Droenen swims across the pond
March 27, 2015
6,590 miles, a few planes, and a new life for Katie Droenen, a senior. Droenen, who also goes by her Norwegian name of Kjersti, is an Norwegian exhange student.
Droenen led a normal life back home in Harstad, Norway. She grew up in a house with her mother, father, and three sisters. She went to school and did what most American teenagers do, like watch a couple episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, taking silly selfies, and liking friends’ posts on Instagram.
However, unlike most teenagers, Droenen was given the opportunity to travel half a world away to stay in a new country for a year. “I didn’t really know I was going to do foreign exchange, but I just wanted to go because my sister did,” said Droenen.
After many vaccinations, doctors visits, and meeting academic requirements, Droenen was given the green light to travel to the United States.
Equipped with a strong knowledge of the English language and culture, Droenen knew that she was ready. She signed up to do a foreign exchange trip through the Norwegian trip company, Explorius and continued in the United States with Council for Educational Travel, USA, or CETUSA for short.
After multiple flights, Droenen arrived in Omaha, Nebraska and met her host family, whom she had previously only Skyped with before.
Lisa and John Anderson had immediately welcomed Droenen in as if she was one of their biological children. The Andersons’ had already had both their children had already gone through high school. This being said, it would be easy for them to help Droenen to do the same.
While in Norway, Droenen had never participated in a lot of sports.
“I did soccer for one year back home, but there were no school sports so it was a lot different,” she said. “There wasn’t much room for school spirit. The only people who would show up to the games were the parents of the players!” Droenen said.
However, Droenen has taken a liking to swimming. This year, she joined the swim team and began swimming under the instruction of coaches Shawn Froemming and Lukas Meyer, and Kelsea Kult.
“When I first got here, I could barely keep myself from drowning. I barely knew how to swim when I first got here. I couldn’t do the crawl or the freestyle so I had to learn,” Droenen said.
Droenen’s devotion to swimming meant a commitment to attending practice every day after day after school, and three days a week before school. She’s enjoying herself in the American sports circuit so much that she plans to play for the girls’ tennis team in the spring.
Her commitment ultimately paid off. Katie’s best times included 1:14 on the 100 Freestyle and 52.5 for the 50 Freestyle.
After graduation, Droenen plans on returning to Norway to complete her last year of high school (she is considered a senior in the American system, but still has one more year left in the Norwegian schooling system). After high school, Droenen plans on taking advantage of Norway’s free postsecondary educational system, and then eventually plans on joining the Army.
Although her plans may include returning to her home country, Droenen is in no rush to do so.
“America’s been great. I love it. And I really don’t want to go home!”, Droenen said with a laugh.