It’s now been one year since I moved to Norway. I’d love to be all “wow, time sure flies!” but honestly, this year has been really long. Really long in some amazing, magical ways, and really long in some oh my goodness can I just move to Belgrade already? ways.
To tell the truth, I’m a little relieved the first year is over. I couldn’t be happier with the place it’s brought me and the journey here was filled with some triumphant wins, but it was also marked by a lot of struggles, and even a few fails. Transitions, guys!
Win: the other day after talking with a man in the shop for a bit he asked me how many generations my family had been in Rauland
Ha! I mean sure, he was in his 80s, hard of hearing and, most importantly, from Oslo (so probably thought that my American accent was part of the quaint West Telemark dialect up here) but I’m totally going to take that as a language win!
Meanwhile Dan gets mistaken for a Swede on a weekly basis now, so I think we’re both making fine progress with this language thing.
Fail: our apartment in Trondheim
When I think back to how excited we were to sign our lease this time last year I feel so sad for past Silvia and all the struggles that apartment was about to dump in her lap.
Pick any month over the past year and I’ll tell you which particular apartment related rage I was in – and I really hate being in rages. So much senseless anger wasted on people who really did not give a hoot. Not even half a hoot. It was the worst, but now the lease is up and it’s all over.
Fail: picking a permanent home
It’s funny to think that this time last year I was so sure that I was moving to the place I would be living forever. Or for at least more than six months.
I was so proud (and relieved) to have finally chosen a place to settle after years of nomadic living. But while yes, I am happy to know that Norway really is the place I want to call home, now I realize that this country is like, really really huge, and I’m not even close to picking out the corner of it I want to settle into.
Should we stay in Telemark? Move west? Move north? Ålesund? Lofoten? I mean, I’ve never been to either, just like I had never been to Trondheim, so it’s probably too early to know. Ahh the suspense!
I just hope wherever we do settle has a pub for Dan to watch Arsenal games and a dance studio for my inner ballerina who while loving the fabulous views, is getting a bit tired of only having mountaintops to dance on (it’s really hard to twirl on moss). Totally doable, right?
What I do know is that I want to live somewhere breathtakingly beautiful. If these past months working at a supermarket in Telemark’s prettiest mountains have taught me anything, it’s that location definitely takes priority over job description for me.
Struggle: finding my post-backpacker footing
Life after backpacking is weird. I may have had the odd breakdown or two, but now I’m starting to get the hang of this only traveling for 1 to 11 days at a time thing.
Dan and I are now the proud owners of a sofa, a bed, a washing machine, several carpets, bookcases and throw pillows, a record player, and the cutest little red car.
Sure, the car and record player are the only things here with us in Rauland, while the rest of our stuff is quietly chilling in a storage pod in Trondheim, but one day we will get our hands back on all our grown up possessions and then we’ll be real adults!
Struggle: slowing it down
No, I’m not just talking about no longer being on the move. Everything seems to happen at a slower pace here.
There’s the whole lack of customer service and complicated web of bureaucracy thing that holds up a lot of tasks in Norway, the living up in the mountains far away from a lot of modern conveniences thing (my phone recently broke and it took a good two weeks to get my hands on a new one), and the whole language barrier slowing down communication thing.
Though I do have a secret suspicion this slower pace could actually be a really good thing. Except when the mountain WiFi is too slow to stream episodes of Gilmore Girls.
Win: falling in love with photography
While we were backpacking together I usually put Dan in charge of taking photos of places but now he rarely manages to pry the camera out of my hands.
Living in such gorgeous surroundings makes me want to take photos everywhere always, and I even splurged on a super fancy 5D Mark II. Oh my goodness, swoon. Like, take a look at my Instagram feed and you will easily spot the point a few weeks back where I start using the 5D.
Is it problematic being this attached to a lump of plastic and glass?
Struggle: not breaking up
Dan and I had a pact that we couldn’t break up within our first three months in Norway, but we really could have extended that to a full year, because it takes a long time to get used to living in a new country.
