From The Tropical Island to the Winter Wonderland, here is Criz’s story about her move from a small village to a big city in the Philippines, and then her BIG (unexpected) move to Norway.
Hei fra Norge!
My name is Criz , from the Philippines; the fun fantastic place in the sun. Ever heard of the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines!” Well, moving to another country was never really on my mind, until well, I moved! Currently, I am living in the white snow capped mountain fjord city of Oslo, Norway.
You can find me at the following links;
Leaving a developing country like the Philippines requires an obsessive devotion and enormous patience, this is especially true to get through the long tedious process that is always present in the immigration office for visa applications. For most it’s almost impossible to get out of the country.
Moving from my hometown, a small village with a very laid back lifestyle to metro Manilla, was my first real experience with culture shock that I can remember. Coming from a place with fresh clean sweet air to the big overcrowded congested polluted city of Manila, was almost enough to make my first experience my last. Thankfully, that did not happen! I can still remember my first vivid impressions of Manilla, since the contrast was so drastic, from the little village I was used to.
Manila is diverse city that upholds high-rise architectural paragon that can be quite astounding, but the presence of the shanty towns are very humbling. It is promising, yet it also is congested. People go to find work, seek opportunities for a better life, and take care of their families. Some of them make it, but unfortunately many of them don’t.
I thought, with a bachelor’s degree it would be easier to find a job. I was wrong! A high percent of the people coming to Manila are college graduates. They come from different islands, and different cities. The problem is that companies have a luxury problem; there are just too many people competing for too few jobs. This makes for a lot of competition for limited resources and opportunities.
I was lucky and fortunate enough to get hired with an international company, which in hindsight, was the stepping stone to my eventual move to Norway. Where I am still living today.
I moved to Norway by chance. Originally, I was suppose to go to the Netherlands, however lucky for me there was problems with my visa application requirements. (By the way, seeing the tulips in Holland was one of the main reasons I originally wanted to go)
Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another one opens”, in my case it turned out to be working as an Au pair in Norway. I had found an agency that was organizing cultural exchange programs in Europe. I had never really realistically thought of Norway as destination I would actually go, but there I went and here I am. I didn’t even know anyone that had ever been there before, to top it off, I had never even seen snow! This was the door that had now opened and I stepped on through. I was 27 years old and it was the beginning of my Norsk adventure.
Before leaving the Philippines, I tried to orient myself on Norwegian culture and life. There is a lot you can prepare for, but there is so much that you can’t. “Price shock” was definitely at the very top of the list. Norway is expensive, so very very expensive indeed!
The value of the currency in Norway is like five to seven times higher compared to Philippines’ peso. Just to give you a general example, the McDonalds’ cheese burger value meal would cost you 70 pesos ($1.5) in the Philippines, here in Norway it costs about 60 NOK ($8.5). A cup of coffee (in a cafe) for example, in Norway, will cost from 40-60 NOK ($5-$8.5 with no refills!) depending on the place, whereas in the Philippines that will only cost from 40 (normal cafes) pesos (less than a dollar) to 160 pesos ( Starbucks) ($4).
So, that was a struggle for me for the first month. Good thing I had a little savings and some credit cards (usually a big no no) with me from the Philippines. With a little penny pinching, and a little luck, I was able adjust in just a couple of months. So the tip here is stop converting the currency when shopping just budget your money, and you’ll do fine! ( oh, did i mention that a gallon of gas is 12 dollars? (Remember go green and buy electric, it’s cheaper! 😉
When I got to Norway, the summer was warm. I found it amusing that it was normal to see everyone in their bikini enjoying their sunbathing. This was all new to me because in the Philippines everybody wants to hide from the sun.
In the Philippines every meal is important from breakfast, to lunch and to dinner. We actually prepare food for every meal time, in other words, not so much eating out. In Norway, it seems like their important meal is dinner. Normally, they cook dinner and they eat around 4-5pm. In the Philippines, 4-5pm is just snack time!. Crazy!
Another thing that was fascinating, is that many Norwegians own two or more houses, one of which is usually a cabin. During the winter, they go to their winter cabins called a ‘hytta’. Then during the summer months, instead of going to other countries, they will go to their summer houses that are usually located in small islands in the southern part of Norway. Sometimes they even have another house abroad, in a summer setting, like in Spain or Asia. These are their getaway houses for when they get tired of their everyday life, isn’t it cool? I guess not many countries have this kind of lifestyle.
How moving differs from traveling?
When you are traveling, it’s more of adventurous exploring and enjoying the place. This strange phenomenon to some is called a vacation! You are most likely to think about your itinerary, the budget for the trip, where will you be staying and what you wanna experience, stuff like that. Whereas, when you’re moving, everything has to be taken into consideration. It’s kinda like starting a new life! Yes, that’s the word for it. It’s new, it’s permanent and sometimes you’ll get a little homesick!
Depending on which country or place you’re moving to, you will have to learn their language, adopt with their lifestyle or ways of life. This even includes how you dress and what they eat. You might even end up working some jobs that you probably haven’t done or thought of before! It’s basically starting from scratch!
Sometimes you will meet new and exciting people and other times you won’t. But just embrace it. Believe that every person you meet is a blessing and you meet them for some purpose. That way it’s all good in the end.
But I must say both traveling and moving are life changing! You will see the world in a totally different perspective as you began traveling and experiencing different cultures. You will be discovering more of yourself, and realize that people are people. We are all the same regardless of belief, culture, skin color, way of life, job position, etc.
Isn’t it amazing?