Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The A4 Envelope

I received another A4 envelope in the mail last Friday.

A4 is the European "standard" size paper, the Euro 8.5"x11". As my Norwegian class read about the "typisk Norsk" who goes skiing, eats brown cheese and lefse, and only dresses in wool, my teacher referred to the "A4 Norwegians"--the standard family with 2 kids, a Volvo station wagon, a labrador retriever and a "rekkehus" (row house). I was secretly pleased to have caught the cultural reference to the standard "A4" Norwegian, but then also rather struck by the similarities between the American Dream and the A4 Norwegian dream. (Although the typical American would probably consider the average Norwegian row house to be a little small.)

So, I received my A4 envelope. From SAFH. Informing me that, again, I do not meet Norwegian standards for nursing or midwife education, and that both applications would be sent on to the independent appeals board for review. I was not surprised by this response, at least not for the nursing application. Erik and I felt I had submitted a very thorough response to the deficiencies SAFH stated I hadn't addressed on my midwife application, but apparently not so. Their complete refusal to acknowledge that any of my points had any validity at all was rather stunning. Enough to get my thoughts swimming back across the Atlantic, back to where the grass is greener.

But the roller-coaster ride continued. . . In tears after reading through the double refusal letter from SAFH, I  "got my shit together", so to speak, and went to my first job interview that afternoon. Maihaugen is hiring summer employees: ticket sales, museum store employees, tour guides, "actors" in the exhibitions. If I understood the interviewers correctly, they had over 250 applicants, and our group of 7 interviewees were the "cream of the crop". I did it all in Norwegian, and apparently well enough that one of the interviewers said, "you are speaking Norwegian very well for only having lived here 18 months". Her comment, combined with my nervous adrenaline, elevated my mood for the rest of the evening.

I rode that high through Saturday, a beautiful sunny spring day, which also happened to be my birthday. Home with my family the whole day in our nearly completed living room, Skype calls with loved ones, out for a sunny walk to a cafe for lunch, and home again for homemade chocolate cake, were more high points on the roller-coaster.

On Sunday, my mood came crashing down again. Still sunny and warm, but the reality of more waiting--the appeals board says the average waiting time is 3-4 months--combined with the realities of a job search in Norway and the slightly depressing reality of another birthday, made for a difficult day.

I long for the days when I knew what the day would hold, what my life would hold, or at least felt like I had the emotional capacity to handle what was thrown my way. That A4 envelope sat on my dining room table, and I thought "do I dare open it, and have it ruin my weekend?" But then again, could I really let it sit there all weekend long, taunting me with its contents? The roller-coaster was inevitable.


  1. Good for you on the interview! Big congrats!

    I had a similar roller-coaster experience two days ago. I've been so down on my Norwegian skills lately and then I had an entire REAL conversation with some parents of one of my son's friends. I was riding high ALL DAY. And I thought: it takes so little to change my mood here.

    Just out of curiosity - what is Norway asking you to do to meet their requirements? (sorry if you've posted that before and I missed it.)

  2. Gratulerer on having a good interview in Norwegian. As a fellow expat and immigrant, I'm so happy for you. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you as you continue to work with SAFH.

  3. Sounds so frustrating, but, when I felt low, my husband reminded me to remember what we HAVE got, not what we haven't, and that really helped. Loving your blog, and dog! x

  4. Oh, man, that sucks about SAFH. I know you're feeling down, but just keep going. You'll get there. Plus, hey hey, your Norwegian is super fabulous now if you're successfully interviewing! Any tips you'd like to share?

  5. Thank you all for your encouragement and support. It's easy to feel like one is very alone in this process. It's frustrating that there's not and easier way to connect with others over these situations other than just venting out into the universe.