Thompson native appears on Norwegian reality show
For Sara Heidrich, Norwegian heritage was always a natural part of her life.
"I am incredibly Norwegian," she said, "I grew up around Norwegians, my grandma spoke Norwegian, and to me it just was a normal lifestyle."
Heidrich, a native of Thompson, N.D., who now lives in the Twin Cities, was selected to star in the eighth season of "Alt for Norge" the Norwegian reality television series about Americans finding their Norwegian heritage and experiencing the Norwegian lifestyle. She was first introduced to the show by her aunt in 2015 and had planned on auditioning then, but as a newlywed at the time, was too busy.
In November of 2016, she gave the show another thought and attended a casting call at the Mall of America. In January she got all a call back, in February another one. Then came the Skype call from the show's producers.
"Three days later they called me. ... They were asking me a couple more questions and at the end of the questions they asked if I wanted to go to Norway."
"I was blown away," she said, "I didn't think that I'd be lucky enough."
Heidrich's mother, Suzy Thorson, said the family was equally thrilled to hear about Heidrich starring in the show.
"Oh my gosh, we were so excited," she said, "We have a lot of Norwegian heritage and it was really a very, very special thing for our family."
The cast of 12 Americans traveled to Norway and started filming in late April. The cast came from across the country, from Oregon to New York, and competed for a grand prize of $50,000 and a chance to meet long-lost Norwegian relatives. Heidrich is the fifth North Dakotan to be featured on the show.
The tasks that contestants performed were random challenges with a Norwegian twist to them, such as acting out a story using Norwegian props, athletic challenges or challenges that aim to teach contestants Norwegian ways.
Despite having an interest in her heritage and being 80 percent Norwegian, Heidrich said she had never been to Norway.
"To see where I was from was incredible," she said.
While overseas, Heidrich learned about the culture of Norway, her heritage—but also she learned about herself.
"I think what I learned about myself is how strong I am on my own and that I am capable of doing what I want to do," she said, adding, "I think everybody needs to see the world in a little bit of a different way. I think I definitely got that chance to get away and live differently."
She also made new friends from across the country.
"Imagine the most incredible people that you could ever meet all being combined into one with these incredible life stories. That's us," she said. "It's pretty amazing the people that they (producers) pick."
Heidrich said that the contestants still keep in contact, texting and talking every day and said she met up with the three Minnesota contestants last week.
Heidrich said she hopes to return to Norway with her family within the next two years and show them the places she saw and the things she learned in her three months there.
The eighth season of "Alt for Norge" will air in August or early September. As the show is not broadcast in the United States, Thorson will be holding viewing parties for families and friends in the Grand Forks area and Heidrich in Minneapolis.