Perhaps you've been wondering this. . . "why not just get a job, Emily? Any job? Work in a coffee house, a knitting shop, etc. You'd get out of the house, earn some money, practice your Norwegian."
It's not that easy, and it again has to do with that damn European Union thing again.
If I were a resident of the EU, I would have the right to move anywhere within the EU and get a job. (Side note: Norway is not a member of the EU, but they participate essentially in all but the name). As an American, I need to be a skilled laborer and have a job offer before I can get a work permit. I am living in Norway on a resident visa, and since Erik is also an American (and not a native Norwegian), he is here with a work visa. He could only get his work visa after he had the job offer from his employer. As Americans, we were not allowed to move to Norway to look for work; we could only come here after the work visa (and subsequent family resident visa) had been approved.
Since it doesn't take particularly great skills to work in a coffee or knitting shop, my interpretation of the laws has me believe that it would be difficult for me to get a work permit to work in a non-skilled area, such as retail. That is the main reason that I have been holding out for a nursing--or more specifically--a midwife job. There is both the demand for midwives here, and I have the skills--the two things required to get a work visa.
If anyone out there has had experience in how to get around this rule, or little nuances in the law that I am unaware of, I'd be very interested in your experiences!