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From Australia to Norway for Love

Australia to Norway

My story of how I am now living a ‘life in Norway’ began a little over two years ago.

My best friend of 12 years had moved to Norway 2 years prior to see if she could “make it work with this Norwegian guy”. She had met Torstein 5 years prior to that in China!

How much more random does is get, a Norwegian and an Australian meeting in China, then 8 years later getting married. But the story gets even crazier.

View of the fjord from Geiranger village

24-year-old me took the very long flight from Australia to Norway on the 17th of April 2014. It was the first time I had flown anywhere on my own.

The sense of independence was liberating! I remember so clearly flying low over Jæren, the rolling green fields, the pockets of water scattered all over the land. I had a strange sensation of feeling like I was ‘home’, which at the time I could hardly make sense of since I had never been to Norway before.

A great first impression

The beauty of Norway captivated me instantly. The drive from Sola Airport to Bryne sent tingles of excitement through me as I soaked in my surroundings. I loved Norway from the first moment I breathed in its springtime air.

On the 4th of May I was a part of my first Norwegian wedding. I have to say it was the best wedding I had experienced. Norwegians have so much culture, and traditions that are so far from what I have grown up with in Australia.

The creativity and the warm and heart-felt speeches could move even the coldest of hearts. I have to admit, I didn’t realise it was not far from an endurance race to actually make it through them all!

Well we all know weddings bring people together, and to my surprise it brought me together with my best friends new brother-in-law! But I was not the only one to be swept off my feet by the Norwegian Viking charm. The best man found love in the eyes of another Australian girl.

Trolltunga

A year and a half later Sal and I took the leap of faith and moved our lives to Norway. So here we are, 3 Australian best friends with 3 Norwegian Vikings. It is with great excitement to tell you that Sal and Kjartan will be getting married in December this year, another Viking and convict wedding takes place!

Long-distance difficulties

Gunnar and I had 11 months of dating long distance before I moved to Norway. Long distant relationships are not easy. In those 11 months, we saw each other on 2 separate occasions. Gunnar came to Australia for one month and I went to Norway for three months.

Besides that, our relationship was mainly messaging each other via text or Facebook. The time difference wasn’t easy so I had to stay up until almost midnight, which wasn’t always great since I woke up between 4:30-5am. So that didn’t happen as often as we would have liked.

I also had pre-paid Internet and the data used to Skype was huge so I ran out of data after two calls. Communicating certainly wasn’t easy.

We learnt very fundamental lessons during that time. We had to trust each other, if you didn’t you could spend hours worrying yourself sick. For someone who has had a really hard time trusting men, this came surprisingly easy to me. I just trusted Gunnar.

It also helped that I didn’t let myself think too much about things. With social media we get glimpses into everyone’s life even when we are on the other side of the world.

So I would see whom he met up with, when he had work events on, family events, vacations, etc. If I read too much into every photo I saw I would have driven myself crazy.

Flåm & the Nærøyfjord

We had many awkward Skype calls. There is something about planning a talk with each other that doesn’t allow the natural progression of conversation to occur like when you have a whole day hanging out together.

We also never got to go on dates. A long distance relationship can be challenging, but it can work! It can be the most amazing adventure you ever have. It takes 2 people who are committed to each other no matter what to make it work.

When a person is in the ‘in between stage’ of moving their life from one country to another, all of the sudden everything you are doing can begin to feel very pointless.

This happened to me with the cafe job I had, the friendships I was investing in that were soon about to have oceans between them, the little things you accomplish each day to help you step towards the goal you had for the life in Australia.

Mentally it was very confusing. Those months I had to wait for my visa approval were long and tedious. I was so eager for this new life in Norway, so ready to be in the same country as my boyfriend! I was so ready for a normal relationship.

A culture shock

Little did I know waiting for me in Norway was a whole new version of our relationship and a whole new set of challenges. All of the sudden this person I had known myself to be in Australia, was not the same.

The Facebook messaging and sporadic Skype calling relationship I had known was now up close and personal, it was face-to-face, day-to-day.

A new country, with a new language you don’t speak, a new relationship, new friends and family to get to know, and a whole new culture turns your whole sense of identity completely up side down!

I was stripped bare. Things from my past began to surface that I had no idea were there, I began to have insecurities that I had never experienced before.

All of the sudden I felt like I was an awkward 17 year old stepping out into the big world of adults having no idea where my place was or how to even communicate to them.

Scenic Norway

It was scary. It was scary to even go to the supermarket to buy groceries. I felt like a fraud. I didn’t belong here.

