Inna, 31, Economist, Hønefoss, Norway
“I didn’t choose a country or a city. I chose a husband.”
Koshpendiler: Hi Inna! Please tell us about yourself.
Inna: My name is Inna, I’m 31 years old. I am an economist by profession, but an optimist by devotion.
Koshpendiler: Where do you come from in Kazakhstan?
Inna: I come from Taldykorgan – it is a small cozy town that is about a three-hour drive from Almaty and I recommend all my foreign friends to visit it. After finishing high school, I moved to Almaty, where I lived for ten years. Since 2013 I have lived in Hønefoss, which is 45 minutes away from Oslo, Norway.
Koshpendiler: And how you come you moved so far away?
Inna: I didn’t choose a country or a city. I chose a husband (smiles). I’d never been to Norway before moving here, it’s not the most popular tourist destination among Kazakhs as you know, and for me everything was new. Most of all I was surprised by the climate, I expected that it would be cold, but as it turned out – the Norwegian climate is not much different from the Kazakh. So I did not have to get used to it. A true Scandinavian cold actually prevail only in the north of the country, whereas Oslo is located in the south.
Koshpendiler: Can you tell about moving here, what was it like?
Inna: Well, In my case, it took half a year, I had a fiancée visa, so upon arrival here I had to arrange a marriage with my fiance within six months. Otherwise, I would have been asked to leave the country. As soon as we got the marriage certificate, I received a residence permit for three years. Each year, I needed to extend it by proving that the marriage is genuine. However, after three years it is possible to apply for a full residence permit (leave to remain).
Koshpendiler: Do you feel like a local already?
Inna: No. And I do not know, whether it will be this day or another, when my soul ceases wanting to go back to Kazakhstan ever comes. It is difficult to find the answer right now as too little time has passed. I am still too different… I just know that, no matter how prosperous and developed the country is nor how well I feel here, I will always want to be back. Perhaps, in order to feel truly local, it is necessary to be born and live here for a certain period of time. I have already had time to fall in love with Norway, but this love is different, not like the one that I have for Kazakhstan.
In my opinion, language is the key to integrating into Norwegian society. Therefore, since I moved here, my first goal was to learn Norwegian as quickly as possible. Language courses for migrants are offered free of charge, which is certainly a big plus. I can say that learning Norwegian from zero to the intermediate level within six months or even faster is possible. Everything depends on motivation. After three years I can speak Norwegian well enough to go to university or get a good job. Recently I passed the Bergen Test – test confirming Norwegian language proficiency at native speaker level. This certificate is usually required by the employers.
After three years I have acquired my own circle of Russian-speaking friends. And that makes me happy. Without them, it would be difficult.
I like it all here: nature, culture, people, lifestyle. It is a country where everything is based on trust and respect.. For example, driving culture, which is confirmed by the low number of accidents. Moreover, breaking the law here can be quite costly. In general, everything in Norway is expensive except, perhaps, diapers.
Koshpendiler: How do you spend your free time?
Inna: I spend it with my family (kids), friends, and my husband’s parents. We very often get out into the woods to gather mushrooms or just for a walk. Norway has a stunningly beautiful natural environment: the Norwegian fjords are something incredible. Norway is a beautiful country and I do recommend visiting it as a tourist.
Norwegians are generally travel-orientated, especially in the summer holiday season. And a healthy nation as well, actively engaged in sport throughout the year and at any age. That is perhaps, why life expectancy is so high. They even say that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. They are very fond of winter sports and the national athletes consistently win medals at the Olympic Winter Games. The lack of snow does not scare them even in the summer, as they ski on wheels (laughs). I’m also gradually getting attached to the healthy lifestyle and will soon try to get up on skis.
Koshpendiler: And what is it like to bring up children in Norway, are there any differences in comparison to Kazakhstan?
Inna: Children have a good future here. They are socially protected, the law is on their side. Violence against children in any form is punishable. There is a certain system that protects children from violence in the family. If this occurs, the child is taken from their parents and given to foster families.
Koshpendiler: Interesting. And as for the elderly people?
Inna: Old people live their lives. High pensions, little tono debt, an active lifestyle – all this nurtures longevity and beautiful aging.
Koshpendiler: Thank you for the very interesting story! How can Kazakhs abroad contact you?
Inna: I can be contacted by e-mail – I am always happy to talk with fellow Kazakhs abroad and share experiences.