5-month update: things get real!

Hi! How are y’all? Good! I have no idea how to write an intro to a blog post so… I’ll just… not do that…!

It’s been 5 months since we moved to Norway! It’s felt like MUCH longer. I remember time passing by so quickly in SF – and then suddenly I had lived there for almost half my life. But here, I really feel and experience every single day fully passing. So much has happened in just 5 months – it’s hard to believe that my life here is literally JUST beginning and this first year here will someday be a completely distant memory (until I stay up late one night reading all my old blog posts!).

Right now, I’m in a phase where my rose colored glasses have started to come off and I’m not riding on an adrenaline high that comes with starting a new life. I’m of course happy we moved and have no regrets (and am not homesick, except for good Mexican food) but life is now just LIFE as we’ve started to settle in more.

We’re currently juggling a LOT of stuff. I’m not like, completely drowning? But I’m definitely feeling stretched thin! It’s hard to balance everything. Like:

  • going to school (essentially full-time),
  • trying desperately to study (I literally don’t have enough time to study as much as I need to and am struggling in Norwegian class),
  • working a full time mentally-challenging job at night,
  • trying to be healthy and active and go to the gym as much as possible,
  • figuring out what to eat everyday (this takes up a shocking amount of my mental energy lol) and cooking every night,
  • making new friends and hanging out with current friends/family on weekends,
  • struggling financially (right now after taxes and bills and mortgages and groceries, I have $200 a month left over – to cover all my daily expenses and retirement savings, if I was actually saving anything for that right now 😞),
  • renovating a house and making a million decisions a day at an ever-increasing cost,
  • learning how to drive here in a beater car that immediately died after we bought it,
  • navigating the health care system where no one knows how to treat me and I can’t get reliable access to my medications…

All on… 6.5 hours of sleep a night. And with only 3 free hours a day to accomplish everything. Except on weekends, when I cannot physically pry myself out of bed until the last minute necessary before I have to in order to be on time for plans.

My cup is pretty full! It’s “good” to be busy? I think? I’m really happy with my life, but I don’t think I can take on much more! I do vaguely miss how extremely chill life was in San Francisco, but I know that things will eventually, hopefully, calm down here and I can relax again.

On a more positive note, I can’t wait for our house to be done! Things are moving along swiftly, and they’re starting to put the drywall in. They have a month and a half left until our deadline, and… a lot of stuff left to do! Our kitchen is coming November 7th, which should be the final piece of the puzzle! We’ll try to move in sooner if possible because I’m just sooo excited to sleep in our brand new bed and get crushed ice out of our brand new fridge and nap on our cute couch and decorate my office and bathe in a big shower and cook in our beautiful green kitchen… the real excitement of home ownership will really begin once we spend our first night there!

We’re going to America THREE times in the next 6 months! Once for a wedding and twice for work. I’m excited to see all my friends and family! And bring back more ranch dressing and coffee mugs! It’ll be so strange to be a visitor in my home country. But it’s nice we’ll have so many opportunities to see our loved ones soon. So we’ll be there in mid October, early December and early March. Hopefully I can squeeze in visits with everyone!

Okay! That’s it for now. Just had to let off a little steam! I hope I read this in a year and am in a better place stress-wise. But for now… I need a nap. Like, a 20-hour nap.

House renovation update #1!

Hey everyone! It’s been a while. We’ve been busy busy busy this summer! Lots of travel and visiting with family and friends (which I’ll post about more once I have the emotional blogging energy!).

I kept promising people I’d write a post about the house and where we are with the renovation, now that we’re a couple months into it. So far, I’ve only written about acquiring the house, but not how we plan to fix the whole thing up! :)

Before I begin, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the house tour I filmed back when we arrived in Norway! But only if you REALLY want the full experience of walking through a musty old decrepit house with my nasal voice narrating the adventure (along with some helpful pointing from Bendik). The video is here!

So – we’re now two months into the reno! The boys started back in mid-May after a month of us finalizing who we were going to work with on the build. We interviewed a few different building companies, who were all perfectly nice, but they were either hilariously expensive or made us feel like just another random project. We ended up going with a builder who was friendly and easy to talk to, not too sales-y, understood and respected the constraints of our budget, and seemed like he felt invested in how it all came out! He’s been great to work with, which makes this whole process soooo much easier.

We don’t have a huge construction crew working 9-5 on the project – just two nice guys from Poland here in Norway for work, who always have a smile on their faces and are excited to show us their progress each time we drop by, which is every 3 days or so (I try to limit how much we come over because I don’t want them to feel like we’re breathing down their necks, but we’re just SO curious about how it’s all going that we have to restrain ourselves from visiting everyday!!!).

The boys work SO fast! They’ve made a ton of progress in two months. In fact, this is what we came home to after 1 day of demo:

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The builder told us when we started that when the boys go, “they REALLY go!” – I am shocked at how much they’re able to get done day to day!

I’m glad they work fast, because we have a LOT of work ahead of us!!! We’re not building a grandiose estate – most of the work is pretty straightforward and not luxurious – but I am keeping my expectations low when it comes to hitting our October 31st end date for the construction.

So how did we figure out what to DO with the sad, run-down house?!

