by Sydney Conner
Annick Foyen, 22, came to Whitworth in search of a safe, spiritual environment far from her home of Oslo, Norway. Wanting a challenge, Foyen said she visited Eastern Washington University, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of California-Los Angeles before deciding on Whitworth.
“The atmosphere I felt while being on campus and the helpful professors at Whitworth made me feel comfortable here,” Foyen said.
Culturally, though, Spokane is very different from Oslo. Foyen said she learned a new way of life by moving to the states. Fast food, the activeness of residents, transportation as well as how to meet friends all differ from the way she was raised, Foyen said.
“It took me a while to figure out who I could trust to be my good friends,” Foyen said. “I had never felt so lonely in my whole life; it was tough.”
Foyen said even the way in which people communicate with one another is different from what she is used to; Norway is extremely intimate.
“Americans are very outgoing and friendly at first, but it takes longer to really get to know someone,” Foyen said. “In Norwegian culture, people are not so outgoing so once you really get to know someone, you really know each other well.”
Foyen said she enjoys the simple things the most in her life, such as spending quality time with her friends and three house-mates, making dinner and shopping at Forever 21.
When her home country came under attack by one of their own last November, Foyen was on a bus headed downtown as the first bomb went off.
“We heard a huge explosion and we thought it was an earthquake or thunder,” Foyen said. “The whole ground was shaking; it was complete chaos.”
Having worked during previous summers as an intern for the Norwegian government, Foyen said she was blessed in her decision to work with her father this last summer, which kept her away from the bombing that killed at least 87 people.
“The building I use to work in was right there, right next to where the bomb went off,” Foyen said, thankful she was safe from the bomb scene.
Being a part of an eye-awakening experience which she relates to 9/11, Foyen said it made her realize those things can happen anywhere, even peaceful Norway.
Although still saddened over the attack, Foyen is determined to move on, pleased in knowing the Norwegian attacker isn’t getting the attention she said she believes the attacker was after.
“He wanted all the focus to be on him, but I don’t believe he got that attention,” Foyen said. “All the victims and survivors got that attention; which was opposite of what he wanted.”
After graduation from Whitworth, Foyen wants to spend a few years gaining experience in social work before getting her master’s degree. Her dream job is to work with her father, who works for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.