Northern Lights pictures and films with beautiful nature from Norway are a great way to advertise the country and its beauty. Actually, the pictures on this blog are taken by me, here in Norway. With such beauty, many people want to come and visit.
That is great, I think, yet people born and raised here may not be that happy with this development. Apart from the stunning natural surroundings, there is a lot of history to be seen in museums and on the streets and buildings. Make sure you find a guided tour because it’s worth it. There is no way to find it on your own, as much as a good guide can say.
Plenty of festivals can be attractive to attend if you are around when they happen.
For instance, in Tromsø, where I live, plenty of happenings and festivals keep the city vibrant and interesting for people interested in culture and concerts. A big one is TIFF, Tromsø Film Festival, which occurs every January. The Northern Lights Festival starts immediately after – a classical music festival. The two together make the dark time of the year faster because people keep busy.
Later, in the summer, there is the Bukta festival, with pop music in July; then, in the fall, there is a jazz music festival. Then there is the Tromsø World Festival with artists from all over the world, people we don’t hear about otherwise here on the Top of The World where we are.
All these festivals are running on volunteers. Therefore, it can be an excellent way to know people by working side by side and doing something fun together.
Then, there is a beer festival, food festival, and Christmas markets everywhere.
And speaking about Christmas, I see quite few people planning their winter holidays with a visit to Norway. Please don’t. I hope what I say here will be okay with the joy of traveling to Norway, at the same time, I see that nobody else says what I am about to say.
From December 22nd to January 2nd it is the Christmas holiday in Norway, and there are few to no fun things open in any town in Norway. People here sit with their families mostly and are reluctant to strangers, especially tourists, because “you are supposed to know that everybody is in their homes and do not take in guests.” – Norwegians think that everywhere in the world, people behave just like in Norway—the same with the Easter holiday and the summer holiday.
January 2nd, everything opens again: museums, restaurants, activities, etc. I am saying this so you won’t be disappointed when you come and don’t find any open stores or Christmas markets, as you would expect in the rest of the Christian World. etc. Therefore, if you plan to visit, do it outside those holy times.
Norway is very different from the rest of the world. That is because of the geographical position that influenced history and politics. You can read more about those differences in my book, which you can find on this link.
Have a pleasant visit to Norway outside the holiday times.
The subject of complex family trauma often comes up in my therapy room. Families where the adults were not there for children when they needed them most.
Parents who divorced, parents who had children because society demanded it, not because they wanted it, and parents who were not fit to be parents or did not want or knew how to be parents. Many have placed their children in other people’s care for a while in their young childhood, thinking they are too young to be affected, without being aware that this act can place extensive abandonment trauma on their children. Parents who died.
Now, despite all the things I have mentioned, most parents do the best they can at a given time. Their intention is good. It may not come out how the children need to feel affection. That is another story for children who became adults to discuss with their therapists.
Another true thing is that we all learn from the experiences we encounter in our childhood. Later in life, we are responsible for sorting ourselves out and for healing. A form of taking responsibility for ourselves in adult life is putting physical distance from the places and people we have experienced as being difficult for us.
This is why many people move countries because they feel that they would be better elsewhere. Why would they want to be in a foreign place if they would have had a great life where they were born and raised in the first place?
Yet, even in another country, together with other people from another culture, the behavior would be similar to the one they had in the circle that formed them: family and close community.
If you grew up in a family lacking emotional support and defined by relational poverty, you may face the following difficulties:
– Avoid asking questions when something is unclear to you, living with the impression that only the “stupid”do not understand or do not know from the first, or that you do not understand or speak the language well enough;
– To refuse the suggestions or guidance of those around you, having the impression that you “always” have to manage independently. This can be a huge set back i a Western country, where people are educated to work in teams;
– Make it hard for you to trust the good intentions of those around you and, unconsciously, look for their hidden motives.
– Feeling awkward when people are kind or friendly to you and avoiding emotional closeness.
– Believing that others do not care about your opinion, you remain silent or speak very little and quickly.
– To hesitate to express your emotions and needs, believing no one cares.
– To express your difficulties only after you have overcome the challenges and when you no longer feel vulnerable.
