Axel Persson is happy to be in Redwood Falls.

The exchange student from southern Sweden arrived in America in early August and spent a few days in New York before seeing Redwood Falls for the very first time.

Coming from a city of 40,000, Redwood Falls was a different kind of setting for Persson.

“It’s a nice town,” Persson said. “It really doesn’t feel that small to me.”

Persson is staying with the Alan and Laura Olson family during his visit to Redwood Falls. 

Persson, enrolled as a senior at Redwood Valley High School, said because he knew this year would not count toward his own high-school requirements, he wanted to try some classes that he would not have the opportunity to experience in a Swedish classroom.

So, in addition to traditional classes such as English, history and math, Persson is also enrolled in a cooking class, strength and conditioning as well as video production.

“School here has a lot more options,” said Persson, adding back in Sweden his classes are much more traditional and there are more of them during the year.

In Sweden, Persson has gained his understanding of the American way of life through movies and music, but he said he wanted to see it for himself to discover what it is really like.

Having studied English for most of his life, Persson added he wanted to improve his English speaking skills. He added while learning the grammar in school has been a great benefit the time he has spent watching movies and playing video games that are in English has been a big help, too.

Yet, he admitted, there is still an adjustment to be made in speaking the language all of the time, and there are little differences between the way he learned some things and the way people talk in his home away from home.

He is also still learning some of the different expressions, as well as the way some of the concepts are taught in English which are different than in Sweden.

As one who is interested in getting to know as much of the culture as is possible during his time in the U.S., Persson said he wants to try as many new things as he can.

One of those new things is playing football. Persson said, in order to be a little more prepared for a sport that is new to him, he spent about a month learning it in Sweden before he traveled to America. He has seen some time on the playing field, and this past Friday was able to get his first tackle on defense.

While football is something Persson said he is enjoying, he is really looking forward to playing hockey this winter.

“I have played hockey all of my life,” said Persson. “In Sweden you play one sport year round.”

Sports participation takes place outside of school, explained Persson, who said he fully intends to keep playing hockey long after he graduates from school.

Knowing that he will not graduate with his classmates back in Sweden is not something that really bothers Persson, as he has changed schools in the past and was able to adapt.

So, when he returns for his final year of high school, Persson said he will just adapt again to what will be a different group of classmates.

“The good thing is that I will be home to see my friends graduate, and then they will get to see me graduate the next year,” Persson said.

The son of Lenny and Jenny Persson said he is also interested in following American politics while he is in the United States. He said the news in Sweden presents one side of the story, but he wants to better understand it by being here and watching all that is happening.

Persson said he is having a good time in Redwood Falls and is looking forward to gaining more experiences and learning about a new culture over the next few months.