But I was determined to make myself belong here, in the new life in Norway. After 2 months I enrolled into a language school so I could learn Norwegian. I had never learnt a language before, but to my surprise it was something I really enjoyed! I also did have a lot of motivation.

I wanted to fit in here; I wanted to be able to communicate with people in the shopping center. After 1 month I was already understanding and speaking enough Norwegian to move up to the next level.

This was a great confidence boost for me. I felt so empowered and had a new confidence to start being a little braver, a little more me.

The challenge of finding a job

Although I was doing really well in my Norwegian, there were still so many other roadblocks that kept putting a stop to me being able to really start up a life for myself here.

It isn’t easy to find a job in Norway, especially if you don’t speak the language properly. It really helps if you know people! It seems like that is how most people find jobs here, they are recommended by a friend and then they get a job.

I kept telling myself I would just give myself a 6-month leeway so I can master the language and then I’ll be ready to get a job. I have now been in Norway for 10 months. I have not mastered the language and I do not have a job. One big lesson I have learnt is that it is ok to not be ok.

It is ok to realise sometimes in life you need to take the time to look after yourself and get better.

In the process of moving countries, leaving everything I knew behind, losing my sense of identity, my security, starting an almost one year relationship from scratch again and realising I wouldn’t find a purpose for my life in Norway even after the 1st year of being here, triggered PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

It also didn’t help to leave the weather in Australia where it is literally summer all year round, to moody, unpredictable, cold, wet and grey Norway.

A new support system

A foreigner coming to a new country can be a very frustrating and complicated process; there are many hoops you have to jump through when it comes to receiving the same privileges you would if you were a Norwegian resident.

When being confronted with a mental illness, it then became apparent that I was going to have to rely on the Norwegian system in order to get help. Sometimes the system fails you and sometimes it saves you!

Hiking Norway

This time I was saved. After seeing my assigned doctor, I filled out a mental health questionnaire that placed me on a scale. I was then referred to the local Psychiatric Center. Every other psychologist we had called prior to this had a year wait list. I received an appointment at the center the following week!

That appointment at the Psychiatric Centre happened just last week. I am right in the middle of all these challenges, some days it feels like I will never get on my feet with this new life in Norway.

Some days I feel confident and can imagine myself taking on a job and not minding that I may make mistakes when I speak Norwegian.

I have had to learn to be completely vulnerable with Gunnar; we have had to keep choosing to fight for our relationship, to keep walking towards connection with each other and to keep our love strong over and over and over again.

I have had to live in a way where I hold nothing back. I have had to strip myself bare and admit that I couldn’t do things on my own, that I needed help. It has been some of the hardest months. But I couldn’t think of anywhere in the world I would rather be than right here in the safe and beautiful country of Norway.

Moving countries can turn your world upside down. It can turn you into a version of yourself you had never known before. It can leave you feeling completely lost in the direction and purpose of your life.

It can be the greatest and most necessary step you have to take in order to find out who you really are, what you are really made of. If you take the step (or more like giant leap) to move to a new country you are made of all things brave and courageous.

So don’t give up even when it’s tough, it’s worth it.

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: Talitha Stone

21 Comments

  1. You adapted well to such a cold climate. Please make sure you get lots of vitamin D3 and exercise to combat the normal depression. I had trouble adapting from southern Illinois to northern Illinois (Chicago) in the US!
    Gunnar is a good guy. I knew him in grade school when he was best friends with my son,
    Best wishes!
    Mrs “T”

  2. Cool story! I can relate to the challenges you have faced. I’m an American living in Stavanger, married to a girl from near Kristiansand. It only gets better! I’ve been here five and a half years now.

    1. Hey Jeffrey!
      Thanks so much for the encouragement! It is so good to hear it gets better! I’m staring to believe it!!
      😀

    1. It was a working holiday visa, not every country is allowed one of those but Norway and Australia have an agreement to allow one.

    2. I applied for the working holiday visa, it isn’t one that is available to everyone, Norway and Australia have a special agreement for this Visa. I’m not sure if there was also some other countries this Visa is also available to. It is a 1 year Visa with the opportunity to extend for another year.

  3. Hello

    Thought I would drop you a line as in the near future we will be (near-ish) neighbours! My wife is Norwegian and we have decided to move to Stavanger while our 2 boys are still young (6 & 18 months).

    I too am about to go through this massive transition, my head is so full its hard to know even where to start. My wife has a job which helps but I am not sure how it is going to work out for me with very little norwegian language. It would be great if you had any advice on what school to attend.

