The Life of a Foreign Exchange Student

Louise Mortensen is not a normal American high school student. She is a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Ikast, Denmark. Mortensen said, “Speaking English was weird in the beginning of the school year, but now it is natural.” She has said that it is weird to speak in Danish, her first language. “I started dreaming in English after two to three weeks of being in America. It was really weird.” When Mortensen first arrived in Alaska, she signed up for gymnastics. “I really enjoyed gymnastics even though it was a lot of working out and conditioning. “It was my first time doing gymnastics and I met my best Alaskan friend on the team. “I would totally be on the team next year if I was in Alaska.” “My host family is simply amazing. I have two younger host brothers, ages 9 and 11, and I really love them. “I really feel like a part of the family and they’ve been there for me.” “In my spare time, I spend time with my host family, where we do different stuff. Also on the weekend I hang out with Makayla Clark, a sophomore. We watch movies or go shopping.” “In the beginning [of the school year] I was really worried about lunch. I was thinking I would end up as one of those people sitting in the bathroom like in the movies, but I have found a really great table and I laugh at lunch every day.” The best thing about being a foreign exchange student is “that the people have been so open and they think it is cool that they have exchange student in Alaska,” said Mortensen. Also, one of the good things about being a foreign exchange student is the things she has seen. “I’m really excited about graduation. It is going to be really big and different. I was super excited when I got my cap and gown. I think it is really great that Dimond High School gives all exchange students a chance to experience graduation because we will remember it forever.” In American high school “I am going to really miss spirit weeks and just all the spirit around the sports and the school and all the plays, games and so on.” “American high school has been totally crazy. There are really no words to describe it, but I wish I could come back next year.” “I will miss a lot of things, but [I will mostly miss] the great friends I’ve made, my host family and just Alaska being Alaska.” “I miss my friends and my family from Denmark a lot. I Skype them once or twice a month. I also miss biking to school a lot.” “Going back to Denmark is going to be crazy,” said Mortensen. “It is also going to be fun, but I have a fifty-fifty feeling [about going home] because I’m really going to miss everything here.” “Next year I will be going to an international school,” which is where most exchange students go when they come back to Denmark. “I chose to go to the international school because I want to continue with an English education.”