My Arrival in Oslo
March 3, 2009 § Leave a comment
The sun is setting as I sit here at a small wooden table in my cousin Ola’s apartment, located in the heart of Oslo. He lives on the fourth floor of a tall and very old brick building. There is scaffolding completely surrounding from the ground to the top of the fifth floor. Apparently, the construction company went out of business and just left it there with hopes to resume work once they start a new company. Ola has told me that the majority of the people living in Oslo are Swedish. Most of them work here because the salaries in Norway are much higher and its close enough that they can return to Sweden whenever they have the need.
Ola is in the kitchen preparing a small meal of rye crackers with salted ham, or crisps meg spekeskinke as I should learn to call it. The snow is about four feet high on the ground and is melting significantly from the scaffolding in the warm 40 degree Farenheit weather, so much so that it sounds as though it is raining. We nibble on our meal and talk about the differences between food here and in the U.S., all while Ola drinks strawberry-lemon yogurt out of a carton. Due to Norway’s independence from other countries the markets here are very small and offer a limited variety of products. Imagine only two options of toothpaste. Rather than suffer with the lack of selection and high food cost, Ola travels the half hour drive to Sweden and purchases his groceries in bulk for half the price. It’s humorous that in the same amount of time we take to get groceries in Nicasio, he is purchasing them in another country.
Conversation flows very well and for that I am extremely grateful. No awkward moments or fluffy topics like the weather. His apartment is small but the space well managed and comforting. I am soothed by the light colored pine floors and thick walls. Every piece of furniture seems to have a certain personality and history to it; it’s not the same feeling of factory manufactured items that I am used to in the states.
Ola has run out to meet an interested buyer for his car. Gas is up to ten kroner a liter, the equivalent of more than six american dollars a gallon, and he is looking for a smaller car with better gas mileage. My mind resonates with Grandpa’s words that this experience would finally hit me when I found myself alone for the first time. Yet, here I am alone and while this experience becomes more and more real as time passes, it still feels like everything is just a dream.
When the plane sank through the clouds during our descent, my heart began racing madly. For the last three months I have put my full focus on getting to this point and now that I am here I almost feel purposeless. At one point, it even crosses my mind that I am short of moronic for moving and should just turn around and go home. I am so out of my element here; I know I have the necessary skills to survive and support myself back in the U.S., but I feel like none of those skills are of use to me. Literally everything is different and it really confirms the feeling I have of this move as a blank slate. However, underneath all the immediate worry and anxiety lies that deep excitement and yearn for a challenge. I know this is going to be difficult and I set out with my future in mind. All the necessary quotes fuel my confidence: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”, “Reach for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”,”We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.” Life really is too short to wonder what things could be like, or to look back at the chances you had to change the course of your existence.