Ida Holde Bjorkelund adapts to life in America


Photo by Julia Bennett

Girls varsity gymnastics team huddles up before a meet against White Bear Lake on Jan. 2. They are hoping for another state title this season.

Julia Bennett, Business Editor

Ida Holde Bjorkelund is a foreign exchange student from Norway joining the district for her senior year. She has been welcomed in by many, including girls on the varsity gymnastics team. She is meeting new people and enjoying new experiences in the United States. She is so excited to continue her journey here for the rest of the school year.

Bjorkelund filled out a lengthy application process to become a foreign exchange student and was thrilled when she discovered she would have the opportunity to be here for the year. While there have been ways Bjorkelund has had to adapt to America, she is doing so with the help of new friends and teammates she has met along the way.

Ida has been doing gymnastics since she was younger back in Norway. When she arrived at school, she was encouraged to try out for the varsity gymnastics team. However, the sport is slightly different than she is familiar with back home.

“The practices and the meets are less intense and are way more fun,” Bjorkelund said.

Joining a new team anywhere, especially in a new country, is extremely challenging. So far, Ida is doing great on the team and has made so many new friends that can not imagine this year without her.

“Ida has been the perfect addition to our team. She is always working hard and smiling and wants the best for everyone. We are all so lucky to have her here this year and I also think it helps her to enhance her experience here in America,” junior Emily Gray added.

Being on the team has opened up the possibility for so many new friendships for Ida. All 21 of the girls on the gymnastics team are super close and think of each other like family.

“As cheesy as it sounds, our team is super close and we treat each other like family, she’s a wonderful addition,” senior captain Sami Chang said.

Ida has been the perfect addition to our team. She is always working hard and smiling and wants the best for everyone. We are all so lucky to have her here this year and I also think it helps her to enhance her experience here in America.”

— Emily Gray

The girls on her team have enjoyed adapting her to the American culture. However, one big difference that does pose as a challenge for Ida is school. Many aspects are different than her education was in Norway.

“It’s hard to succeed not knowing what to expect and learning a different way your whole life. The school system is the biggest change to her daily life,” Bjorkelund said.

Teammates have exposed Ida to music and movies she had never heard of. There are also many fast food places and restaurants that were foreign to her just a few months ago.

“A lot of us girls have shown her High School Musical and Hannah Montana, the classics. I’ve taken her to a few football games which were super fun,” Chang explained.

Most of the girls on the gymnastics team have been training together for a long time. It is fairly uncommon for a senior to join in and have to get to know girls that have been good friends for years. The girls on the varsity gymnastics team this year however, were beyond excited.

“The only hard part is that she will be leaving to go back to Norway this summer,” Gray added. “That’s going to be very sad because now that she has been here, it will be weird without her here.”

Outside of gymnastics, Ida is able to learn what it is like to be a teenage girl in America. Students from the United States are also embracing the chance to learn about a new culture.

“It’s so cool to learn about Ida and Norway. She always has something new to share or some interesting fact about Norway. I love learning about other places besides the US. I love getting to know her,” Chang said.

Foreign exchange students such as Ida can have such a positive impact on students in our schools. Being able to get to know other people from around the world and understand their culture is such a special and unique experience our students have the opportunity to do.

“As a team we have really introduced her to a lot of new people and I think she’s really enjoying high school at Stillwater,” Gray explained.