I have been slacking big time in blogging for some time now. When did it first start? Probably – since I got busy at my Dunedin workplace in New Zealand.
I wish there were more exciting excuses but it all came down firstly by the busy-ness. Then, it was just mental block. This followed by more procrastination. And then, the dilemma of what should I blog about? (I didn’t want blog for the sake of blogging – I wanted to stay true to myself. Writing what I really meant). And at times, I felt I need to be careful with my thoughts processes and what I blog about (especially with some of the readers of my blog). Partly because of that, I felt I have lost a part of me where I don’t give a F%$#! But in all honesty, the work did majorly also take me away from being reflective of my own life. In saying so, I did enjoyed my work very much.
Nonetheless, I have now moved to a new country. I have been here since August 2017, professionally unemployed and I have still yet to blog anything interesting. Firstly, it was the stress of settling down, then the honeymoon period of wanting to see everything around me; and this quickly followed by boredom and not knowing what to do with my life.
Hence, today’s blog topic – “Living in a new country”.
I am not sure if this is a comeback to start blogging again. I just suddenly have this huge urge this evening to not give a F#$% and I like to stay true to who I am and blog as honest as I can. I think at the end of the day, this blog is about me and it’s for me. If it can help or inspire some people, that would be great but it is not my key intention. And that’s what I’ll keep doing. I’m hoping to blog more frequently again and worry less about what others may think.
Back to the key topic of “Living in a new country”.
Living in a new country is tough. Especially if you have a huge language barrier. To be totally honest, I have not integrated nor felt at home as I have been in New Zealand. Now – don’t you go jump to conclusion that this is a regret. I rarely have regrets in my life and I have not done so since I was 21 (That’s another topic for another day). What I am saying is that it has been tough. I see myself to be a reasonably strong person but Norway is slowly consuming me in a way that I can’t really explain.
Or perhaps, I am at the Anxiety/Frustration Stage based on the 4 Stages of Culture Shock.
I guess the rose-coloured glasses has finally come off. And also I am allowing myself to feel these emotions and openly admit that I am unhappy.
Life is Norway is tough when you don’t have the language capability. It is true that most people speak English here but they generally do not like using it. So whenever you uses English, it kind of make you feel like a pariah. You can’t find work without the language and you are pretty much disabled. This is then confounded by the fact that I also can’t drive in Norway due to the license restriction. Sigh!
The other hardest thing I guess also lies in the Norwegian’s bureaucracy processes. For most things, processes comes before people. It’s just red tape everywhere. So it is kind of strange for a country that preaches equality all day long.
The long winter — gosh! Where do I start? Winter is absolutely beautiful in Norway. But having 6 months in year of Winter is not great. Shoveling snow is a painful process (great exercise though but tedious). You stop keeping track of your fitness and I just have no motivation to find anything to keep active or inspired. I also do agree to a certain extend of the Norwegian favourite quote “Det fins ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær. That means “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.
But these clothing are restricting in terms of movement. So most days, when I am all dressed up to face the winter, I feel like Michelin.
Last but not least, the very high cost of living. Yes, I can confirm that most things are really expensive. And you may argue that ‘your pay is higher’. Again, you can agree to disagree but the taxation here are horrendous. Norway is one the most heavily taxed country in the world. 25% VAT, personal income taxes is at about 45% and not forgetting wealth tax. And healthcare is not really free either (perhaps another topic for another day).
Norway is definitely not a place to do a little better (in terms of financially) and you are not expected to excel either. Norway has created a system that seemly everyone has the same status and it’s totally ingrained in their society what’s known as the Law of Jante.
Jante Law is the description of a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Nordic countries that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.
There are ten rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, all expressive of variations on a single theme and usually referred to as a homogeneous unit:
Broadly: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.
The ten rules state:
You’re not to think you are anything special.
You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.
You’re not to think you know more than we do.
You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
You’re not to think you are good at anything.
You’re not to laugh at us.
You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
Consequently I think Jante Law has put limits to the aspirations of achievement. Is it good or is it bad?? I guess it’s a matter of discussion, perspective taking and where you are in life.
Norway has successfully keep people at the same level (is this equality? Perhaps, yes in some context). There’s definitely a limited economic freedom to achieve more and even undesirable to achieve more financially (because it’s just mean the more money you get/made, the more the government takes). I don’t think Norwegian system gives much choice to individual but rather they give you the only choice there is available. So the question of equality?? Hmmm!! A difficult one……
Please do not misunderstand me. The intent of this post is not about regrets of moving here nor this is by no mean a criticism to Norway as well. I don’t think there’s any country in the world that’s perfect. And we always look through a rose-tinted glass that everything looks rosier on the other side. But my intend to write this post is to acknowledge that it is hard moving to a new country, what have been particularly hard for me, and a wee note that Norway is not a particularly easy place to integrate. How am I going to make this work? I don’t know.
Last but not least, I want to show or rather remind people that it’s not all happy and lovely when you look at someone’s FB’s photos or Instagram thread. People just don’t show you their true self. There’s always more to each photo you see.