When Jan Ortman arrived in Redwood Falls his first impression reflected the difference between where he calls home and where he is going to be living for the next nine months.
“There are a lot of corn fields here,” said Ortman.
Ortman, who hails from Lidköping, Sweden and prefers to be called “Jay,” is one of the foreign exchange students who is going to be getting an American education as a student in the Redwood Area School District.
Hailing from a city of 27,000 people in southwest Sweden, Ortman is adjusting to smaller town life in Redwood Falls.
Ortman, who arrived in the United States July 24 spent 10 days in Boston at a culture and language camp. There he worked to improve his English speaking skills. He also learned to play football and got to see some of the nation’s historic city.
Ortman flew into Sioux Falls, S.D. where he met his host family, Pat and Nancy Hansen, and then met some of the extended family at a reunion held in South Dakota.
Ortman said he knew he was going to be coming to Minnesota and said the climate here is similar to his hometown.
While in Redwood Falls the 18-year-old Ortman is enrolled at RVHS where he is taking classes, such as woodworking, art, English, strength and conditioning and algebra. While Ortman said it is too early to determine how much easier or harder school is in America, he did say there is more homework here than he had in Sweden.
“I have a great opportunity here to learn to speak English better,” said Ortman, who added much of a university education in Sweden is now offered using English.
Outside of school Ortman is currently playing football, and is a left guard and linebacker. Ortman said he had never played football before he arrived in America. Later in the year he also plans to play hockey and golf.
There are no sports teams connected with his school in Sweden, and the one sport he has played – golf – is something he has done on his own for the past few years.
“Being involved in sports is going to be a different experience,” he said, adding he is enjoying it so far.
The son of Jonas and Kerstin Ortman said he is going to be in Redwood Falls until some time in June.
When he returns to Sweden he still has one year of school left to finish before he would graduate.
While in the United States, Ortman said he hopes to do some traveling and to see as much of the United States as he can.
Page 2 of 2 - Ortman is not the first in his family to be a foreign exchange student, as his sister visited Lexington, Ky.
“She was a big help to me,” Ortman said, as he said she helped prepare him for his time away from home.
Ortman said things have been going well so far, and he is looking forward to learning more about the United States and the people he meets.