Tori Allen and Nathan Younggren discuss their life changing experience on “Allt för Sverige,” a Swedish reality show. (Photo by Linda Andersen)
By Linda Andersen
Getting interviewed for newspaper articles is getting to be old hat for Nathan Younggren and Victoria (Tori) Allen since meeting and falling in love on the Swedish reality show “Allt för Sverige” just months ago.
“We’ve been in so many newspapers, we can’t keep track,” said Tori.
Nathan said they even made “Aftonbladet,” which is a Swedish newspaper comparable to “The New York Times.”
Nathan described “Allt för Sverige,” by saying, “The premise of the show is they take Americans with Swedish heritage and film them learning about their heritage and about Swedish culture. Meanwhile, you compete in little challenges and the loser has to go home…The title, ‘Alt För Sverige’ means All For Sweden.”
According to Nathan and Tori, the show is the most popular one in Sweden and seven million viewers watch the show every Sunday night during its eight-episode duration.
How did Nathan (a 2010 graduate of Kittson Central and farmer) and Tori (a waitress in a small town in Colorado) end up on a reality show in Sweden?
Nathan’s mom told him about the show after she heard about it from Betty Younggren. “I signed up (for the show) just thinking ‘you know, what the heck – maybe I’ll make it, maybe I won’t,’” he said. One or two months later, he had a Skype interview on his iPad with a producer. He then qualified for a quick trip to Los Angeles for an interview at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles.
Tori’s mom told her about the show, knowing that her daughter wanted to be on a reality show and had already applied to some. Unfortunately, Mom told Tori about “Allt För Sverige” just one day before the application deadline. When Tori said she couldn’t possibly complete the application in time, her mom said, “I’ll do it for you.”
“I made a really short video,” Tori said in explaining what her part in the application process had been.
(Tori perhaps possesses some adventuresome genes. She grew up in West Africa where her parents were missionaries with Christian Missionary Fellowship. Her mom now teaches at an American school in St. Petersburg, Russia.)
Tori also experienced the Skype interview and Los Angeles interview and, like Nathan, became one of ten people chosen for the seventh season of the show. To be accepted for the show is quite an accomplishment as just over four thousand people applied to be on the show this season. Forty men and forty women made it to the interviews in Los Angeles.
In late May 2017, Nathan and Tori left their homes and flew to Oslo, Norway, where they met each other and the other members of their group. They boarded a bus in Oslo that took them to Avesta in Sweden. On that bus, Nathan and Tori became good friends.
“We were absolutely best friends by the time we got to Avesta,” said Nathan.
“We got each others’ humor right away,” added Tori.
In the following weeks, the show’s producers filmed eight episodes as the group traveled throughout Sweden and learned about their heritages. Each contestant is featured in one episode; Nathan is featured in episode six, where he is shown seated and conversing with family (including his grandma Muriel Younggren) around a dining table back home.
He is then shown in Sweden as the group visits the farm Nathan’s great-grandfather Sven once owned. Although the house no longer stands, a well still remains from the residence. Nathan learns that, although Sven grew up in poverty, he was eventually able to purchase this property. Sven and his wife, Emma, were the parents of Johan, who emigrated to America, changed his name to John Swanson and married Delia Ryberg. John and Delia had a daughter, Muriel – Nathan’s grandmother.
Nathan said his great-grandfather Sven has become a “role model” for him because “he never had it easy, but he pushed on.”
Tori is featured in episode one where viewers learn that she was once a champion rock climber, having won a gold medal at the X Games in Philadelphia in 2002.
She learns of her ancestors, Karl Oskar and Brita, and the group actually stays in the lovely house where the two once lived in the Dalarna Province of Sweden.
Nathan and Tori made respectable showings in the competitions, with Nathan making it through episode seven and Tori making it as one of the final four contestants and episode eight. In the end, Tori placed an impressive second for season seven.
What did Nathan and Tori enjoy most about Sweden?
“Some of our days off were the funnies,” replied Nathan. He went on to tell of visiting the Vasa Museum which features a Swedish warship which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. It remained in the sea until 1961 when it was pulled from the waters.
“We really like the food,” said Tori mentioning the shrimp sandwiches. “Swedish people love to eat,” she added. “They’d have coffee multiple times a day, always with pastries.”
They were impressed with how the Swedish people recycle and make use of what they have. This tendency includes renovating buildings rather than tearing them down.
“A 500-year-old house is somewhat normal there,” said Nathan.
“They don’t tear anything down,” added Tori.
They enjoyed dressing up in costumes for a couple of days – old time, “Ole and Lena” type costumes one day and medieval costumes another day.
Nathan told an interesting story of meeting a man with Hallock connections at a campground. The man, Leif Jacobsson said his grandmother had once lived in Hallock and that his distant cousins, Harriet Docken and Tom Docken have lived in Hallock.
“Some of the things that I learned in Sweden about Swedish people explains a lot about why people in Hallock do some of the things they do,” commented Nathan. He noted that, with Swedes, a short greeting or nod is sufficient – it’s not necessary to start a conversation.
“Swedish people don’t like drama. They don’t like to confront people,” observed Tori.
Nathan and Tori have many stories to tell of their time in Sweden and it’s clear that it’s a country they have learned to love.
Most exciting is that Nathan and Tori have come to love each other, too; they plan to marry on New Year’s Eve morning. They said that, ideally, their next trip to Sweden will be a family trip that will include their parents.
Readers who would like to watch episodes of the show should google “Allt för Sverige” – season seven on YouTube.