Anna Daniels and Nicoline Jenson stepped onto Castleton State College’s campus and all they could think about was the abundance of trees.
It was clear they were now in the country, a reality that became clearer when they were met with all the food choices. They were amazed at how often their new American classmates eat pizza, white bread and French toast – considered junk food in their countries.
But aside from these differences, the duo from Sweden and Denmark, respectively, are adjusting quickly and are loving their new setting – of course with some considerations.
“There are a lot of mountains and trees, not what I’m used to. There are some woods at home,but nothing to this,” Jensen said.
Jensen and Daniels hadn’t even heard of Castleton State College a little over a month ago. Theywere recruited in August by women’s hockey coach Bill Bowes.
“I was working at the National USA Hockey Camp in Minnesota and asking some friends of mine who was still looking for a team,” said Bowes.
He soon learnedthat Jensen still hadn’t decided on a school and Daniels’ previous arrangement had fallen though. Heimmediately called them, turned on the charm and sold them on Castleton.
Jensen used a consultant to assist her in the college selection process, but had decided to delay college for a year, anticipating playing in Sweden this year. The timing of when Bowes first contacted her gave her just enough time to start this year. She decided to come to America to visit Norwich, Manhattanville, Elmira and Castleton. It was Castleton, though, that fit just right.
“I really liked it. I had a good first impression. This school has its own style,” said the first year student.
Daniels took a different route to Castleton. She planned to attend the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, which mainly produces Division 1 caliber players. This school, however, is a part-time high school that allows students to attend a regular high school during the off-season. This school could not provide Daniels with a full student visa based on its part-time stature. So, instead, she landed 100 miles away in Castleton.
“There are so many trees here,” Daniels said, recalling herfirst thoughts about CSC.
Not much more than a month later, she is adjusting well and is enjoying her new team.
“I think Castleton is great,” said Daniels through a thick accent. “I think it’s fun, and there are many talented girls on the team. They received me and Nico in a good way.”
However, there are definitely things both miss from home.
“I miss the Swedish food the most,” said Daniels.
“I miss my mom’s cooking. Our meals are a lot more healthy,” Jensonsaid. “We eat a lot of meat, potatoes, rice, salads that are full and good and not a lot of junk food,” she said, addingthat pizza and cheeseburgers are not always an option.
The classroom structure is also different, they said.
Jensen noted that American teachers give their students a lot more responsibility and less to copy down.
“The tables are different, the way the teachers are in classes. Everything in class is different,” she said. In Denmark, “theteacher just stands and talks and writes everything on the board and you copy down. Here, teachers just talk and you have to write down things they say,” she added.
Assisting with their transition at Castleton are Danielle Roberts and Christine Newton, team captain and assistant captain respectively. Bowes sets up every first-year student with a mentor at the beginning of each school year.Both team leaders have enjoyed their time with their new teammates.
For Newton, the hardest part about this relationship is “…the language barrier.”
“I have learned that I cannot speak Danish or Swedish. Sometimes things don’t come across in the right way,” shesaid.
She also added that “our lives are so different, the way we eat is so different. They were both surprised that we had pancakes and French toast at breakfast every day.”
The style of hockey has also been an adjustment for the foreign duo. Coincidentally, both Jenson and Newton said they feel each other’s style is more physical.
“Here they go more to the net. There is more plays in Denmark,” said Jensen.
The conversation developed into the realization that in Denmark they “dangle” more, meaningthe play is fancier there. Jensen also noted that Denmark is more physical overall, especially at the higher levels.
“I first thought where did they come from, how did coach end up recruiting them. But I was very excited, excited for the different ideas, different accents, different cultures and different people,” said Newton.