I’m doing a very difficult thing: I am committing to my career.
We all know that a commitment such as this one means giving up vacations with family, evenings or weekends to go the extra mile at the office or even missing out on a milestone with your toddler. But right now in 2013, as an expat in Norway 4,099 miles away from the place I call home, it means a lot of unexpected sacrifices for me: comforting my father as he mourns the loss of his older sister, the birth of my fourth nephew, four family weddings among a few other things.
Oh and also a long, leisurely trip to the US for Christmas, which I’m trading in for a 16-day trip to hit three cities, barely enough time to reaffirm my existence to those I’ve lost track of in the last year. The next time I touch down in the land of the free, my husband, son and I will have spent 307 days outside of the US.
That’s how many days it’ll have been since I’ve seen my oldest brother and his family or had a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats or been able to just pick up the phone to call a childhood friend without having to calculate the six-hour time difference.
I have 68 days to go before a rather bored American immigration officer welcomes me back to the United States of America.
Being away from your home country for long stretches of time is something that all expats get accustomed to. Whether it’s the year you’re pregnant and it dawns on you that traveling becomes limited, or you’re strapped for cash after buying your first house. At some point or another those trips back home are no longer a routine.
Despite all that, it’s actually been ok. In fact, it’s been fabulous.
The job that I gave up so much for is turning out to be a dream. In return for short-lived sacrifices, I’m gaining the kind of stability in my career that I have longed for. Being a trailing spouse my own ambitions took a backseat while I focused on supporting my husband and son as we settled into our new Nordic lifestyle. When the time was right, out of sheer determination and relentless job searching (where I harassed every journalist within a 50-mile radius of Oslo to have a cup of coffee with me), I landed myself a one-year contract at an amazing company.
For every pang of homesickness I feel and each day I wait to finally see my childhood home filled with my family, I can feel my future as a journalist brighten because of the experience I am getting now. I love every minute of my job and it’s the only thing that could have kept me away from the US for so long.
I’m now entering the final phase of my year-long hiatus from the US. My tickets are booked and I have 68 days to go before a rather bored American immigration officer welcomes me back to the United States of America.