– Being reluctant to make decisions with a low or medium level of risk for fear of being overwhelmed by unpleasant emotions.
Do you recognize any of those symptoms? Let me know if you still need to have your free session or if you need to talk! We’ll book a session asap!
Knowing our life story – is an essential first step toward our psychological maturity. Understanding how the present relates to the past is an essential second step, and acting differently now. Sharing the story with someone you trust is the third decisive step. That is where therapists come into the picture! Let me know if you need to talk!
Best from your migration therapist
PS. A great book I can recommend for identifying various issues is “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk.
When we decide to move abroad, we initially encounter many feelings: excitement and joy, fear about the unknown, and discomfort and frustration. They are all natural in the process. Yet there is a feeling which sneaks upon us, yet we rarely know how to name it: grief, or perhaps some of us may recognize it when we say that we “miss” people or things from the places we used to live before.
We associate grief with when we lose someone to death. At the same time, when we move away from people and things, we lose them as we knew them when we left them. We will change, and they will change, and the next time we see them again, both we and them will be different. Being away, we also lose the transformations they go through while we are away, and they lose the changes we go through. We meet again, yet we are different people.
What are Grief and Mourning?
In our context, we speak of the grief of loss. So, mourning is not only about someone’s death but about any loss that can be related to a person, but not necessarily. We can mourn because we have lost our freedom of movement, for example, or because our plans didn’t work out as we thought they would. We grieve the loss of our dream, and the feeling is natural and just as painful because it is ours.
Why do we rarely speak of grief? Because we feel other feelings around it.
First, there is the denial
When we don’t want to believe that what is happening to us is accurate and we do all kinds of gestures that, if we look at them with an objective eye after a certain period, seem to have been crazy: we laugh as if it was a good joke, we set out to convince everyone that things aren’t the way they are, or, we find comfort in apparently “unguilty pleasures”: foods, drinks, work, other people’s company where we get distracted with their problems, and we forget our own.
When we resent everyone and everything, including the world and the Universe, for allowing such a thing to happen, when we can see conspiracy theories everywhere we turn, or we find someone to take anger on, a scapegoat who has nothing to do with the grief we are going through. Then we become bullies.
Then there is negotiation
When, out of pain, we begin to negotiate with people, ourselves, and the Universe. When we replay the movie of events in our minds repeatedly, we wonder what would have happened if we had stayed and tried harder to make a life where we were. Advantages and disadvantages and we make sense of our decisions.
Then there is depression
When nothing around us is pleasing enough, when we cannot find joy in anything, every word from work colleagues, random people, or family members pushes our buttons so hard that we want to punch them. Everything we need to do every day is hard: even to shower and eat, and it is difficult to get out of the house, and we want to hide and see no one. And yet we push through daily because we were taught that only “weak” people are “depressed,” and we don’t like ourselves being weak.
And finally, acceptance
When we start to find meaning or come to terms with what happened, with the fact that we cannot be two places at once, and that we have to choose one place we want and need to be and create a life there, in the here and now, when we are ready to see the lessons too, extract the beauty and choose to keep that one in our soul and let the rest go, let the family and friends stay behind and be at peace with the thought that we will have to start the relationship again every time we meet them.
Only these feelings are not like that, one after the other. They come as they want and when they want and use our bodies as it would be a guest house. And it is only up to us to choose which feelings we want to keep and which we need to let go of. So I suggest feeling them all and then letting them go, eventually keeping their tolerance and acceptance.
It is all a process, and it is important to acknowledge Grief, because if we do not see it and do not let it go, it will only pile up with all the other feelings and hold us in the past.
Whatever the process is for you, please share it with someone you trust. If you don’t have anyone, let me know, and we can chat in confidentiality. Just let me know here.
One of the most significant categories of people traveling from one country to another is marriage. The reason behind this movement move is LOVE.
In some cases is love. In other cases is duty or the wish to form an alliance, because of material needs, or because of pregnancy, and there are many reasons two people may choose to stay together. In all of them, there are compromises that people make because maintaining relationships is not easy all the time.
