That’s awesome! I’m 32, turned 18 again

Did you ever imagine to go back in time? From being old to turning young again. Yes. It just happened to me. I jumped back into my college times today. Turned 18 again from 32.

Hey wait! What’re you thinking? Time machine. Yes. I popped into ‘time machine’ and turned 18 again. I’ll start my university days again. Sometimes ‘times’ take you back to your wonder years. The younger years. Norway did this to me again!

This was next breakthrough in my journey as an expat. I’ll soon start my Norwegian language classes again. It feels like starting life all over again. Mixed feelings! I’m speechless. Starting life again at 32? Quite difficult, a challenge.

Hey! Wait. But I see something different. A flip side of the coin. I’m 18 again. This is amusing. Isn’t it.

I saw this on my way… a path of yellow flowers…

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The yellow flowers alongside my path looked beautiful. I realised it’s a new journey, in the whole new world, with new faces and fresh experiences. I felt younger again. I felt as if I’m rolling back in time.

‘Time’ whispered in my ears again: “I’m not measured by clocks, but by moments.” So, dear time, I thought to enjoy you, and not waste you.

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A Passage to Norway

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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’.

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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