FOREST CITY | This year, there are three exchange students attending Forest City High School.
They are Astrid Bergman from Sweden, Lia Sardella from Albareto, Italy, and Henriette Winum from Norway.
They came through the AFS Intercultural Program and have been staying with Beth and Chris Howds and their family, the Redingers and the Sarasio Meyers, respectively.
Bergman said her family is “great, and there’s always something fun happening.”
Sardella said it took a while for her to adjust because there are a lot of differences between her and the Redingers, but she now feels like she is part of the family.
Winum didn’t have the same adjustment problem, saying she felt like part of the Sarasio Meyer family from the first day she came here.
“My experience here would not have been the same without them,” she said.
Each of them came in the beginning of August and will be leaving at the end of June.
This is Winum’s and Sardella’s first foreign exchange experience, but Bergman said she went on a summer exchange to Mexico, where she stayed there for three weeks and tried to learn as much of the Mexican culture as possible in the short time available, two years ago.
Bergman said her favorite part about Forest City was all the people here and learning from every person she meets. However, she isn’t keen on the lack of trash cans around town.
“It’s something I’m very used to, instead of having to fill my pockets with my trash," she said. "I inevitably forget it’s there until four months later."
Sardella said she likes the various weather the most, from sunny and warm days in summer to snow covering everything in the winter, and she was most excited about the snow.
“When I was a kid, I loved to play with snow,” she said. “I always dreamed to have a pile of snow taller than me, to be able to make a tunnel in it. And last week I did!”
Winum, on the other hand, was not as big a fan of the weather as Sardella, saying she didn’t like how the wind made the winter “crazy cold.”
Winum and Sardella have an overall positive impression of Forest City, with Winum saying it has “amazing people. Very flat and filled with corn, but still very pretty.”
Sardella said, “It’s a small city – that means it’s very easy to get to know people and be involved in many activities, but there are also all the disadvantages to be far away from bigger cities.”
Each of them said to say “yes” to everything new and be open for new possibilities.
“Try sports and activities you have not done before, go to a party even if you only know a few people, and everything else you want, because if you listen to your worries you are going to miss a lot,” Sardella said.
Winum said, “It’s better to try something and say that you did not like it than saying that you wish you tried it.”
“Come with as few expectations as possible,” Bergman said. “Be surprised instead of disappointed. Be open. Be open for new things, new people, new ways of looking at things, to the new culture.”