Growing up in Muscatine, Kiersten Hansen participated in activities such as choir and band. The oldest of two daughters also focused much of her high school time on learning German.
After graduation from high school, Kiersten attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in German. During her time at Luther, Kiersten developed friendships with several people from Norway.
After graduation from Luther, she was invited to spend some time in Norway visiting.
Kiersten explains that the family that she was planning to stay with had to apply for an Au Pair visa, and was required to show the ability to financially support her while she was with them.
After a while, when Kiersten was looking at staying in the country for a longer period of time, she decided to go back to school. Kiersten began attending Telemark University College in Drammen. In order to attend, she was required to obtain a student visa.
Once again, Kiersten was required to show proof of financial stability in order to be allowed to stay in the country. She explains that each year she attended school, she was required to reapply for a student visa and verify financial stability. In her fourth year of school, she was able to receive financial aid, as she had been in the country long enough.
After graduating with a second bachelor’s degree, this one in English Literature and Teaching, Kiersten made the decision to remain in Norway.
When she first arrived in the country, Kiersten spoke English and German. However, to be allowed to remain in the country, she was required to learn Norwegian. She explains, “You are required to take 350 hours of language studies. It is even more complicated, since there are two official written languages, New Norwegian and Book Norwegian, that are used in different regions. But neither of these written languages are what is spoken. There is no official spoken language, and each region speaks in their own dialect.”
Kiersten has lived in Norway for just over fourteen years. She is now a dual citizen, having received her Norwegian citizenship in May 2016. In October 2016, Kiersten married Christer Persson.
The two reside in Drammen.
Kiersten says the transition from the Midwest to Norway was a little confusing at times. “Midwesterners talk to people. It’s just what we do. The Norwegians are more reserved. People don’t talk at bus stops or on the train. They don’t talk to you when you enter a grocery store. It took me awhile to get used to.”
Kiersten did not intend to live outside of the United States, but says it has been an adventure to do so. “We love to travel and visit new places.” She lists the places she has visited in Germany, England, Spain, and Latvia.
“High school students should look into going to college in Europe. It can cost so much less, and you never know where it will lead,” she says.
Kiersten and Christer spent two weeks in Muscatine visiting family and friends over Easter.