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Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Wishes #6 - Making a home

It’s been a while since I’ve last written a ‚Weekly Wishes‘ post because I was on the road traveling and making goals (or rather achieving them) aside from ‚Take lots of pretty pictures!‘ and ‘Enjoy your trip!’ didn’t seem too fruitful. But I’m back now and planning to do these regular again!

My goal for this week is to make a home for myself here in Norway. I’ve been here for two weeks now and so far it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. There have been a lot of highlights (Norway is a stunning country!), but also some substantial lowlights and I think it has to do with the fact that I still haven’t really come to terms with the fact that this is going to be my home for the next year.

When I went to Canada in 2008 and then later spent two summers in Paris, I never really felt like an outsider. My time in France was always so short that the end was in sight when I first arrived, so it wasn’t really an issue and in Canada I lived with a great host family that made me feel welcome from the very beginning. But this time, the situation is different and these emotions aren’t something I was expecting. I’m sure all you expats out there will know what I am talking about.

But back to the goal: I don’t want to feel like an outsider – I want Norway to become my home, if even just for a short period of time and I think it all starts with myself. My attitude hasn’t exactly been the best and I believe that keeps me from enjoying my time here to the max. Maybe I’m just being a Drama Queen right now and my mixed feelings about being an expat in a LDR will go away as time goes on, but I’d rather not take the chance. My goal is therefore to practice positive thinking everyday: When I find myself going down a negative road in my head, I will stop and direct my thoughts in a different direction, even if it’s just ‘Wow, I love these shoes!’ or ‘The sun is shining for once!’. Your thoughts can be your own worst enemies, but I’m prepared to fight them.

And to consider some more practical matters, I also want to make my place more homey. My friend Erika is doing the same in her current ‘Weekly Wishes’ series and I want to jump aboard that train. I already have some decoration, but it still lacks some personality and I would like to change that in the days/weeks to come. It’s a bit challenging since I won’t be able to take most decoration items back to Germany with me and don’t want to feel like I’m throwing away money. However, I believe that our surroundings greatly affect our mindset, so I want to make sure I feel at ease where I live.

What are your tips to making a home in a new place?

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  1. Aw I get you! But that's a great goal, to tackle one's mindset is so important and I know often when I'm hating life it's because I'm dwelling on the bad instead of seeing the bigger picture and the silver lining. Enjoy making it homey though! Even the smallest touches can make a house a home! :)

  2. This is a GREAT goal and wonderful advise for any new expats. I know from experience living 3 years in South Korea that being the forever outsider can be a real challenge and that by becoming preoccupied with the difficulties involved, practising positivity can get pushed to the wayside. It is however very important to constantly readjust your attitudes and not sweat the small stuff.

    Norway is a country I would LOVE to explore myself!! Best of luck for your year long adventure there!! xxx

  3. I hope you are able to adjust and that you will able to enjoy your time in Norway. Practicing positive thinking really can make all the difference! When I was an au pair in a small town in Italy, it wasn't at all what I was promised or expected. I was really lonely, hardly anyone at all spoke English and I didn't know Italian so it was impossible to interact with others/make friends at first, and there were no other nannies in the area to meet up with. I really almost asked to be placed with a different family in a larger city, but I'm so glad that I didn't! Instead, I just had to change my outlook and instead of focusing on the deficits, I decided to embrace what I had which was a great host family and an opportunity to be immersed in the welcoming culture of Southern Italy. Eventually, I learned some Italian, so I was able to make some friends and I had a great, memorable experience.
    Hang in there! Like you said, it will be tough at first, but hopefully worth it in the end!

    Améliorer la Vie

  4. Hey Melanie! I am so excited that you're jumping in on the apartment train!!! :) It feels like home -- meaning I am comfortable here, but there are more things I want to do... primarily organization and personalization. I think putting a personal touch on it helps... I want to do what Nicole from Treasure Tromp said on Melyssa's blog: make a "wake up call" maybe. Something I see that's positive and awesome right when I wake up!

    As for the other stuff... one thing I would say is this: address the negative stuff and then combat it. So, if you're having a down thought about being far away from home or missing your boyfriend, try to find something positive that deals with the issue at hand. If you're missing your boyfriend, maybe come up with scheduled times to chat or work on writing him a beautiful letter or a care package. If you're missing your friends in Germany, maybe reach out to them or put effort into making one real Norwegian friend. I think it's important to address the negative thoughts and understand where they are coming from, as opposed to masking them. But I do think that having a positive mindset and focusing on the good things also helps. What you're doing is brave and it's not easy -- even if it is exciting in a sense.

    I'm really excited to hear more about Norway through your eyes. :) I'm glad you had fun on your vacation, but I have to say for my own selfish blog reading reasons, I am glad you're back! :)))


  5. Hi Melanie! This is extremely relevant to how I'll feel in a few weeks! What many people tell me is that as long as you get past the first month or so, you stop feeling like a stranger and start reaping the benefits of exploring such a new place! I can't wait to see pictures :)

    Michelle @ Mishfish13

  6. Great goal and I wish you all the best and hope it goes well for you


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