Life in 8 Boxes – 8 times 5

Life in 8 boxes. A beautiful number (my favourite number in fact), but the joy surrounding this fact rapidly dissipates when you have to carry 8 x 30 kilo boxes up 5 flights of stairs.

I moved to Oslo on Thursday 28th July to join my husband Ulli.  Ulli started a new job here in May. Ulli is half Norwegian, and although he grew up in Spain he is no stranger to the country, having returned for many summers and studied here for a total of 5 years.

I am an East London girl, born of Nigerian parents. Although I always felt I would live abroad, (hence studies in languages and anthropology), I never would have chosen Oslo. It just didn’t feature on my radar. But then love happened!

Anyway, back to the boxes. We shipped our belongings here with Ulli is sure that he selected the door to door service, however, apparently, according to DHL, who actually transported the boxes, or DSL as the Norwegian truck was labelled, that doesn’t mean to your door, perhaps just any door near to where you sleep? I’ll write a review about the whole Unibaggage experience soon.

So here I am carrying these boxes up 5 flights of stairs like a pack donkey. I’m currently doing the 21 day fix  and this was just as good a work out I’d say. It took me 25 minutes, which I’m quite impressed about, and after climbing my concrete mountain, I sat down and had 4 First Price chocolate chip cookies.

So here starts my Norwegian adventure.

I wanted to share this moment with you to set the tone for this project and introduce myself: I love a good moan, (in the English sense, I’d say, a surface moan, just spoken out to grumble a little and pass the time). I’m here in Oslo. I’m ready to sweat a lot to make us a home. I’m happy to share all the delights that we make and challenges we face. I hope that this blog helps anyone else trying to build a life in Oslo. I hope that these writings will help us better reflect on our journey together.


Life potters along, sometimes gives you a solid kick in the back and sometimes lets you shake a leg to your favourite song. Happy New Year all 🙂

Yes, I am a lazy blogger, however, in my defence the only part of life that I was being lazy on was blogging. Otherwise, I had my head down and was focussed on studying for my Norwegian exams, trying to catch up on the Level 2 classes that I missed. I’m pleased to say that exams went well and now I have skipped up to Trinn 3 at UiO and hoping for a cracking end to my Norwegian-learning journey. I’m just as happy with my course as I was when I first started, let’s hope that continues.

There was also Christmas in London, a whizz of a moment with family and friends, a beautiful New Years in Oslo at J&B’s, good food, amazing company and Blindern fireworks to bring in 2017.

Getting to the point, I’m very happy to say that I have taken part in my first feature, giving my two cents on life in Oslo with The MyMy Project. Check this out// Se her! :

Every day people: Lizzie + Oslo


TheMyMyProject – This internet space is pure joy and packed with amazing content, colour and energy! So do follow to suck all that in 🙂

Was it really so long ago…

..that I was pottering around in Tøyen’s Botanical Gardan and taking pictures of the beautiful autumn colours?

Today am enjoying being at home as it’s taken a turn for the cold. I’m excited to see how the weather will change and how well I go through my first Norwegian winter. Thank Jesus my mother-in-law gave me a fantastic (I will call it vintage) sheep wool lined coat and I have some sturdy Panama Jack Boots that I bought in Spain. Hopefully that means I will be more inclined to head out regardless of the weather.

While I’m in, we’ll probably watch some series (currently doing a throughback to the Wire, following Walking Dead, Westworld and Skam on NRK), eat lots of chocolate and read lots of articles online. ** One of the best pieces I’ve read in a while I found in the New York Times, by Wesley Morris, on Pop Culture’s approach to Black Male Sexuality:

“I know the fantasy exists. It renders black men desired on one hand and feared on the other.”

Some frank talk regarding the view of black male bodies and saying out loud what many think. I wonder if I will stay in Oslo and I wonder how my son’s body will be perceived by those around him – if I have a son that is!

Alongside the series, articles and chocolate, I will be keeping my head down and studying hard, as I have my Norwegian exams in a month… I’ve decided to skip up a level for the exams, which means I’ll need to cram like crazy. Since I am still blissfully and not so blissfully jobless (depending on my mood at the time you ask me) I having plenty of time to do just that. So your forgiveness is asked in advance if I become even more relaxed with writing, than I usually am.    🙂


Keeping it frank to Magic Moment(s) of the Week

Of late I have been a right grumpy cow, and at times I have found myself to be rather sensitive! Alongside this, I am trying to understand my own behaviour better and I do this by having frank conversations with myself, and by recognising when I am making excuses for my reactions. One of my self to self conversations could sound like this:

*Why don’t you like him? — Because he has an annoying laugh, never lets you speak and is so smug about his job (initial answer). *Is this the only reason? — Yes, I do think his laugh is annoying, he talks a lot about his views and job, but the truth is I’m feeling sensitive about not having a job and feeling unimportant and fragile right now (honest answer).

