Spotlight on Winifred

Mikkel Gisleberg goes up for a shot as part of the Roy-Winifred Outlaws.

Photo courtesy of Winifred Public Schools

Mikkel Gisleberg takes a break from practice last fall. The Norwegian foreign exchange student has enjoyed trying “American football” in Winifred.

Photo courtesy of Winifred Public Schools

A love of new experiences has taken Norway native Mikkel Gisleberg across borders, and now it’s landed him in Winifred, Montana, for his junior year of high school.

Mikkel has always wanted to explore, and the motivation has taken him to Spain and Florida for language abroad courses.

“I want to go out and explore what it’s like to live in another country, see the different cultures, meet new people,” he said.

Those past experiences gave him the courage to try a year abroad.

“With the program I did, I could end up anywhere,” he said. “I was pretty surprised when I ended up here, but it turned out well.”

For Mikkel, one benefit of Winifred was its enrollment numbers.

“It’s such a small school, so I was able to participate in sports,” he said.

Mikkel showed up on the roster for basketball and “American football.” Of course, small-town sports generate some benefits of their own. Because of sports, he said, teachers often leave time for students to do assignments during class.

“I enjoy the fact that we don’t have a lot of homework,” he said. “In Norway, we have way more homework.”

There are still some things Mikkel misses, though. For one, Winifred is pretty rural.

“I kind of miss places with more stuff, like more stores and more people,” he said.

Once and a while, Mikkel also reminisces about the tastes of home.

“I’ve had fish twice here, and I used to have it every single week back home,” he said.

Mikkel is set to return to Norway two weeks after the school year ends, but he isn’t quite counting the days. He enjoys spending time with friends and his host family, and has at least one thing he wants to do before crossing back over the Atlantic.

“I like to experience the nature around us,” he said. “There’s some nice mountains and wildlife and everything, so I want to go on a trip like that.”

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