Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bachelorette days in Oslo

I moved into a bachelor's apartment in Oslo on Monday, as I began a four-week long nasjonal fag kurs for sykepleie (a national "subject" course for nurses). This course is required for any nurses seeking authorization in Norway who were educated outside of the European Union, as it addresses the Norwegian health care system, welfare system and spends an inordinate amount of time assuring that we can properly calculate medication administration. For many in the class it is the final step before they are fully authorized. For me, it is actually no longer a requirement, since SAFH and the appeals board decided that rather than doing a few months of clinical experiences like every other person in my class, I should instead begin my nursing education again, or try to get a few measly courses from my pathetic education approved by a nursing program and maybe, just maybe, I can shorten my study period by a few courses. It is no longer a requirement since I would presumably get all of the course information in a real Norwegian nursing educational program. 

So, why am I taking the class, you ask, since it is no longer required? Well, since I have no intention of ever repeating my basic bachelor degree nursing education, I still cling to the hope that I may someday be authorized through other avenues--media pressure, legal attention, etc. I realize, however, that I will still be required to take this class, if I ever by the grace of God, gain authorization in Norway. And this I have no arguments with. Since I have sat on a waiting list for over a year, and the class is only offered twice a year in two locations in Norway, I had to jump on the opportunity to take it now. 

Taking a two hour and 11 minute train ride two times every day was not a viable option for me, so after a bit of desperate last-minute scrambling, we found a barely reasonably priced apartment to rent in the Majorstuen neighborhood of Oslo (costing us about $1200 for the month, if you are curious). It is a 20 minute walk from the Pilestredet campus of the Høyskole i Oslo (Oslo University College) and very conveniently located to the metro, shops and even a local campus of my gym. So, I'm living it up in Oslo for the next month! I've always daydreamed--when walking past the lovely brownstone homes in Boston or New York, or the gracious, wrought-iron decorated apartments in Stockholm, Oslo or any other romantic European city--what it would be like to live there. Now, without my husband and daughter and dog, I get to try out that life. I'm looking forward to it, and dreading it as well. 

I am nervous about so many of the unknowns for the following month: how the class is actually evaluated, if my language skills are up to par, how difficult the written work/reading assignments will be, how much time is demanded of us out of class, how much I will miss my family during the week, how comfortable my living arrangements will be, and not least of all, how lonely I will be. 

Three days into the experience, all is going well. More on the class to follow. . . 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Home Sweet Home

For the first time since we moved to Norway in August 2010, we traveled "home". First that meant one week at home in Minnesota, for a whirlwind visit with four grandparents and a silly aunt and uncle, not to mention a few lucky friends. Then we traveled to New England, namely to the Upper Valley of Hanover, New Hampshire and Hartford, Vermont, which was our home for six years before moving to Norway. There we spent 10 days hopping from one guest room to another, squeezing in as many coffee dates, play dates, dinner get-togethers and two-day trips around the region to visit dear friends as we possibly could. 

The Green at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
snapped as we drove out of town on our last day in the US.

We have mixed emotions about going and coming "home"--to Minnesota, New England and now back again to Lillehammer. I was worried, and anticipated, that the trip would be much harder, emotionally. That I wouldn't want to leave the United States and that I would dread and curse coming back to Norway. I'll be honest--there was a little of that, but those feelings were not nearly as strong as I had feared. 

We had a little bright spot along on this trip, happily and easily adapting to new beds, new/old friends that she didn't remember, new/old haunts that she didn't remember. All that our four-year old daughter remembers is life in Norway, and for that I am a little sad. She had no problems whatsoever in switching into full-time use of English, and for that I am very happy.

As we drove down Main Street of the quintessentially New Englandy Hanover, New Hampshire, a street which I drove nearly daily for 6+ years, a street where I bought coffee and Christmas presents, ran into friends and patients, braved snowstorms and summer heat alike, Greta asked me from the backseat, oblivious to the emotions spinning ‘round in my head and heart: “Mamma. . .  which land (i.e. country) do you like better: Norway or America?”

I sighed.  Such an innocent, simple question. If only the answer were so simple. “Ohhhh. . . that’s a really difficult question to answer, Greta. . . “

Undaunted, Greta pressed on, “Pappa? Which land do you like better?”

Erik responded, also a little torn, but prepared to give a slightly more diplomatic (and non-binding) answer, “Well, there are parts of both countries that I really like.”

Greta responded, rather decided in her answer, “I like Sweden best.”