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Harald Fredrikson

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Harlad Fredrikson was born in Ostersund, Sweden in 1997. In 2015, he was able to spend a year studying at an American high school in Olivia, Minnesota. He hopes to return to the United States for college.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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My name is Harald Fredrikson. I came to America in 2015 as a foreign exchange student from Östersund, Sweden. During my time in the United States, I lived in Olivia, Minnesota with the Skeie family and became good friends with Breckan through school and football. I attended BOLD high school, where I was involved in several activities. I stayed in Minnesota until the end of the school year, heading back to Östersund in June of 2016. Although the two countries were quite different, my stay in the United States was a life-changing experience that I’ll never forget.

There was never a question of what country I wanted to visit during my exchange year. Studying in America had always been a dream of mine. I had always been fascinated by America's culture and its people, so I wanted to experience it for myself. What better way to do so than to attend an American high school? I know many of the fellow exchange students I was traveling with were really nervous when they came over, but I had been waiting for this moment for years, and I couldn’t wait.

There were a few similarities between Minnesota and Sweden, such as the Swedish-Norwegian culture I experienced in my home and some of the food we ate for example during Christmas, but mostly, I had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle. One of the hardest things for me was just how structured and strict the American high schools were. For example, in Sweden, I could mostly go home and do my homework whenever I pleased, but in America I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without asking permission first. Homecoming, sports, and other activities within the school were also new to me. In Sweden, there aren’t any traditions really associated with school. Activities such as music and sports are separate from school in Sweden. It was an awesome experience playing high school sports while the whole community came to watch us. Those are some of my favorite memories.

With only 2,500 people, I was pleased with the small town feel Olivia had. The population of where I grew up in Östersund is about 50,000. I feel I got to know more people in a short period of time then if I ended up in maybe a bigger city. I completely fell in love with the town of Olivia and the feeling of community it brought me. Towards the end of my stay, I couldn’t leave the house without seeing someone I knew. Although America was very different from Sweden, it is experiences like these that make me want to live there some day.

When it came time to return home, it was more difficult to leave America than it was Sweden. Of course, I missed my family and friends, but I loved my experience in America. My dream is to come back to live in the United States and attend college. I think about my time in America today, and there’s nothing I don’t miss. I cannot wait to go back.