Ayla Travels The World, Part 11: A Norwegian Visits Old Family In Minnesota

A Norwegian in Minnesota is about as commonplace as one in North Dakota, which is what we shared last week. And when we say Norwegian, we don’t mean someone named Sorenson whose great great great grandfather sailed the Atlantic inIMG_20160402_222118 1872. We mean Norway-born-and-raised Ayla.

After visiting family in Minot, North Dakota, Ayla and her boyfriend Peder took the Amtrak to the Twin Cities. Here, Ayla visited another branch of the family tree, distant relatives Mike and Else.

From the Mall of America to Macy’s to a church service (to the coffee shop where Ayla poses to the right), Minnesota’s Scandinavian roots surfaced and shone a little brighter when Norwegian Ayla came to town.


In Minnesota I got to stay at my relatives Mike and Else’s place. It’s like staying at your really fun grandparents’ place. (The type of grandparents who will never let you win in ping-pong. You got to earn that title!) They have such an amazing family with their two daughters Kirsten and Mari.

The day we arrived, Mike, Else, and Mari took Peder and me to the Macy’s flower show.

Peder with Mike and Mari
Peder with Mike and Mari

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Over the next several days, we went to many places.

Pizza with the Sevigs
Pizza with the Sevigs
Stonearch bridge
Stone Arch Bridge
Aren't these houses in Kirsten's naborhood super cute!? The cozyest houses ever!
Aren’t these houses in Kirsten’s neighborhood super cute!? The coziest houses ever!

We also went to the Mall of America and the indoor roller-coaster!

After a few days, Peder had to go back to Norway.

Byebye Peder! ️ Safe trip home!
Bye bye, Peder! ️ Safe trip home!

Saying goodbye was very hard. It would be months before I saw him again. He’s in the Norwegian Air Force.

Both me and Mari have a passion for dancing, and in China I learned how to dance salsa by a German. Yup, you read it correctly. So we decided to go out dancing once Peder left. And we did! Mari and I met up with Minnesotan Brandon (the guy who helped me out with Tanzania). He was an excellent teacher! I learned some more and had a great time! Nothing beats a well spent night on the dance floor!

Brandon and Mari
Brandon and Mari

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Proud to say I didn’t kill anyone and didn’t step on toooo many toes.

Brandon also interviewed me for the Tanzania school newsletter–where the picture at the top came from.

The next morning was church in Bloomington.

The pastor spoke Norwegian!! He had been studying in Bergen, Norway of all places! I really liked that church, and the band was amazing!
The pastor greeted us in Norwegian!! He had been studying in Bergen, Norway of all places! I really liked that church, and the band was amazing!

Though I missed the special man in my life, another special man arrived.

Pappa is here!!!!!!!!!
Pappa is here!!!!!!!!!

Mike and Else made a party to gather all our relatives, and we had a great time!

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We even got to meet Ole’s family! If you remember about the three brothers from last week–my great granddad and his two brothers. Ole was one of them. Over the years, we had totally lost contact with Ole’s branch of the family. It was super fun to get to know them! It was also amazing to see the relatives we’ve had the most contact with, like Kathy for instance. She’s truly a lovely woman. I lack the words to describe all of these amazing people in English.

Dad and Mike made a family tree!

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Soon it was time to hit the road with Pappa. Florida next!

Thank you for having us, Mike and Else!

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Ayla is a 20-year-old Norwegian who loves to learn new things and study new cultures. She’s Christian, and in her more normal life (when not eating donkey sandwiches in China and taking trains across Italy), she does dancing and karate. For any questions for Ayla or about travels, please comment below. 

And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.

What say you?