2016, Expat Life, Life, norway, Uncategorized

What is “Home” to Me?

I never quite know how I feel about my hometown. When I am away, I long for the mountains, for the food, for the friends and family that I left behind. When I am home however, all I do is dream about interailing and flying and going away to the farthest corners of the world.

After living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for three years I feel too foreign for Norway. I can’t quite settle down and the travelbug is bugging me (Ha.) more than I thought it would. Is this little town in Northern Norway still my home? I don’t know. I know that it is where I came from. But I lived in over 15 different houses/flats/apartments in two different cities growing up so I don’t have much of a tie to the place other than my family. I don’t have a house that I’ve lived in all my life and a room that still has toys from when I was a kid on the shelves. I have boxes and suitcases and a lot of books and clothes that I have unpacked, but most of my stuff? It’s waiting for me to decide where home is as much as I am waiting for figure it out.

I guess looking back it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I struggle to find peace and a true feeling of home anywhere. I grew up on the go, shuttled between places and schools and parents. I was loved and spoiled for attention, but I grew to love the change of scenery too. The new room, new decorations, new sights and sounds and routes to school.

I thrive on new situations and new places because for a large part of my life that was all I knew. I don’t know how to stay still. I can feel at home and I certainly consider where my family lives for home… but I don’t think it will be my permanent home. I want to live in more countries. I want to see more of the places I have read about. And make no mistake, when I can’t travel in flesh, I travel in mind. Thailand, India, Italy, Australia, Narnia, in my mind I have visited them all.

I read a lot as a kid. As much and as many books from remote countries and imaginary magical realms as I could get my hands on. I scoured the library and spent any and all savings on books. The pattern seems to be that the constant in my life was movement and imagination and travelling the only way I could at the time.

What “home” is to me then, are the people I love and the few things I bring with me wherever life takes me. It is the things I treasure, the values I have and the lessons I learn. It is the comfort and peace of mind I, like many other travellers, seek when we go abroad. Home is the paved road, the gravel path and the rough rivers that bring me to and from moments in life. Home is the little smiles, the warm fuzzy feelings of reunions and the knowledge that a small town as a home is in no way limiting, but inspring. Home is the roots of who I am and the safe and loving web of family who will support me wherever I go. Home is not a place to me, but a concept and a feeling, and to find the peace I seek while spending some months at home this is what I need to focus on. Wanderlust and a travellers “home” are often juxtaposed as people forget that where you came from is why you belong in more places than one.

 

 

2016, Expat Life, Scotland, Studying Abroad, The United Kingdom, Youtube

MOVING HOME TO NORWAY : VLOG

A blog from our brief time in Edinburgh where me and Dan hiked up to Arthur´s Seat and then a brief flat tour as I was preparing to leave England after three years.

2016, Expat Life, Other, Studying Abroad

Oh, time how you pass too quick.

Hey, ya´ll. It’s been six months. I wrote a bachelors dissertation. Explanation done. No, but really. I have missed blogging and writing down the details of my journeys both big and small so much. There just hasn’t been enough time or energy or mental health left in me to do so. So let’s update you all on my life now, and then start the actual blogging again next week with a post about Dublin in February.

University
I finished university! I am graduating! I gave myself anxiety and a panic attack in the process but I got there! The past six months were draining. That is all I will say about the subject for now. Draining but in hindsight a valuable experience and definitely something to learn from. University has for me been a wonderful and adventurous time, but I am looking forward to the new chapter and new challenges.

Long Distance Relationship
So I have written a couple of posts in the past about my LDR and how to deal with the sadness of it. I am still in an LDR and still dealing with the sadness of it, but also the joy of it and the happy moments in between. Once our current four weeks of summer time together comes to a close I will share some of my other thoughts on the subject, because dayum, it is hard.

Travelling
I did a fair bit of traveling in the past six months, hitting up Dublin, Copenhagen, Rio De Janeiro, Eurovision and Stockholm, York, Scarborough and some home time in between lectures and seminars. Posts about all of these to come in time. 🙂

What’s to Come

I am currently sat in my flat in Newcastle upon Tyne, counting down the days until graduation and moving. I am not moving anywhere exciting, I am moving home. Home to family and friends, home to a job offer, home to help and grow and reconnect with everything I was so eager to run away from when I moved abroad. For a few months anyway 😉 In 2017 I am off again to new places and new adventures, hopefully feeling a lot more settled and a lot less confused about what I want to do with my life.
I don’t know what the future will bring, but the next six months are sort of sorted in terms of what I am doing. I will be graduating, I will be moving home to Northern Norway and I will continue the journey that is being 22 years old and down with a serious case of wanderlust.

