Can you believe it my dedicated legion of followers, Swapping Marmite for Brown Cheese is one whole year old. Wow! That also means that I have been in the land of woolen socks for a whole year myself, scary.
Rather than do a normal post I will instead do a “how have we got this far?” type of thing divided into headings. Don’t worry, I will try not to bore you all to death!
In January 2012 we were living in a well situated but below par apartment right in the heart of Cardiff. Whilst only five minutes or so away from the shops, it was far too small (and moldy) for our needs. Then we packed up our stuff and left the country!
Landing in Norway without a job, my parents in law kindly let us live in their house for what ended up being somewhere in the region of 8 months. Due to it not being my house, I will instead represent the point by showing an unrelated photo of me holding a fish that I took in February last year.
They gave us a place to sleep, fed us and gave us lots and lots of love. It wasn’t always easy during my first few months in Norway, but they made it all so much easier for me.
After sometime things like jobs came along and with it I am pleased to say a salary. Thus, we spread our wings and headed off to a place to call our very own in September.
I know that photo doesn’t look very homely, but this is the spare room… and we we hadn’t unpacked by that point. Notice the familiar box from the pack away photo earlier?
Now we have our own place complete with wooden fire, windows and even a roof. All of the mod cons!
The issue of jobs has probably caused me more grief than any other single issue since I have come to Norway. Whilst it has a very happy ending, the search for work was for the most part miserable.
In January 2012 I had a nice job in South Wales. I was an immigration caseworker for an MP and absolutely loved it. I made friends for life, did some truly wonderful and amazing things and found the job fulfilling and enjoyable. It was like my hobby and job combined in some respects.
All of a sudden, I am in Norway with no job and no friends. Ah. Whilst I moved to Norway knowing that this would be the case, it doesn’t make the stark reality of it any easier. What does one do? Bring the mountain to Mohammad!
After emails proved fruitless, I would print off a bundle of CVs and visit office blocks such as these:
I would often have very nice conversations with people but my lack of Norwegian was a bigger disability to me than being a brain in a jar with an eye on a stalk. This level of difficulty I did not expect!
As will so many things, good things come to those who wait. This came in the form of one of the must fun jobs I have ever done. Tour guiding!
I would spend whole days rolling in laughter. If it had been a year round job with work everyday I think I would have stuck with it. I would go home everyday with a huge smile on my face.
Things move on and the the summer came to an end. After several emails and a really fun job interview, Amnesty International welcomed me into their team and I once again returned to the world of not for profit organisations.
This job is not only fun and rewarding, but has brought with it some wonderful friends and a great (and sometimes too great) social life. This combined with my Masters degree has given me more offers to go out and and enjoy myself than I have the time to accept.
I feel that I have landed on my feet on the job front and am very content with how things are plodding along. Even if that drop was a very steep one at times!
This has been an interesting journey and one that is still ongoing and will continue to do so for many years I should think.
When I first came to Norway I found the language issue quite stressful as I couldn’t even understand road signs. This issue however has largely vanished and I am feeling more and more comfortable.
I began with (and to some extent am continuing) with formal language tuition.
This has been helpful for my written Norwegian, but I feel my spoken has developed more from practice ‘on the street’ than anything else.
I am not as far with my Norwegian as I would have guessed at this point, however I feel that this is more due to unrealistic goals than any lack of effort on my part. I have a goal of being broadly functional in 18 months from now when I finish my masters, otherwise no good jobs for Mr Dave!
The Verdict – One Year On
I can’t believe it has been a year as it as gone so quickly, and over all I am very pleased with how things have gone.
It hasn’t always been easy- There have been tears at times, frustration but for the most part I have beaten obstacles that have faced me. I miss home dreadfully sometimes, but I am pleased that I made the decision to come here.
What the long term future holds for me depends on how good I am at Norwegian in a year or so. If things work out well, I could see myself staying here for a considerable amount of time.
No blog would be complete without a ‘Culture Shock’ picture. I will post my very favourite here for this ‘clips’ episode.
He he he.
Thank you all for sticking with me for the past 12 months. I wouldn’t have continued to write if people didn’t read it, so thank you all for your loyalty to my little project.
Here’s to another year!
Take care everyone, stay out of trouble and don’t forget to post comments.
See ya next week!