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.
(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!
(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!