Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Warning: very long post!!!

Everybody who moves to another country will know: life isn't as picturesque as it shows you in the folders. Read the blogs of previous emigrants/immigrants and you can read some true horror stories. Especially by those who fell for the brochure and didn't look any further. 

I started thinking about emigrating from the Netherlands about 8 years ago I think. I told my family, I told my friends, I told my colleagues. I wanted to move to Canada. Visiting a emigration fair in the Netherlands, I soon realised moving to Canada didn't just have hooks and eyes (Dutch expression), it had a whole pack sloth of bears walking in the road. Firstly of course that debt I was carrying. So, I got rid of the debt. Visited more emigration fairs. Started reading blogs of other wannabes and have-dones. And probably put my life on hold a bit in the Netherlands. 

Along the road in Canada's Badlands
I visited Canada. Found it to be a great and welcoming country. Loved the Badlands, didn't care so much for the Rocky Mountains, tried to find work. It was impossible. The job I wanted as a busdriver was a no-go from the start, so I had to change my career. Hotel receptionist. Which I had done for a few months a lifetime ago. Again it proved to be impossible. The only places where they would hire me, were places where the ratio men to women was about 95 to 5. Odds even I found too much. 

I changed my view from Canada to Norway. Realised I needed to learn the language and got myself an English-Norwegian course. Realised I needed to learn the language properly and took a 4 day intensive class. Visited Norway. Got a job offer, which I turned down. Continued learning Norwegian with another 4 day intensive class. Went to Norway again and had a job interview. Three months later and here I am: living the life in Norway. 

I miss him!
I live a mundane life. I drive a bus for a living, live in a tiny apartment facing North, don't have the love of my life around me (he is living the life of a God in the Pepperfly household) and basically my life isn't that much different from my life in the Netherlands. So, why did I do it?

I had that question a lot. Before moving especially, but even now the question is quite often: why? Why did I pack up everything, leave family and friends behind and move to another country. Where it's cold. And dark. And this doesn't just refer to the weather. According to some the people are cold and dark as well!

Well.... I wanted a change. Simple as that. A change. And yes, I know I could have had a change in the Netherlands. But I wanted something more than just a simple move in the Netherlands. A challenge perhaps. Something that would test my abilities. And moving here has certainly proved to be a change, a challenge and even a test to my abilities!

On my way to a new life
From day one I have refused to speak English. Norwegian only. Even if the Norwegian they speak here is completely different from the Norwegian I learnt in class! If I get invited to anything, I will go. I have become sort of a yes-person. With some exceptions, but I will do most. I have joined a club. Granted, not much talking goes on apart from the score calling during a game, but between games we get to chat a little. 

So, was it what I had expected it to be? Honestly? I don't know. I didn't really know what to expect when I first arrived. Well, some hunky sort of person picking me up from the airport telling me that I was the love of his life would have been nice, but even I know that was more wishful thinking than anything else. And I guess that if it would have happened, I would have run a mil (10 km/6 miles)! Me being quite a chicken at times!! 

The (first) union meeting
There were a few things I did know beforehand. I knew it was going to be hard to meet people. As a nation they are quite known for their coldness towards others. Turns out: complete nonsense. They are no colder than any other nation. As a matter of fact, they have been nothing but friendly and kind towards me. Asking me out, explaining stuff to me and all that. Yes of course there are Norwegians that are 'cold' towards me. There are hordes of Dutch who are 'cold' towards me! No difference there!!

I also knew Norway was expensive. Which it is. Viewed from a Dutch point anyway. Food is about double what I would pay in the Netherlands and there isn't always the choice I would like. Then again, my wages are a lot higher here as well and in the end I fork out about the same percentage as the Dutch on food. And I knew Norway was going to be cold and Haugesund was going to be wet. Well, apart from the week when my sister was here, the weather has been quite good: some snow, but mainly just cold. And bright and sunny. It might change of course and it probably will. But I didn't move to Norway because I wanted temperatures over 25 degrees for the rest of my life. I should have moved to Africa in that case...

Where to go?
Will I stay long? I don't know. Right now I am only eleven weeks into my new adventure. It's way too early to tell whether I will be here by the time I retire or whether I will move on again in a few years time. I like it here. I think I could have a great life here. It depends a lot on the job, my personal life and a lot of other little things that make up a life. But, I will keep you posted!


  1. All the best Mara. I admire your courage and sense of adventure (and recognize it). The step you took will never be something to regret because life starts just out of your comfort zone.
    take care! Chantal

  2. Between dreams and reality or even plans and reality there is a big difference and it takes quiet a long time to really get used to live in another country and to make a circle of friends. At the beginning everybody feels lonely, I am sure in one year it will be better. First thing to do is get a bigger apartment where you can also keep your cats ! Living without cats is hard !

  3. I think this moving of yours is great. Otherwise I would never visit Norway. Well. Maybe I would, just not this year. Seriously, it's a good thing you did emigrate. It's something you would have regretted if you didn't do it. And we don't know a thing about the fuiture. No need to speculate. We'll see it when we get there, don't we? ;-).

  4. I think change can be very good yet I always resist it. I think you were brave and I am so happy with the way things have turned out for you. Your keeping your life exciting and I think that is really awesome! I am so happy you are a "yes" person now and I'm excited to see what your future holds. Great post Mara!

  5. My dad moved from Illinois to Colorado because he wanted change, and my mom went along because she wanted him to be happy. :D I think it's neat that you had a dream and then you made it happen!


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!