I’m just thankful that we always had enough perspective to know to blame Norway, not each other. Moving to a new country is hard! But oh does it feel good when you get past the tough bit. Would it be gross to end this with a #blessed?
Struggle: longterm commitment
To a place, duh!
My dad asked why I don’t want to just stay in Rauland forever and I rolled my eyes hard. Stay here? That’s so boring!
But then there’s a little voice in my head whispering who says I won’t feel that way about the next place after a year or two? Because I have never before in my life lived somewhere that I didn’t eventually plan to leave.
Win: incorporating brown cheese into my diet
Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s super gross on its own, but I do love a few slices of it melted into a good moose stew. That’s right, Norway, I can totally fit in here.
Fail: all of my friends here are under the age of 20
I guess that’s what happens when you work at a supermarket? I mean, maybe I should label this a win because it means I’m like, totally youthful and hip and happening.
Too bad I won’t see any of them when the summer ends because they’ll be too busy with high school.
Win: I got a new backpack!
A few people have asked if I’m planning to change my blog name now that I’m no longer a backpacker (hello, I make a Norwegian wage now!), and I did briefly consider it until I realized that my shoulders are now pretty much permanently attached to a new backpack.
It’s much smaller and perfect for both day hikes and up to two weeks worth of carry on luggage, which I think pretty perfectly sums up where I stand in regards to travel these days. So like yeah, thanks for asking, but I still totally heart my backpack.
This was a great reflection, and helped me realize that my dream country, Norway, isn’t completely perfect!
It’s true – no place is! I was really worried that I had been idealizing Norway too much before I moved here, but luckily I still love it, ha.
Carol Hopper says
Do not fear having only friends under twenty. I am over 70 and am a friend.
Aaah your comment put a huge smile on my face!
Happy 1 year Norway anniversary! What a great recap and experience 🙂
We lived in Alaska for 3 years and similarly I splurged on a good camera. It was hard not to get into photography and photograph the beautiful landscape. It was also so easy to drive a few minutes and be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Mother Nature. Something I struggle with now living in the concrete jungle of Toronto.
Cheers to many more happy years for you in Norway!
It is something I love about living in the mountains, and one of the reasons I think I do want to stay in the countryside!
Great article! As a Norwegian myself, it’s funny to get an “outsider’s” view on life in Norway xx
Haha it is funny to think of Norwegians reading my blog – some things must seem quite funny (and a bit silly, ha).
Congrats on your year in Norway! It sounds like you had some great successes. By the way, I always love seeing your posts in my Facebook feed. Over the past year, you have become my favorite travel blogger. It’s definitely been a win for me! 🙂
Oh, and as usual, your photos are stunning.
Oh Cindy, you don’t know how happy that makes me! xx
Van @ Snow in Tromso says
Happy Anniversary! Your past year seems to have been full of exciting changes and I loved following along! I do get your cabin fever though. After 2 years in Tromso I definitely feel the need to explore other places in Norway now and plan on moving south next year. I’ve been thinking about Ålesund too but it’s mostly raining there and the city isn’t that big so I’m a bit worried about not finding a job. I find location more important than the perfect career too but since I have study loans to pay back, I want to at least have some financial stability. Right now I’m thinking Stavanger since it is located perfectly between Vestlandet and the very south, it’s a bigger city than Tromso and it has lots of international direct flights which Tromso has next to none of 😀 Anyway, enough of my rambling. Excited to see where you’re headed in the future or if at all 😉
Aaah that would be crazy if I move north just as you move south! We’ll have to at least not miss each other completely, haha. And I’m also worried about the rain in Ålesund – it’s why I vetoed it last year. I’m quite happy doing any sort of shop job though (while blogging and writing part time) which is actually easier to find in smaller places, so weirdly Ålesund might seem too big? Ahh it’s tough to decide, but I think I’ll either end up somewhere west or north! Excited to see where we each end up 🙂
Van @ Snow in Tromso says
Yeah that would definitely be crazy 😀 But maybe we’ll randomly meet while exploring Norway one day, like on a trip to Svalbard, haha! I’m excited to see which place you’ll choose as well! It’s probably true that it’s easier to find a job like that in a small place but then again it’s probably quite a distance to the next airport which would annoy me. I mean, I’m already annoyed by the limited selection of flights from Tromso! 😀 Anyway, I guess there are a couple of nice and small places in the west as well like Flåm or Haugesund whereas nothing beats the Lofoten of course! Definitely a tough choice 😉
Thanks for sharing this reflection. Seems like you’ve navigated the challenges of making a big change with a good attitude – it definitely comes through in your writing of this post that, while there were some lows in this transition period, you are able to look at your situation from a light-hearted, humorous, and very open-minded perspective. I’m looking forward to continue reading about your life in Norway. Wishing you the best of luck with everything!
