My Life Will Never Be the Same Again

Yesterday I took part in the Norwegian citizenship ceremony. Even though I had received my citizenship half a year ago, this ceremony felt like a watershed to me. I slowly start to realize that I am not a guest here anymore, that this is my home too. And that I can breathe out, be proud of how far I came and start building something. Leaving the stress behind. Leaving the story of “poor me who has to fight for everything” behind.

Maybe, connected to this event or not, recently I am more aware of how Norwegian I have become in all these years. Today I want to share a simple list of the changes that would have seemed peculiar to me 10 years ago. But now they are my second nature, and it took some effort to step back and notice what is different to me now.

So this is why my life will never be the same again.

  • I am used to say hei and du (singular form of you) to strangers, older people, people in authority. I would definitely say hei du to the Norwegian prime-minister. But not sure I would say it to the king 🙂
  • After living for years in the same block I don’t know my neighbors.
  • I stopped eating the usual bread and feed only on knekkebrød (small dry breads). Once I despised them but now I cannot live without (and sometimes take them on the trips).
  • I never mind my belongings on the subway and in cafes. In a café I can leave my purse and go to the till to make my order (another Norwegian habit). When I hear an announcement on the tram “Beware of pickpockets”, I roll my eyes.
  • I stopped saying hi to my neighbors on a plane and don’t try to start a chat with them.
  • On the public transport I try to find a seat with no people around.
  • I take omega3 and a double dose of vitamin D pills throughout the year, except for the summer months (sometimes in summer too).
  • Whenever I get a long weekend I start checking for the cheap flights to a sunny place. I don’t go all the time – but I check 🙂
  • Whenever I see the sun I leave all my stuff undone and run out to get some sunshine on my face.
  • I never let anyone pay for my coffee (if it happens that someone pays for my drink I can’t forget it and am looking for a chance to repay him).
  • I live by the timetable of the public transport and when the tram is 5 minutes late I get seriously angry.
  • I have a Norwegian flag stocked somewhere in the shelves.
  • I believe religiously that potato chips, sweets and soda drinks are strictly the weekend food, and eating them otherwise is a sin needs a huge excuse.
  • I also religiously believe in workout, and if you don’t workout you must be new to the country.
  • I don’t trust men trying to flirt with me on the train or in other public places other that bars. They must be very new to this country too.

There are, however, also some areas with a great potential for improvement.

  • Friday taco tradition is not held in my home. Sometimes we eat taco on Mondays.
  • I still don’t ski another great sin and don’t enjoy the winter as it was meant to be enjoyed.
  • I don’t follow winter Olympics and other winter sports events. I don’t know how many gold medals Norway has won in the last competition.
  • I still talk to my colleagues more than they talk to me.
  • I still get annoyed when people stop suddenly in the middle of the street just in front of me, when they don’t hold the door behind them that risks slamming into my face, and generally when they behave like farmers in town.

Do you have an experience of living somewhere that has changed who you are now? It would be great to hear your stories!

26 thoughts on “My Life Will Never Be the Same Again

  1. Lovely, thought-provoking post! Every place changes us. After coming back from France, Greece and Italy I realized I had started speaking English in short, easy sentences, they way many people in those countries had done (minus the accents). I was stuck like that for quite a while. I also did the French “pfff!!!” thing quite often but luckily it has gone away. One habit that has stuck is that I keep interrupting people. In Finland, you wait patiently until the other person has stopped talking before it’s your turn. If it’s a 30 minute monologue, you wait. But in France you’d never get a word in edgewise if you waited! So I learned to start talking when I get excited about the conversation. But over here that’s considered very impolite and then I have to apologize 😀
    It was so fun to read your list(s), and many of the things were something we’d discussed. Sorry for taking over your comment space… I feel I shouldn’t always write these super long comments! But your posts are so fun to comment to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should have mentioned you in the thank-part of this post, bc some of those points were prompted by our conversation here. So please, don’t excuse yourself for the long comments – they are my favorite kind 🙂

