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Home> Profiles > Jens



Majors and Year of Graduation: Soil Sciences & Scandinavian Studies; 2013.

About Jens...

I feel passionate about: Doing whatever I can to keep learning and enhancing my cultural knowledge.

Languages I have taken at UW-Madison: Norwegian

Why Norwegian? My father has 100% Norwegian ancestry, and my mother's grandfather immigrated from Norway as well, so needless to say I have a vested interest in my own heritage. Speaking the language will allow me to continue to find ancestral connections in Norway and keep in touch with other relatives.          

Did you study a language before college? Which languages? How did that study impact your decision to take a language at UW-Madison? I took three years of Spanish in high school, and I started with Norwegian when I was 9. I began attending our 5th District Sons of Norway Youth Heritage Camp, and  I also traveled to Norway with my family, when I was 11 and 13, to visit friends and relatives. 

What has studying that language meant to you? How has it enriched your life, whether personally, academically, or professionally? Studying Norwegian has given me another way to hold onto my heritage and have a mutual connection with my ancestors. I feel that studying about their culture has helped make me a more well rounded person and gives me an insight into other culture's beliefs and values. It has also allowed me to take an internship position in Norway working at a turfgrass research facility for the summer.  

How do your UW-Madison language classes differ from other classes you have taken? My language classes require me to use my own thought and intuition in learning about topics instead of just hearing what the professor believes and spitting it back out to them on the exams. These classes let you read a text, make your own interpretations and inferences, then the professor gives you their thoughts on the text. It really allows you to take all of your background knowledge and make an informed interpretation instead of being told what it "should" mean. As for the language itself it just opens you up to a completely different world and allows you to view the world through another lens. 

What opportunities do you have to use your language outside of the classroom? My dad's mother still speaks Norwegian, so when I go home I am able to practice and have conversations with her. I also had the opportunity to teach an introductory Norwegian language class for adults at my home Sons of Norway lodge, allowing me to spread my new knowledge and help others make a cultural connection to their heritage.  

A good book I just read: Giants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag, about Norwegian immigration and settling in the U.S.

My favorite living or historical figure is: King Olav of Norway. He is who I get my middle name from.

My favorite word in a language I know: faktisk ("actually" in Norwegian)

My favorite memory from traveling abroad is: climbing to the top of the Holmenkollen ski jump and taking pictures at Frogner Park with all of the statues in Oslo.

My favorite memory from UW-Madison is: storming the court after beating both Ohio State and Duke in basketball.


Tom Boman






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Kate Vieira, Department of English
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