We’ve been in Norway for 6 days now and I’ve just now had time to sit down and write. So sorry for being delayed on sharing. I’ll be posting several times over the next few days to play catch-up, so keep an eye on the blog!
We arrived in Norway on Wednesday, August 1st after about 18 hrs of travel and hardly any sleep.
All my packing and repacking and weighing luggage obsessively paid off, and all 8 of our bags ended up weighing just under 50 lbs. We also got lucky and didn’t have to wait in line for security and made it through easily.
However, we almost hit a snag when the gate agent called us forward for passport validation and asked for our visas. Our boarding passes had in big letters across the bottom INTERNATIONAL VISA REQ. We had booked round trip tickets with a return flight that is more than 3 months away, obviously. That wouldn’t have been a problem if our temporary resident permits/visas had been approved, but at that point they hadn’t been and you can only stay in Norway as a visitor for 3 months without a permit/visa. So since that return flight was later than 3 months, it was flagging us in the system. After giving the agent our immigration application numbers and showing her Matt’s Fulbright paperwork, she was willing to override it so we could board the plane to Amsterdam, but she said we would probably run into the same thing once we got to Amsterdam. That was right before boarding and it completely changed the mood for us since we had no idea if we were going to make it all the way through to Norway or get stopped. On top of this, we had to sit in the plane, on the runway, for close to 2 hrs because of a weather delay. Nothing like a delay to help change your focus! At that point, we weren’t even sure we’d make our connecting flight, so I just decided to give it to God and try not to worry about what awaited us when we landed.
Since this was the kids’ first time to fly, we were very concerned about how John Hayden, specifically, would do on the 8.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam. We intentionally booked seats back to back so John Hayden would be sitting behind Juliette and wouldn’t have someone getting mad at him if he kicked their seat.
John Hayden did great, though. He loved having his own TV in his seat and spent the entire flight watching movies, except for sleeping the last 2 hours. The kids even got wings since it was their first flight!
We arrived in Amsterdam with only about 45 minutes to get to our next gate, but first we had to get through the immigration checkpoint. It was hot and crowded and John Hayden kept asking for water because he said he was going to throw up. But we couldn’t get out of line. I knew it was probably just his nerves and promised him water once we got through. It seemed like there were passports in peoples’ hands of every color. I saw no one holding a blue one and heard multiple languages while in line and was thinking “Oh, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.” Haha! The immigration officer we got was a young Scandinavian guy who was friendly and didn’t even ask to see any paperwork or for our application numbers. He was actually easier to get through than the gate agent in Atlanta. We were able to get to the gate just as they were starting to board, and John Hayden’s nerves, thankfully, settled down. (Coincidentally, Matt got an email that his residence permit was approved just hours after we landed. That would have come in handy sooner!)
We landed at 10 am local time and all we wanted to do was sleep! But we had a long day ahead of us. Since this post is getting long, stay tuned for “Getting Settled — Part 2.”