The truth about Norway

When A and I first moved to Norway, all I could think about was the opportunity to finally be together with A in the same country without having to say goodbye. Beyond that single most wonderful thought, being finally able to share my life with A, I never gave Norway a second thought. Norway looked fine enough on the pictures and even if it didn’t, it wasn’t like I could change anything about it.

The travels of Mr. and Mrs. G-map
The travels of Mr. and Mrs. G-map

The ramification of my decision to drop everything in my current live to move across continents with A hit me the second we landed in Oslo. Somehow, nothing was like on the pictures and a sudden realization took over my life: I was filled with existential fear. We left everything behind, we packed our lives into two small suitcases and definitely did not pack the right clothing. We rented an airbnb for two weeks (we couldn’t afford more than that) and we figured finding a place would be easy. I didn’t have a job, didn’t know the language and just quit my economics degree. To this disastrous mixture, add very little savings and no support system. All we had was A’s job. And in all honesty, anyone who would tell me that they were moving under these circumstances, I would seriously doubt their sanity.

The second day that A and I spent in Oslo, August 2011
Day 2 in Oslo, August 2011

I cried myself to sleep for three nights straight. I didn’t even try to put on a brave face, because it didn’t make a difference in that moment. I could pretend everything was fine but I knew deep in me that absolutely nothing was fine. A was desperate, here we were across the world, far away from everything we knew and loved and this should have been the happiest time in our lives, yet there I was visibly heartbroken. On the third day A and I sat down and had a long heart to heart, we concluded that we had two options: either call it quits and go back home or embrace this one shot of greatness.

Leaving Norway was never really an option. I wasn’t going to go back to my life, far away from A, quitting was just not an option. It didn’t make the transition any easier but from that moment on forward we worked very hard every single day to make the best out of what little we had. We leaped headfirst into every challenge, we carried each other over every single finish line there was and to this day we refuse to look back. I can honestly say, although it was difficult, there are no regrets. Would I redo anything given the chance? Possibly, but then again, you are always smarter in hindsight.

As the months passed and the first snow fell, I realized how much I actually despised the darkness and cold and snow. Although beautiful from afar, all this snow and all the ice made me feel like I was trapped in an ice castle brightened only by a single tea light that was about to go out. It didn’t help that A was traveling a lot but that only meant I had to find coping mechanisms that would help me through the tougher times. Ultimately these tough times made me stronger, although I couldn’t admit it in that moment. But within less than four months I learnt to speak Norwegian which made it possible for me to get into school and within less than a year I got a stable job. I lived a “normal” life, just like all my friends back home… Slowly A and I managed to make new friends, we found things and places that gave us short lived happiness. These moments made it easier to get through the long winters. And by no means think, that it got easier with time…

Now, five years later, I still wonder what moment of insanity temporarily took over our minds when we first moved here but you know, Norway gave us a chance to a new life. The opportunities A and I got in Norway are simply amazing. I know for a fact I would have not ever gotten the same opportunities if I would have stayed in Austria or in the US. But beyond anything, Norway allowed A and me to be together, we got to start a life together, one more amazing that I could ever have dreamed. Let me tell you this though, this country makes you tough, it bruises you  emotionally and physically in every way possible but in the end it rewards you in ways you didn’t even think of. Norway is not perfect although blemish free on pictures, Norway is like a dangerous life-threatening dare but at the end, when you took a leap of faith and put all your eggs in one basket, you wonder what you ever were afraid of.The newest most amazing and thrilling opportunity Norway threw my way was that I only recently learned that I was accepted to a 6 week long field course in India. Flights are booked, vaccines are injected, visa is in the works and I am still in awe. If you would have told me five years ago about all these crazy opportunities, I would have whole heartily laughed for hours. But now, after five years here in Norway, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for both A and me. I am beyond grateful, ecstatic and just generally happy. So yes, Norway can be unforgiving in so many ways but Norway, oh Norway, somehow you captured my heart, just as I expect India will.

India, Agra, Taj Mahal
India, Agra, Taj Mahal, picture by National Geographic

My new conquest starts on July 30th, until then my travel schedule is filled with lots of wonderful little adventures all over Europe. And yes, I will keep you up to date on these and also, of course I will blog about my India-travels.

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