A couple of times people have asked me what it takes to move to Norway. Besides a plane ticket, I have no idea.
One of my childhood memories involves visiting all sorts of pawn shops and the like with my grandparents in search of old-fashioned steamer trunks. Big, solid black trunks that open up like a wardrobe when stood on end. Drawers on one side and a big open space on the other. I can still remember the pale green lining. My grandparents found three and shipped their drapes, silverware, books and knick-knacks in them. Their intention was to retire in Spain and they were taking their home with them.
Bringing me along for what was to be a summer vacation changed their plans – and my life.
I did go back to California, and my first job after high school involved using a computer.
Steamer trunks and computers. They both are the reason why, when I returned to Norway in 1981, I got a job immediately because Norway needed data entry operators, and with it, the prized document “Offer of Employment” which I was told to take the alien office. Back then, that was in an old building a block from Bergen’s courthouse, and one old man worked behind its aged wooden counter.
I slapped my dark blue US passport on the counter, and said in my perfect Bergen accent that I was seeking a work and residency permit. The man behind the counter looked at the foreign passport, at me, then behind me to a non-existent line (oh, how times have changed), then back to me. It was apparent that I had confused him.
“Is that yours?” he asked, pointing to my passport. (Norwegian passports are red.) I said it was. Then I explained that I had gone to school in Norway as a child.
He nodded. He’d already found my “person number” (the Norwegian answer to a Social Security number). “You get your old number back,” he said.
My old number.
And that, my dear foreign friends, is why I am the last person to ask about relocating to Norway. I never went through the same hoops other immigrants have to go through, so I don’t even know what the hoops are.