We decided we would hire a designer for the house (slash architect slash project planner) because we are 1,000,000% not creative enough to come up with a ~vision~ for the house. I had a Pinterest board, knew we wanted a funky kitchen, and felt a general affinity towards gray-green colors. But that was it! We weren’t able to visualize how to transform the rooms into something cute, weren’t sure what the best layout was for the house, and were not artistically inclined enough to come up with our own illustrations of how we wanted everything to look. We found an amazing designer, Ana Maria Velasquez Østmo (check out her site here!), who totally understood what we liked and what type of space we needed based on our needs and future plans. She is so fun to work with! She has great ideas and is both practical in her recommendations but also pushes us to go for something more stylish than we could come up with ourselves :)

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(From our visit to Ana’s office where we saw a sample of our kitchen materials!!!)

After a few Skype consultations (designing a house when you’re 6,000 miles away from it requires a LOT of technology!) she created illustrations that made us want to cry tears of joy because we couldn’t believe how radical the transformation could be, especially based on our budget!

So how will it look!? First, I’ll post a pic of the current-state house, then the illustration Ana came up with.

The boys have stripped down the facade of the house, so we’ve gone from this…

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To this…

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…which will eventually become THIS!:

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(Minus the carport, which we’ve since axed!)

We love the natural look of the house! We wanted something rustic and modern, but not so modern that it totally stuck out in the neighborhood. I feel like this is the perfect solution! You’ll notice that we have TWO decks!!! This is the thing I’m most excited about!! I can’t wait to have long dinners in the summertime, drinking wine all evening… or waking up in the morning and having a cup of coffee just a step outside my bedroom! It’s going to be SO AWESOME to have this kind of outdoor space, especially because we don’t have a backyard. Can’t wait!!! :)

Now coming inside, we have the foyer, which currently looks like this…

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It will transform into THIS!

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New, better stairs!!! Nice tile! Shiny black doors! The only thing that will be different is the color of the wall – the software didn’t have our exact colors, so try to imagine that this will be a green-grey. We’ll also have some closets up on the left-hand wall to store coats etc. in. On the left are doors to a storage closet and my office/guest bedroom #1, and on the right is a door to Bendik’s office/guest bedroom #2.

Let’s go upstairs!

Currently, the top floor is one giant vacant space:

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What you see now will be turned into our cozy living room:

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I pray 2 god we find a comfy green velvet couch, because then I would TRULY be living my best life. But you can see that we’ll have space for a big sectional, a fireplace, and a nice little seating area behind the couch! The sliding doors there lead to deck #1 (the smaller of the two). The floors will probably be this color, maybe a bit lighter – not too sure.

Next to the living room is the dining room:

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I am in LOVE with our giant window. It is picture-perfect! We have SUCH an amazing view of the trees and our neighborhood. This space will turn into a cute dining area!

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We should have seating for 8, which we hope to utilize a lot! Please come over for dinner parties!!!!! We want guests!!

Next to the dining room is one of my FAVORITE features of the house – the GREEN KITCHEN! Here’s how it looks now:

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We have a funky little window that will let us get some light (but not too much that we’re blinded), but also allows us to maximize our cabinet space. As you know, we have approximately 1,000 coffee mugs that we need to store, so we’re going to have plenty of space to keep them ALL without sacrificing a SINGLE ONE….. I hope. We’ll see :|

Here is how it’s going to look when it’s done!!!!!

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Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL!?!?!? I have literally no idea why I want a green kitchen. Like, none, at all. But I just think it looks sooooo coooool!! White kitchens are nice and clean, but I feel like this one has more personality, which I want a little bit of in the house. But we’re going to have plenty of prep space, a frickin’ DISHWASHER (*cries*) and a big fridge with a BUILT-IN ICEMAKER!!! My dream!!! Plz note that the fridge in this rendering is hilariously large and won’t actually be that big IRL. But it’s not going to be super tiny, either! I am SO STOKED on this kitchen!!!

Going further into the house, we have the bathroom..

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(Hi construction boy!!!)

The old bathroom was RANK AF. It was soooo tiny, had the worst tiling ever, and generally made me depressed to think about an entire family using. Here is our admittedly pretty fancy-pants bathroom concept:

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Are you kidding me!?!? SO PRETTY!!! I love it!!! Bathroom of my dreams! We could probably do without the bathtub, but I wanted somewhere to easily wash kids, so we got a “soaking tub” that I myself will never use but will gaze at lovingly. Plus, double-vanity!!! Bendik is going to be so happy to have his own clean sink that’s not covered in my stray hairs! Overall, A+ bathroom that I cannot wait to use.

Finally, the last room I have a picture for is our bedroom, which is kind of sad and small, but will be a very functional space!

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There’s a big window there right now, but that will actually become french doors leading out onto the deck. But here’s what the room will vaguely look like (except the furniture, which we’re going to change up):

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Pretty cute! Compact, but it works!

Here are the colors/materials we’ll be using:

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SO! That’s the plan! I’m sure things will evolve as we move along in the project, but I am SUPER excited with the direction it’s going in. I’ll write another update as we make more progress in the coming months! But hopefully, we’ll be mostly there by October! I’m sure Bendik’s parents will be happy to have the house to themselves again, but they’re not making us feel like we should be in a rush, which is a huge help :)

Hope you enjoyed the little reno tour! It’ll be so fun to look back at this in a year and see how much things have changed! :)

Snippets from here and there – May and June 2019

Hello again! I’m in such a bloggy mood right now, so I figured I’d capitalize on my desire to overshare and put up a fun photo post! I’m going to experiment with different post formats, so let me know what you guys think once I get a few more entries up – this blog is going to be nice for me to read in the future, but the whole point of it is to keep YOU guys up to date on what we’re doing so that I don’t feel so far away from you all!

