My Northern Story featuring Hailey Haugen

American expat Hailey Haugen current resides in Norway. She is a wife and mother, and she documents their life beautifully and thoughtfully through her Instagram feed sharing bits of their Norwegian adventure and simple living. As one of our 'favorites to follow' we were able to chat with Hailey about their life and heart behind those little squares. 

What brought you from the U.S. to Norway?
My husband. We met in the U.S. while he was there studying chiropractic. He always knew after he graduated that he'd be moving back to Norway. We wanted to stay together, so making the move was a given.

Tell us a little about living in Norway.
Norway was a country that I didn't really know anything about prior to meeting my husband. When I made the move four years ago, it was my first time stepping off U.S. soil. It was January and Norway was in the middle of winter. We lived on the west coast during this time, in a small place called Voss.

Fast forward a year and a half and we moved 45 minutes away to an area near Bergen. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and one of my favorites. We lived there for a year and during that time, we had our son, Leo. When Leo was 3 months old, we bought our first house and moved to where my husband is originally from. Located about 1.5 hours from Oslo (the largest city in Norway) and close to family and friends. 

Life in Norway hasn't been easy. Despite the fact that it's been a long, challenging journey, the rewards have been like nothing else, and that has made it worthwhile. 

What is your favorite thing about Norway?
The magnificent fjords, northern lights, vast mountain ranges, old, charming wooden homes, the sunrises and sunsets.  

What has been your biggest challenge with transitioning? 
Homesickness, definitely. Feelings of loss and vulnerability. In the beginning, you're sort of floating between these two places and you can't go back to where you're from. Often times, I had a conflict feeling of, "Where do I belong?" My homeland, where my family is, where I'm familiar with, and a new land, of hope and excitement, but also, unfamiliarity and uncertainty.

Biggest reward of the move?
Living abroad is full of cycles, and each one teaches you something, leaves it's mark, and makes you grow. I think my growth as an individual has been my biggest reward. It's made me more patient, more flexible, more understanding and it has also helped me learn to adapt easier. 

Any advice on how to embrace the changes of such a big move? 
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance." -Alan Watts

What big cultural difference have you experienced? How did/do you deal with them? 
The language. Learning Norwegian as an adult has never made me feel more vulnerable. That feeling of not wanting to say something because you think it will sound completely ridiculous. Being nervous every time I want or have to try and speak in Norwegian. 

Are there cultural challenges/differences when it comes to parenting? 
Yes. I think because Norway is such a small country, there's a lack of variety here and that has been the hardest difference for me. In America, there are many different parenting styles, but here, there's a sense that there is only one right way and the majority do that one way.

What do you do when missing The U.S.? 
Make a trip home and indulge in all things American usually helps. My mom makes it out here once a year and that helps a lot, too. Sometimes it's something as simple as taking a walk or watching American television or movie or keeping busy. As the years go by, it gets easier and episodes of missing my homeland get less frequent. 

All photographs by Hailey Haugen