When it comes to multicultural couples, there are many issues involved, and the compromises or “the sacrifices,” as I have heard some people call them, have different natures. Sometimes they seem oversized for the person making them and minor for the person they were made for.
I often meet couples where one person comes from a western or so-called “civilized” country, and the other comes from somewhere in the east or “third world” country. The general rule (it does not mean that it is true all the time) is that in a civilized country, there were good possibilities to live in a democratic world freely, eventually study and travel. The parents were tolerant and understanding of the child/youth’s needs to explore and discover who they are and what they want. Men and women are brought up relatively equal, with access to all opportunities the society and the system offer. This means women earn money and have a career, can be independent and free if they choose to.
On the other hand, the general rule in some eastern societies / third-world countries is that they are built on more traditional values where the man builds the house, and the woman makes it a home. The man is the provider of the family’s material resources, and the woman is the caretaker who transforms the resources brought by the man into life by giving birth to children and being emotionally supportive.
The man is supposed TO DO, to act, and the woman is supposed TO BE, to let the man take care of her and the family and be passive. The psychologist David Buss has written a book called “When Men Behave Badly” where he explores the reasons men and women are attracted to and choose the life partners they choose. I recommend the book. There is plenty of good information.
Sometimes, the challenge is when one of these beautiful and independent women falls in love with a man with a traditional and patriarchal values. Because even if these men have emigrated in their 20’s to Europe or the States, they still have the upbringings from their birth land, and some of them would feel “emasculated” and diminished as a man if the woman offers to pay for rent, for instance, or any other material things which are meant for the man to provide in his culture of origin.
The woman does not understand this because she has already lived her freedom and pursued the studies and hobbies she wanted. Now, she wants to settle down, which could also mean a family with this guy who is smart, fun, and still has the joy of life, yet he cannot provide for the family and refuses to receive help from the woman. Why can he not provide, yet? Because he was busy surviving in all the other countries in Europe he has eventually lived in, at the same time as sending money to his family in his country of origin, as many immigrants do, you can read more about this particular issue in this article. Or because he spends his income on stuff and activities that give him more satisfaction than a family would. Who knows, there can be many reasons.
Every time I speak with women in this situation, I realize that it is challenging for them to understand why their beloved one cannot accept the help and the money. Because this is not an issue she grew up with in her birth country, where women were pretty “equal”. She moved countries or cities because of her love for him and is willing to “compromise” or “sacrifice” for a life together. I also see that the man did not necessarily leave his country to find love or a partner. He left the country to be free. To be able to do things he did not have the chance and opportunity to do in his birth country. To study, to pursue hobbies and passions. If they wanted a wife and kids, the family would have sorted that out long ago, and they would have probably stayed in their country*.
The roles in his world have changed, and he needs clarification. He enjoys the love he receives, yet he does not understand why he receives it and does not take it seriously because such frivolities are not allowed where he comes from. People, especially men, were not judged by their feelings but by the material things they could provide. People were not valuable for feeling feelings, which was a weakness. Being human was not a value except that humans could give material things. This is why we also have the “gift” cultures, where people are not considered important by themselves except if they have something material attached.
It is difficult for someone who has never been treated like a human being and to be seen as a human being to understand why a beautiful and independent woman would love them for them. First, a lot of work is needed so they can perceive themselves as human beings, which demands a lot of work.
At the same time, many people, both men, and women, take advantage of this “weakness” called “feelings. Yet, they will be the subject of another article, another day.
If you are the man or the woman who has already lived your life and you are falling for someone who did not, perhaps it could be a good idea to take into account that the person you love needs time, space, and support so they can also live their share of opportunities. You will have to see how you feel, and my suggestion is not to stay in a relationship where you feel you are “sacrificing” way more than you are willing to and do not feel you are receiving just as much in return. In the long run, it may not work.
For men, perhaps the time is not the same as for women since they are not giving birth. Their age does not “expire” like for women, and if you are not ready to be in a relationship where you can offer room and space for the other to develop and grow, then it is better to be honest with yourself first and then with the other.
