We've traded our swimsuits for raincoats.

Lost in Transition

This is my 17th home move in less than thirty years. While the process does become easier over time it's never fun, especially with an overseas relocation. After spending time in Singapore and the Netherlands along the way, we've finally landed in beautiful Norway. Luckily the Norwegians seem like a friendly, warm-hearted bunch and having nice people around you during a transition makes things much more pleasant. But John and I are both ready for this phase to be over already.

We've traded our swimsuits for raincoats.

What's the problem you may be wondering? There hasn't been anything too severe, just  a string of annoyances along the way. So I'll start with the positives: we got to catch up with one of our really good friends in Singapore, we had great flights all along the way here, the weather in Amsterdam was absolutely brilliant for this time of the year and now it seems Stavanger is also having a spell of unseasonably good weather (perhaps we brought the warmth with us from Australia?) We even made it here with all of our excess baggage without being forced to pay extra! I hate travelling with a lot of stuff but when you're moving you just have to do it. It's either drag weeks worth of clothing and all your valuables with you on the plane or wear the same four outfits for three months while you wait for your container storage to arrive, and risk losing items like jewelery and irreplaceable documents. But I'm sure watching us negotiate four different airports with all our crap was a laughable sight.

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Now for the whinge. We're completely burnt out on travel after being on the road continuously for all of last year. So we're over every bit of making our way through airports (if I'm ever nostalgic for the "old days" this is where I'd start), living out of suitcases, dealing with broken and uncomfortable items in hotel rooms, slow service, restaurant meals and the sheer expense of being on the move all the time. Someone missed a signature on John's visa application and its approval is now weeks behind schedule. No one bothered to let us know about the delay until we actually got here so we could have been enjoying more time in a cheaper location while we wait. Instead we're spending a small fortune living in Norway before beginning work. We can't do much here until that's granted - John's start date, opening a bank account and applying for my permit are all on hold. Thankfully we're able to start looking for a house while we wait. But we're spending a lot more than we would have had we been aware of the delay.

Periods of transition are rarely easy and trouble-free. Having done this before and being completely worn down from my previous experiences with visa applications, moving, bureaucracy and being forced to be dependent on other people's competence and communication, I've resolved to stay Zen about it all. I'm currently drawing strength from the wise words of Winston Churchill:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

So let's look on the bright side. We're in gorgeous Stavanger with more free time to spend together and explore our new surroundings (I'll introduce you in my next post). We've started looking at homes to rent and love what we've seen of the area. Stavanger looks like a promising place for a wonderful lifestyle and a base for exploring the rest of Europe. These things happen all the time. It's not raining. We're not bored. I think we're going to make it...eventually.

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Have you ever moved overseas? What was the most challenging aspect of it all for you?


  1. cheryl 29 April, 2012 at 21:36 Reply

    Oh dear! Sorry to hear this happened. My move to Berlin was not as smooth as it could have been either … but you guys are pros by now.

    Hope now you’re settled in by now and resting up from your long traveling journey. :)

    • inspiringtravellers 1 May, 2012 at 12:47

      We’re getting there – I still need to have my visa approved and still waiting for my mobile SIM card to come in the mail. And we need to find doctors but that’s not an emergency…it always takes time. I have to say, settling in Norway has gone a lot faster than expected, despite any hiccups!

  2. Jill 11 April, 2012 at 13:39 Reply

    When I moved abroad the biggest frustration was getting the paperwork (visas, bank accounts, payroll) done and having to complete forms several times over. It was especially hard because it was all out of my hands and I just had to trust “Inshallah…” which is always difficult for a Westerner. The good thing is that once everything is set, it’s set! And you don’t have to worry about it again until move #18!

  3. thetravelchica 26 March, 2012 at 22:14 Reply

    I cannot believe you’ve moved so many times!  I have never had to move out of the state (at least not as an adult), let alone the country!

  4. Sabrina 26 March, 2012 at 16:58 Reply

    I can’t even imagine being on the road for a whole year, so it must be frustrating to have a more stable life so close in reach, but yet a visa stamp away (I’ve had my share of immigration worries). Hopefully you can enjoy the time off before work starts and get to know the new place better without worrying too much about your finances being drained in the meantime. This too shall pass! In the meantime… hang in there!

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 27 March, 2012 at 02:58

      The finances are the only real concern – unfortunately in Norway you need your personal ID number to do almost everything. Thanks for the words of encouragement – hope it comes soon (I’m jumping every time the phone rings, haha)

  5. Ali 26 March, 2012 at 05:11 Reply

    Moving sucks! Getting all my stuff over to Germany was such a pain. I took whatever I could on 2 visits to see Andy, and he took a bunch of my stuff back with him after our wedding, but then I had 3 checked suitcases plus my 2 carry-ons on my last flight over to actually move. I think I only kept 5-10% of my belongings. I’m sorry to hear about visa delays, I hope they get it straightened out quickly. I’m looking forward to hearing about Norway!