Get ready for a lot of scrolling – there are 20+ pictures here of what we’ve been up to in May and June! :) Not in chronological order because I honestly cannot keep track of the days anymore. First I’ll post the picture, then the caption (just so you know how this entry is structured!).

We’ll start with my daily views! Bendik’s parents (who we’re living with while the house is being renovated) live right on the lake, so every day when I walk outside, I’m treated to a BEAUTIFUL view. Half the pictures on my phone are of the lake. It’s so serene and relaxing to look at!

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This is taken from the front yard…

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This is from my favorite part of the house, where the long dining table is. There are plants everywhere (luckily ones I don’t have to take care of because tbh I am not about that #plantmom life, sorry!). I don’t know what it is about the view of the lake, but it really gives me a moment of peace when I look out over it. It’s so nice when people are swimming and canoeing along!

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Isn’t it just sooooo beautiful!?

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This is taken from my daily drive to school! We have two route options – the way with lots of roundabouts and not much to look at, which takes 3 less minutes to reach my destination, or the “scenic route,” which has beautiful views of the forest and rolling hills with cute farms. Every day Bendik asks me which route I want to take, and 29 out of 30 times, it’s been the scenic route. I mean, why not!?

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When I have the energy to go for a walk, it’s always so pleasant and green and fresh! This is the forest across the street from our house. We’re surrounded by awesome trails, most of which we haven’t explored yet! I’ll be sure to take more pics from our upcoming hikes :)

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This is our future daily view! This is where our giant window in our dining room will be. It will actually go all the way to the floor for a very dramatic effect! It’s just such a cozy lookout – I love seeing the treeline, and all the cute houses in the neighborhood. The views from most of our windows are actually pretty fantastic!

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Speaking of the house, this picture is after one day of demo at the house – we were so shocked to see how much progress they made! It was so weird seeing things actually come down – the renovation had been so theoretical for so long, but they just WENT FOR IT!

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This is what the house looks like now – walls have come down, the ceiling is new and newly-insulated, and we have a much better idea of what everything is going to look like now! The living room space is actually pretty big for such a compact house! I’m going to start posting more about the renovation once they get deeper into it, so much more to come!

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This is some AMAZING wallpaper that they found after tearing down the wood wall paneling in one of our bedrooms – the previous owners LOVED statement wallpaper! I had them cut out some strips of it so we could frame it and hang it somewhere in the house to remind us of how things used to be (along with my beloved cloud wallpaper). This house is such a time capsule!

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You never know what you’re going to find when renovating a house… for example, our chimney that (shockingly) was not built up to code… and this VINTAGE SWEDISH PORN THAT WAS HIDDEN IN THE WALLS WHEN THEY BUILT THE HOUSE IN 1964!!! One of our construction boys found it and was SO excited to show us. Another frame-worthy relic from the house!

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One last picture from Siggerud… this is my new beloved possession, a cast-iron pig from Krukkegården!!! Krukkegården is basically heaven for people who love cute little things to put in their garden. They have a million unique giant pots for plants, little things to stick in the dirt, and fun cast-iron figurines to put around the house. I had to limit myself to ONE thing, so I chose this pig because it reminded me of my family’s Pig Outs, giant BBQs that my grammy and grandpa used to put on at the Miller Compound where they would roast a whole pig and the entire neighborhood came out to eat! So this little piggie gives me warm fuzzy feelings every time I look at it :)

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I took this picture on the way to Krukkegården/Drøbak – it’s a field of rapeseed flowers that was so beautiful against the grey sky. We had a fun day leaving our little village, and I hope to go back to Drøbak again soon to take more photos of the cute houses!

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We do occasionally leave Siggerud (and Ski) – here are some photos of our adventures in the city! This is a photo from Akershus festning, where we went to a MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL with Iben!!!

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This is from the festival, and I truly have no idea what is happening. It was a wacky day with a lot of wacky people. We had so much fun!

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Pretty much every time we’re in Oslo, we like to go to Villa Paradiso for extremely expensive pizza. It’s my FAVORITE! It’s basically my replacement for Pizzeria Delfina in SF. I am absolutely willing to spend $30 on what is basically an elevated pepperoni pizza.

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We also make a trip to Tim Wendelboe every time we’re in the city. We recently house and cat-sat for our friends Astrid and Anders so had the whole weekend to spend in Oslo! We decided to do a coffee tasting for fun. If you ever go to Tim Wendelboe, I would highly recommend you do the tasting! You get to try 4 different coffees that are all delicious but with different flavor profiles.

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This is Tigris, a sweet baby angel cat that Astrid and Anders are fostering! This photo is basically a miracle because the entire 4-5 days we were there, Tigris and Miso were too shy to come anywhere near us. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with getting cats to love me – maybe that’s my problem, I try to force it. I just love cuddles with animals!!!

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We took a lovely walk through the Botanical Garden in Oslo that weekend, which was a nice respite from the city streets!