      Ahaha, that way of speaking English! I picked it up in Egypt, but I use it only there. My English-teacher soul ached for a while, but then I learnt to speak in present tense using time words as markers. “I wait for you yesterday, I wait for you tomorrow” 🙂
      Do you say ooh-la-la? I love the French interjections, they are so fun!
      Oh, I will have to learn interrupting again! I used to do it before, while my best friend was my mom and she didn’t mind. Then I taught it to myself, though right, Norwegians don’t do this. But guess how the Spanish dialogue is? Everyone is talking on the top of each other. Hearing the tv debates is like being in the market place – so many voices 🙂 If I wait for the pause, I will never speak there! So funny how we people adapt, learn, unlearn and can learn one thing again 🙂 We are the products of our situations, more than we think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I used to say oh là là 🙂 A funny expression at the time I was there (and probably still now) was “quel bordel” (literally “what a brothel”!!!) to express I guess what we Finns would call a “circus” – a completely messed up situation. It was very common at the workplace and everywhere, since those situations seemed to come up all the time in France! Nothing worked! “Pffff… oh la la quel bordel!!!” It always sounded so funny to my ear. This was in the era of fax machines and such.
        I forgot to say Congrats on becoming Norwegian and how fun that there was a ceremony! 🙂
        Oh, and that I always roll my eyes in frustration over here when people don’t hold the door open for you. There is very little gentlemanly chivalry over here…
        True true, funny how we unlearn and learn to fit in… survival techniques!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, quel bordel! I can feel it! With that pff and an eye roll. Like only the French can do 😆😆 sometimes I just love that snobbery of the French and Italians. It is so…them. Like they are totally in their right and element to do so. Fax machines were made for those moments 😆

        Thank you! I got so many congrats on fb like it was my birthday. I was so touched! Here is me, complaining about this and that, and all those people welcoming me into their country. Norwegians are nice. They say sometimes they are stupid-nice (dumsnille), but they are nice, what can I say! They don’t mean evil. Even with their coldness, they don’t mean bad.
        Mm, chivalry in the North… if it ever existed it got erased by the fighting feminism of 70s. Or maybe people are not used to living in masses like in Kiev or Moscow. There they teach you fast to stand on the right side of elevator 😆😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, scandi feminism was a bit hard on the soft guys, if they ever had been not soft here :)) I mean, you can be a feminism but let others open door for you. I don’t get an inner conflict. But nope, Norwegian ladies had to prove that they can do it all. Well well. I am from the Soviet where the country was built by the females after men died in the war. I feel no need to prove myself, it is done by my mothers and grandmothers. So I carry my heavy bags here myself. But I don’t need to be asked twice if I want help :))

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s not too personal. I even like sharing my history 😊 I was born and grew up in Ukraine which was one of Soviet republics until 1991 when the Union collapsed. I also come from the Russian-speaking side, the East, which got into war some years ago and still didn’t solve that conflict. So I am truly a Soviet baby 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved reading this. It’s so interesting to see how much we have adjusted to our new home, after some time of living there, isn’t it? I love how you mentioned the tacos. Taco Tuesday in our home has recently become a thing. Also, I also find seats on the bus or metro with no one around, although I’m sure the timing of the public transport there is much more efficient than in Rome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Estrella! I would love to hear your report! Have you started speaking with your hands? 😉
      Haha, really? Taco Tuesday, is it your own tradition? Or total Italian? I can’t imagine Italians eating tacos, sorry 😆😆 Norwegians have a tradition of taco Friday. We do it occasionally too. And they eat Norwegian pizza Grandiosa on weekends. Italians don’t consider it a pizza. I love their food arrogance 😆 do you feel it too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do find myself talking with my hands sometimes lol, and we just started recently doing taco tuesday. Yes, Italians haven’t quite caught on with the whole international food scene so they very much tend to stick with pasta or pizza for the most part, but don’t get me wrong it’s all very good so I can see why that would be part of their regular diet.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love those arrogant Italian attitude 😆 I would be as arrogant if I had that pizza and pasta. Eating in some “Italian” places here makes me wanna cry sometimes and throw my hands into the air. Enjoy the good stuff! And find out how they don’t get fat with that diet 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done for assembling these lines of thought. I only think about doing a similar post after almost five years in Italy but am so lazy. Maybe one day.

