Exchange Students Take on America: Helena Frestadius

Kara Specer

The class stands, places their right hand on their heart, and as if it was second nature, repeats the all too familiar words—”I pledge allegiance, to the flag…”; meanwhile, junior foreign exchange student from Sweden Helena Frestadius stares blankly at her peers, wondering what in the world they could be doing.

Frestadius’s confusion relays the simple fact that there is no pledge of allegiance in Sweden. Helena has experienced a wide array of confusions and differences since she has been here, from mac and cheese to football games to five minute passing periods. However, Frestadius’ many bouts of culture shock have not altered how she views Liberty as a whole.

“Everyone is so happy and polite. It’s a culture shock because if someone says they don’t feel well, people will say ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ and they care so much. In Sweden people care, but they wouldn’t say ‘I’m sorry’ for something like that. Nobody seems to think that they are better than anyone else. It’s been such a nice experience,” Frestadius said

The kindness at Liberty has made it easy for Frestadius to forget about Sweden. Doing gymnastics and homework has left her no time to even think about her hometown of Sumdsvall.

“I don’t really miss it. I hate to say that because my mom really misses me, but I always have something to do so I just don’t think about it. I think it’s a really good thing that I don’t have time to think about it. I’ve had a good amount of homework. I had never had math homework before. In Sweden, we only got math homework if we were behind,” Frestadius said,

The one thing Frestadius can miss is her family’s homemade meals and Swedish meatballs. Although, she has enjoyed the fine cuisine America has to offer such as snow cones, elephant ears, and root beer. Dr.Pepper? Not so much. The casual food she has tried seems to match the somewhat-casual wear she has seen around school.

“Europe dresses up much more. Here, everyone is so casual. Sweats are unusual in Sweden and people only change into them for P.E. I would never go to school in my P.E. clothes, ever. I think some people dress really nice here, but some people don’t seem to care. I don’t want to feel dressed up here, and I quite like that I can just wear whatever,” Frestadius said

Frestadius has already gone through a lot of firsts. The homecoming dance and game was a concept almost unheard of to Frestadius. The quick passing periods (Helena is used to 10-20 minutes between classes) were incomprehensible. But ultimately, the welcoming attitude Liberty has shown has struck Frestadius the most. Well done, Liberty.