Cathrine Grimsrud on her journey to US Citizenship
This Election Day reminds many of us of the duty and privilege that comes with being a citizen of the United States of America. While we celebrate and participate in democracy today, we also want to celebrate the recent naturalization of our own Cathrine Grimsrud. Cathrine, FIBT Managing Director of Mineral & Land Services, has lived and worked in the country for more than a decade, but this is the first election in which she’ll be able to participate. We wanted to know more about Cathrine’s quest for citizenship.
When did you first come to the US?
I will never forget this. My first trip ever to the US (and America in general!) was January 4, 2006. I landed in Grand Forks late at night, and I remember I was amazed at how flat it was when I woke up the next morning and saw it in sunlight for the first time. Haha! My one-way ticket to the US was August 2007; that’s when I started my American Law Degree at UND.
What made you want to stay?
It is truly an amazing country. The opportunities here are endless if you are willing to work for it.
What led you to a career in the oil and gas industry?
Growing up in Norway, the oil industry is such a big part of our identity and lives. The oil and gas industry has always interested me, and property law was my favorite subject in law school. The oil industry was booming in Western ND when I graduated from law school, and, as such, it was a natural fit for me.
What were your initial impressions of this country and its citizens?
Very down to earth people, and extremely friendly and polite. I remember so well wondering why everyone kept asking me, “How are you?”
I will never forget the first time I went to an American grocery store. I was wondering how in the world anyone could ever pick anything. In Norway, I had two different jams to choose from. Here I had an aisle as long as the whole grocery store I used to shop at in Norway!
How have those impressions changed over the last 13 years?
My mom keeps telling me I’ve become “Americanized.” I take it as a compliment! I love the life I have here; the freedom, opportunities, convenience of things, and all my options at the grocery store! I understand the culture much better, too, and why things are the way they are. I think it is easy to sit in Europe or a Scandinavian country and wonder why the US doesn’t just follow their models for certain things. However, a country of 300 million people spread over a vast area with varying climates and cultures must function differently than a country of just 5 million people spread over a comparatively small geographical footprint.
What made you want to become a citizen?
The US, and North Dakota, is home to me now. The biggest thing is that I can vote and participate in the activities and roles reserved for citizens. There’s a lot of continued paperwork, applications, issues with entry, etc. that go with “only” being a permanent resident, so that is a welcome relief as well to no longer have to worry about that.
What was the process of obtaining citizenship?
Mine was relatively easy and straightforward; I was lucky! It is an extensive application, though. The most difficult portion for me was tracking all my travels over the past five years, and recording all the organizations I have ever been a part of or been associated with. If you think of it, that is a broad question!
How difficult was the test, and how much studying did you have to do?
You get a study book with 100 Civics questions they may ask you. It is about US History and the Constitution. Luckily, this is an area that I find interesting, so I knew most of the answers beforehand. But I am certainly glad I brushed up on my knowledge on a few of the questions!
Did you feel prepared?
Yes, I did. But of course, one is always a little nervous before these major life events!
Some view American politics as highly divisive right now. Regardless of political affiliation, what would you have to say to those who feel discouraged by American politics?
Don’t ever forget that to most people around the world, America is still the country of freedom, liberty, and justice. The land of opportunity. It is easy to take for granted when you are born here, but getting the chance to be a part of that is something that is still a real dream to an incredible amount of people – myself included!
All of us at FIBT would like to congratulate Cathrine on her naturalization. She may be a new citizen, but she’s already proven to be a great example of what it means to be an engaged and responsible citizen. We are so proud of her accomplishments, including those in her role at FIBT.