    One cute thing: I went with amore to a new year’s gathering of translators living in my home town, Ljubljana in Slovenia. I was chatting with many unknown people (for a change) and he observed for some time (he is not a translator) and then proclaimed that out of 30 people or so, only I and another girl (who translates into and from Italian) were using our hands when speaking. Like everybody in Italy does. I was so proud. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Hope to read your report, must be fun to see how one turns to be Italian 😆
      Haha, you must have heard this joke but still. “How do you keep an Italian silent? – You bind his hands”😆
      I love how expressive they are with the hands and faces! But I find the Spanish using their hands a lot too. And I have always been talking with my hands since childhood. I thought Slavic people use hands too but you made me stop and think now… 🤔

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Congratulations on your Norwegian citizenship, or at least the ceremony. Interesting how one can change and adapt a new culture. In my country, we were all immigrants at some point, unless you are indigenous. If I was young again, I would definitely be the traveler, moving to new places until I found somewhere that resonated with me and where I could dig in. Funny that my experiences in Norway were a little different, especially with people on public transport, but I did speak first….
    Great post! Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! The citizenship is in its place too, and I am truly Norwegian now, hehe.
      To be honest, I would love to experience the country where everyone was a newcomer once. Here I still feel like a Ukrainian in Norway, and wonder how many years it will take to feel 100% at home. They still ask me “where do you come from?” It is not mean, they are just curious. But a reminder that I am from somewhere else.
      I am still not done traveling though. Not digging totally in yet 😆
      Oh, now I am curious about your experience in n Norway. Have you written about it on your blog? How long have you stayed here? And how did it go when you started dialogues on the bus? 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was only staying within the three month tourist visa time limits. I would love to stay longer however, but I have family here so it probably won’t happen.
        You say that you feel like a Ukranian in Norway and I think that you should revel in that. A heritage is to be valued. Here in Australia, we have all stages of immigrants. New immigrants and those who are second, third and fourth generation immigrants. We still think about what background the person is from, but in a nice way. I lost most of my Danish/Norsk heritage and have worked hard to regain a lot of the traditions and language. Typically we might refer to different family traditions saying, “Oh, he is half Italian and half English” or “they are an Irish family, …They are Chinese Australians or Greek Australians.” It is interesting to note that they do not consider themselves wholly Greek nor wholly Australian, in some senses, but a diaspora in themselves, do that makes sense? So, you would be Ukrainian Norsk!! And be proud of it! Your heritage makes you who you are and contributes to a wonderfully multicultural society.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, how interesting! A Norwegian Australian 🙂 So how do you feel about being Norwegian? Do you feel a lot of it in yourself?