Suppose you are a man and the only reason you marry a woman from another country is that she has traditional values and she will clean and cook for you. In that case, you should not be surprised that after some years, she will realize she has other opportunities and will want to enjoy them. There are plenty of examples all around, just like there are plenty of examples where the partnership works well until death does part them.
For women, it can be a bitter experience to be around a man who does not want or can commit. This is even more important if, at a particular time, you will wish to have children of your own. If your love is that strong, you can go into the relationship with eyes wide open, knowing that you will have to “sacrifice” more than you have thought.
I do feel I state the obvious, yet, after the number of women I see in the situation described above, it doesn’t seem to be that obvious for them. If you are one of them and you need to talk about it, feel free to sign up for a free one-hour conversation on this link. You can also be a man who needs to talk about his relationship.
And if you wonder what you can solve or achieve in one hour, you can find out more about that here.
Best from your best immigration/emigration therapist
*This argument is also valid for many women who choose to leave their countries. They want to live free. Marriage and children are not on their agenda; some stick to the dream of being free, whatever the cost. Because freedom has its price and “sacrifices,” too.
I often hear stories of immigrants in different countries in this globalized world. How they travel there, how they find a place to live, how they adjust, and how they get friends or not. How they manage to learn the language or not, and how they feel at home or not.
At the same time, in the past two–three years, I have seen a whole discussion in some social media and professional networking sites about diversity, integration, and inclusion.
What do they mean, all these big words? We use them, yet I rarely hear definitions. Therefore, I’ve asked the dictionaries:
– the state of being diverse; variety.
– the practice or quality of including or involving people from various social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, ages, color, etc.
It comes from the Latin “divertere” which means “to turn” or “aside”. This Latin meaning has a point because we will always have mainstream in everything we do and everywhere we are, and we will have exceptions and details which we will put aside, turn away, or give back because they do not fit into our worlds. Yet they exist, and they make our surroundings more interesting. They fulfill our human need for diversity – so we can avoid boredom and show us what we think we want or don’t want just because they exist. “Divertere” takes my thoughts to “tailoring,” which creates something in a particular shape.
In the context of people means “the process of intermixing of people who were previously segregated. Again, it comes from Latin “integratus,” which means to bring together the parts of a whole.
In the context of immigration, immigrants live within the borders of a country that already has a population from before. Therefore, integration would mean mixing the immigrants with the locals to make the mass population “whole”.
– the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
– the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or intellectual disabilities and members of other minority groups.
From Latin includere “to shut in, enclose, imprison, insert”. Very interesting, I did not expect this meaning. Because who would like to be “imprisoned”?
As immigrants, no matter the reason we choose to settle in one country, we also select the eventuality that the adjustment may not be as we would like it to be. First, we need to know what we need. Yes, we need belonging. However, that need for belonging can only be satisfied by the locals? Or can it be met by other groups of foreigners or people with the same interests? Yet to find those groups, we need to know what we need and what our interests are.
On the other hand, if the locals are friendly, they do it in their way: some may volunteer for organizations where there are foreigners. Some may talk to the foreigners they have at work during their lunch breaks. Or they help with training. Others help with language, drive children to places, or be friendly and polite.
Yet, the question remains: How would foreigners like to be included? First, it may be that they are, yet they don’t know if they don’t see the word’s meaning. Because perhaps they have other needs they would like to be met and not the ones the locals can and are willing to meet in their understanding of inclusion. Because humans are different and because humans need different things that one person or one group of people cannot necessarily help with.
Therefore, my question for you today is as follows:
– If you are a local: how do you include the new people in your circle? Do you feel the need to include anyone new in your already-established life?
– If you are a newcomer (foreigner or not), what do you need to feel included in the new environment you decided to live in?
Many people have seen by now that I offer the first session for free. And knowing that a process of healing or change can take more than one hour, I have received the following question:
“What can you do with one hour? How much can we solve, and what can we find out?”
One hour contains 60 minutes. As humans, we speak 120 to 160 words in one minute.
In one hour, there are between 7200 and 9600 words, which means a story of about seven to nine (or more) book pages – depending on the layout. That is the story of a fellow human at a particular time. That hour they are speaking with me. That hour that we spend together in a conversation.