    I’m a big lover of the outdoors so am looking forwards to it in many ways!

    1. Hi Steve! Sorry i only just saw this comment!
      Thank you so much for commenting on my article.
      Yeah that must be an added challenge with the transition with children as well!
      I go to the language school in Bryne which is really good, i believe there is one in Sandnes as well, and i’m sure in Stavanger! I’m just not sure of the name of them or where they are.
      The outdoors in Norway really helps combat a lot of the struggle!!
      I am looking forward to the Spring and Summer coming along too!
      Hopefully it will be a good one this year with a lot of opportunities to get outside!
      Thanks again for the contact.
      All the best with you and your family during this transitioning time!

  4. You literally just told my story. Except mine was back in 2002. I was an American married to a Norwegian for a short period, but in our situation, there were too many other things that pulled us apart so things didn’t work out. My heart still yearns for Norway and I’m happy to say that for the first time in 15 years, I’ll be there again in a week. This time I’m coming with my American viking husband to whom I’m happily married. I only wish that there were a way for me to move back permanently.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that with me Emily! and how exciting that you are coming back to visit Norway! that must feel so incredible! Have a great trip and all the best for the future! Glad to hear you’re happy 🙂

  5. Wow, so many aspects of your blog resonate with me. I’m English lass who has moved out to North Norway to be with my long term man, it has definitely thrown up so many challenges, and for me humility has been a big one. Going from a well paid high level job to barely understanding where to put the dirty mop when a Norwegian colleague explains 3 times, and missing the sunshine in the long winter, and missing the family… it makes me wonder ‘was this the right choice?’ But over and over I will say the people of Norway are incredibly kind, and I have met some real kindred spirits, and what a stunning place to live! When I drive only 20 minutes into mountain ranges and fjords I am just so thankful I didn’t chicken out and run home… though its early days, only 1 year so far…. I hope like you guys I can find my way long term. Best wishes!!!

    1. Hey Philippa!
      Crazy how so many stories can be so alike and i’m so thankful when people share something that i can also resonate with, so i’m glad my story did that for you!! Yeah i completely understand that asking the question ‘is this right’ over and over again, but like you said there are so many other things that make Norway and the choice to live here so worth it!! No matter where we are in the world we need to choose to focus on those things, and not always the negatives, (which i still do way too often!!!) I’m heading into my second year now living in Norway, and it really is getting better and better, little by little its becoming easier! Hold in there!! Best wishes to you too!! Thanks for getting in touch with me through my article! 😀

  6. You sound very lucky. I met my husband in 2012 and we have gone back and forth to the u.s. and Norway for 4.5 years, now. Our spousal immigration application was rejected, last week because my 37 year old Viking husband apparently doesn’t meet the income requirement for proof of future income. He’s a freelance photojournalist and in school. And was short by 5000 kroners. Definitely count your blessings that you have a permit to get language classes and work, even if you haven’t found a job. I just hope we can eventually live together while I’m still capable of having kids. (37 years old also.)

  7. Hello,

    I am a Norwegian woman living in a foreign country, and I can relate to a lot of what you’re writing in this post – very interesting read. I’m a writer, and I’d like to get in touch with you to ask you a couple of questions about your experiences in Norway. Please contact me via email if you’re interested.

    Thank you very much in advance.

  8. Hi there,
    It’s 3am here in Sydney Australia and I have been up every night researching on ways to relocate to Norway (I also have a 6mth old bub so I’m usually awake reading up on things at this crazy hour haha).

    Hubby and I visited Norway 2yrs ago (Oslo, Bergen, Tromso) + Finnish Lapland, but we really fell inlove with Norway – the people, culture, weather, lifestyle. We’ve always felt that if we were to start a family, we wouldn’t want them to grow up in Australia. We’ve always been big on travelling and connecting with a country and the people – something we will be teaching bub as she grows up.

    Long story short, Norway really “stayed with us” and we have been talking seriously about relocating. Have read so many blogs and have even signed up to a some Norwegian job sites to get a feel for what companies are looking for. The language seems to be an important component in every job.

    Hubby and I are planning on upskilling this year. However, we also know that jobs are quite competitive in Norway.

    We met anc have stayed in touch with 2 Norwegians we met in Bergen, but apart from that, we don’t know anyone.

    What other tips would you recommend? We’re both close to 40yo with a bub. We’re hoping that our current situation wouldn’t be too much of a setback. I love a good challenge and persevere to achieve something. But this whole relocating plan….we feel stumped!

