9 months and 8 days in Oslo

The sun is bright today and it marks my 9 month and eight day anniversary of moving to Norway. It’s a bit like a pregnancy that’s gone past it’s due date.

Nine months and eight days. Uff da.

Similarly to a pregnancy, I can tell you that 9 months and 8 days ago, I would have never imagined I’ve come so far, experienced so many things, and met so many people.

At the end of 9 months of pregnancy and then birth, a mother finally sees the new little one, scrunched up, wet, and wiggly. At the birth of my oldest son, I remember feeling terrified of this bundle of joy  in front of me. All I could think was, “Oh no. I don’t know what to do with him. Who is he?” He stared up at me with these deep blue eyes and I was sure he could see right through. Ever since that day, I think we’ve both been trying to figure each other out.

When we moved to Norway, we were given this little bundle of joy; an opportunity to live in Scandinavia. Just like a newborn infant, it took lots of energy. It took lots of energy to listen, to navigate, to learn enough Norwegian to get by, to buy groceries, to walk out the door and face the world that, just by a glance and could see through me and would know  I was not one of them.

Now, after living in Norway for 9 months and 8 days, Oslo and I are still trying to figure each other out, but I am less terrified. The grocery store check-out girls know me. I’ve figured out what kinds of foods are what. My children have mastered the public transportation system. Our church is starting to feel like home. I have friends who don’t go to church and some of them are even atheists. I can read a lot in Norwegian and rejoice when I hear a word I’ve just added to my vocabulary. My children feel happy to go to school, where they speak Norwegian all day long with their new friends. My husband and I have explored many cafes and hiked hills near and far.

As we enter the season of spring and the light comes back, here are nine observations about my new life here in Oslo, Norway:

  1. It takes a long time to feel at home in a foreign country. When you move your children, even if they are willing, might be pissed at you, especially when learning a new language.
  2. Diversity is amazing and often is a great strength, but comes with challenges as well.
  3. It’s nice to just go to worship at church and not be a pastor for awhile. Singing hymns and participating in services can fill one’s heart and soul for a long time.
  4. Norwegians are some of the most lovely people on earth, but are way too addicted to technology and their phones.
  5. It is nearly impossible to have a nice leisurely walk at Sognsvann on a weekend afternoon without getting lapped four times by Norwegian athletes. Norwegians do not work out for fun and are hard core at most everything they do.
  6. Learning a foreign language takes time and lots of practice. And you have to be vulnerable, which isn’t particularly one of my strong suits.
  7. I admire my children more than ever. They are the brave ones and I hope and pray I haven’t scarred them for life.
  8. Religious diversity is one of the best things I’ve ever encountered and I am so grateful for those who have taken the time to dialogue about this life journey  we are on together.
  9. Brown cheese is my favorite, favorite, favorite Norwegian food and always will be.

–Emily Gratia