Well, not in the grand scheme of things, I suppose. But in the miniature scheme of things, in the everyday and the here and now, very good news indeed. This kindergarten job that I ummed and ahed about for so long, and then hesitantly took the plunge, has suddenly become much more appealing. Instead of having to drive 40 minutes to the next town, I have a position right here in Halden! And instead of starting next Monday, I’m starting in three weeks, which leaves more time to tie up the loose ends of my summer job, and means I will be working three days a week rather than five sooner than I expected. (This is a very good thing indeed, as it is extremely difficult to find the time to consolidate any post-PhD writing at the moment.) As an added bonus, I will be looking after one to two year-olds instead of three to four year-olds, and I imagine they will be less linguistically demanding. Hurrah!
I got my Norwegian person number a couple of weeks ago, and applied for a bank account last week and a tax card today. A sim card for a mobile phone is next on the list. There is rather a lot of paperwork to be sorted. This is all on top of my Norwegian residency permit, which I secured last year. I got the residency permit because I was able to prove that M and I had lived together for two years in England. I think my UK passport also helped. Although Norway isn’t in the EU (which causes all kinds of logistical problems for foreigners like ourselves) they are at least friendly toward to the EU.
Anyway, I am glad I will have a routine and a way to contribute and a deeper connection to this town. Walking back through the town centre after filling out the extremely confusing tax card form, I noticed I was already starting to feel differently about this place. Despite my wondering documentation of the seasons here over the past couple of years I have felt very much a visitor – transplanted to our little flat in which I write about Australian poetry and read Australian blogs. The thought of having an ongoing job here – and such a humble one – changes that.
I also had dinner with a lovely bunch of Norwegians last night which steeled my resolve to learn some of the language. I even learnt a new word: ‘potatgul’ (probably spelled atrociously). Literally, it means ‘potato gold’, or, in other words, ‘crisps’.
I am not giving up on my academic dream! But I am planning neither to starve to death nor to go bonkers with frustration in the mean-time. Three days a week of work should leave me time to straighten out a few articles. On the top of my list are the chances of securing some postdoctoral funding from the Norwegian government (one of the best places to be in terms of funding, I have heard), and possibly a bit of teaching at Oslo University next year.
We’ll see. There are strange parallels with my life nearly ten years ago when I finished my Honours degree in English and ended up working as home-care worker for the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association. I remember going to interviews at nursing homes, desperate for some kind of a job, and seeing puzzled looks as they looked first at my CV, and then at me, and asked: ‘What are YOU doing HERE?’ I loved the care work in the end. It was important. A lot has changed for me since then. But I am glad to be right here, right now.
(Although I wouldn’t mind knowing where in the world summer has wandered off to…)
Oh, and if you have any tips on entertaining Norwegian toddlers, let me know.