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We also recently attended a cat birthday party in Oslo – Mahler’s 7th! I went to Mahler’s 4th birthday party so it was nice to celebrate with him again :)

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Also while in Oslo… I had my very first GRANDIOSA! For non-Norwegians – Grandiosa is frozen pizza, but also a way of life in Norway. EVERYONE loves Grandiosa with a fiery passion. That’s how it feels anyway. It’s… good? Idk, it’s frozen pizza? I enjoy it, especially with some rømme dressing (or ranch if I have it!). It’s not that revolutionary but it’s a very important part of life in Norway, which I respect.

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We celebrated the 17th of May in Oslo with a champagne breakfast at Cathrine and Marius’ super-cute house! There were probably 20 bottles of champagne between 15 people, so everyone was feeling preeeeetty good by noon. It was fun to dress up semi-fancy (and admire everyone’s beautiful bunads!). It’s a pretty fun holiday and everyone is in a super good mood, which you can really feel as you go around town!

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Related to Norwegian culture, here is a hot dog. Hot dogs are also a way of life in Norway. They are perfect for when you’re just a liiiiittle hungry and on the go and just need something – anything – to eat. Fried onions are extra, which I didn’t used to know and accidentally stole some one time and am now afraid to enter the Deli De Luca in Grünerløkka for fear of being arrested.

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We even left the country! We went to Sweden for a week and the best photo I have from it is from the ABBA museum. It was a super fun week spent with our European coworkers!

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Okay, last photo… I took this last night (well, this morning) at 3:30am!!! I am honestly having a hard time getting used to it being so light out so early in the day. I recently invested in an eye mask, so hopefully that helps!

Okay!! That’s it for now! Hope you enjoyed this post. Maybe I’ll try to do these monthly? We shall see!

Ha det bra!

2 months in Norway!

Hi everyone!

Sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote! I kept meaning to sit down and update you all, but whenever I had a free moment, I just couldn’t find the words. But my ADD medication is in full effect, I have an hour before work starts, and am ready to post a million pictures of the last TWO MONTHS in Norway!

It’s fun to look back at my first post from Norway – everything was so calm, and we didn’t have much to do! The peaceful times are… over. The last two months have been fairly action-packed! I can’t believe how much STUFF has happened. In preparation for this post, I started choosing photos to upload to insert, but I realized I had already picked out 25 and was like… okay maybe not. So I’ll really have to limit myself here. Many of you already follow me on Instagram so you’ve seen a lot of these escapades already, but for anyone that’s not tagging along on my IG adventures, hopefully this gives you a glimpse of what we’ve been up to :)

Life in Siggerud has been soooo good for me! Spending time in our quiet, cozy neighborhood has truly chilled me out. I was such an anxious wreck in SF – I’m not sure why, maybe just the ambient stress of living in a city, but out here, life is slow and quiet. With each day that I don’t wake up with existential dread, I feel more and more confident about leaving the city behind to move out to the forest. Sure, not much happens here, but not having the sound of traffic constantly surrounding me and feeling safe in general has been a huge help in my mental well-being.

What HAS been mildly stressing me out, though, is the hilarious amount and complexity of bureaucracy involved in starting a life in Norway. I had a bad start with the police who told me I had to travel an hour and a half to get my person-number in person (incorrect), and honestly? Hasn’t gotten much better since! Establishing yourself in Norway basically all happens by mail, and you can only really take one step at a time in getting started here. For example, I had to wait a couple of weeks for my person-number to arrive (it eventually got here, but it took longer than they said it would); then, once I had that number, I could try to get a bank account (which I unsuccessfully tried to do at the country’s largest bank, where a rude employee couldn’t comprehend my tax situation and basically accused me of tax evasion and said it’s impossible for me to get an account – ALSO INCORRECT); but getting a different bank account required me to have a special form of identification, which meant applying online and then waiting for a letter with pin codes which I had to pick up from the store and show 3 forms of ID… I have a fat stack of “very important documents” that are my key to existence in Norway. Why is everything done by mail!?!? How is that secure or efficient!??! Norwegians told me how great the system is here, you can do everything online, etc., but this is not really the case for an immigrant. To access a ton of services here, you have to have a Bank ID, which you can only get if you have a bank account, and to get a bank account, you… need to have a Bank ID. It’s all so crazy! Also, it’s been TWO MONTHS since we moved to the country, but the government STILL HASN’T processed Bendik’s PHYSICAL PAPERWORK that notifies them he moved here – and until we have that, we can’t apply for a car loan, get a cell phone plan, etc. Everything just moves slowly here, which I need to get used to because Norway is not America and the Amazon Prime mindset does not exist here. But it’ll be fine once we’re fully settled in… I’m just impatient and want to be fully up and running ASAP.