I have to admit that sometimes, my mood can be held hostage by my hormones, depending on the time of the month, but for the most part, my reactions stem from what’s going on in the background and how I’m feeling about myself. It can feel a little raw to say to yourself: actually, I’m jealous of her, or I see myself so small at the moment, but what is life without emotional progress? And what is life if you can’t keep it real with yourself and swallow the fact that sometimes you’re not so nice?

I know that the root of this recent, but now passing negative mood is the ongoing process of settling into Oslo, feeling guilty about not sending enough job applications and missing family and friends. Therefore,  my little remedy is to cling to the positive and celebrate the good things that are happenning each week: hence Magic Moment(s) of the Week!!!

  • When your best friend tells you she’s visiting you in November
  • When your other best friend tells you she’s visiting in December and will be here for your birthday
  • When you’re doing really well in Norwegian class and your teacher suggests that you skip to the next level exam
  • When your Mum is thrilled because she went to Monkey World and you can relax a little knowing that there are people looking after her while you’re away
  • When you go from finding 0 jobs to apply for to 5

Thank God for small joys!

What are you feeling thankful for and how do you work on those raw points?


Favourite Spots in Oslo – Ekebergparken

Yes, I do watch Game of Thrones, so I can say with full effect that Winter is Coming…

We’ve spent the previous few weeks soaking up the last drops of autumn sunshine and it’s been bliss. Knowing that the snow will come eventually means that this year’s mild autumn has been greatly appreciated and that each day before the white stuff and minus zero temperatures get here is are a blessing.

One of my favourites so far has been our trip to Ekeberg Park, and I feel like this will probably end up being a top 5 place for me in Oslo. Ekebergparken brings together great views of the city, tranquility, nature, animals, free art, beautiful art, female-focussed art, food for the thinker and food for the camera also. We spent over two hours wandering around there and still so much left for us to see.

The park features a variety of sculptures – of women – from artists including Salvador Dalí, Damien Hirst, Rodin, Gustav Vigeland, Knut Steene and a reflective pavillion by Dan Graham. It is superb:

You can get to Ekebergparken easily by trikk or bus from the centre. The ride up itself is a nice moment too, as you circle upwards, further away from the city centre.

Waiting for the trikk back to the city centre

Take a picnic, go to the café or head to the restaurant (££!) to keep your energy levels high.

In the park you can also find EKT Rideskole og Husdyrpark. This is a great spot if you have little ones, like animals or want to horseride. I have also started volunteering at EKT to make the most of my free time, hear some more spoken Norwegian and relive my childhood pony days… We have plenty of horses in East London too you know!

How are you feeling so far?

It’s October already. Autumn has come to Oslo and we are enjoying crisp, sunny days and trying to be disciplined about taking our vitamin D.

This year has flown by, and although I say that every year, I mean it with more certainty this time! So far, we’ve got married (twice, perk of being an international couple), packed up our London life, moved to Oslo and left jobs that didn’t make our brains, hearts or bank balances sing with joy.

My time in Norway has passed in et øyeblikk and it’s still taking me a while to digest being here and to figure out what my next steps should be. To speak the truth, I’m feeling guilty about how little I have done in the past 2 months and sometimes it helps to speak that out to yourself, so that you can focus on the changes that you need to make.

Out and about in Oslo and this question keeps popping up!

Take blogging and writing for example – I have been so laidback with all the projects I was keen to start, that they haven’t grown in the way I wanted them to. This has left me with a few flaccid posts and stories that only exist in my head, maybe jotted down in my diary, if they are lucky.

I am also feeling pressure to find a job, so not to eat up my savings here in Oslo or break my husband’s back having to carry us both. It’s hard job hunting when you don’t speak Norwegian, have never worked in the country before, and don’t have any transferable practical skills after sitting comfortably in your office chez charities that focus on UK-specific education challenges.