    Takk for reading this far 🙂

  9. My daughter fell in love with a Norwegian and moved to Norway in 2007. They met when she was studying at the University of Oslo in the summer of 2006, before she graduated from college the following December. She went back in 2007, but she did not do her immigration requirements correctly so she had to return home to Texas 90days after she left. Nothing stood in the way of true love, because my now son-in-law quit his job in Oslo and moved to Texas and lived with us for 3 months. We got to know this wonderful man and fell in love too. They returned to Norway got engaged and married in 2008. I now have 2 beautiful grandsons and my husband and I have been to this beautiful country 19 times. My daughter teaches English in a vocational high school and college. She speaks fluent Norwegian. Even though she lives so far away, we now have Norwegian relatives that we love and have had many great adventures. It was a tough process, but I feel they are in a wonderful environment on the Northwest coast. I have been reading that the government is looking into passing a law to allow dual citizenship. Thank you for your story I could relate.

  10. G’day, my family moved us to Norway exactly two years ago today. I didn’t really have a say in the matter and since leaving Ipswich (Near Brisbane) I’ve gone through alot and can definitely level with alot of what you’ve said. Like the mental health issues and old memories I didn’t know I had suddenly popping up, I see a psychologist here as well and they believe Moving has triggered PTSD as well. I guess getting to the grit of my point is that, Well, today is a hard day for me. I’m only turning 19 this year, Due to the fact we moved to Norway so suddenly I didn’t get to say proper goodbye’s and I missed out on experiencing my graduation, Formal and Schoolies. Many family members have passed away in Australia since coming to Norway and I can’t leave the country yet due to my Visa still being processed. Norway brings Positive and negative feelings for me, Especially today of all days, I guess I’m just confused on how to feel and was wondering what life would be like so I googled other Aussies in Norway to see their stories and boom there you are. Your story has really helped put me at ease, I just wanted to thank you for sharing it and wanted you to know it’s helped out another Aussie going through somewhat a similar situation. Hope to one day catch up, Keen to hear your response. Till then have a good one gal, Take care aye

  11. Moved from Minnesota, USA, to Norway in 1967 and studied law at the U in Oslo, graduating in 1972. By then oil had been discovered offshore Norway so I have had work as a lawyer for several major oil companies as well as practicing as an independent lawyer in Stavanger for many years. Retired in 2014. Your experiences brought back memories for me. If you stick to it, you will mange OK in Norway. I am now living a good life with 6 children and, thus far, 11 grandchildren.

  12. I moved from the UK to Norway in 1973. Learning the language is a must. Engaging yourself in what is in your new country and do not make comparisons to what you have come from in my view is the is the way forward. Saying this I did exactly the opposite to my own advice. I expected everyone to speak English and did not attempt to learn the language for 4 years. I compared Norway to the UK all the time. I worked for a company which operated with the the UK so English was used both written and verbally. Then I saw the light. I was married to a Norwegian who I had met whilst studying in Manchester. We were expecting our first child. A child who would be a Norwegian a child who would be mine and who needed my help and guidance in life a parent who could understand and speak the same language as her own child. I learnt Norwegian. I can relate to everything that has been written in this article. Life was hard initially but that was my doing. In time I grew to love my adopted country. A country I am eternally thankful to be associated with and will love until I die. The irony to this is I now live in Australia. A long story and one not for now. I return to with my husband fir 5 months every year to visit my daughters and five grandchildren, in fact I leave in a few days to spend Christmas there. I guess life is unpredictable for many of us and at the end of the day it is up to us to find a way around situations that challenge and provoke our expectations. Good our Aussie friend in Norway may you find what you are looking for in life.

  13. Hi everyone here! I’m Tahira. 25 Yr from Afghanistan. Its like a pain relief that we are here to speak with one other about our same situation. I have been to Australia for 5 years and my husband have lived in Norway since 2003. 3 years ago I came to Norway with my 7 Yr old son to live with my husband. Firstly its a big change for me to come from a warm country to a long cold winter country. Secondly its a bit difficult to find myself easy with the language comparing to English. Sometimes I find myself hard with the weather and the same time hard to find a job. Feeling anxious. This day’s passing very hard for us because we reach to the point deciding where to live Norway or Australia. The main problem is that my husband likes to live here and I like to go back to Australia. We look forward to each other to choose one place that we three are happy but still hard to choose. I will be so thankful to hear some advice and good ideas please.

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