In the wee hours of the morning I'll be on my way to Paris. A. just arrived there today from Hyderabad, and I have not seen him for 3 long weeks. Now, in writing, 3 weeks does not seem like so much, but the first three weeks in a new country and culture take time!
What have seen/ been told/ learned so far here in Norway?
- You are nothing without a "personal number" (something like a social security number in the US or a CPF in Brazil). And it ain't easy to get. First register at the police (detail: have to come when there is an officer on duty, which is between 9:00 and 10:30). Finally got that done after the third try. Then need to go to next town to apply for the number... takes about 1/2 day. And then wait... I've been told it takes 2-3 weeks but a housemate here has been waiting for his for over a month. And until then?? No bank account (meaning I cannot be paid either), no cell phone, no enrollment in medical services, etc.
- Housing is scarce! Both in Aas (the small village) and Oslo the school year is starting and tons of students are looking for similar lodging than me. As a result, nothing good is available for more than a couple of hours and then... gone/ rented! I did decide to live in Oslo though and for a couple of extra thousand Kroner I found a quite neat place to share with 4 Norwegians. I'm moving in mid October and will have more updates then!
- I admit: my expectations were quite high. I did expect virtually everyone to speak English... Not so. I've quickly learned to select people to ask directions on the street based solely on age: 40 is the cutoff, the younger the better. And yesterday I went to a afternoon seminar session in which one of the organizers asked if there was anyone that did not speak Norwegian and 2 people raised their hands, she was astonished... and continued speaking in Norwegian! Knowing German helps a bit... a bit.
- Decided to be pro-active and invited everyone I've met so far for a Brazilian dinner at my guest-house. All international people I invited accepted and all Norwegians declined. The dinner was a big success. The absence of Norwegians was explained by several people as "normal", that they tend to hang out with their own groups. Let's hope it's not always like this...
- It cools down fast... Nowadays the highs are in the 50s and 60s (teens to low 20s in oC). How will it be in November?? And it gets dark even faster... When I arrived it was getting dark around 10:30pm and now it's 9pm. I admit that the darkness is one of my greatest Winter fears.
- The amount of fruit is amazing in the Fall. And all free (from kind neighbors' gardens)! I've made raspberry and apple cobbler, rose hip jam, knoedel with plums...
I'm really glad that A. will be in a similar situation now (though I hope/think his will be easier as he was housing sorted out and being a student also gives you an extra hand of support). While he was back in India traveling around my life over here was a little too foreign to easily relate to (and phone connections not that good). And it's not THAT far... 2 hours flight (let's see how long the overall commute takes) and I'll get to see him! Wohoo!
See you next week!