Yes friends…a passage, a journey! I’m here to unfold the chronicles of my journey as an expat in the world’s most beautiful land of northern lights and midnight sun.
Norway is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage, the best of resources and a decent standard of living. Its epic landscapes, spectacular mountains, the unspoiled nature of its cities, towns and farmlands, and peaceful lifestyle can make anyone fall in love with her. Perhaps, I too fell in love. And if you call it a ‘mistake’, yes I made the ‘mistake’ of falling in love because when you start loving, you ignore the dissimilarities and so the love is called ‘blind’.
I moved to the country with a small child in my arms, unaware of the culture, unaware of the people and the potential difficulties. A few days, then months passed by. I gradually felt lonely and resisted the stillness and darkness of the places here. I missed my family, felt nostalgic about my old lifestyle, native language and society. A moment came when I wanted to run into the dark, silent street next to my house, and scream at the passers-by “talk to me, anybody, please talk to me, hello…” Phew! Those were difficult times in my life. It took me nearly 6 months to get adjusted to the Norwegian culture and lifestyle. Was it culture shock? Was it resistance to my new lifestyle and ways? Not sure! But I strongly resisted and wasn’t happy.
As an expatriate, I and my family faced worst of our times initially. When I started looking for a job, I was told: ‘We had our own struggles, you have your own’, ‘I can help you’ but after a few months the reply comes- ‘Oh! I’m afraid, I can’t help you’
Things looked very strange to me, people also looked strange. Or I expected too much of them. Had I been in their place, I would never unduly raise anyone’s hopes, tantalise someone or give them the cold shoulder (if I could not help someone). My struggle wasn’t just this. I saw people’s eyes rolling away from me, heard their cold replies and experienced their indifferent attitudes.
Life moved on! I didn’t rest till the time I discovered something worthwhile. The requirements of a new work culture were not easy for me – create a professional network, find the right sources, sell your expertise and the list goes on. Language was another problem. I began my journey from scratch. No one told me anything; no one helped me with anything. I worked it out for myself.
I began to sell my website designing services. I started as a freelancer, initially working on short assignments, later on full projects and gradually my work increased as companies approached me. I looked at myself as ‘one-woman-team’ and later as a ‘company’. Things looked promising to me. My clients increased and I grew professionally in a way as never before.
Today, I run my own company near the massive town hall building. My eyes are a little wrinkled now; my forehead lines are a bit deeper than 10 years ago and I have a few grey hairs. But I’ve achieved a sense of fulfilment. I have rediscovered myself, my potential and I know who I am. I think that during these years I wasn’t just finding a job or friendship or anyone to talk to me, I was perhaps trying to discover myself. Perhaps it was my rebirth in this new land. The new life looked complex to me. I was afraid of it in the beginning. But it was a blessing in disguise.
Today, whenever I see a youngster running for work from pillar to post, my heart softens a little. Then I think “Oh! This is her best training. She’s not just looking for a regular income but she’s looking for herself, her identity. Let her do – I must not help. She’ll discover the best of herself.”
Experiences, mistakes and failures in life make you discover your inner strength. They make you rather than break you. Living a life abroad, especially as a woman, can be the most positive thing in your life. Don’t be afraid, just face it! You’ll make a sweetest home away from your own home country.
*Character and events narrated in this story are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to real person or event is entirely coincidental.
*As published in ‘Professional Women’s Network’, Norway’s newsletter