 9 am – the service lasted for about 3 hours. It was a bit lengthy, but at the same time it was interesting to get a peek into a new religion and be a part of some typical traditions within Judaism. Definitely something I’ll remember! (even though most of it was in Hebrew)
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We had some spare time before the twins’ party, so I decided to walk about the mall that was attached to our hotel to look around and get a coffee. Not a very good idea.. I walked back to the hotel, went to get in the elevator to get to our room, and my keycard wasn’t working. I was just standing in there with my card getting denied over and over, until finally a family we knew came in and helped me get to our floor. But then I remembered that I couldn’t actually get into the room without a working card – and of course everyone was out and about, so again, I was standing there just knocking on the door for 5 minutes hoping someone would be in.. Eventually, after a lot of SOS texts, Troy came to the rescue with a card that was actually working! (note to self: don’t keep hotel cards close to magnets, they will demagnetize)
I didn’t know what to expect for the b’nai mitzvah party, but at the same time it was exactly what I expected… If that makes sense.. The kids and adults had separate tables and food – I was placed at the young adults table with some really nice people + I got served vegetarian dishes!
I don’t think I’ll ever attend something like this again, and I still can’t believe that I have the opportunity to actually do these things. I know that a lot of exchange students don’t get the chance to travel and see as much as what I have, so I am extremely appreciative and grateful for all the adventures I’ve been a part of so far and will be before I leave.
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Before we left on Sunday, Caitlin showed us her university (University of Minnesota) and the area around.
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We ate at this awesome burger place, and the shakes were AMAZING!
(She almost convinced me to move and go to school there)
I went with my host mom Cindy to spend the day in downtown Riverside, and it also happened to be Chinese New Year – which meant that we stumbled upon the Lunar festival! I had funnel cake for the first time, and they were selling these potatoswirls on a stick that I really wanted to try, but neither of us had cash so we had to pass on that.. Next time I will definitely buy one!
Hafway through February now, which means my 18th birthday is sneaking up and is gonna be here before I know it (approximately a week and a half) and I don’t know how to feel about it hahah. But then again, MY AUNT IS COMING TO VISIT ME!! And she’s gonna be here for my birthday! I haven’t seen her since August, so I’m super excited – and the week she leaves, I leave for Puerto Rico, so I have a lot to look forward to the next couple of weeks.