Monthly Archives: September 2012
For those of you who have never been to Norway, sit back and enjoy the clip of this beautiful country…
“My dreams had officially become jealous of my reality.” Isn’t that a great line?
Although I’m American and live in Norway, I don’t feel much like an expat. I’m married to a local and we live in a small town which is a long way from the nearest expat hub. My children have gone to Norwegian schools and most of my friends are Norwegian. I had my first real taste of expat life while living the Netherlands from 2007 to 2010 and I liked it.
After returning to Norway I decided to join the PWC (Petroleum Womens Club) in Stavanger. Its something I’ve always wanted to do, but never could because it was too far away. It didn’t seem like a good idea to drive fifty miles through the mountains to hang out in Stavanger while my children were in school here, but things are different now. I only have one left at school and he’s seventeen.
The PWC has an assortment of fun activities for its members. The three activities that tempted me most were scrapbooking, hiking and book club but due to the fifty mile drive, I could only choose one. I chose book club (surprise).
Today was book club day. All the members take turns hosting and since I don’t yet know where everyone lives, my husband and I swapped cars because his has a GPS. I got up early to walk the dogs, get one son to school and the other off to work before leaving. Book club starts at eleven, so I needed to be on the road by 9:30.
As usual I was running late and the GPS wouldn’t take the address. I ran back to the house and googled the directions.
I was no more than twenty miles down the road when a tractor pulled out in front of me, which is a common occurrence here. And you’re pretty much screwed when this happens because the narrow winding roads make it almost impossible to pass.
Another ten miles and I was seriously regretting that third cup of tea I drank before leaving, but there’s no place to stop in the mountains.
Stressing over the time and finally rid of the tractor I started speeding along the last twenty miles. Thats when I realized that I forgot to put my make-up on this morning! (****)
By the time I arrived my shoulders were up to my ears, my face bare, my bladder full and I was five minutes early!
Was it worth it?
A group of women eating lunch, drinking tea and talking about books (in English)… You bet it was!
I was a shy girl, who grew into a guarded teenager. I never had the nerve to try out, or join anything at school. I was afraid of failure and being made fun of, that’s why my only goal was to blend in with the crowd. I probably never even raised my hand at school and I’m sure half of the people there didn’t even know my name. Don’t get me wrong – I had friends, but never wandered outside my circle. I played it safe at all times.
I grew up and although I gained some confidence in becoming a mom, I still worried about what other people thought and kept my head down. On the heels of a nasty divorce, I left America and started a new life in Norway (not because I was brave). After visiting numerous times throughout my life, I thought I knew what it would be like to live there. I was wrong.
Learning a new language and adjusting to a foreign culture is hard. I felt more like a refugee in this small local town, than an expat. My children didn’t seem to have any problem; They turned into little Norwegians overnight. Again, I kept pretty much to myself and tried not to be noticed. I knew there were people who thought I was unfriendly, when really I was just scared. Afraid of saying something wrong, afraid of being judged.
Only in a close group of friends was I able to open up and be myself, or as much of myself as I could be – talking another language…
My husband is the complete opposite. Once a local football hero (back in the day) he never cares what anyone thinks and oozes confidence. He’s dragged me kicking and screaming to events, in which I was forced to smile and meet new people. Together we have done things I never imagined myself doing…
Like cycling through France.
Sleeping in an igloo.
Hiking 2.4 miles up to the top of Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).
And publishing a book.
The whole time I was writing Fly Away Home, I never, EVER thought anyone other than family would read it. Why would they? I wasn’t a writer, or anyone famous, just a woman trying to explain her side of things.
There’s no hiding now…
I’m always happiest in the summer. I want to say its because of the nice weather, but we don’t always get the nicest weather here in Norway. Warm sunny days pop up randomly but can never be counted on. What we do get, is plenty of daylight. While the north of Norway basks in twenty-four-hours of it, we here in the South get about four hours of dusk, to which we call night. I get super charged by the light and run around like the Duracell Bunny all summer long.
As you may have guessed, by the end of summer I’m more than ready to go into winter hibernation. Especially since our long days of daylight turn into long days of darkness. I get through these months mostly in pajama pants, with plenty of books and lots of vitamin D. (Exercise and eating healthy also helps).
As the days steadily get shorter and the kids head back to school, I can feel my energy already starting to deplete. I’ve been sending children to school without a break since 1982, and with only twenty months to go, I’m eager to put that part of life behind me!
My book came out in April and its been nonstop since then with blogging, promoting and travel. I’m happy to report an excerpt from the book was recently highlighted in the Foreign Exchange Newsletter and put up on their Expat Exchange web sight. Feel free to go in and push the fb like button or tweet it. Thank you!
Which brings me to the next order of business, I promised a book giveaway. The lovely Emily (granddaughter) took time away from her painting to pull a name for me…
And the winner is Crazytraintotinkytown which is a great blog, that comes to us all the way from Turkey… Yay!
