Expat Life

Norwegian Lessons: Jul

As we were getting ready for vacation, Christmas was starting to come to Oslo, with large swathes of Karl Johans blocked off where they were going to build a Christmas market. By the time we returned, the Jul season was officially in full swing, with not only Julemarked (Christmas markets) popping up around the city, but also Julekaffe, Julebrus, and yes, even Julepølse. 

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Nesting in Norway

When we started considering moving to Norway, one of my first requests was that the furniture that was in storage in Seattle be shipped to our new home. We’d been living in a partially furnished flat in Prague and while we’d brought plenty with us from Seattle, very little of it was furniture. All of L’s bedroom furniture had come with us, sure, as well as a mattress (that’s since been replaced—go figure), and a little hippopotamus footstool that I just had to have when I stumbled upon it on Houzz and that I thought would cheer me up on even the dreariest of days. But the rest of the “big stuff” was either provided by our landlords or purchased after we arrived.

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Norwegian Lessons: Barnevogn

I wasn’t going to write this post. Linguistically, this isn’t the most interesting word—we already know that barn means “child,” so if you speak English (and I assume you do if you are reading this blog) it’s not hard to figure out that barnevogn is “child wagon” aka “stroller.” And I would really like to move on to some less child-centered words.

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Raising a Toddler Abroad: Prague versus Oslo

People are always very surprised when I tell them I think Prague is more child-friendly than Oslo. Isn’t Oslo part of the Scandinavian wonderland in which everyone is happy all the time, the quality of life is high across the board, and kids are allowed carefree childhoods outdoors? 

The difference, I explain is between a child-friendly and a family-friendly environment. And it begins with the countries’ very different approaches to parental leave, though the effects go well beyond that.

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Norwegian Lessons: Barnehage

If you move to Norway with a small child, chances are that the first word you learn in Norwegian will be “barnehage.” Generally translated as “kindergarten” (“barn”=child and “hage”=garden), it is more like day care in the U.S. Indeed, one of the most confusing things that I started doing when we decided to move here was tell people back home that I needed to enroll my one-and-a-half year old in kindergarten.

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Building a Minimalist Wardrobe for a Toddler (Autumn 2017)

Closely related to my fascination with minimalism is my obsession for the past several years with capsule wardrobes. Unfortunately, as much as I love the idea, building one for myself has never worked. There are a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that I get anxious at the idea of throwing out my current clothes that don’t bring me joy—mostly because I’m pretty sure that all that will be left is a handful of evening gowns.

But while I haven’t been able to build one for myself, maybe it would be a good option for my son’s new wardrobe?

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Reflections After Three Months in Norway

I was actually typing up a different blog post when I realized that this weekend marks our three-month anniversary in Oslo. So while I do look forward to posting about some toddler-friendly day trips from Prague soon, I thought now would be a good time to share some of my thoughts on Norway three months in.

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The (Not-So-) Big Purge

In my imagination, I am a minimalist.  In reality, I am a hoarder. Or at least a collector, with mild anxiety over throwing things away. After all, you never know when you are going to need that one piece of paper again.  Never mind that I’m not sure what it’s about.

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Facebook and Surviving as an Expat Mom

Facebook moms groups (like any moms group, apparently) are a tricky thing. The mommy wars are in full swing in many of them which makes them a very dangerous—but also enticing—place. I’ve seen even relatively drama-free ones blow up over topics like baby-led weaning and toddler boy “aggression.” But drama or not, there is one population that I’m not sure can survive without them: expat moms.

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