        I still develop that pride, of being Ukrainian Norwegian. Ukrainians have a huge inferiority complex, in their eyes every country is better than their own. And then again, being a foreigner in Norway is not a bonus, as it is little and conformist society, so it doesn’t feel comfortable to stick out. Ukraine is considered 3d world here, so it is not as a cool as being an expat from USA or, say, Spain. At some nationalities they go ooh-la-la, but it is not Ukraine 🙂 But I have no other home country and gotta develop my attitude myself, no one is gonna give it to me :))) And thanks god, Oslo is very multicultural so it is much easier here than in some distant towns, I guess.
        Thank you for your warm support and optimism! It means a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I do have genetic links to Norway in years gone by, and I am one of the very few that paint Norwegian Rosemaling Art in Australia, which I adore. I have many Norwegian friends here and in Norway, and learn the language, however, my family background was primarily Danish. So fi I was truthful, I would say I feel much more Danish than Norwegian. That said, I don’t actually feel qualified to call myself a Danish Australian or even a Norwegian Australian. I think one can only say this of a first generation immigrant. Either someone who has immigrated directly or their parents immigrated directly from and child of parents who came from another country. I feel Australian with a Danish/Norwegian heritage. I also feel that I strangely, I born in the wrong hemisphere as there is many facets of Scandinavian life and climate that suit me much better than Australia. Even the bad Norwegian weather, I absolutely love!! I have had enough sun in my life, to have become tired of it. But I grew up in Australia and of course I am Australian. It is not that I don’t like my country, it is more that as I become older, the differences between here and Denmark/Norway, are much more grating and I ponder how it might have been if I had I grown up in a Nordic country or a colder climate.
        It is important for me then to note how uncomfortable it is for you as Ukrainian immigrant. I feel that this is a common emotion among immigrants the world over, not matter what second country they adopt. Australia had an influx of Greeks and Italian immigrants post World War II and they faced a lot of prejudice and shunning along the lines you are feeling during the latter part of the twentieth century. However, 2 generations on, I can tell you no one bats and eyelid if they are Greek/Italian, and many people have mixed Australian-Hellenic/Italian heritage. They are just Australians. In fact, it is seen as an advantage in some ways to have that background. Integration and acceptance into a society takes a long time, but, importantly, the addition of another culture is a bonus and enhances that society as in the example of the Greeks/Italians here. I hope that all immigrants find a way to protect and preserve their heritage, native language and customs in their new country, whilst still integrating into that new society. Australians whilst being very multicultural in origins, are very poor at speaking anything other than English, much to their detriment. It is a generalization but Norwegians can be heavily stuck on tradition, in both good and bad ways. Celebrate your Ukrainian customs and language, and you can slowly chip away at the Norwegian attitude towards Ukraine?

        Liked by 1 person

      • So very very interesting! Some Dane/Norwegian went to Australia- and now we have your story 🙂 I know that Norwegians went amass to the States some hundred years ago. Australian direction is more mysterious one 😉 Oh, Rosemaling is so cute! Lovely hobby! It seems that Norwegians mixed with Danes in the time of your ancestors, maybe, they are reluctant to acknowledge bc of all those unions))
        I cannot imagine someone craving for Norwegian weather, really 😂😂 I am so hungry for the sun that I would trade it today and never look back 😆 funny how we people are. The older I get the more I wish for the sun and chatting neighbors like in Spain)) you with age think of Norwegian lifestyle. Is it wishing for the grass on the other side or is it our true nature call? 🤔You should try, even for a year. What if you would fall in love with the life here forever?))

        Thank you for the insights on immigration in Australia. I am sure that in 100 years Norway will not be the same. It has such a short history of immigration and still has problems with how to categorize and integrate all that diversity. As we foreigners proudly say, Norway is a better place bc of us 😆 cuz true, foreigners bring life, diverse cultures, food. Without them/us Norway would be a dry fish 😆 but what people don’t notice is the classification of foreigners. I feel like I come from the 2nd class and thus will not be understood by the British or Spanish expats. So it takes courage to stand for one’s background and see it as an advantage while it plays itself as a downside (in job search for ex.). It is a two-ways process. Them – changing their prejudices. Us – getting more self-confident. I have a lot of work to do in that department)) But better do than not do))


  5. Hello!! I am not comment on every single bullet point but I particularly liked that one : “I still get annoyed when people stop suddenly in the middle of the street just in front of me, when they don’t hold the door behind them that risks slamming into my face, and generally when they behave like farmers in town.” – Totally agree 🙂 :). Let’s discuss in real life soon

    Liked by 1 person

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