No feeling is superfluous, however, and this guilt will do me good if I can channel it in the right direction. So – 5 tips for me and tips for you:

  • Accept that it takes time to get settled. Don’t forget this and try not to punish yourself too much. Unpacking your boxes, learning a new city and figuring out where to buy silver polish, when you’d normally just go to Wilkinson’s take time.
  • UDI – Be patient, smile and be prepared. Take all the documents you have in the country with you (previous job contracts, tax end of years, rental contracts, etc.) even if on the website they only ask you for three. It’s not pie-easy getting a personal number, bank account and registering yourself in Norway – even with a marriage certificate – so be ready to wait a while. Book appointments to register yourself far in advance, especially Oslo appointments.
  • Be flexible with your job hunt and make sure you have some £££’s saved before you get here! I have a very narrow career background, so it’s not possible for me to hunt out a similar role in Oslo. If your situation is similar, think about other practical skills you can offer (languages, catering work, hairdressing) until your Norwegian is stronger. Also be proactive. You may not see many jobs for you advertised, so try sending out CVs to organisations you’re interested in.
  • Take photos make notes and try and document the great and crappy things you do and feel as you try to slide into Oslo life. In a year’s time when you’re a lot more settled, you’ll feel good looking back and seeing how much you’ve achieved.
  • Say yes to invitations and be proactive about meeting people. If you have a friend that has a friend in Oslo, ask to get in touch and say yes with a big smile if they offer!

The final expectation that I will set for myself is to write more (go from posting once a month, to posting once a week) and document more of the great things we are doing together here. Great coffee spots, snapshots of the amazing Norwegians we know here, our trips to IKEA on the free bus, dinners out and our favourite walking spots in Oslo.

Because these small pleasures are often so great that they shouldn’t be called small pleasures at all.

First things First – Norskkurs!

One key point that put me off living in Oslo was my lack of Norwegian. Despite being with Ulli for a good few years, my level of Norwegian was not even basic (although in my defence, we were probably in different countries for four of those seven years).

So where the problem is a lack of Norwegian, the solution is of course: Norwegian lessons. Or since I have now learnt NORSKKSURS!!

If you Google “Norwegian lessons in Oslo” you will come up with quite a few options offered by private schools, churches, charity organisations and public institutes also. There are not, however, many free options (unless you are seeking asylum in Norway, for example), so you will have decide on your budget and think about the contact hours you want.

I’m going to talk about NORA0110 – Elementary Norwegian, Level I, offered by the University of Oslo, since this is where I am currently studying. All my classes take place ar the Blindern campus. This course is not a cheap option and cost NOK 11, 900, when I joined in August 2016, which is about £1,080. Level 1 runs from August until December and the expectation is that you will progress onto Level 2 and then 3, which will, of course, cost you more. In addition to the course fee, you also have to pay the semester fee, so also factor this cost in, this currently comes in at NOK 600. Let me not forget that you need to buy the textbook and the workbook, which usually sell for NOK 440 and NOK 380 respectively, although if the creative/cheap/desperate ones amongst us, may find another way of getting their hands on a copy of the book… (Google!)

Fees aside, I am very very happy with the course so far and am  pleased that the University of Oslo treats us in the same way that it would an undergraduate/postgraduate student. In England, as a non Batchelor/Master/PhD student you wouldn’t get a student card (so no discounts!), be able to take books out of the main library and you and your fellow students would probably be given an evening teaching slot.

One of our classrooms – look at what we’re learning after 3 weeks!

I have lessons on Tuesday and Friday from 08:15 – 11:00, meaning that I have the rest of the day to crack on with other bits and pieces. The pace of the classes is good and we cover a chapter a week of På vei, the textbook we are using, so there is a lot to take in! My class size is 11 people, more or less, and during each class we test our oral, aural, reading and writing capacities. We can also use the University’s Language Lab, where we repeat Norwegian words and listen back to our recorded pronounciation. This is a little cringeworthy at first, but gives you a good opportunity to hear how you sound. Homework and reading at home are essential to meet the learning expectations and since the standard is set high you find that everyone in the class takes the home activities seriously, which makes for a really positive learning environment.

What I like most about being in the University is the opportunity to join student societies, make good use of the facilities on campus and enjoy a few student perks now and again: free cake due to the Årsfest , student travel and entrance prices and access to the university’s well stocked library.


As a new to Oslo person, it’s been great to meet other people on the course and at the university, and a group of us have seen each other outside of lessons, had a few dinners and hot chocolates… It really helps to meet people in the same situation as you and take encouragement and advice from them as they try to find a place for themselves in this beautiful city.

I hope to interview some of the girls on the programme later on, to share their first impressions of Norway.

Finally, do share information if you know of any other courses in Oslo. Let’s help each other to soak up as much Norwegian as possible!!