Can you believe that it has been six and a half months since we made the move to Norway?
Neither can I.
Some days it feels like it was just weeks ago while other's feel so comfortable that I think we've been here years.
A move to a completely different country is equally thrilling and stressful yet as I reflect on our move to Stavanger last July, I can't help but think how easy it all was. A big move and how it's received is dependent on so many factors which vary from person to person but I attribute our (so far) successful expatriation to a few things...
- First, this was not our first international move. We had an idea of what to expect, we were realistic about the entire process and we knew how to improve on the experience from our last.
- By far the biggest factor in making this an easy transition was coming from our experience in Gabon. Gabon was hard in almost every aspect and it remained hard for practically the entire 2 years we were there. We didn't always have our basic needs met (water, electricity, safety) and there was always an element of unpredictability. Norway was going to be most definitely an easier transition and we knew that going in and were looking forward to it. By this point, Gabon had also made us much, much more appreciative of the little things in life so instead of focusing on all that was different and unknown in Norway, we were really quite ecstatic just to be back in the developed world.
- Most people in Norway (or at least Stavanger) speak English. While signs and products are labelled in Norwegian, if I have a question, someone will be able to answer it in English for me. I don't need a translator and I don't have the anxiety of trying to communicate in another language (although I'd love to learn more Norwegian anyways.)
- Norway is similar to Canada. They both have fairly socialist governments and a lot of the societal values are common. In comparison to Gabon, landing in Norway felt a little like coming home.
- The immigration process (which I'll get into in a later post) is pretty straight forward if you follow the procedure and while it may feel lengthy, it's predictable.
- We had good support from Joe's company which assisted us in completing paperwork and finding accommodation.
- We immediately felt lucky to be moving to such a beautiful country and we continue to keep that attitude in mind.
While we were home for Christmas, many friends and relatives questioned how the transition was going often with a look of concern on their faces after all, moving to another country should be hard but honestly, it wasn't at all. Our common answers were, "It's fine," or "It's been really smooth," and "Seriously, it was like a walk in the park." There were certainly moments or even days of frustration (and I'm certain there will be more) but all completely feasible and with minimal stress.
As we head into the latter half of our first year in Norway, both Joe and I remain positive and happy about our new home and we're looking forward to the rest of our time here.