Speaking of bureaucracy, I finally have healthcare! No one was able to tell me how I would “get” health care – just that eventually, I would “have it.” There’s basically no information out there for new immigrants about what to expect and how to enroll, which was really frustrating for me as I have some medications that need to be refilled, and when I asked a government employee how I should do that before I “got” healthcare, she told me to go to the emergency room. Helpful! But, I got a letter in the mail that announced who my doctor was and said I could make an appointment 3 weeks later when the month began. I switched doctors because the one I was assigned is semi-retired and has zero availability (although I’m sure he’s a nice man – he’s Bendik’s grandma’s doctor) – but the population of other doctors to choose around here is pretty slim pickins’. The only available doctors were men under 35! ALL the women doctors have waitlists of like 200 people. So I picked a 33-year-old guy somewhat nearby me and am hoping for the best! I’ll update you on my experiences of Norwegian healthcare, particularly as someone with an ongoing condition that requires expensive medication. Looking forward to navigating that with my baby doctor :|

Besides the bureaucracy we’ve mildly suffered through, everything else has been great!  I enrolled in Norwegian language courses and go 5 days a week. My teacher Håkon is sooooooo nice and helpful and encouraging, and my classmates are super sweeties! I really enjoy coming to class everyday and learning something new. I’ve started making friends in class, and I hope we keep in touch after class is over so I know people in Norway outside of Bendik’s network! They’re so nice and have Norwegian spouses so we have a lot to talk about :)

We’ve settled into a routine here, which is another thing that’s been great for my mental health. Having a schedule for the day helps things feel more predictable, so I’m not so scatterbrained and having such erratic days. Every day, I wake up at 7:00am and sleep in until precisely 7:33, then get up and get ready for the day. Bendik drives me to school, which starts at 8:30. At 10am, we have a break, where I go to Stockfleth’s in Ski Storsenter and get a large refill of coffee in my thermos and a kanelsnurr, and try to make friends with the baristas. They’re all so nice and understanding of my bad, slow Norwegian! They’ve all said they’d be happy to practice with me :) So I really enjoy my daily $10 ritual. I desperately need the coffee and it’s nice to be a regular somewhere. Then it’s back to class until 11:45, and either Bendik picks me up (which is so nice of him!) or I take the lovely 30-minute bus ride back to Siggerud, passing by grassy fields and farm houses.

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(The view from my bus ride home from school!)

After class, I come home and make myself some lunch (Eli’s bread with my typical pålegg), sit on the couch and go on my phone for a while. Sometimes Bendik and I will go for a walk in the forest with Gorgon, but usually I’m feeling too tired from school or not in the mood to get sweaty. But I’m going to try to be more active! We’re gonna sign up for a gym (once Bendik’s residence gets confirmed at SOME POINT EVENTUALLY OMG CAN U PLZ HURRY UP NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM)! After my afternoon break, I grab a lime Farris and cup of coffee and head up to my office, aka Bendik’s childhood bedroom.

I work from 3-11pm, and usually take a break around 7pm to make dinner with Bendik. That’s the highlight of my day! I love cooking with Bendik, even though we’re not that adventurous in the kitchen (we make the same 5 meals over and over, but they’re comforting and we have them down to a science, which is important when you only have 30-45 minutes to cook and eat!). My workday is usually pretty chill in the beginning, but then packed with meetings later in the day, which is when my ADD medication wears off, so I’m still adjusting to being mentally alert that late in the day. It’s so nice that I can still feel so connected to my coworkers from this far away, though! We’ve all started using webcams more frequently, which is only possible for me because now I actually shower in the mornings and look semi-presentable, which was NOT the case when I worked from home in SF (where I showered once every 2-3 days and only wore pajamas). But the schedule is still something I’m getting used to and is a trade-off for getting to keep my wonderful job in the first place, so as time goes on, I’m sure I’ll get much more used to it! It is actually kind of nice to start work when you’re actually mentally awake, rather than roll out of bed in the morning and be in a fog for the first hour of work. I’m way more productive now, which has eased my anxiety around being able to get things done on time!

After work, I watch TV with Nils and Eli for an hour, sometimes treating myself to a fun beer that I bought at Gulating, the craft beer store in the mall. The Bay Area has a million amazing craft beers to choose from, so it’s been nice to start exploring all the local Norwegian breweries and discover what I like here! (I did NOT like the Hansa Chili Blonde, which was like drinking liquified cayenne.) And then I fall asleep around 1 or 2am, because it’s kind of hard to come down and relax after a workday. So these days I’m only getting about 5 hours of sleep, which is probably not healthy for the long-term, but I figure if parents can do this, then I can too! Maybe once I start working out I’ll be able to rest more easily and go to bed earlier. TBD!

So – that’s my weekday schedule! I know I wrote a lot about a fairly boring routine, but I know people wanted to hear about what my typical life is like. But we have a TON of fun on the weekends! We’ve managed to pack in so much life into the 8 weekends we’ve been here – we’ve seen so many friends, eaten at all our favorite restaurants and visited all our favorite bars, and have started to explore cities outside of Siggerud, Ski and Oslo!

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(Celebrating May 17th with a champagne breakfast with friends in Kjelsås!)

Rather than put 25 photos in a row in the blog, here’s a mosaic of some of the things we’ve done in the last two months!

 

These activities include meeting up with SF Norwegian class friends, watching Eurovision, going to Krukkegården for some amazing garden-y stuff like my new iron pig, eating waffles with brunost and LOTS of tacos, visiting Sweden for a week, having an actually good burrito from a random place in the mall, house/cat-sitting for friends, and more!

The last thing I’ll write about is the house! So, we’ve started renovating!!! The construction “boys” as we like to call them started demoing the house two weeks ago, and they’ve made amazing progress!

(A pile of STUFF, and the now-empty upstairs megaroom!)

