Dumb Questions Exchange Students Have Received


Kristi Nyhaug

Through countless TV-series and movies from the US, the rest of the world has garnered a better understanding and appreciation of American culture and how things work here. It was not until I became an exchange student that I realized how little Americans know about the rest of the world in return. Here are some questions I, and other exchange students here at Ridge, have been asked since we came here six months ago.


Do you have iPhones, cars, TV etc. in your country?

This is maybe the question I’ve been most dumbfounded by. Even third world countries have cars. We have all the same technology you have. We’re from another continent, not another planet.


Is Norwegian just English with an accent?

No, Norwegian is its own complex language; but both English and Norwegian are a part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. In fact, some English words originate from the Scandinavian Vikings, like sky, window, and steak. Norway has also provided the English language with words like skiing, fjords, and slalom.


Do you ride polar bears to school?

Although I am pretty sure this wasn’t a serious question (I hope), there aren’t any polar bears on the Norwegian mainland. The only place you can find polar bears on Norwegian territory is on Svalbard, an archipelago roughly 808 miles from the North Pole. They don’t ride polar bears there either.


Do you listen to the same music we do? Is it translated into your language?

Since most countries in the world are bilingual and start learning English early, we listen to the same music and watch the same things you do. Although, we do have music and TV-series from our own country in addition to that. It would be impressive if every artist knew every language in the world and recorded one version of each.


Do you celebrate 4th of July and Thanksgiving?

Do you celebrate 17th of May? When we receive these types of questions, we start to wonder if people actually know why they celebrate 4th of July, or if they really think other countries celebrate the day that the U.S. gained independence from Britain. However, I do think if you went in the streets in Norway and asked people why we celebrate 17th of May, some people wouldn’t be able to say that it is our Constitution day.


Is Norway near Europe?

Yes, very near. In fact, Norway is IN Europe.


Even though I sometimes feel kind of hopeless receiving these questions, I’ve gotten ten interesting questions for every dumb one. So don’t stop asking questions! Because that’s what exchange is all about – the exchange of cultures.