My experience and my work with people have shown me that if that story is listened to from a place of presence and authenticity, it can create change in a human’s life. If a person is SEEN and HEARD at the moment when it is most needed and who chooses that moment consciously, they can change life’s trajectory with one millimeter. A millimeter can lead that person closer to healing or to what they need or desire.
The work with us, as humans, can take a lot of time: weeks, months, and years until we leave this Earth. There is no “quick fix”, you can read here how therapy works. At the same time, this long process is formed by happenings, meetings, and discussions with people who, even if they take only some minutes, or one hour, can have a great resonance in the future.
I plead for the small steps. Not everybody is ready to enter a very long-term process. Yet a person can choose to receive or give herself the experience of a conversation with a trained therapist in one hour, no matter where you are in the world.
I have seen that people I speak with, only for one hour, gain a lot of insight, even if they choose not to go further with the process. Because someone neutral can see their situation better and can communicate it back so that it becomes more evident. Clarity offers the possibility of change.
What is my gain?
The joy of being part of someone’s life for one hour.
The possibility to contribute to an experience that can have a long-term effect on the trajectory of actions made by one human being.
Therefore, if you are interested in receiving my offer, therefore one hour of your life and one hour of my life, sign up on this form.
I sometimes hear this at the end of a first or second session. Usually, after many other issues have been lined up as being the problem, which can determin someone to want to speak with a therapist.
It comes from young people who had an unstable childhood due to their parents’ moving history, yet not only. People who have lived in the same neighborhood for many years can experience the constant coming and going of people who are ex-pats or immigrants. Therefore their children will also experience their friends moving away.
When these young people refer to their unstable childhood, they do not necessarily talk about their parents because the parents were stable. They were there all the time. Yet the environments were different: new country, new house, new neighborhood, new school. People coming and going, and the family doesn’t stay long enough in a place for the children to keep the friends they make, or the families surrounding them leave, taking their children with them. It is not always sure that kids will stay in touch with each other after moving, so bonds get broken.
When they grow up, these children move to study or to work and experience lives on their own, far from their families, in other countries. During their moving lives with their families, they have developed skills like flexibility, speaking a couple of languages, being easy going, and making friends quickly. Aside from all these positive skills, at first sight, there is also the feeling of uncertainty developing, meaninglessness in all the relationships, and a strong need for certainty.
They still feel emptiness, loneliness, and frustration because they know it will not last. There is seldom security in these short relationships, just for fun and where people hang out for a while. Then everybody moves on, and not necessarily with the promise of keeping in touch, even if we live in a world where the internet can make communication easier. Still, it is sometimes different from keeping in touch in person.
Another thing happening on the way is that every time a relationship breaks because of moving, children and later the adults do not learn they need to mourn and be sorry for their loss. Even if we’re not necessarily talking about people dying, still, the relationship, as it was, is lost. I find that people rarely think about this small detail, yet, repeated, it can build up and create a feeling of emptiness and loss. How many times have you been grieving over a relationship you’ve had, no matter it’s nature: friendship, schoolmate, playmate, business mate, workmate etc.
Moving to a new city to study or work is challenging. In a country where it is difficult to approach locals, the easiest is approaching other foreigners, immigrants, and ex-pats, no matter what they choose to call themselves. I leave you in this link what I believe the difference between them is.
First, there are FB groups called “ex-pats in….” the name of your city or country. There are also groups with people from your own country of origin or from the countries you’ve lived in as a child and teenager if there are several. Look for them and introduce yourself. It helps to get in touch with people.
Then, if you have a hobby or several, groups and clubs accommodate people with the same interest. Try to find them and see if they work for you. Internations.org is also something you may want to check out.
I also hear many times that the age differences in these groups can be challenging to handle since there are all sorts of people from everywhere, and not necessarily something organized for people of the same age. Yet, you need to think about what is essential for you and that people you meet are probably just as lonely as you, no matter the age they carry. So, how significant is the age difference in a friendship for you, especially when your standards regarding friendships may differ?
Is it good for you to be alone or with someone, no matter whom? This question is relevant for couples as well… yet that will be another article.