Love, Cat xxx

 

England, Expat Life, Studying Abroad, Travel

Life in England: Alnwick Castle Daytrip

Good morning lovelies! I’ve been a busy bee these past few weeks with university assignments and a wonderful weekend in the North-East with Kjære and his fam. Oh yes, we were reunited after five and a half loooong weeks and I didn´t stop smiling once the entire weekend. Except the part were we had to say goodbye again, but as luck would have it our next stretch is only three weeks at which point I will be back in Stockholm! We’re kicking LDR ass! More on this in another post.

Now, to get to the point of this post, last weekend about 50 Erasmus Society members and committee members headed north from Newcastle to Alnwick Castle & Gardens. Alnwick is a real castle currently owned, run and periodically lived in by the Duke of Northumberland. The castle itself and the (frankly ginormous) castle grounds have been used as locations for Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and a number of other films and tv-shows. It´s truly beautiful and visiting Alnwick was a grand day out, as you can see by the vlog I made of the day 😉

Hope you’re having a great monday! Xxx

Expat Life, Youtube

VIDEO: Scandinavian Food Haul

I´ve been ill with a chest infection for several weeks, popping antibiotics left and right, rubbing vaporub on myself as if it would make me turn my pumpkin illness infected self into a beautiful, healthy golden pumping carriage. It´s really early in the morning, I don´t know where I’m going with this. What I came here to say was – I ordered Norwegian Food! I made a video!

Scandikitchen.co.uk isn’t cheap but it’s a godsend for ill/homesick/food particular scandi expats in the UK. As you can see by the video I mostly ordered Norwegian things that I´ve particularly missed, as well as several cans of microwavable stews to help feed me when cooking was not an option. I could probably have managed two more months without Gløgg and Joikakaker, but when I’m ill I need comfort food. Online shopping therapy also works 😉

Happy Monday everyone! Xxx

Expat Life, Life, Studying Abroad

A Lesson In Exchange Rates

I recently had a bit of a financial heart attack. For a couple of hours I feared for my future and cursed my country and questioned the point of student finance when it doesn’t even finance my studies. See, the exchange rate between the Norwegian Krone and the British Pound  went from about 9,50 kroner to the pound to 11,50 kroner to the pound in a year and a half. Then, on december 16th 2014 (couldn’t find an English source for this, only Norwegian ones, but here is a translated version)  we had a massive drop that has since then only kept dropping, putting the Norwegian Krone at an all time low. One pound costs 25,5% more Krone than it did just a year ago.The Krone has dropped from 11.50 to 13 kroner to the pound in the last 6 months alone.The exchange rate has never been this bad, and because the Norwegian oil fund is less worth by the day it keeps falling.

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Adult life is hard

I pay an international student turition fee and because international tuition fees (the fact that I don’t get to pay EU fees when we’re a part of the EEA because a former Norwegian government threw away students rights during trade negotiations is an entire rant on it’s own) at English universities are usually horrendously high my tuition fees have skyrocketed. A year ago I would have payed 50 000 NOK less in tution fees than I have to now, soley because of the exchange rate. 50 000 NOK is a lot of money. I could travel the world for 50 000 NOK. Or get three return flights to Australia. Or go on a luxury 3 week holiday. Or go to Vietnam on a 12 day Contiki experience… twice.

It is therefore also unfortunate that these 50 000 kroner is what I have to cover myself because  Lånekassen (Literally BorrowBox, the Norwegian student Finance system) doesn’t cover it. They have a maximum loan sum you see, and though I would have stayed well below it had the exchange rate stayed stable, I am now well above it, though the british GBP sum hasn’t changed. GAAAAAAAH FRUSTRATION. This means that I probably won’t be able to travel as much as I was hoping to because the money I make from my part-time job and three months of work during the summer will go straight to try and cover my expenses.

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Lånekassen to every student currently abroad struggling With finances

Life threw me a bit of a curveball here because of the world economy changing (which is interesting, but also terrifying)  and I’m not happy about losing my travel money, but I have now resigned myself to the fact that there is nothing I can do about the situation. Zilch. I will just have to accept that most of my Norwegian maintanence loan will go into the tuition fees account instead of my rent, get a part-time job and make it work. I’m not able to make lemonade out of this situation, but I can at least bite the sour lemon and try to make the best of it. And I’m sure learning a lot about exchange rates and how to speculate in money.

