One of my biggest concerns when I decided to move to Norway was giving up my job. Many years ago, I dabbled in the “ladies who lunch” lifestyle, now glamourized to the hilt in all sorts of lame TV shows that I secretly like to watch. Why so many of us are interested in following Barbies who are very busy doing nothing is beyond me, but it seems I am not alone in this guilty pleasure. Not that I ever aimed to follow in their footsteps, but when you have no work visa you are pretty limited in what you can get up to during day time hours. However, having been placed in this position at least once before, I figured I had the skills to carve out something useful for myself beyond trips to the nail bar and drinking myself into a stupor on Aquavit.
Which begs the question, what exactly is it that I DO all day? Let’s examine a typical day in the life.
6 AM. Alarm goes off and Scottish partner drags himself out of bed. Since this is autumn, it’s still pitch black dark outside and won’t get light for at least another 2 hours, or possibly in June sometime. No point in trying to continue to sleep, pretty soon there will be practically no daylight hours at all so had better get used to roaming around in the dark now.
7 AM. Partner goes off to work and coffee in hand, I sit and stare at BBC World News. Boy, there is a lot happening in the world. Like, serious stuff. Nothing happens in Norway.
7.30 AM I start the morning clean up. I seriously love to clean. Dishes, bathrooms, laundry, I adore it all. No, I am not being facetious. And no, I cannot come to your house on Wednesdays to clean your bathroom.
8.30 AM Get ready for yoga class. I have figured out from the schedule which instructor teaches in English at my yoga studio which is helpfully called “Yoga Yoga”. Can’t miss Belinda’s class.
9.15 AM Arrive at Yoga Yoga studio. Where is Belinda? There is a woman here who is attempting to speak to me in something that sounds like Norwegian. I catch a few words and nod enthusiastically as I hand over my membership card. I tell her I am new here so my Norwegian is not great. She smiles sympathetically and responds in perfect English. “Oh, well I teach my class in Swedish, anyway. Do you think you can follow?” Nod again. Gulp.
9.35 AM Swedish instructor switches to English after she realizes I am still in savasana position while everyone else is in downward dog.
11 AM Finish class and head to store to pick up some groceries. No major hurdles here as I have learned that “wienerpølse” is a hotdog, “svin” is pork and “skinke” is ham. That pretty much covers the bulk of Scottish cuisine so I am stocked up for the day.
1 PM I have been charged with mailing my partner’s remnants of the British driver’s license for disposal and renewal. Instruction numero uno: Send it registered mail and get a tracking number. Alrighty. I head to the Posten with purpose. As I enter, I scan for my appropriate queue and take a number. My turn comes and I pass the envelope with cut up pieces of license to the clerk. She squints at the address.
“What country?” she asks. I point to the last line of the address.
“UK”, I respond. “United Kingdom?”
“You write “England” here.” she says, and points to the line under the city, Swansea.
I look quizzically at her across the desk. “But Swansea is in Wales.”
“You write ENGLAND here.”
O.K. England it is. I will inform Welsh Wales.
2 PM At this point in the reality show, the housewife usually goes shopping and buys herself “somethin’ perdy” which she will then spend the rest of the episode justifying to her long suffering mega-rich beau. I too decide that shopping is necessary, but I end up scouring the shops for a pair of gigantic, waterproof, fake fur-lined boots so I don’t lose a toe from frostbite this winter. The glamour never stops.
3.30PM Norwegian lesson. As my attempts at finding a language exchange in Stavanger have so far been unsuccessful, I have settled on an online lesson based on a textbook called, “På Vei”. As a rough translation I think this means, “Why bother when we speak English?”
4.30 PM That pretty much takes me to where I am now. By far my favourite part of the day is when I get to sit at a computer and write about (read: exaggerate) the minutiae of my day. It may not pay anything yet, but it beats having to flog a cheesy perfume line on QVC like the real housewives of New Jersey or Milwaukee or Red Deer. And until that work visa comes through, it’s enough.