The Road to Norge

(I’m going to take some time to recount my experiences leading up to and participating in Alt for Norge for any who might care to know about this wonderful journey. Here is my first entry:)

I was on a Norwegian Reality Show.

I still can hardly believe I did such a fun thing. I hope that when I am old and reclining on my death bed, my children will share that story with the nurses tending to me or the chaplain visiting that day. They’ll say, “Yes, she was a pastor and a great mom…and this one time she was even on a wildly popular Norwegian reality show.” I treasure this story like a precious gem among all the lovely stories I’m collecting in this life.

The reality show is called “Alt for Norge”. It has been on the air in Norway for five seasons and they select 12 U.S. citizens with Norwegian ancestry to come over to Norway and participate in challenges while learning more about Norwegian culture and history and customs. I wasn’t most interested in the competition (although I have to say, the competitions in which we participated were so good-natured and positive that I very much enjoyed them) or because there was the chance I could win $50,000 (although if I had won it certainly would have been a nice nest-egg for my sons’ college education) or even that I had the chance to meet my living Norwegian relatives (although it would have been stupendous to meet them – and I do very much hope to meet them someday, without cameras rolling). I was mostly deeply enchanted by the idea of doing something so different and fun, getting to experience Norway, and connecting with the land that my parents always wanted to see but never got a chance to do so while they were alive, the land my ancestors left in the late 1800’s.

I filled out the application and filmed a short audition video right after Christmas. I had heard about the show through a fellow I dated for about two seconds back in seminary. He posted an article about the show on Facebook and I clicked on it – and the more I learned about it, the more interested I was. I devoured episodes of the show I could watch on youtube. The more I watched, the more I believed I needed to be a part of it. Maybe it was because the people they had selected to participate in the past had all seemed like people I would like to know – they seemed like people who would be great to have as friends. Maybe it was because I liked the heart of the show so much and it always seemed to be about so much more than the silly competitions. Maybe it was because I had been learning more about Norway in recent years and I felt like this was a great way to expand on that. Or maybe it was just because a new adventure sounded, really, really good. Whatever it was, I was as certain as I have ever been about anything that I wanted to be on Alt for Norge.

Great Norwegian Adventure!

In case you would like to check out the adventure of a lifetime:

NORWEGIAN REALITY TV VIEWERS ARE SO FASCINATED BY AMERICANS THAT WE’RE CASTING SEASON 6 OF ‘THE GREAT NORWAY ADVENTURE’!

Chicago’s O’Connor Casting Company is conducting a nationwide casting search for Season 6 of Norway’s #1 Emmy award winning Reality TV show “Alt for Norge” (aka “The Great Norway Adventure”).

The series follows 12 Norwegian-Americans who fly to Norway and immerse themselves in the culture and compete in a series of adventurous and fun challenges. The winner receives a CASH prize of $50,000.00 and meets Norwegian relatives they don’t even know exist.

According to Norwegian producer Thor Oreld, the show is popular with viewers because “Norwegians love to see Americans react to typical Norwegian things. We can laugh about their poor adaptation to Norwegian culture and laugh at ourselves as they point out weird customs that we take for granted. When we think about it, it is kind of strange that every Norwegian cabin has a portrait of the king and queen in the outhouse.”

Casting Producer Joan O’Connor says that many people apply because they want a deeper connection to their past. Others, like Season 5’s Kent Luetzen, 22 crave the adventure, but are surprised by what happens.

Luetzen says, “The intense emotion of standing on my family farm that I originated from was unexpected. I learned that everyone comes from generations of success, failure, hardships, love, and a lot of hard working people. Now it’s my turn to leave a mark in my family history, so that in a hundred years when a 22 year old college kid is looking at his lineage, he’ll see my name and be proud of his last name and the things I accomplished.”

In the past 5 seasons there’ve been 58 cast members from all over the United States. So far two from different seasons married each other and one has moved to Norway. Anyone can apply as long as they are American with Norwegian ancestry (even a little bit counts) who are age 18+ and have never traveled to Norway. For all information and to apply online go to http://oconnorcasting.tv/ and click on “Casting Board.”

This series is produced by Norway’s Monster Entertainment. For PRESS INFORMATION contact Joan O’Connor at 312-226-9112 or email joan@oconnorcasting.tv To view clips go to http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHnZl8GlFBc3lyFmuUpC7Mg

What is Alt for Norge?

Alt for Norge is a Norwegian television show in which US Citizens who have Norwegian ancestry come to Norway to learn more about Norwegian heritage and history. My “profile video” was just released yesterday and so for the first time I’m really sharing with a lot of my friends from back home and other parts of my life about this great adventure. You can look at my profile video and lots of other info about the show here: https://www.facebook.com/altfornorge?fref=photo

I still can’t get over the fact that I was able to participate in such a unique thing and become a part of such a great show. Looking forward to the premiere when it comes out in the fall and reflecting on it all with the other cast members when we get together in Minneapolis.