It’s sooooo awesome to finally see things start happening – they’ve now demoed most of the house, just waiting on a final permit from the county that says we can officially start construction (again…. bureaucracy slowing us down, they’ve now passed the limit for how long they can take to make a decision!!!) and once we can tear down the outside, things really get crackin’! Seeing the space deconstructed has really helped me visualize how things will look in the end. It’s not a super-spacious house, but it’s going to have more room than I thought! (Well, except in the teeny-tiny bedrooms!) I’ll write more posts about the house as they make progress, but they FINALLY started and we have an end-date goal in mind of October 31st. So we’ll see – if it goes more quickly, then yay! If not, end of October isn’t so far away. I’m soooooo excited!!!!

Well, that’s a big enough update for now! I’ll hopefully write again sooner with more photos of life in Norway. I’ll also hopefully write a post in Norwegian (or part of one!) sometime soon :) My skills are developing!

For now, ha det bra og snakkes snart!

Velkommen til Norge – my first week in Norway!

Hei alle sammen! Well, we finally did it – after months of goodbyes, packing and trashing all our stuff, driving up and down California to visit family and friends, and finally boarding the plane after successfully checking 14 pieces of luggage (paying $150 in overweight baggage fees :'( ), we made it to Norway!

I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I was actually on the plane – i.e. whether I would have a breakdown and freak out – but once the wheels left the ground, I felt okay and ready for what would come next. I didn’t feel any regret, or question whether we had made the right decision in moving – the flight was not as dramatic as I’d expected! I ate a tasty SAS dinner, watched half of The Favourite (it was too wacky so I turned it off) and slept for 5 hours. No existential crises, no crying. The only thing I was stressed about, really, was how we were going to transport all of our luggage from the baggage claim to the house in Siggerud (and this also turned out to not be a big deal at all, which made me feel dumb about stressing out over this for literal months).

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(Flying somewhere over Scandinavia!)

Our first week here has been great! We’ve had a lot of fun settling in, making ourselves feel at home/taking over Bendik’s parents’ house, and remembering all of the great things about Norway that made us want to move here in the first place.

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(Getting koselig at home with a cozy fire and some candles)

I’ve been in such a good mood since we landed. Starting a new life is so exciting! We’ve been pretty on-the-go since we arrived, which most of our week dominated by logistical tasks, starting with visiting the local police station to announce my arrival in the country. I had high hopes for efficient, friendly Norwegian bureaucracy (since the immigration application process was so easy!), but was quickly reminded that government employees of all nationalities usually hate their lives and treat the public like cattle. Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad – but all the instructions on what to do at the station were in Norwegian (which, like… the whole THING is that we don’t.. speak… Norwegian? but I digress) – and the woman processing my application mostly spoke to Bendik in Norwegian, rather than to me, the actual person immigrating who would like to have SOME idea of what was happening. Then she very helpfully gave us just straight-up incorrect information on what I had to do next, and complained about government reforms. A lovely kickstart to my official personhood in Norway!

In spite of a mildly unpleasant first interaction with the Norwegian government, we were still in a good mood and went shopping at the mall and Ikea to stock up on even more stuff (you know, stuff, which we just spent the last month trying to throw away) that would make us feel at home. A couple hundred dollars later, we were in business.

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(Apparently our new hometown has its very own Ikea product, a… mattress joiner?)

It’s been so nice seeing all our friends and family again! I had been having some anxiety over feeling lonely and too far from my American friends and family, but seeing all my favorite Norwegians made me realize I’m not alone! They’re all here to support me and Bendik as we start our new lives here, and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. I’m so happy we’ll get to spend so much more time with them!

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(Painting eggs at Bendik’s mom’s house, along with Cathrine and Marius!)

It’s also been comforting to fall back into our Norwegian routines – riding the bus into Oslo, drinking coffee at Tim Wendelboe, eating delicious pizza at Villa Paradiso, watching Tids Bonanza at night, eating Eli’s bread with the same pålegg every time. Having these routines, doing my favorite things, helps me feel more at home.

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(I eat maybe 8 pieces of this bread a day, which keeps Eli very busy constantly baking new loaves!)

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(Drinking some lovely $7 cups of coffee at Tim Wendelboe – worth it!!!!)

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(Not the world’s greatest picture, but this is us enjoying lunch at Villa Paradiso, which has in my opinion the best ‘za in Oslo!)

I’ve also started living an Outdoor Lifestyle, having gone on my first walk through the woods with Eli, and my feet were NOT feeling great about my new non-sedentary life. I need to buy some serious hiking shoes if I’m going to live in the forest! But the walk was beautiful – it’s so peaceful and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail, which is a lot different than trying to go for a walk in Golden Gate Park, where there’s constant traffic (from both cars and humans). One of the reasons why I wanted to move here was to be closer to nature and be able to take deep breaths and smell the trees rather than pee and weed, so I’m really excited to get out of the house every day, even if it’s just for a short walk.

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So now that we’ve been here a week, what’s next? We still haven’t fully unpacked, so will spend the weekend rummaging through suitcases and trying to find a good spot for all our Ranch dressing packets, boxes of Funfetti mix and flamey Crocs. We have an appointment with our architect/designer coming up, where we’ll talk more seriously about kicking off the house project, and next week, I have both my first driving lession (eeeeek!!) and language aptitude test at the local learning center where I’ll talk my Norwegian classes! We also need to sign up for a cell phone plan (but that has to wait until we have to drive an hour and a half to a tax office to announce in-person that Bendik lives in the country again, so that the cell phone provider trusts he’s a real person that is responsible enough to have a plan), and we need to get a car (also waiting on Bendik’s official residency proclamation).

