Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What It Sometimes Feels Like to Live Abroad

I'm not a runner, but in an attempt not to sit around all day, the hubby and I went for a run around a nearby lake. We ran from our apartment up to the lake and managed to get all the way around with stopping (it's about 2 km around the lake, and we live about 10 minutes walking/slow jogging from there, so all in all, it was the distance of a about a mile). For not running in months, I was impressed we didn't stop sooner.

When we completed the lap and walked a little to catch our breath, Stian suggested we sprint to the other side of the lake. I wasn't thrilled at the idea, but thought I would try anyway. I didn't get very far, stopped sprinting to catch my breath, and then started again. I was running as fast as I could. And then, with all his enthusiasm and delight (apparently he enjoyed this, and was only trying to encourage me), he said this: "run faster, love!". 

Did I run faster? No. In fact, I stopped running altogether and burst into tears. 

"I feel like such a failure!!!" (I barely managed to get that out because I was sobbing and couldn't breath from sprinting). 

Poor Stian didn't know what hit him. I absolutely took what he said the wrong way...it was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

Trying to talk, catch your breath, all while simultaneously sobbing is quite complicated, and I was surprised I managed to explain myself: 

"I just...(sobbing breaths)...feel like I can't do ANYTHING here!! I'm terrible at the language, I'm trying so hard to drive - unsuccessfully!  I can't remember all of Norway's stupid road rules, and just now, I was running literally as fast as I could, and still that wasn't good enough!"

As if that wasn't enough, our lives are in a bit of an upheaval because we're renovating, and apparently I'm an expensive girl to keep around because of double visa fees that we've had to pay (nearly 8000 kroner - a whopping $1300) and driving lessons which don't come cheap either. 

It surprises me how these seemingly insignificant things in one country can create monumental stress in another. 

My solution: I told Stian that I think we both need to something fun....SOON!


  1. I know how you feel, but you are not a failure you are brilliant at your job, you have moved all th way across the world and your doing fantastically the language takes a long time for everyone but at least your giving it your all and driving is of course difficult but a lot of people give up and you havent your working towards those goals and in a few years you will look back and say to stain in norwegian, phew i made it! (or rather jeg gjorde det!)

  2. aww thanks, Selina! I know it all just takes practice, but I've grown impatient! My driving has improved A LOT and I'm so much more comfortable (even in roundabouts, can you believe it?!), it's just that everything is a process! Just waiting for everything to settle down a bit.

  3. Alyssa, I totally know what you mean...I find myself a lot more sensitive about small things here too. (I'm in Stavanger for the summer btw...come visit! :D ) I still get totally lost in conversations here (different dialects, talking too fast, not good enough vocab)... it's really stressful and disheartening. I've been with Stian for almost 4 years and I think people think that I should know fluent Norwegian by now...welllll i dont :( But I've been following your blog and i think you are doing a great job of settling in Norwegian life :) Go you!!

  4. Alyssa, I seriously go through the same emotions as you do - and quite often! I failed my first driver's test here and feel very down in the dumps about the whole stupid thing now (also newbie with manuals here), am also so unsteady with learning this language & feel like I'm constantly being judged about it, and just those small things like in your story here about not feeling "good enough"... It really is a huge challenge with the littlest details when moving to a new country - you're not alone! I feel like we have so much in common, I'd love to meet you sometime! :)

  5. Please look at your accomplishments! Moving to Norway from the beaches of South Bay alone is amazing! You rock as an adventurous gal... It is exhausting remodelling and just translating, so give yourself a break.

  6. You are not alone!
    These are all normal feelings, after leaving your family and home to start over in a foreign land...
    I wrote a post called 'Norwegian for Dummies' you should read it sometime... we're all in the same boat!