After applying from back home, the last step in the temporary residency permit process was to visit the police station with my passport and letter from the Norwegian Consulate in San Francisco. I was told the process would take all day so I was pleasantly surprised to walk out of there at noon (after just 3 hours), and I made a new friend too!
I arrived 10 minutes after the immigration office opened and was number 61 in line. With only 2 people working behind the counter, it wasn’t the most efficient process, especially considering that some of us (including myself and my new friend) had all our paperwork in order and just needed to spend 5 minutes finishing up the process, but many others required a lot more assistance. I had brought a book, or rather my Nook, which I am still loving – thanks Jack! – but people-watching was proving to be more engaging. I am not sure why I decided to strike up a conversation with the woman next to me (it is not my usual MO, but then again I am not in my usual environment), but it was a good decision. Not only did my time waiting fly by, but we exchanged numbers and now I have a new friend! It is funny how exciting making friends can be when you are in a foreign country where you don’t know many people. And if we are friends 30 years from now, we can tell the story of our friendship beginning with “we met at the police station…”
Lori is an American (from outside of DC) who has lived in Norway for 12 years. She married a Norwegian man, moved here, had a child, and then separated from him (she joked that he was her sperm donor, but in reality he had a bad drinking problem, which seems to be somewhat common here – more on the drinking culture after I experience it a bit more). She thought of moving back to the US, but as a single mother, she has much more support (financially and socially) here in Norway – and she loves it here. It was interesting to hear an American’s take on life in Norway and her explanations of all the little “quirky” things Norwegians do.
Lori lives about 30 miles outside of Trondheim in the farmlands. She has lit cross-country ski trails right outside her door (she lives on the far side of Bymarka – the forest area I visited my first week here). And I am pretty sure on a good night you can see the northern lights from her house. She said I should come out to visit, and I fully intend to take her up on it. My motto in Norway is to never turn down an invitation!
I’m now legally allowed to stay in Norway for the next 12 months if I so choose – 9 months on this permit + the 3 additional months associated with a typical tourist visa. My temporary p-number also lets me set up a bank account and visit a doctor here in Norway.