A love letter celebrating my first year in Oslo

Dear Oslo,

Guess what? It’s our one year anniversary. I can hardly believe it, it’s gone by so quickly!

It’s been a tumultuous year to say the least. Even though I moved here in November I had first set eyes on you a few months before, do you remember? My family and I visited in August to see what you were like. My first impression was that you were bright, welcoming and filled with friendly people, although you weren’t what I’d call a cheap date. It wasn’t love at first sight but when we parted ways I found you enticing. It wasn’t long before I was back, for good.

A rainbow outside my window after a storm cleared.

We’ve been through some tough times though. Besides my husband and son, I didn’t know one person in Norway. My first Thanksgiving here was barely a week after I moved and while everyone back home was cozy around a feast, I was roaming dark and rainy streets in Norway looking for an apartment to rent.

The frustrations of those early days were expected. Moving is tough under the best circumstances and I don’t blame you for that, Oslo.

It wasn’t long before we had our first spat: I couldn’t get my son into daycare. The application process was laborious and heavy on paperwork and rules and clauses within those rules said that I’d have to wait until a space opened up. I was disappointed. Perhaps it was a communication issue – I didn’t speak your language.

But things started looking up quickly. I understood you a little better and saw how much you had to offer. I found playgroups for my toddler where I met other expat moms to swap stories with. And then there were those Norwegian language lessons, remember how terrible my pronunciation was last winter? I still struggle with those extra letters: ø, æ and å.

Within a few weeks the noise that filled my ears at cafes and shops turned into words I could finally understand. The most useful one I learned was unnskyld (pronounced oon-shild) which means “excuse me.” I still use it a dozen times a day when I bump into people, wide-eyed as I navigate the city.

Inside City Hall, exploring Oslo with my son.

What I remember best about our first year together is how much freedom you have given me. You have made it easy for my husband to come home at a reasonable hour from work and you eventually provided a fabulous daycare for my son, which he loves. And now you’ve given me the time to nurture my career without having to sacrifice my duties as a mother. You must really care about me.

I have to be honest though, you don’t feel like home just yet. When I go on vacation I do think of you, but when I come back it’s still a little awkward. Maybe we just need to spend more time together.

Happy anniversary, Oslo. Thanks for a wonderful year – I look forward to another one filled with more adventures.

Yours truly,

Edge of the Arctic

5 thoughts on “A love letter celebrating my first year in Oslo

  1. Love to read your letter ❤
    I felt in love with Oslo the first time I came there although it was -27 degrees….
    I ´m coming back as often as possible.
    All the best to you and your family .
    Ha en fin dag 🙂

  2. I wonder if you are the same Saleha I met on a Norwegian course last year?
    I too have been here a year, learnt some of the language, wish I knew much more, and am starting at last to appreciate snow and even, gasp, look forward to it, rather than be weighed down by my Englishness and not know how to deal with it. That said, snow still makes me hum Christmas tunes…
    Now that I’ve found your blog I look forward to reading much more!
    Bet wishes, Helen

    • Yes it’s me! I didn’t take those Alfa Skolen courses back to back so I lost track of some of my classmates. I hope you’re doing well! I’m looking forward to snow too, mostly just to avoid the rain. Thanks for reading and so wonderful to hear from you Helen!

  3. Pingback: A community of ‘love refugees’ | sdmas

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