From Norway to Luxembourg to Norway: Repatriateme
I’m Unni Holtedahl, blogging as The Repat. I’m from Norway and I now live in Norway again as from August 2016 after 11 years in Luxembourg!
1. Why did you move abroad?
My husband’s job took us to Luxembourg in 2005. It was a good time to have an expat experience as we had a toddler and a baby on the way (born one month after we moved!). Originally we wanted to stay 3-4 years, but ended up taking one more year and then one more...like many expats do in Luxembourg. Life there is in general easy and comfortable.
2. How do you make a living?
In Luxembourg, I worked part time with HR in the only Norwegian bank there and also as a freelance translator. For me that was a good combination. When we first came I chose to stay at home with our girls for a long time, which I don’t regret one single bit, and then I went back to studying, which I don’t regret either J. Expat life can be your opportunity to do just that; study what you’ve always wanted but never did, especially with all the online studies that are available. Now that we’ve just moved home again, I’m taking my job as a translator with me, and it feels good to have time and flexibility to help our daughters through this change and get settled in.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Not often enough while we lived abroad! Somehow life gets in the way… Family and close friends would be phone or e-mail, SMS etc. For all the others, social media helps you keep up a bit and keep in touch. Because you can’t keep up with everyone, that’s just how it is.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Luxembourg?
Paris. I’m not kidding. It’s two hours by train, and a day trip is very feasible! Or the central location in Europe, to make it a bit broader.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Luxembourg?
Water! Again, not kidding. It’s in the wrong place! It falls down from the sky – a lot of it – and the sea is too far away. And the sky seems to be falling a lot of the time too I totally understand Chicken Little!
6. What do you miss most?
Obviously family and friends. And the feeling of being truly at home. These were important factors when we took the (hard) decision to move home. Oh, and water in the right place (the sea).
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Like I said, we came with a toddler and a baby on the way. Playgrounds were great for meeting people and children are door openers. Also I joined an international choir as soon as I could. Choirs are great not only for singing, it’s a very social thing and people who love to sing are often nice J.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I think I’ll choose the annual Hopping Procession, which takes place at Pentecost in the oldest town in Luxembourg, Echternach. It is a religious procession where some 9000 people, many of them pilgrims, literally hop through the streets to polka music!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That it is a tax haven – it is not for people like you and me.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Quite high yet still lower than in Norway. I guess for us it was most noticeable in the way we treated ourselves, to good food and wine, travels…
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Learn the language of your adoptive country if you don’t already speak it. It will obviously help you integrate, and even if you don’t get much beyond hello, goodbye, thanks and please, the locals will appreciate the effort and they’re worth your effort!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
My current blog, www.repatriateme.com, deals with repatriation; the decision, the time in between countries, the coming home and the inevitable reverse culture shock. I haven’t found that many blogs like that, yet quite a few expats repatriate.
Unni's Blog, Repatriateme
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