Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Norway blog to check out

For those of you who follow my blog because you're curious about Norway, or for those of you who follow my blog because you know me (somewhat) personally, you may be interested in my parents'  blog, Our Travels with Rover. They have been traveling around Norway since the beginning of June in their American RV (affectionately named Rover), and have been blogging their way through the country.

They have spent the last four summers driving Rover around various regions in Europe, and decided to focus on Scandinavia this year. By their own admission, they are not big "nature people". They far prefer to hit the big European cities, see the museums, famous cathedrals, castles and World War monuments. So, we were all a bit nervous/curious as to how they would like Norway, which is kind of known for, well. . . nature.

According to their Facebook updates, blog posts and Skype calls, they do seem to be managing to enjoy themselves and are having a hard time denying that Norway isn't beautiful. Today they visit Bergen, probably Norway's most beautiful city, so I'm hoping the weather in this notoriously rainy city holds out.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Mere hours into my new job, I knew I had to quit.

This was mid-April. I had begun tending a patient who required one-on-one staffing in a sort of assisted living facility, and I was hired just a week before the job began. It was described as patient who did not need assistance every minute of the day, so during the quieter periods I could perhaps help the other health care assistants with other clients in the building. This sounded promising. Nice to have a variety of contact and responsibilities. Not due to anyone's fault in particular, it was a very inaccurate statement.

The assignment was much more demanding than anyone had imagined, and this became immediately clear my first day on the job. When I wasn't directly involved with the patient, I could sit in the hallway on a sofa, but must be immediately available for assistance. There was no "nurses station" in the near vicinity, as I had imagined. The staff lounge/work station was 3 floors down, and I couldn't leave the hallway for even a minute. On most shifts I spent hours on that sofa. For the night shift--50% of my job--I would spend nine hours sitting on that sofa, only occasionally rising and attending to the patient. There were other nights when I never needed to enter the apartment.

This was where the job fell short of my expectations. As my brother said, "There was a time in my life where I would have loved having a job where I could just read all day long", and yes. . . there were some perks to it. I got lots of knitting done, wrote lots of emails, read newspapers (in Norwegian), spent waaaaaay too many hours on Facebook, even updated this blog. But getting a paycheck was only one of the reasons I had gotten a job. I needed to speak to people. I needed to communicate with colleagues. I needed to get my language proficiency to a professional level, not a polite chatting level. My patient was essentially non-verbal. I could have more in-depth conversations in Norwegian with Greta. My interactions with colleagues amounted to the 2 minutes every shift when they would come and relieve me so I could sprint to the bathroom and back again.

Money in the bank? check. Language development? nope.

I knew I needed to quit. It was an awful feeling. Sickening, really, to quit a job just days after you've begun. But I couldn't ignore my gut telling me "You. Have. Options." Thankfully, I did have options. As I said, this was mid-April. I had two other job offers at the time--one at the Maihaugen museum, working in their gift shops (which admittedly are really nice gift shops), and the other at a nursing home as, essentially, a uncertified nursing assistant (read: lower pay than a certified nursing assistant). Both of these jobs were summer positions and would start in June.

After running the situation past a few trusted Norwegian friends, with connections to both the healthcare field and the national employment/unemployment office, they confirmed what my gut was telling me: quit the job. This was not to my benefit. I am not responsible to fix the staffing problems of this assignment. After a week or so, I looked up a few key words in my dictionary, summoned up some courage, and told my boss I'd be quitting at the end of May. It was a 5 week notice--pretty darn good, actually.

My boss was incredibly understanding, and said, "I've been thinking that it's really a waste to have you sitting here on this couch. . . " By this point, three other colleagues had already quit, some even before the job had begun. I offered to be available for the occasional shifts, as my schedule allowed (and as my bank account required). And that is where I am tonight: midnight, sitting on a couch in a hallway, trying to stay awake on the shortest night of the year (which unfortunately does not amount to the shortest shift of the year!), and blogging. . .

(Stay tuned for. . . ."Starting Again" the other new job).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Erik says I owe you this one

When you last saw our heroes, they were crumpled in the middle of the living room floor, weeping over the idiocy of Norwegian bureaucrats. Rest assured, gentle readers, your heroes have risen to battle once again. Because it's either that or. . . well, yeah. Not many other options.

Erik told me I owe you all an update, so you don't think we have been completely beaten down by The Man. We have made some promising connections, and are allowing ourselves to be the slightest bit hopeful. Turns out Erik's boss is a rather well-connected guy. Turns out he kind of values Erik's work and wants to keep him around. Turns out Erik won't be staying around much longer if his wife has to work as an underemployed, underpaid nursing assistant. A few emails were exchanged, and a few days later a nursing researcher and former head of the nursing department from a local college came walking through our front door. Literally. (The door was wide open, because it was such a beautiful evening). Turns out she lives about 200m away.

We gave her a large two-ring binder (yes, they only have 2 rings in Norway, not 3) that chronologically  detailed the application, judgement, appeal, request for information, information supplied, judgement, appeal, summary of appeal, special appeal and final judgement of the past 20 months. She has apparently butted heads with SAFH in the past, and has dealt with other foreign-educated nurses seeking approval of their nursing education. As we sat around our dining room table, giving her a few details of my education and work experience, as well as the final judgment from the appeal board, she kept repeating "Unbelievable. . . Horrifying."

As the final appeal verdict stated, I essentially need to enroll in a nursing school again. But the nursing schools have the flexibility to approve courses from other educational institutions (something that SAFH claims they can do, but never actually do).

So, that's where we stand. A glimmer of hope.