I haven't quite decided exactly what the focus of this blog will be, but a natural place to start is exploring our family's adventures as we move from Vermont to Norway. We are a family of 4 (or 3, depending on your opinion of four-legged creatures): Erik the Pappa, Emily the Mama, Greta the adorable 2-year old, and Tika, the beloved dog.
Another question, I suppose, is who will read this blog? That may help me focus my writing a little. For now I expect it might be parents, siblings, friends, former co-workers and classmates. But, maybe somewhere out there, someone else is contemplating a move such as this, and wondering just how crazy it might be. And maybe we can answer a few questions, cheer them on, or talk them out of making the biggest mistake of their lives. Hopefully not the latter.
The following few paragraphs are co-opted from our annual Christmas 2009 letter, dated Groundhog's Day 2010, in which I cover many of the questions that those of you new to the blog might have.
This crazy adventure of ours has raised many questions, such as Why Norway? What’s Lillehammer like? Can Emily work there? Can you/Greta/Tika speak Norwegian? Will you bring your stuff? How long will you live there? Won’t you miss your family/won’t your family miss you? All good questions. Here is my attempt to answer them.
- Erik lived in Norway for 2 years in college (one year in Voss, another in Trondheim). He loved his time there, and has always wanted to return. Emily stole Erik’s heart (or so she’s told) 14 years ago when she told him she thought that sounded like fun. So, this plan has been kickin’ around for a while.
- Lillehammer is about 2 hours northwest of Oslo, so still considered to be in the more southern part of the country. It has about 25,000 people, and you may remember it was host to the 1994 Winter Olympics. We visited Lillehammer in 2008, and thought it was a really lovely community, and can’t quite believe our luck in finding work there.
- Norway employs midwives in every community and in every hospital, so Emily is optimistic that once her Norwegian is up to par that she’ll be able to work there.
- Erik speaks Voss’s regional dialect so convincingly that Norwegians still mistake him for being a native. Greta has a good comprehension of Norwegian, and a small vocabulary; Tika also has a good comprehension of Norwegian and she speaks fluent "Hunde-Norwegian". Emily is now cracking open the three Norwegian textbooks she received for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad, thanks Erik), and pulling out the flashcards she made several years ago.
- Yes, we’ll bring our stuff. Erik has invested too much time and energy into making much of our furniture to sell it and/or leave it all behind. And we’ve been told by other ex-pats that having your own “stuff” with you makes your house feel more like Home.
- We have talked about a 3-5 year time frame, in order to feel this massive of a move is worth the effort. And if we like it, we may stay longer. We’re open and flexible.
- Of course we’ll miss our families, but we’ve both lived apart from them for the past 13-14 years. Any trip to Vermont required a plane ride and either a car rental or 3-hour bus ride; a trip to Norway is just a little longer. Emily’s parents spend a few months each year driving their RV around Europe (that’s a whole other story, see their blog: www.ourtravelswithrover.com), so we expect to see them once or twice a year, and of course we hope to travel stateside on occasion, too. And, there’s always Skype.
And with that, we put our house on the market, started researching moving companies, Emily gave notice at her job, and on June 10 all of our possessions were packed into a moving truck bound for Norway.