Later this week my daughter and grandson are coming from America for a visit. Its not often I get both of my daughters in the same country. I’ve therefore decided to take a short break from blogging and enjoy every minute I can with them. I hope you all enjoy your week as much as I know I’ll enjoy mine. -Maggie
With all the traveling I’ve been doing this summer, my blog is starting to resemble a travel blog. To mix things up, I thought I’d try writing a book review. I just finished reading a good book, so here goes…
If you’ve ever lived or simply dream of living in a foreign country, then Kathleen Gamble’s book Expat Alien: My Global Adventure, is for you. I was first introduced to Kathy and her well told stories of travel and adventure through her blog, also known as the Expat Alien. Kathy and I are two American girls who were both born in the fifties, but while I grew up on the steady shores of our homeland, she grew up wandering the world.
Her parents and two brothers started their great expat adventure in 1952, when they first moved to Burma, where Kathy was later born. Throughout most of the years the family lived abroad her father worked with the Ford Foundation, in Third World Agriculture.
The story moves along at a fast and exciting pace as we follow the family to Mexico, Nigeria and Columbia. They travel across Europe and Kathy attends boarding school in Switzerland. If it’s excitement your looking for, there’s also a plane crash, a military coup and an earthquake.
Having barely spent anytime at all in America before starting college there, Kathy has just as much trouble relating to her peers as they do to her. Feeling different and isolated she spirals into a case of severe reverse culture shock.
Later she marries a Russian American and when he takes a job in Moscow, she follows. Here we get an inside look at what its like to live, work and raise a family in Moscow. Nine years later they are forced out under unfortunate circumstances and return to the States to start again. After losing everything, Kathy is forced into making tough decisions for both herself and her son.
Kathy’s story gives superb insight as to what its like growing up globally and as exciting as that is, there were times I felt sad for her. I found this book to be an honest and riveting account of her journey.
Expat Alien is available in paperback on Amazon.com and in Kindle format.
I was in Dublin this past weekend with my husband and four other couples from Norway. While I may have been the only Yankee in the group, I was certainly not the only American in Dublin. There were 35,000 American football fans in Dublin to watch Notre Dame take on and clobber, Navy in the Emerald Isle Classic.
We didn’t go to the game but we found plenty of other things to do. For me the high point of the trip was seeing Riverdance at the Gaiety theater. The thrilling experience of pounding feet and swirling music left me breathlessly mesmerized.
We also went on a musical pub crawl. This is where a group of people are led to different pubs by a couple of Irish musicians, telling stories and singing songs along the way. Its great fun!
My husband and I decided against purchasing a hop-on-hop-off tour bus ticket, this being our ‘second’ trip to Dublin and all. Except for a trip to the Guinness Brewery, we decided to abandon our group of merry friends and strike out on our own for the day.
Knowing my love for tea and that I was going to Dublin, a few of my fellow bloggers recommended some new places to visit. With a list of addresses and a map of the city in hand, we set off with great determination…
The first Tea House we found (Tea Garden) wasn’t far from our hotel but unfortunately, not open. Just down the road we stumbled across the second place we were looking for. The Winding Stair Bookshop & Restaurant, formally known as The Winding Stair Bookshop Cafe. Named after a Yeats poem, this was a popular meeting place for writers, musicians and artists. Here I bought a book of Irish myths and a pack of Irish literary postcards.
We then headed over to the Temple Bar area, where we found Joy of Chá which was one of Dublin’s first tea shops. Here we sat and sipped on a cup of fresh brewed, Irish Morning tea.
Afterwards, we trudged across the city to the Portobello area and found Wall & Keogh, a small tea house loaded with a variety of different loose leaf tea. A very kind girl helped me find a Maté Energy Boost blend and an Improved Mood & Memory blend (don’t ask) which I took home with me. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
By now you may be wondering how I got my husband to agree to this excursion… It was easy, for every tea house we visited we also visited a pub for a pint.
Next we made our way over to the more touristy, fashionable side of town to Clement & Pekoe. I left with 100 g of (my favorite) Mint Green Tea and some Gunpowder tea, which I had never tried but have heard so much about from all my UK blogger friends. I’ve now tried them both and give them a two thumbs up.
Last we caught up with our friends at Bewley’s, on Grafton Street where we enjoyed a delicious meal. Bewley’s is an Irish Co. that has been selling coffee and tea since 1840. I bought a box of Pure Sencha Green Tea bags for myself and a box of Irish Breakfast Tea, to bring home to a friend.
It was a great day!
All tea houses can be found here.
I just got back from Dublin at two o’clock this morning and have so much to do…
I won’t bore you with the details, instead I’ll post a few pictures for you to look at, while I catch up and recover from my trip.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures -Irish proverb
May the sound of happy laughter fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after -Irish Blessing
Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter, lullabies, dreams and love ever after. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes… Thats the Irish for you! -Irish Blessing