Finding My Way In Stavanger

When I joined my partner in 2010 as an expat-wife I had to give up my job in the Netherlands. My colleagues, friends and family frequently asked me “What will you do during the day? Your husband is at work or travelling. You don’t have any friends there yet. You don’t have your children and family with you. Will you be sitting at home waiting for your husband to come home after work? Will you try to find yourself a job? What kind of work could you possibly do whilst not speaking the language yet? Don’t you think you will get bored doing nothing at all?

During our previous stay abroad, I always tried to defend myself explaining that finding a job abroad without speaking the language is an issue indeed, especially in a country in the eastern part of Europe where English, German and French are not commonly spoken languages. This explanation then also gave me the excuse to explain that not having a job would give me the opportunity to find my way in my new country and get used to its customs and rituals. Joining an expat-club and a language course would certainly help and finding a job was probably just a matter of time.

In the Netherlands, as well as in most other European countries such as Norway, it is very common for both partners to be employed so I really had to find ways to deal with my new situation. Fortunately, my husband was pretty supportive in this. He kept telling me that I should take these periods abroad as an opportunity to discover that there is more in life than just work and that I should enjoy these years as much as possible by finding my own way and by doing things that I could never do if I was employed.

Now, four years later whilst living in Stavanger, I still get the same questions as before but my answers have changed. Yes, I am sitting at home doing nothing at all. But I also join a Norwegian language course 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. Every day I walk the dogs for two hours, discovering new routes and beautiful views. I go swimming with my new Norwegian friends at one of Stavanger’s wonderful beaches. I harvest the plums in our garden and make jam out of them. I write columns every week such as this one. I do daily shopping and I clean the house. I try to cook dinner every day (whilst I hate cooking). I do the financial administration and I mow the lawn. I picked up my art history study again to keep developing myself and I hope to finish it this time. I visit Stavanger, its museums and a herbs farm close to Randaberg, which provides me with the input that enables me to give my family and friends a guided tour whenever they come over. I am still working on my self-made mosaic table almost on a daily basis and I am making my own personalized linoleum imprints. I joined the expat club of my husband’s work and I also joined a networking club in Stavanger and I’ve promised myself to participate in all of their excursions and trips. I have to fly back to the Netherlands every now and then taking care of my apartment tenants interests. I really would like to join salsa dancing in Stavanger and I will, for sure. I still have to paint the wooden fence my husband has made on my request and convince him that salsa dancing is fun.

Anyway…If somebody now asks me what I am doing during the day whilst not having a job, my answer is: “I am doing nothing at all and I love it!”




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