“I don’t want to go home!”


My son Alexander was born in Stavanger, Norway in 1993. He was immediately issued a Norwegian birth certificate (his Dad is Norwegian) and after reporting his birth to the American Embassy in Oslo (I’m American) he was issued an American one as well. With two passports tucked in his diaper bag he started flying before he could walk, as we spent Winters in Norway and summers in New Jersey.

He grew up in a home that talked English, went to Norwegian school, had Norwegian playmates in the winter and American ones in the summer. Whenever I put him to bed we’d read Green Eggs and Ham and when my husband put him to bed they’d read Mine Fineste Eventyr, av Grimm.

Alexander’s grandparents lived just up the hill from our house and everyday on his way home from school he’d stop by to say hello and have a snack. He joined the scouts and loved learning about Norwegian nature. He played soccer (fotball, as its called here) would disappear on his bike and learned how to drive a boat, before he was ten. Every year on Norway’s Independence Day, he’d march through the streets waving a flag and singing for Norway. He was happy, growing up in a safe wholesome environment and as his mother, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

When Alexander was twelve my husband’s job took us to Houston for two years and after that to The Netherlands for three years. We left Norway with a boy and came back with a young man. While we were gone, we traveled through America and all over Europe. Alexander has also been lucky enough to travel to Russia, Africa, Jordan and Israel on school trips. He has attended the finest private schools and has made a variety of friends from all different cultures. These experiences have given him an unfaltering understanding and interest in people of all races.

Alexander had one year left of high school when we returned to Norway, it was therefore impossible to send him back to Norwegian school. Instead he attended an International School in Stavanger and had to travel three-hours-round trip, back and forth everyday. It was hard to make friends and impossible to join any sports or activities when living so far from the school.

After graduating he informed my husband and I that he no longer felt Norwegian. He struggled to read and write, and didn’t feel comfortable talking the language, he preferred English. He wanted to move back to Netherlands, back to The Hague where his friends were and what he felt was home!

The realization that our son now considered Norway a foreign land, where he felt bored and uninterested was heartbreaking.

In order for Alexander to receive support from Norway in funding further education, there are certain requirements. One of those requirements is a certificate in Norwegian, to which he did not have. This inconvenience ended up buying us some time, as he could not apply to schools outside the country without it. He would instead be spending another year in Norway, against his will.

We ended up sending him to a boarding school outside Lillehammer, where he not only attend classes in Norwegian and studied international relations (something he loves) but also lived full time with other Norwegian students.

Thankfully, he seems to be regaining his roots, although he still jumps on a plane to Amsterdam every chance he gets and considers himself a citizen without borders.

How did it go when you brought your world travelers home?

About maggiemyklebust

I grew up on the Jersey Shore and now live in Norway. I have also lived in Houston and the Netherlands. I have written a memoir called Fly Away Home.

Posted on May 31, 2012, in all things Norsk, Family stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Hi Maggie, there is bound to be some adjustment, but once he takes the plunge, it will come back to him (like riding a bicycle). But what a surprise for you and your his dad, I’m sure. There are worse things you could be than a citizen of the world!

    • I know, but we were so afraid if he took off without readjusting, he’d never move back. I already have two children living in another country and wasn’t ready to loose him just yet… Thanks!

  2. there could be worse.Randy was born in Italy,and since i was with NATO,He was born in an Italian hosp. and has 8 birth ceriticate’s and was duel citizen untill he joined the Army.Had not my orders been changed Robin was to be born in GAUM,this family is a mess.between us all we have seen the WORLD.

  3. Well Maggie, he is getting to the age where he needs to start finding his own way. Maybe he already has the makings of a great diplomat.

  4. Well… mine is 16 and is already trying to figure out how to get back to Europe! He is a product of his parents…. caught the bug

  5. If only they could stay little! But what a well-rounded young man Alexander must be. ♥

  6. Raising global nomads can be challenging. Home is often not the country you are born in, or the country your parents are from. “Home is where the heart is” is an old phrase. To value the skills our children acquire with these moves is important. With the globalisation, skills like intercultural skills, collaboration skills, knowing languages and more are skills asked for in the international workforce. It takes time to settle, and many of us feel restless again after 2-3 years. I am Norwegian, but do also feel “international”. Where my children will study and move when older will be exiting to see.

    • I noticed you said (I am Norwegian, but do also feel “international”)
      Thats exactly what I want for my son.
      He’s free to roam the world, I only hope he doesn’t loose sight of where he came from.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. IntrovertedSarah

    Our youngest was born in Singapore and when he returned to Australia for the first time he was very out of sorts, Grass was something he could not come to terms with and he turned up his nose at the cold weather

  8. I can understand not feeling settled where you are, even if it’s the place where you’ve spent most of your life… it can be really difficult trying to ‘find’ yourself, can’t it?

  9. Evidently this is an older entry but I just wanted to add my input. I actually was given the opportunity to travel a bit when I was younger outside of my home country, Canada… And it’s funny how attached you grow to new places that you associate with certain experiences. I feel like that can really spring forth the wanderlust thing going on. 🙂 I definitely find I miss the Netherlands and Belgium despite only having visited there for a few weeks when I was around 13!

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