Fifteen Things I Learned from Being on a Norwegian Reality Show

Earlier this spring I participated in the filming of the fifth season of Alt for Norge, a Norwegian reality show. I can’t give out details of the experience until after the show airs in the fall, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I spent there and here are just a few things I learned:

1. Just as I was told it would be, Norway is simply beautiful. It is so clean and cool and green. I can’t wait to return someday.

2. Being on a Norwegian reality show is fun. The first day in Norway we participated in a photo shoot at TV Norge where they are making commercials and posters featuring all of us for the fall line-up of shows. To get my hair and makeup done and pose for the cameras was an interesting and cool experience. TV Norge said we’ll get copies of some of those photographs in the fall – it will be fun to share them with you.

3. Being on a Norwegian reality show takes a lot of patience – there was so much hilarity and adventure but also a LOT of waiting: waiting for camera setups, waiting for people to get in place, waiting for interviews.

4. If you are in a Norwegian restaurant, have the fish – you’ll never be disappointed.

5. A common saying about Norwegians is that they are “born on skis” – skiing is a popular hobby among much of the population. It had been about twenty years since I had been on skis and I was never good at it back then – and as it turns out, I’m not any better at it now.

6. I learned that while most Norwegians left Norway because of the poverty and lack of land in Norway and the possibility for land and religious freedom in the United States, there were others who left for different reasons – namely, a fresh start for their family and for their family name. (This revelation came to me after I was given particular information about my own family history while I was in Norway…I can’t elaborate now but it will be part of an early episode)

7. While some people, namely most of the other cast members, seemed to love being in front of the camera and having their life and conversations being filmed, I found it to be slightly entertaining for a couple days but then after that I was less than enchanted with the process of having to reconstruct conversations for the camera, being interviewed incessantly about the “challenges” we had to do and our thoughts about this or that. It’s good that I never aspired to be in front of the camera for a career – because a little limelight goes a long way with me. It was a great experience and I am so glad I could do it, but the friendships made with the other cast members and the things we saw and did were much more valuable to me than actually being a part of the filming. Upon reflection, I think being a director would be a very hard job – to try to find a balance between dealing with the people who crave the spotlight and those who are nonplussed by the camera operations and incessant questions (me) would be constant challenge.

8. Most of the time we were being filmed for challenges, we were outdoors, it was freezing cold or raining, and there was no access to mirrors or makeup – so it’s awesome that for majority of my stint as a Norwegian television personality I will probably be looking about as good as an uncooked chicken leg with glasses and a stocking cap.

9. It’s nice to have a chance to write in a journal and live out of a backpack and remember what that feels like. But it is even nicer to come home and be with my boys and spouse.

10. I feel like I’m still in my 20’s – until I hang out with a bunch of people in their 20’s – then I remember I’m definitely in my 40’s.

11. There are many places in Norway where you can get sparkling (carbonated) water out of the tap. Out of the TAP! Seriously – one faucet will have regular water and the faucet right next to it has wonderful sparkling water. I need this innovation in the parsonage immediately.

12. One can get used to the little luxuries of being on a reality show cast very quickly: we never had to make any plans or arrange any details of our days. We were told when to wake up, given clothes to wear (I now have a pretty great cold weather wardrobe I was given to KEEP!), fed delectable meals, stayed in (mostly) excellent accommodations, shown gorgeous sights, and then our “job” was to participate in fun “challenges” (these challenges were never hard – each one was mostly based on luck or speed, not skill). It was not a hard life.

13. The greatest part of being on Alt for Norge was spending time with the rest of the cast. What a truly wonderful group of people. I laughed SO much.

14. I learned that while you can take the pastor away from her congregation, the congregation is never, ever far from the pastor’s heart and thoughts. Each day when I was writing in my journal I would write down all the things we were doing so I would never forget, but then I found myself also always writing about my prayers for my congregation – wondering how they were and what was happening. Since we couldn’t have contact with anyone while we were in Norway, it wasn’t until I called my husband to tell him I was on the way home that I found out one of the active members of our church had died shortly after I left. It’s still difficult for me to believe he is really dead. I went to visit his grave site in our cemetery as soon as I got home and stood there for a long time, wondering how it could be possible that the last time I had seen him we had been having a conversation in the Parish hall just like we always did, and now his body was laid to rest in that rocky Texas soil. I can’t believe I wasn’t here to lead his funeral service, to sit with his wife and family and pray with them in the days that followed. I feel sad about that and yet I knew when I left that there was the very real possibility something like this could happen in my absence.

15. Just as I imagined it would be, the experience of Alt for Norge was tremendous. It was challenging and restorative and invigorating. I made wonderful friends whom I cannot wait to see again. I saw places I never dreamed I would get to see and did things beyond the imagination. Stay tuned for more stories in the fall when I can share more.