  6. emilyinchile 25 March, 2012 at 16:43 Reply

    Visas are just the devil, even in countries where they’re supposedly easy. It’s so stressful to think that one little piece of paper has so much power over your future! Fingers crossed you guys get everything sorted soon and enjoy this unexpected time off in the meantime.

  7. Zenaida des Aubris 25 March, 2012 at 10:58 Reply

    Oh yes, how well I know the feeling of moving, starting anew, orienting myself in new surroundings, finding the right bakery, where the freshest fish is to be found, the best wine advice… have done it cross-culturally several times in my life – Argentina to Canada to USA to Europe (and back and forth a few times), within Germany and now most recently from Munich to Berlin.  And most of the time on my own penny, too, unrestful soul that I am. And what remains in my memory?  The bureaucracy – horrid in any country.  Don’t know how it is in Norway, but Germany requires blood tests, lung ex-rays, and they definitely want to know why you were born, not only when. Pages and pages of questions, in triplicate please, press down hard. I assume moving to the US nowadays is no different. But in the end – it is all worth it, isn’t it?  Keeps us curious kitties wanting to look around the corner to what is ahead, open the next door and find a treasure ….

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 13:58

      So you’re living in Berlin now, how wonderful! That’s one of our favourite cities. I had to do the whole medical check thing with the chest xray and all for Australia when I applied for my permanent residency there – not fun! Luckily I don’t think we have to do any of those health checks for Norway – at least not at this stage. I definitely agree that it’s all worth it in the end though. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! =)

  8. Nora - The Professional Hobo 25 March, 2012 at 10:32 Reply

    I also find the period of transition (between longer-term housesitting or volunteer gigs) to be exhausting, usually because my transitions are up to months long and include crazy stunts like 25,000kms of train rides through 10 countries in 30 days, or bobbing around living/sailing on 5 sailboats in 3 countries in 2 months…..

    You get the idea!
    So when I finally “land” somewhere I know I’ll be for a while, I usually collapse from fatigue for at least a few weeks, and often get sick from a compromised immune system from hectic transitional travels. This is when I reevaluate what I’m doing and ask myself if I still want to travel, and start to write all kinds of existential philosophical “why me” articles! 
    But then, after a few months of living a culturally immersive life, my feet start to itch again, or an opportunity I just can’t turn down comes up, and I’m ready to hit the road for a little while. I’m learning now, however, that I just don’t have the same energy and enthusiasm for long-term hecktic travels, and I need to limit my transitional periods to a couple of months at the most. 

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 14:01

      We completely felt that way at the end of last year, when we were on the road every 2-4 days for most parts of our journey. At the end of the year when we got to John’s parents’ house we both got sick and then continued to catch everything that was going around because we were so run down. It just all caught up to us. We’re certainly not as hectic as some of the experiences you describe at the moment – I felt very relaxed reading your comment, haha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! =)

  9. Andi Perullo de Ledesma 25 March, 2012 at 08:26 Reply

    I LOVE that quote! Never heard it before. You know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t give up! That which doesn’t kill us DEFINITELY makes us stronger. I promise it will be worth it in the end and you ALWAYS have me for support. <3

  10. Sherry 25 March, 2012 at 05:06 Reply

    I was too young to remember, but I did move from an international destination once. I can’t imagine what my parents must’ve gone through with a move that big. So glad you guys made it to Stavanger. I’m sure this is an ideal location of the two of you to start the next phase of your life. Transition is never easy. Hang in there, guys!

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 09:58

      I’m so glad we’ve done it before having children – it would be even more difficult if we had little ones in tow. We definitely think we’re going to really love Norway from what we’ve seen so far – thanks for your support! =)

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 09:57

      And such a gorgeous springtime at that! Everyone keeps telling us how unseasonably warm it is – at 7-10C we certainly can’t complain. One of the locals was telling John yesterday that they are expecting snow here for Easter though? I don’t see how that can be!

  11. Lisa 24 March, 2012 at 22:45 Reply

    I’ve done it twice, I think getting a basic grasp on the language and how things work were biggies for me. Also getting a pay snafu worked out, in the end it was soooo worth it all. I had three great years working in Berlin.

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 09:56

      I really need to get onto learning some Norwegian. Most people here speak English so we’re getting around ok, but I’d feel better not walking up to everyone and having to speak English. We love Berlin!

  12. Jenna 24 March, 2012 at 15:30 Reply

    I can see why you got tired of the on-the-go lifestyle after this last year, and this new change sounds very exciting. I need to go back and read your previous posts to catch up on how you came to the decision to live in Norway. After my husband finishes school, I would really, really like to take a year off work and live in Europe just to see what the lifestyle would be like for us as a family. I have to admit, though, that after moving many times in my life, being in the same house these last 7 years has been a nice change.
    I moved overseas when I was 23, and it was pretty easy, mostly because it was just me and a small suitcase. I had nothing to lose.

    • Geert @ Inspiring Travellers 25 March, 2012 at 09:53

      We love Europe as a place to live. We’ve only done Paris together in the past though and it was very short-term so less of an ordeal. Seven years in the same house – that sounds really nice, actually. We love travelling but more on shorter trips than what we’ve been doing.

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