Thanks, Alissa! It has been a difficult year in ways, but mostly just so incredibly amazing. And it’s crazy to look back on!
Congratulations on your first year in Norway! It’s difficult to decide where to settle down, luckily nothing’s permanent! It’s a great thought to hold on to while the years fly by 🙂
That’s so true – especially these days!
Caroline L. says
Wow, can’t believe it’s been a year! I feel like you’ve been in Norway for a lifetime 🙂 That’s one of the greatest aspects about having a blog and documenting it all, I think. Having the ability to literally go back to a year ago and be all like “girl, you don’t know WHAT is even coming for you.”
Also, I’m headed to Belgrade next month so any recommendations are greatly appreciated!! My friends and I are doing Belgrade –> Sarajevo –> Dubrovnik –> Kotor and while I’m very familiar with Sarajevo and Dubrovnik after spending a few weeks there last year (my love for the Balkans runs very deep… just couldn’t stay away), I would love any suggestions you have for Belgrade and/or Montenegro if you’ve been!
I stayed in the prettiest little apartment in Lepetane on the Bay of Kotor – it was much more quiet and peaceful than staying in Kotor itself and so beautiful! And Belgrade is just one of those cities to explore on foot and eat everything! The food is amazing. And the nightlife is really fun (and not too crazy) so worth experiencing, even if you’re not super into partying or anything. Ahhh you are going to have so much fun!
Where has the year gone?! That’s crazy! I think you’re doing pretty well adjusting to living in a new place. Clearly we all experience our ups and downs, especially me! Anyway, it’s awesome see where the year has taken you and I can’t wait to see what year two has in store!
It is pretty exciting! I feel like both our lives have changed sooo much since we each started blogging, right? Pretty crazy!
I think the first year in a new place always feels the longest – for better or for worse. At least I feel like SO MUCH happened during my first year in Germany.
I understand the commitment issue. I’ve been in Frankfurt for three years now – the longest I think I’ve ever been in any place since high school. And, if I’m honest, I’m getting a bit anxious again…
I’m glad to hear it’s not just me then! Commitment is hard. ahhh
Vanessa @ The Travelling Colognian says
Wow, I can’t believe that it’s been one year already that you moved to Norway, Silvia. I had to laugh when I read that you were mistaken for a female from West Telemark and Dan for a Swede. In Uzbekistan I was often mistaken for a Russian although I don’t have any Russian language skills.
Congratulations on your new camera and on falling in love with photography. Also congratulations on your new backpack. Great to read that you still heart your backpack. 😉
Haha I was mistaken for Russian in Central Asia too! So funny.
Ahaha — a great recap! It’s so funny what things you can end up struggling with once you move abroad — but hey, at least your highschool aged friends can go out for a drink (if it’s before their curfew?). 🙂 Congrats on nesting and getting your hands on a fancy camera!
So nice to see a balanced, honest travel blog. rare these days! <3
I accidentaky stumbled across your blig, and I got to say I enjoy the reading! Rauland is such an odd distant place to move to though, really impressing. I moved from the west coast in Norway to Bø in Telemark, and even though it’s slightly bigger than Rauland for instance, I’m not quite used to the whole “country side” thing, even after studying here for more than a year😂 What are your plans after this year in Norway? Anyway, if you ever want a tour lasting about ten minutes walking through a teeny tiny community where half the population are students at the local college, I would be happy to oblige, haha.