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Marla Goes East.

At the end of September, after a full year in Norway, I flew from Olso > L.A. > Minneapolis.


My exit from Norway and reentry to the U.S. has been, in a word, jarring.

Leaving Norway: TORP Sandefjord Airport

Entering the U.S.: Los Angeles International Airport

My Norwegian residence permit expired in early October, and I had to leave Norway, but I was not prepared. Although I knew it was coming, my exit felt hasty, and while I tried to ready myself for my time in the U.S., I couldn't really know what it would be like until I arrived. I learned quickly that, while my body had arrived on U.S. soil, my head and heart remained in Norway.


I have spent the last few months attempting to align the three.


I went from living a quiet life on a mountaintop in Norway, to walking smack dab into THE MIDTERMS, THE HOLIDAY SEASON and the abrasiveness of extreme rural America / WI.


My world had shifted from the quiet hum of EVs, a pristine landscape to a barrage of advertisements and noise. It has been dizzying and disturbing, and I have found myself wanting to retreat into my shell.

The first frost on a crisp fall day at my cabin.

But before I returned, I knew that it would be temporary, and that my decision to explore other options would be reinforced. I would resume traveling by the start of the new year, and I came back in order to prepare to leave again.


Somehow, that time has nearly come, and on December 29th I will be headed back across the Atlantic Ocean, to the Balkan Peninsula.

"While there is not universal agreement on the region’s components, 'the Balkans' are usually characterized as comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia—with all or part of each of those countries located within the peninsula. Portions of Greece and Turkey are also located within the geographic region generally defined as the Balkan Peninsula, and many descriptions of the Balkans include those countries too."

I will spend New Years weekend in Dubrovnik, Croatia, then I will take a bus south to Kotor, Montenegro, where I will stay until early February. I have booked a one-way flight, so that I can leave it open as far as what comes after that. It's possible that I may try to stay in Europe until I can get back into Norway, or I may return to the U.S. for some time.


What do I mean by 'until I can get back into Norway'?


I'm not going to get too deep into Schengen Area rules, because I struggle to understand them myself, but what I do know is that because I was in Norway/Schengen Area for a full year, I must stay out of the Schengen Area for six months before I am able to return. This means that there are 26 countries that I cannot visit until April, when it will be six months since I left Norway/Schengen Area.


They're weird and wild, and they make my head hurt, but them's the rules I have to follow as a U.S. citizen trying to spend significant amounts of time in Europe.


Per Schengen Area rules, I am unable to enter any of the countries that are purple or blue until April (LOL). I can currently travel to the countries that are green or grey.

My time here in the U.S. has mostly been dedicated to housekeeping, getting my cabin and storage unit in order and trying to arrange work that I can do while traveling. I am grateful for the support of family and friends, who also happen to own small businesses and are willing to give me a chance when it comes to working remotely. This trip will be a good test of that.


I have rearranged my life in order to be able to travel, be unburdened by material possessions and to experience as much of this world as possible while I am alive and able. I hope that some of the writing I will do from Kotor will shed some light on the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into designing a life that is right for me, and that is on my terms. For it has not been an easy road.


It's an interesting position to be in, when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing, but know exactly what you are doing at the same time.


I'm excited to share my experience as I explore the beautiful Balkans.


"Doviđenja" for now,


Marla












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