I've been living in Norway for 2 years now and boy, it doesn't feel like I've actually been here that long! I have to admit, I almost forgot about my expat-anniversary. Summer has been flying by lately and I can't believe that the days of the Midnight Sun are already over.
I've started to work full-time 2 weeks ago and we'll go on our Spain vacation in 2,5 weeks.
I don't think this is what I imagined I would be doing 2 months after graduating uni though. But then again, I really didn't have a clue about what I wanted to be doing anyway.
When I came to Norway two years ago, the plan was to do my Masters. That's it basically.
Of course I dreamt about getting a job and continuing to live in Scandinavia after my studies but in the interest of full disclosure, I had my doubts along the way.
During fresher's week in the Arctic, exploring a fjord...
And finding a job was a challenge on an entirely different level altogether. Even though I got a job I was really happy with two months after moving here, my contract came to an end after returning from my summer in Greenland last year.
It took me 4 months to find another one and let me tell you, job hunting in Norway is no fun.
It's common to simply not hear back from applications and not even to be interviewed even after they rated your application second.
Needless to say that the past year in Norway wasn't always easy but at least everything turned out alright in the end and I started my current job on a part-time basis in January.
Of course, working part-time while writing your MA thesis is doomed to end in headaches and anxiety.
You wouldn't believe how much I hated being a student towards the end and how glad I was to finally graduate.
To join the working world right after uni however wasn't exactly a great idea.
I worked all summer, didn't get a chance to breathe and think about what I want to do in the future, and in addition had to deal with grey, rainy and cold days during the first ever summer I was supposed to spend in the Arctic entirely.
Yes I was quite depressed throughout much of the summer - or was it a quarter life crisis triggered by my 25th birthday?
Either way, the thought of having to work a 9-5 for the rest of my life from now on and the miserable Norwegian weather were a bad combination and all I really wanted to do was to go away.
This might have resulted in me starting to day-dream about vacations in sunny regions, which was followed by the realisation that getting there from Tromso is just a pain in the you-know-what. Travelling anywhere from Tromso is, to be fully honest.
And that mood in turn resulted in me checking flight connections from all airports in Norway and deciding on a place I want to move to next summer when both, my job and our rental contract end.
I'm not going to reveal too much about our plans but after we found out that we could rent an entire house for ourselves in that particular place, for even less rent than we pay now, we really got excited about moving.
The thought of having to go flat hunting in Tromso AGAIN just freaks me out and I don't think we'll find a flat here that is as big and cheap as ours is now.
Then again, I'm definitely going to miss the snow in Tromso. As much as I hate Northern Norwegian summers, winters here are the best.
Well, minus polar night of course. The dark period is just horrible.
In fact, we might have plans to visit Great Britain for Christmas as the weather there won't be any worse than it is here in December and we'll have the chance to soak up on some day-, and if we're lucky, even sunlight!
Despite the ups and downs, I do want to continue living in Norway though.
I mean, I've gotten so used to it that I just don't want to go back to experiencing communication and culture issues again just yet.
And even though I complain about Norwegian habits to the boyfriend all the time, the truth is that I might have become norwegianized a bit.
The other day at work I did some translation work from English to German and was asked by a German colleague whom we had hired for the job - the translation was terrible!
Well speaking 70% Norwegian, 25% English and 5% German in my everyday life seems to have taken its toll.
I wouldn't want to have it any other way though.
You know, I never attended any Norwegian classes and when I first moved here, I only spoke Swedish and English with the locals.
I have to thank Simon for making me switch over to speaking Norwegian just by listening to him and having him remind me that I could have said the same sentence in Norwegian if I had just tried.
His belief in my ability to express myself in Norwegian and his constant reminders to actually do so really paid off.
In fact, I would never have gotten my current job if it weren't for him.
Being able to speak Norwegian is a must in many work areas if you want to find a job here and even though I understood the language right from the start, I never learned how to speak it.
I'm not saying that you should get a Norwegian boyfriend if you want to learn the language but it certainly helps!
Anyway, what I'm saying is that I've gotten really used to Norway. Maybe even a bit too much. Sometimes I don't even see certain Norwegian habits that might seem weird to strangers cause I've gotten so used to them.
Therefore I'm thinking of starting a little series where I'll tell you about all those little things that are so typically Norwegian.
Would that be something you'd like to read about?
Enough of my rambles though. Let me show you a few of my highlights of my second year in Norway:
Highlights of my 2nd year in Norway
Norway isn't exactly known for its amazing cuisine but during SMAK, I definitely got to stuff my face with lots and lots of good food!
Visiting the Lofoten Islands
I obviously don't need to tell you how amazing the Lofoten Islands are - you probably know that already!
Fighting the Dark with Lots of Events
Tromso really knows how to make the best of the long and dark winter!
Staycation on the Mainland
One weekend about three months before MA thesis submission, Simon and I were in desperate need of a break and booked a weekend in a little cabin at Tromso Camping.
Best decision ever!
Easter Vacation in Swedish Lapland
This was followed by a trip to Swedish Lapland for Easter where we stayed with Simon's family in their cabin at the lake.
I got to learn how to drive a snowmobile and saw lots of reindeer so clearly this was one of the best (and snowiest) vacations ever!
Simon and I moved in together in spring and we were so lucky with the flat we found. We now call the mainland of Norway home and couldn't be happier about it.
Graduating Uni and Having my Parents Visiting
The last big highlight of my second year in Tromso was my uni graduation that my parents were able to attend.
It was a stressful and emotional time for me but I was so lucky that they were there to witness it and it was so much fun to show them around Northern Norway.
And even though the weather was bad, at least they got to see wild reindeers!
So I guess that's it.
The last 12 months have been tough but I guess they also showed me what I wanted in life and what I don't want.
I'm super excited for our move next year but until then, I'm going to travel around Northern Norway just a bit more and soak in the beauty of the Arctic as much as possible before we pack our bags and leave.
Let the third year of life in Tromso begin!
Are you an expat? What were some of your struggles in the second year?
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Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
My favourite from last week was the post "Do Denmark in the Fall – 5 reasons to visit this Autumn" by Oregon Girl Around the World. I've always visited Copenhagen in the summer but after reading Erin's post, I was definitely tempted to book a holiday in Denmark during fall. It seems like at that time of the year, Danes take their hygge extra seriously!
Thanks for linking up with us Erin!
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