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Reflections on Expat Life in Norway

Almost 2 months ago we arrived in Trondheim Norway, 2 PhD qualified scientists full of questions and expectations (38 years) and 2 inquisitive and fun-loving children (6 and 8 years) from Canberra Australia. We had 8 comfortable years in Canberra and we’re ready to explore more of the world and experience life in Europe. All 4 of us have European passports but had never lived in Europe, so there was always an invisible thread tugging at us. I’ve put together here some observations from our first 2 months.

After 2 weeks (11th August) I recorded the following observations:

All is going well here. We are happily settled in our comfortable temporary accommodation. My husband was finding that he couldn’t work from home with 2 kids niggling each other from living in each other’s pockets. We discovered that we were already paying for vacation care for our son so he started on Monday and now everyone is happier. Our daughter has space to wander around, explore and play but also do her homework and learn Norwegian. My husband has time and mental space to work. Our son gets to play all day and loves the meals that they serve him. And I return each day at 4pm to a more harmonious home.

We’ve been exploring a lot and making the most of the amazing summer daylight hours and moderately warm weather. You can read my blog posts about our adventures here, here, here, here, here and here.

I was a bit concerned about how I would be received in the Trondheim office because I’m kind of here to bring changes but so far at least I’ve been treated with kindness and respect.

Tomorrow I’m going to register with the tax office. There’s some confusion about whether I’m eligible for residency here so my fingers are crossed that it will work out! We are actively seeking a comfortable home to rent. Hopefully we’ll find something soon! Our house in Canberra is ready to let and a family have offered more than we thought we could get.

20th August:

We’ve had some really warm and sunny weather but now the Autumn seems to be starting. It’s raining a lot and cool with only patches of sun. We still have long days with sunset after 9pm but each day is about 7 minutes shorter than the day before. People are busily preparing for the wet dark Autumn. We were foolishly waiting for our wet weather gear to arrive from Australia and Thursday/Friday the kids got very wet legs and feet. The teacher of our son even emailed asking us to send in wet weather gear. How embarrassing. Anyway we bought rain suits for both kids and thick, warm, water-proof boots.

My husband and I went for a long hike on Friday in the mountain. The heath was beautiful but we struggled to enjoy it because it was cool and we were drenched so we felt so cold that our muscles were clenched. So we bought water-proof pants and boots and won’t suffer like that again. It is going to take some getting used to though, to learn to enjoy walking in incessant rain.

Our daughter’s class has some children in it who are struggling to norm. Sometimes the teacher has to physically restrain them and other times lock them out of the classroom. There aren’t any children who speak English so our daughter is socially isolated. Poor pet. Add to that she has to walk 4.5km to and from school each way each day so she is tired, hungry and frustrated.

Our son loves his school. He’s made friends, he loves the cafeteria and his teacher has recognised that he needs exercise to sit still and learn. She’s also accelerating him in recognition that he’s well ahead of the other kids.

We haven’t really made any friends yet but I have my colleagues to talk to and we have connected with some Norwegian families. Last weekend we were invited to two family gatherings through a woman that we met at Trondheim airport when we arrived. They are very friendly and kind but I’m unsure if they are seeking friendship or if they are inviting us out of empathy. We’ll see.

We went to a get together for the families of son’s class. It was so kind of one family to host that. We tried to connect with other families and hopefully we’ll make some friends. We are the only family that are here for the work of the mother. All of the men wanted to talk about what each other do for work and once they had established what I do they moved on. Most of the women are not working. We’ll see if there is friend potential.

The immigration consultants stuffed up our application and it’s taking a lot of effort and stress to get our application fixed. We are in limbo at the moment. Fingers crossed that they get it sorted out and we can have the right to stay here!

13th September

I was asked by friends if people drink here and I think it’s likely considering the detritus we saw scattered around town this morning. Walking through town on a Sunday morning seems to be a bad idea. Also, considering that booze is only sold by one shop with restricted opening hours and it’s forbidden to advertise or show images of alcohol there are some pointers that it may be problematic.

The immigration barrier is broken and we now have official right of residency! We are very relieved and we have applied for identity numbers so that we can become Norwegian and enjoy the benefits that entails 🙂 I don’t think about Canberra. I don’t feel any ties to our house there, though I bet that our garden looks good now! I heartily miss all of my lovely friends but otherwise the city doesn’t pull me to it.

Our daughter was offered a place at our son’s school starting in early November. We are all thrilled about that. This week we move into our apartment just up the hill from the school and we have already been meeting and socialising with a family with kids the same ages as ours that will be 2 streets across from us. It means that everything is going to become easier and nicer for all of us. It will be a short walk to school for our kids, my husband will have oodles of time now that he won’t be spending 5 hours a day walking to and from schools (and his job ends at the end of this month so the work pressures which are quite intense now will be gone), both kids will have after school clubs to attend and associated opportunities to spend time with new friends. In the meantime our daughter seems to be settling in at her local school, her Norwegian language skills are progressing and she is making some connections.

We are all tired all the time and that means that on the weekends we are not energized or excited about having adventures. Instead we are keeping a small radius from home and enjoying kicking the soccer ball around, getting to know our town, attending social activities in town (like an intro to Geology day today at the Museum, a multicultural children’s festival today, a roller ski tournament etc). Yesterday we headed south to participate in a driver safety event. It’s a practice track that was deliberately made very slippery and we were set different challenges to try driving on slippery roads. It was thrilling and fun once I got the hang of it.

I’m not getting much exercise at all, on Fridays we take long walks together – 33km this week, but otherwise I’m tired and tend to sit around when the kids are finally in bed. I haven’t joined a gym because of $$$ shortages but also because I still feel in limbo living in this temporary apartment. When we move I will have about 3km walk each way to work and that will be welcome and bracing exercise – remind me of that when I start complaining!


One comment on “Reflections on Expat Life in Norway

  1. Pingback: Further reflections on expat life in Norway | strivetoengage

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2015 by in Europe and tagged , , , , , , .
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