Monday, May 9, 2011

A bit of honesty

It's not always a fun adventure to be living the ex-pat life here in Norway. Sometimes it kind of sucks, to be brutally honest. Yes, we moved here primarily for the adventure factor, saying we wanted to look back 20 years from now and say, "wow, that was crazy/fun/amazing/remember when we lived in Norway. . . ". And we knew there would be tough times, so I'm going to write honestly about those tough times.

When we moved, our American friends and family asked me, "are you going to be able to work there?" I replied, naively, "Yes! They have midwives everywhere, and everyone (i.e. non-official, lay folk) in Norway says, we need midwives!" Here are the problems I did not anticipate:
  1. Norwegian bureaucracy not immediately recognizing an American nursing and midwife education to be the equivalent of their own. 
  2. Norwegian bureaucracy taking 7+ months (and counting) to review nursing license applications.
  3. Not even considering my midwife license until after all qualifications have been met on my nursing license.
  4. Being required to take a national nursing course for foreign educated nurses that is only offered two times a year (March and November)
    1. Needing to pass a language proficiency test (Norsk prøve 3) prior to taking the nursing course, and that test only being offered three times a year (February, May, and October).
    2. The October test results arriving too late to allow you to take the November nursing course, thus delaying the nursing course until Spring of the Following Year (i.e. 2012).
  5. So. . . if I can't get a nursing license until Spring 2012. . . and they won't evaluate a midwife license until after that. . . and it took 7+ months of processing for a nursing license. How long til the midwife license is processed? Maybe Late 2012, early 2013?
Have I mentioned this was not at all what I had planned?

As I not-so-patiently wait for SAFH to declare my obviously poor American nursing education to be on-par to their vastly superior Norwegian nursing education, I study study study Norwegian. I am now faced with a language proficiency test at the end of May: a level that I (and my teacher and a not-so-supportive classmate) feel I am unlikely to pass, seeing that I have only been in language classes for 4 months. This tests consists of a reading comprehension test (which I do well on in our practice tests), a listening comprehension (which I sometimes pass and sometimes fail), a writing test (a 100 and 200 word essay on various topics, in which I struggle tremendously with prepositions), and a speaking/conversation portion (which we rarely practice in class. Go figure). So, to correct this, Erik and I are trying to speak bare norsk hjemme (only Norwegian at home) until the test on May 30. Many days I cry, frustrated with my inability to express myself or understand him. Other days I feel a bit more flink (capable). 

And so, we wait: wait til the end of May, and see how the tests goes. . . . wait until SAFH gets their act together and gives me some sort of response. . . . and we'll reevaluate this roller-coaster ex-pat adventure, make new goals, new plans. 


  1. Åååå, jeg syns så synd på deg. Jeg ser helt klart at dette er frustrerende. Samtidig er det for meg, som norsk, betryggende å vite at systemet er såpass strengt. Men, selv om det er strengt, behøver det ikke å være tregt. Og i ditt tilfelle er det tregt. Kanskje du skal kontakte avisa? Norge har stort behov for arbeidsinnvandrere i årene som kommer, og dette er ikke måten å få tak i god, utenlandsk arbeidskraft. Men hold ut! Det ordner seg nok, før eller senere. Forhåpentligvis før. :)

  2. Ah bureaucracy... My heart goes out to you, had a fair bit of that in Italy as well.

    Can just say from my own experience that it will get to a point where the language "clicks" and your brain starts accepting it as a language rather than a continuous problem to be solved. I remember dreaming in Italian all the time as I was learning, as if my brain were trying desperately to sort out all the new input. No rest, even at night!

    Tough as it is, full immersion with a native speaker is the way to go and will get you there soooo much quicker. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be not to worry about getting things wrong when you speak. I was so silent for ages when I first arrived in Italy as I wanted everything I said to be perfect. You know what, my Italian is still far from perfect after 10 years, but it doesn't matter. Communication is the thing. Also, smile! (even as you get every single preposition wrong - think they should be banned from every language).

    Best of luck.

  3. Uff! And I just posted a rant about my jobless situation. Don't be too hard on yourself about not knowing the situation beforehand - how could you have? You can't know what you cannot know. Anyway, I sympathize. And in the meantime you have had time to learn some Norwegian and knit a great sweater!

  4. Yep, sometimes moving to Norway really stinks! I can relate! Keep ploughing away with the norwegian! Du er så flink!

  5. Hang in there.. :-0 I know it probably doesn't help to tell you that it will work WILL.

  6. Some of my friends had to go through that. They are Norwegian but they did their nursing Degrees in South Africa. Took them ages to get it converted to 'Norwegian standards'. Can relate to your frustration but as Tressa said 'hang in there'.