In the meantime, if you want to talk more about being alone and/or lonely, you’re welcome to register for a first free session on this link.
Tromsø: this «little town» far, far North is the biggest in the region. It rounds about 70 000 people. It has grown since I moved here, almost 20 years ago, with about 1000 inhabitants a year. It has to do with the University, student life, and the fact that many people want better opportunities and a better lifestyle, and they move away from villages. There are many immigrants, too, about 160 nationalities, I hear. Still, currently, the region struggles with a lack of people who can work: labor power. Corona sent many working immigrants back to their countries and did not return.
When I say better opportunities, young people want, among other things, a more prosperous entertaining life: pubs, concerts, clubs where they can practice a hobby together, etc.
November 3rd to 5th, 2022, a new festival occurred here: Tromsø World Festival. It is a festival that people with big hearts and commitment to the city’s international population have managed to put together after several years of trial and failure with other attempts to bring famous artists to Tromsø.
When I say “famous artists,” I do not mean big names known to the Western World, but names known to the Asian world or African world. Names which, even if they are big outside Norway and Europe, people in Tromsø didn’t hear of – because people are much more interested in their local artists than from abroad.
I had the pleasure of attending two concerts (Fatoumata Diawara – photo- and Bombino) and a three hours seminar dedicated to integration and inclusion through music and theater.
Living in such a small town as Tromsø, the advantage is that one can get very close to the artists or members of a panel discussion. Like many others, the concerts I have been participating in give a unique feeling of intimacy and coziness due to the small number of people attending, especially if the concert is indoors in a small pub. It feels like the artist is there only for you, which is great. And I always see a slight shade of astonishment and surprise on the face of artists used with much more people attending the concerts that they have in front of them in Tromsø. Nevertheless, the performances are good, and everybody seems to enjoy them. I certainly did, even if I also would have expected a more significant number of people to attend.
Yet, we don’t need to forget that Tromsø is a small place where people have many entertaining possibilities, and they choose their favorites. At the concerts I was present this year, I’ve seen many immigrants or second-generation immigrants. I have also seen many people who have jobs working with refugees – people who’ve heard something about the artist presented through their background and life. And I know that many Sami and Norwegian people have been present at the concerts where local people have performed. It’s natural to look for what we know and similar to us.
Saying that I wonder when I will see at Tromsø World Festival Polish artists, for instance, Check, Romanian, or from Thailand and Indonesia. After all, there are lots of working immigrants from South Easter European countries in Norway and many wives from Thailand and Indonesia. It would be nice to see their artists here as well. After all, they pay taxes as well, taxes which are contributing to all festivals supported by government funds.
Yet, the festival needs to keep taking place at the same time each year, for many years ahead, so it can create a name for itself and continuity, like the other festivals here: Filmfestival, Norlysfestivalen (classical music), Bukta festival, etc. And this way, more people will attend the concerts, which will be announced in the Newspapers beforehand, attracting more locals.
That being said, I am grateful for the experience this year and look forward to the next year’s Tromsø World Festival.
All cultures have their written codes, but primarily unwritten ones. It isn’t easy for newcomers, travelers, or immigrants in Norway to see them at first sight. We need time, perseverance, interest, and willingness to understand them. Also, a good knowledge of the Norwegian language is necessary.
The book is about the untold things of Norwegian society and culture. You can find it on Amazon. Why Northern Norway? Because I have been living in Tromsø, Norway, for almost 20 years.
All this time spent here helps me describe the subtleties and nuances of Norwegian culture. Many Norwegians do not know how to clarify details of life and work because they are natural to them. They were born and grew up with them and never needed to explain them to someone; that’s why it’s hard for them to put words to behaviors and actions that, for them, are implicit. Just as in your own culture, there are many details that you do not know how to describe in words because they are implied, you were born and raised in them, and therefore you do not even think that they could be incomprehensible to those who come from other countries.
Many immigrants come to Norway fascinated by nature and the social system. Behind this social system, the well-being and the lifestyle that can be seen at first glance, there are many years of tradition, planning, and action that cannot be seen and are difficult to understand when they are not explained. This book describes some of the logic behind what you see. It can be helpful to know ahead what to expect.