I’ll also start work on Monday, adjusting to my new 3-11pm schedule, which will be interesting. I haven’t worked the afternoon/night shift since I was in high school, so I don’t know how it’ll feel to work so late. But, it’s a huge blessing to be able to keep my awesome job, so I really can’t complain!

Just to round out the post, here are a few other pics from our first week here:

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(Just some of our luggage that miraculously made it all the way to Siggerud, thanks to Arne Gunnar’s megavan!)

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(Back on the streets of Grünerløkka, our favorite neighborhood in Oslo!)

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(I was pleased to find that the local Meny sells Julius’ favorite bread – Julius being the most famous and beloved monkey in Norway that lives at the zoo in Kristiansand. If Julius likes it, then I like it, too!)

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(The house is in the exact same shape we left it in, which is dilapidated. But, things are moving forward – we’re hopefully going to confirm a builder in the next week or two, and fingers crossed they can get crackin’ SOON!)

Overall, a great first week! I’m in a super good mood, the påskesola is shining, I’m remembering all the great things about Norway and am feeling confident in our decision to move!

So, just a quick update this time – not sure how often I’ll do updates like these (maybe once a month or so?) but I thought it would be good to write about how the first few days here went so someday I can come back and remember the fun early days of the move :)

Snakkes snart!

Saying goodbye to San Francisco

Hi guys! It’s been a while since I updated, but there hasn’t been too much to update you on! For the last two months or so, it’s kind of just been a waiting game for us to actually start packing and getting ready to leave. But the past two weeks have been BUSY BUSY BUSY and filled with a million goodbyes (complete with me crying every time), feverishly packing and purging all of our MILLION things, and preparing for life in Norway (like booking my appointment with the police to announce my presence, scheduling driving courses and language aptitude tests for my Norwegian language courses).

I put off thinking seriously about the move for as long as possible, because whenever I started realizing what it meant to move across the world, I would freak out a little bit and stress myself out with conflicting emotions – sadness because I’ll be far from friends and family, excitement because I’m getting the chance to start over somewhere new, anxiety because I won’t know how to navigate society, optimism because there are so many great things waiting for me in Norway. It’s a lot to dwell over! It freaked me out a little bit every time someone asked me how I was feeling about the move – I’m honestly kind of overwhelmed with feelings, and talking about those feelings just worked me up and I have a hard time not crying these days!

Packing has surprisingly been a very emotional process. We’ve had to make a billion tiny decisions about what to keep and what to toss. I was kind of looking forward to shedding all of the excess stuff cluttering my life, but in spite of trashing an insane amount of STUFF, we’re still left with 10 pieces of baggage for the initial trip to Norway, 6 cardboard boxes to be shipped in a boat at some point, carryons that exceed the weight limit, and “personal items” that weigh 25 pounds. For living in a one bedroom apartment, we own about as much stuff that’ll fit in our future home!

(A pile of junk waiting to be tossed!)

(A now-empty apartment!)

The most difficult part of the move so far has been saying “goodbye for now” to people. I think I’ve bawled almost every time. I’ve always had a hard time saying goodbye to people, usually when I don’t know the next time I’ll see them (as my friends in Norway can attest!). We’re coming back to the US in October, but I know we can’t see EVERYONE on that trip. I have to keep reminding myself that FaceTime exists, you can always message people, some folks will come visit, etc. but it’s not quite the same as being able to see people anytime you want.

(I purposefully did not wear eye makeup to our last dinner with Jacob and Nathan!)

All our stuff is packed away, we’ve said all our SF goodbyes, and now we venture onwards to Paso Robles for a week and LA/Orange County for a few days. Saying goodbye to my family will be the hardest one for me, I think. But we’re already making plans to see each other later this year, which helps me cope a little better.

I’m really excited for our life in Norway (especially because it’ll be so QUIET!) and I know we’re making the right choice moving there. We’ll have so many awesome adventures, and renovating the house will be super fun! But I’m still allowing myself to feel my feelings – it’s been a long 13 years in San Francisco! I’ve met so many people, made so many good (and not so good) memories, and really grew up here! A little piece of my heart will always belong to San Francisco and the people here.

My next update will probably be from Norway, which is so exciting to think about!! Stay tuned for a recap of my upcoming first week in my new home country :)

Takk og snakkes snart!

Things I’m looking forward to about moving to Norway

I recently wrote a post talking about how nervous I was about our upcoming move. A lot of people reached out with really encouraging, comforting messages, which helped ease some of my anxiety. The post made Bendik a little sad, because he was understandably a little shaken by me crying about how much I’m gonna miss my family and good Mexican food. This move is not just about me! It’s about us starting a new adventure together, putting down roots, and making decisions about what we want out of life. I can get carried away with anxious lines of thought, and sometimes can’t see the big picture/get bogged down by details. But Bendik and I had a really good talk, and Kyra had some wise words to say (she always does!!!), which helped put things in perspective and made me not as nervous anymore.

I thought it might be nice to talk about the things I’m excited about re: the move! It would be good for me to put out some positive energy on the internet for once. So here are a few (okay quite a few) reasons why I’m looking forward to our move to Norway!

