When you think of living a familiar place going to unfamiliar place for any reason, it´s obvious that you are shaking your comfort zone. Leaving your family, relatives and friends, familiar customs and way of living, all these result to worry, thoughts of doubt creep in leaving you to deal with imagined culture shock.
For my case, I was scared not knowing what kind of people to meet in Norway, how will they treat me, how do I fit in this new way of life, how do I cope with missing my people back at home, but I was determined to give it a shot.
I also realised that most of the FK participants especially those of us coming to Norway were pretty concerned on how they were going to make new friends. Great lessons were given, find them at your working place, International meetings, join sports and outdoor activities and basically be an outgoing person. Well, we also had to ask, especially for the ladies then how do you tell between a genuine friend and a fake friend, and this we were told it was up to us to find out.
“Go well, may you find your parents there, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives and more important find a church”. This was the prayer of my mum and aunt as I left Kenya. Having arrived on a Saturday, the following day I was being introduced to this church known as Misjonshuset. I was in the company of Evelyn Kiwewesi a Ugandan journalist, former FK participant who was heading back in three weeks time.
In church, I experience my first culture shock, whole service conducted in Norsk and translated in English through translation devices for those of us who cannot understand Norsk. It´s all about missionary service on this day and they keep talking about Kenya and how Norwegians have done a lot of missionary work especially in Pokot, Samburu, Turkana, Voi and I feel so home. Quite and composed, songs from the hymn books and in less than one and half hours, the service is over.
After church, I learn that the congregation meets for coffee, tea, juice and other bitings for a chance to catch up. So I get introduced to a few Norwegians and other foreigners, who have been my friends to date. Every other Sunday I meet new people and they are happy and willing to invite me for dinners and coffee dates.
Tuesday is another day we gather for International meeting, another place to meet new people and chat. Here we meet to discuss God´s word, share experiences, watch the Bible and I like the video version, it becomes easy to understand it’s context as compared to reading it! So here is another place I have met really nice people from various parts of the World, Nepal, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, name it all.
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication, has also been great interaction areas for me. Great people indeed, willing to help me around, willing to learn more about me and willing to disclose about themselves.
Then there is Kristen Interkulturelt Arbeid, KIA (Christian Inter-cultural Work) which has a clear mission statement that reads: KIA is a fellowship where you can meet people from all over the world. Our vision is make Norway a more open and warm society for everyone who comes to Norway. Here I get another chance to go for Norsk classes, join choir and engage in outdoor activities. It is the same place that gives me a forum to go for camping, like the last one that I attended at the mountains, KIA Women and Kids only. All foreigners and other Norwegians meet for a whole week in the evening for various programs.
My notation of Norway was a cold country and cold people, but that has not been the case. Since I came, I have managed to tour various places, Kristiansand, Mandal, Arendal, Stavanger, Oslo and many more. I have attended number of concerts around, boat riding has been an experience worthy writing on it´s own.
I feel so at home, with hundred friends from all over, I can assure you I am yet to officially start inviting people for dinner. I have never had a chance to invite anyone, my diary is fully booked. I leave for Oslo this week and all can see is disappointed faces. “But I thought you were to come for dinner this week. Can we plan then, immediately you are back?” asked a disappointed Anner. Every morning and every passing day, I am grateful to God for each and every friend He places in my life.
“Go well, may you find your parents there, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives and more important find a church.” These prayers have surely come to pass and I am so grateful to all who have been part and parcel of my life, my stay here has been more than I expected, weather not withstanding!