Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reflections on a Year Abroad

Exactly one year ago today, we arrived to our new home in Norway! I can't believe a year has flown by, yet so much has changed during that time. Here are just some random things that are on my mind today -

1. Grocery shopping went from a recreational sport in Houston to a non-couponing, Google-translating, and conversion avoiding experience in Norway! Oh and the stores don't open until 9:00 am. Fail.

We've also eaten a lot healthier (not necessarily by choice) and go out to eat maybe once every two weeks, if that. And mostly just when we are traveling.

2. We've gotten a chance to do and see some amazing things that we wouldn't have otherwise. We spent Christmas and New Years in Ireland and London, saw the amazing and beautiful Northern Lights, and got to visit friends in Hungary. We plan to do more traveling next year as well while Madi is still young and easy to fly with.

3. Speaking of Madi, I cannot believe that just a year ago we were moving here just after finding out we were pregnant. We had this 8 week ultrasound just before we left and heard her heartbeat. Norway was a great country to have a baby in and while her delivery didn't exactly go as planned, we always felt completely safe and secure during the entire process. We also go to travel to Oslo to apply for her citizenship and get her passport and that was a ton of fun!

4. However, there have definitely been some difficulties in living abroad too. It was very difficult telling our families that we were moving so far away and expecting our first baby at the same time. Fortunately technology has allowed us to have lots of facetime and skype dates and text back and forth between everyone. It's not the same, but it's definitely better than nothing!

5. Friendships are strained. It's one thing to stay in touch with family when you are overseas, but it's another to try and stay in touch with your friends. Jason and I made an amazing group of friends in Houston and some of those friendships were just starting to really deepen. We both feel like the timing of the move was hard because we were finding our niche and really building on those friendships and growing closer with people. The distance has made it so difficult to stay connected. Alternatively, we've been able to make some wonderful friends here in Norway! They were super supportive after her delivery and we feel blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.

6. Social media can be a great way to stay connected to people back home, but it can also be a gentle reminder that you are no longer there, not a part of those groups any longer, and cause you to feel very isolated and alone. I really struggled after our trip to Houston in March where I got to see everyone, but not really see everyone. There wasn't enough time and I felt like I had to rush my friends and family and the time we had with them.

7. I yearn for Target or Walmart or even just a grocery store like King Soopers or Safeway. I can usually get 90% of the things I need from one store here in Norway, but I always seem to have to go to three different places to get everything. I do love having a farmer's market daily and an amazing butcher so those trips are worth it for the extra goods. Although how we're going to balance that once I return to work in January is questionable...

A lot of people have asked us how we like living abroad and how we like Norway. We tell them honestly, that there are things we love and things we miss. But that's how it is living anywhere. You have to make adjustments and there are pros/cons to every location. How much you like a place depends on your attitude and how you view your circumstances and situation.

We know without a doubt that this is the place we are meant to be. The Lord weaved everything into place perfectly removing any shadow of a doubt that this is our home for the next couple of years. We are loving living in Stavanger and loving life with this little angel -

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