We’ll have a house! I personally cannot WAIT for the day we no longer share walls with neighbors. We currently live under some very kind, nice people who own a Great Dane puppy that’s approximately the size of a horse, who is so, so sweet but likes to run back and forth while we’re trying to enjoy Beat Bobby Flay reruns at night. And our living room is right next to the trash chute, which people like to VIOLENTLY throw things into. We have no washer or dryer, our kitchen is the size of a postage stamp, and the amount of rent we pay is truly ridiculous and could buy us a McMansion anywhere else in the country. I’m so excited to live in our own house, that we designed, where we can’t hear our neighbors vacuuming at 10pm. It’s gonna take a ton of work and time and money to renovate, but at the end of the process, we’ll live somewhere we can call our own! So excited to choose tiles and accent wall colors!!!

We’ll live close to family. I was raised in a very tight-knit, large family that spent a lot of time together. I love being with them, and I’m so grateful that my Norwegian family (parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins) are all amazing people that support me and Bendik so much! It’ll be so nice to be near them and have them be a meaningful part of our lives. My grandparents were really involved when I was growing up, and I always had so much fun visiting them, so I’m happy our future kids will get to spend so much time with their grandparents since they all live so closeby! I’ll miss my mom and sisters a lot, but I think my mom is happy knowing we’ll be in good hands in Norway.

We’ll have the opportunity to travel to lots of different countries! I think I’m the only person my age that hasn’t been to Prague or Berlin! So sad. Although traveling from SF to Europe has gotten MUCH cheaper in recent years, it still means flying 10+ hours to get there, and there’s so many places to go it’s hard to cram it all into one or two weeks. I’m super looking forward to traveling more around that side of the world! While it is depressing that Hawaii is on like, the exact opposite side of the planet, I’ll get to go to so many more different countries, even if it’s just for a weekend. Now when we travel long-distance, it’s mostly to Norway (literally more than half of my passport stamps are from landing at Arlanda or Gardermoen). I love traveling to new places so it’ll be really fun to explore more of Europe and wherever else Norwegian and SAS fly.

I’ll finally have more time to spend with my Norwegian friends, who we only get to see once or twice a year now. Norwegians get a bad rap for being closed off and unwelcoming, but I haven’t found this to be true at all! All of my Norwegian friends (that I inherited through Bendik) are outgoing, hilarious, friendly and open-minded. But we only get to see them once or twice a year now! I have definitely cried many times while saying goodbye to them (I’m emo) not knowing when we’d hang out next. But now I’m really excited to live nearby so we can finally just chillax!!! Sorry if this is corny, but I’m really looking forward to being able to hang out casually without being sad in the back of my mind because I know this is likely the only time I’ll see them for an entire year (although this may be how I’ll feel about my US-based friends after we move). I’m looking forward to all the cozy dinners, meeting up for cocktails, and drinking wine on our mega-deck in the summer!

SEASONS! Just… the concept of seasons! SF has the same forecast of a high of 62 and low of 45 EVERY. DAY. And then sometimes it’s 85 in February, or 50 in July. I’m excited to see the seasons change, even if it means it’s too hot outside in the summer, or freezing cold and depressing in the winter. I’ll experience the passing of time in a much realer way! And I’ll get to have multiple wardrobes! All of the people on the Americans in Norway FB group love to complain about how depressing winter is there, but never talk about how AMAZING it feels when summer finally comes. I hope all the Norwegians in my life are ready for my constant commentary on the weather! Talking about the weather is actually one of the first things we learned in Norwegian class, so I hope that’s indicative of how much people enjoy discussing it.

Hopefully less city-induced stress. San Francisco is amazing, fun, beautiful and friendly. I’ve met all my best friends here and have made so many wonderful memories. But I also think living in the city is beginning to wear me down a little bit. Our bedroom is 50 feet away from a busy main road that has motorcycles ripping by at all hours, and there’s always people screaming outside our window. It constantly smells like a mixture of weed and pee. I’m always nervous to be on my phone while riding Muni lest I get robbed, and constantly have to dodge piles of poop all over the sidewalk. It’s a bit much! I know some people thrive in big cities, but I’m really excited to live somewhere quiet and peaceful with fresh air and where I don’t have to look over my shoulder when I’m walking home from the bus stop at night. And we’ll live close enough to Oslo that we’ll have access to all the big-city stuff when we need it. Best of both worlds!!!

I’ll get to learn a ton of new skills! In addition to casually learning an entirely new language, I’ll also acquire skills in driving in roundabouts, cross-country skiing, fishing (maybe even ICE fishing!), operating a boat, running for the bus on snowy sidewalks, how to build a fire, and even knitting so I can join the ladies’ strikkeklubb in the neighborhood! It’s been a long time since I learned how to do something new, so it’ll be nice to actually use my brain and grow as a person (rather than spending all my time and energy watching Food Network).

Last, but not least: less stressful politics. I don’t even need to elaborate on this one. I’ll be so happy to put some physical distance between my emotional health and Donald Trump. I’m sorry all my friends and family in America have to deal with him, but if it gets to be too much, come visit us in Norway where the Prime Minister is uncontroversial, and, relatively, a little boring. It’ll be a breath of fresh air!

 

I had even more things that I listed out (like how it’s a good place to start a family! all the good bread! how much more coffee I’m going to drink! finally owning a car that I get to put my Mystery Spot bumper sticker on!!!) but I figured this post was getting pretty long. It was really fun to write about all the things I have waiting for me in Norway. It makes the natural stress involved in moving a little more palatable when you think about why you’re moving in the first place. :)