Let’s pray the exhange rates improve over the next month, or at the very least that they don’t get any worse.

Love,
#FrustratedCat  Xxx

Expat Life, Life, Studying Abroad

The 7 Worst Bilingual Problems

Modern Family is one of my favourite TV-Shows and in many ways I relate to Gloria more than I like to admit. I speak two languages in my (sort of) every day life and though it’s useful it is not just fun and games. I’ve used English and Norwegian as examples in this post since that’s the two languages I consider myself fluent in, but the problemsbelow are universal for most bilingual people.  Here are  the (in my opinion) 7 worst bilingual problems.

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1: Switching Back and Forth Between Languages
I spend most of my time in England, but tend to go home to Norway for Christmas and the summer holidays. My brain can not cope with this change however, and more often than not I end up changing languages mid-sentence, speak the other language by accident or completely forget words  in one language, but remembering them in the other. It’s frustrating to me, but endlessly amusing to everyone else.

2: Reading or Hearing Something In Your Own Language but Having no Idea What People are Saying.
Nuff said. People can repeat things over and over and over again but Ze brain does not compute ze words. Y U SPEAK COMPLETE NONSENSE?! AM I SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND YOU?! ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE SAYING ACTUAL WORDS?! THIS GOBBLEDYGOOK MEANS NOTHING TO ME.

3: Words That Don’t  Translate Between Languages
Norwegian is one of those languages that has words that simply don’t translate into English. In Norway we have a lot for words for snow, and the texture of snow, for example.  And we have the word “kos” and “koselig” which are meant to mean something like “warm, cuddly feeling of fun” but can be used to say “this house is koselig”, “saturday night kos”, it was so koselig” and therefore can mean that something is nice, inviting, lovely, meant for enjoyment and so on. It’s infinite ways of describing something as positive and nice in one word. “Pålegg” is another one. It’s the word for anything you could think of to put on a sandwich. Do Brits have a word for this? I think not.

4: Coming Across Arrogant When speaking English in Front of Norwegian People.
This could just be a problem I have, but for some reason me having a British accent always makes people comment and/or send me a look as if I’m pretending on purpose or faking the accent. I have a slightly northern English accent because I live there and so my English has adopted this accent, much in the same way I speak with a Northern Norwegian dialect because I grew up there. It doesn’t seem like this fact matters to a lot of my Norwegian friends or acquaintances however and most of them ask me if I “actually talk like that” or if I’m just trying to make myself sound cool. I’m not cool and I wouldn’t bother trying, I just talk like this.

5: Autocorrect Shaftation
Not a day goes by without my autocorrect completely failing at letting me write what I’m actually trying to write. If I try to write English, it will correct my correct English into Norwegian. If I try to write Norwegian it changes it into English, and sometimes French? And If I dare to try and write in my own dialect Norwegian…. well, lets not get into that. Just trust me when I say chaos ensues. I’m also one of those people that type fast and send off messages without really reading through them. Don’t be surprised if I message you and “Have you remember to pille up the toalettpapir?” is what you’re getting. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what exactly you have to “pillle”.

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6: Realising You Have Holes In Your Vocabulary
As you can tell by this blog I can write and speak a decent amount of English. I think myself as having an alright vocabulary, but there are some situations where I realise that my English education has left significant words and phrases out, simply because it wasn’t useful at the time. If I have to go to the Doctor for example and he asks me to tell him where it hurts I will do nothing but point to my stomach and hope he has X-Ray vision because damnit I don’t know many words for internal organs in English and up until this point I didn’t know that I needed to know. Liver, heart, lungs, eehhhhhhhh, that thing really far in the back of my stomach to the left of that bone thing? Yeah, Doc, I think that’s where it hurts.

7: Accidentally Changing Your Accent or Dialect.
Last, but not least, the problem of changing your own dialect or accent. After spending a significant amount of time speaking English my brain can not seem to remember the dialect words or the dialect versions of words that I used to know in Norwegian. Sometimes I don’t remember the Word in Norwegian at all and if I do remember a word it’s likely to be the literal dictionary translation and not my own northern accent/slag/everyday phrase.  I end up sounding like a complete baboon; accent confused and slightly linguistically foolish.

Let me know of any other #BilingualProblems you have encountered! xxx