Foreign exchange student explores culture, becomes part of host family

Wide-open spaces, starry-night skies, and big city lights are synonymous with the Texas experience, and people from other countries usually have a lot of preconceived notions about what it is like to live here. Foreign exchange student, junior Nora Hultgren came to Bryan High at the beginning of the semester from Sweden and has enjoyed the experience so far.

“I’ve always wanted to experience the American Dream including, high school and everything else,” junior Nora Hultgren said. “But I’ve always really wanted to experience something different from what I’m normally used to back at home.” 

Nora’s host family welcomed her with open arms, especially her host mother, Jill Jones, who went through the lengthy process to be allowed to host her.

 “In order to become a legalized host family, we had to complete an application, interview, background check, and a home assessment,” Jones said. “We were given the opportunity to pick an exchange student but were very limited on the information we were given until we made a decision. Once we chose Nora, they provided us with additional information, her photo, and a short video of why she wanted to become an exchange student. We felt this would be a wonderful experience for our 9 year old daughter. She was so excited to get a ‘big sister’ and learn about another culture.” 

Nora is appreciative to have a family who will take care of her and help her become acclimated to American culture and traditions. 

 “My host family is actually the perfect match,” Nora said. “We get along and they care for me like if I was their own, which is very much appreciated since I am still getting used to how things work here.” 

Jones knows that she and her family have a responsibility to educate Nora on the local, state and country cultures. 

“We want her to experience as much as possible while she is here, everything from an Aggie football game to taking her hunting and to Santa’s Wonderland,” Jones said. “We started a ‘Nora Bucket List’ and I add to it as things come to mind. I want her to grow and learn more about herself throughout this time and make memories that will last a lifetime. She has already become part of our family and has a piece of our hearts for life.” 

Nora’s school credits do not transfer over into her credits back in Sweden; even after doing a year’s worth of school work. 

“Not getting any credit for any schoolwork that I do is actually kind of sad, putting in work and effort into something that does not ‘matter’ for me whatsoever is really frustrating,” Nora said. “But that also makes me able to take more ‘fun’ classes without having to think about my score or anything.”

Nora is enjoying her junior year and she has a very positive outlook on the rest of her time here from even the small things like attending her first pep rally.

 “I really enjoy the school spirit and how excited everyone gets for football games and pep rallies,” Nora said.“My first ever American football game was so fun, I loved it so much,” “Just seeing students actively participating in school extracurricular activities really shows how committed this school is to its spirit.” 

Nora is also participating in school activities and she has made new friends through the experiences.

I just started tennis, and I love it,” Nora said.“It’s going well, I at least hit the ball, sometimes. Through tennis I met this girl Mariana. We have become friends and I really like her, she is such a good, genuine person.”

 Not only has Nora become inspired by the school spirit she’s seen, but she has also noticed how welcoming the community in Texas is, even in these high temperatures which she is still getting accustomed to. 

“I dislike the heat,” Nora said. “But I can tell that the community here is really close knit and I enjoy that everyone is super friendly and welcoming, which is giving me an extremely positive outlook on the remainder of my stay here in Texas.”