Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life these days: From "Long Term Visitor" to "Resident" in Bergen

It's already October.  Not including the 8 weeks I spent in Colorado this summer, I have been living in Bergen for 9 months now.  It feels like it's flown by.

I took two big steps toward becoming a "resident" in Bergen verses a "long term visitor" in Bergen.  First, I signed up at the gym for 12 months.  Second, I signed a 12 month contract for a Norwegian phone service.  Finally, I can go for a run or go spinning and not get drenched in rain.  I can say goodbye to the old Blackberry and phone cards!!  And other than the phone and gym, I've also started working and living like a Norwegian.

One of the biggest struggles I've had since moving here has been employment.  I've been working as a substitute teacher at the International School of Bergen.  It has been inconsistent and challenging.  I am never guaranteed work, which means some weeks I work very little or even nothing.  Some days I'd work in the Kindergarten, other days i'd be teaching Norwegian or French to 9th graders.  Some months good, others bad.  Recently, things with the school have changed for the better (for me).

One of the teachers at school is sick and is now only working 20%, meaning she needs coverage for 80% of her the ESL teacher and Coordinator for the lower school.  That's me!! So, I finally have a consistent job.  At least for the next month or so.  And, I love it.  I finished my first week of work (well, 33 hours of work) and came home on Friday with a smile on my face.  The last time I worked a full week of work, I was at the adoption agency in Denver and was used to being so stressed that I couldn't see straight.  It was amazing to come home after working all week and think about the weekend and fun things, rather than continuing to think about work and work, and more work.

I've mentioned before that people in Norway work to live, they don't live to work.  So, what about my life in Norway?  Well, it has been great!  I am finally at the point now where I feel like I know Bergen.  You know you know a place when you have options.  Instead of needing to go to the grocery store, I think, "which store should I go to".  I know the one that sells Siracha, the one with the cheap chicken, and the one that doesn't charge for bags.  If I need to get home, I consider which route I should take? Bus, bybane, walk?? Give directions to someone...ok, that one is still a little tricky but I'll give it a shot:)

One thing I do not do but really need to is speak Norwegian.  You know, the language they speak here yet I have still not perfected (not even close)!  I decided not to take the Norwegian course this September because it was so expensive so I am not even being forced to practice.  I am still figuring out a way to make it happen, but I have lost motivation.  My cousin's speak English so well, I teach it's just easier to speak it!  I try to speak Norwegian to the cashiers at the grocery store and bus drivers and such, but they catch on and answer me in English.  I will learn, but it will take longer than it did my amazing sister (fluent after a year)!!

What comes next?  I'm planning to stay in Norway for Christmas so I can plan a trip to visit Colorado in January to meet my new niece!!  I'll be there for about 3 weeks, then back to Bergen.  I can't say I have any set plans for when I return in January, but who knows what will happen!!

And I don't have any pictures of anything very exciting, but do have some that I took with my new phone camera apps that I'll share...just to keep this post colorful:)


  1. congrats on getting more work :) and a gym membership and phone contract! little things like that are essential to feeling right at home in a new place. and im loving that you know the places to buy sriracha, etc. im the same exact same haha! i know all of the places to buy my favorite hot sauces, where i can find kale, where i can get black beans, etc. never thought id be so proud of myself for the little findings, but you know how it is.

    good luck with the norwegian! im sure you're doing better than you give yourself credit for. while i think the norwegian courses here are fabulous and a great resource, i figured that i never actually learned in them. most of my learning came from practice at home as well as using the language on the streets. the classes were more of a 'motivator' for me. so while you're not enrolled, just keep up with the bookwork and lessons as if you were and you'll be just fine im sure!

  2. Thanks Megan!! I'm loving feeling so comfortable here. It's more like home than the city I visited throughout my childhood. I am going to get my Norwegian drivers license soon and that will be an entirely new level!!