UND grad competes on Norwegian reality show
GRAND FORKS – Recent University of North Dakota graduate Kent Luetzen had a quick, intense lesson on his Norwegian roots, one that will be on television all over Norway.
“I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody what I was doing, so I had to tell all my professors I had a really cool job opportunity. I didn’t want to tell them I was graduating early to be on a reality TV show,” Luetzen said.
The 22-year-old Minot native recently filmed a season of the popular Norwegian show “Alt for Norge,” in which Americans of Norwegian descent who have never been to Norway compete in tasks to win prizes and a chance to meet their distant relatives.
“It’s very much like a mixture of ‘Survivor’ and something more family friendly,” Luetzen said. “It’s not dramatic whatsoever.”
It didn’t take much convincing to get Luetzen and his sister to apply after they heard about the show from their mother.
“Over Christmas break, I made a video and filled out the application. I sent it in and crossed my fingers,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d actually get it.”
But he did. Months later, Luetzen received a call back and was flown out to Chicago for an interview with the producers.
“They were looking for an easy traveler and someone with a unique personality,” he said. In the end, Luetzen was chosen along with 11 other Americans.
“It was a very well-rounded cast. I mean, there was a college kid from North Dakota, a model from California and a 65-year-old man. We were all so different,” he said.
Though Luetzen said his family and friends were excited, he said a lot of them didn’t get it at first.
“Just saying, ‘I’m going to Norway for a reality show,’ sounds so silly,” he said, “but what 22-year-old gets to travel to Norway and not pay for a thing?”
After packing up his apartment and saying goodbye to the college life, Luetzen was on a plane to Norway. “I didn’t know what it would be like, so I was a little overwhelmed,” he said.
Although his contract with “Alt for Norge” does not allow him to give out any details of the tasks he faced on the show, Luetzen said the trip was an opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was a lot more mentally challenging than physically challenging. All 12 of us learned so much about Norway. There were a lot of times where you kind of just had to rely on luck, because there were a lot of barriers like language and culture. It’s 70 percent luck and 30 percent skill. You could spend your whole time memorizing things, but at the same time, you’re like, ‘I just kind of want to enjoy my time here, too,’ ” he said.
After returning to the United States from filming, Luetzen is reflecting on his time in Norway.
“I learned about myself, my heritage and Norway itself,” he said.
The fifth season of “Alt for Norge” is 10 episodes long and airs in Norway the first week in September.
Americans can visit their website at www.tvnorge.no/programmer/alt-for-norge/amerika-russen-p%C3%A5-nytt-sjar...or watch the episodes on YouTube later in the year.