Tag Archives: Norway

Camilla’s Neighborhood

Camilla Moe Røisland spent more than 20 years as a news presenter, reporter and producer for TV and radio, in her native Norway. She worked in communications for the oil, gas and shipping industry, and for unions and organizations.

Camilla Moe Roisland

Last year, she, her husband and 3 children moved to Westport (he works in wind farms). Camilla found an outlet for her creativity: chronicling the ups, downs, ins and outs of life in her new country.

And her new town.

Camilla Blogg” describes the beauty many of us take for granted — the beach, for example, and Saugatuck Island. She also sees jarring sights many of us never think of — like the “Private Property” signs that keep so many others from enjoying much of our beautiful shoreline.

A recent entry explored her neighborhood. She saw it through fresh eyes. Now let’s look at our town through hers.

When we moved to Westport a year ago, an area known for its prosperity and many “stay-at-home wives,” several people wondered if our new neighborhood would be similar to the 1990s’ “Desperate Housewives” series. I was excited myself, and a little anxious about what I would experience.

Various factors made us choose to settle in this affluent city of Westport in Connecticut, a beautiful place on the eastern coast of the United States. The neighborhood we ended up in was more random.

Camilla’s neighborhood.

The only advice before we tried to find a place to live came from Aunt Tove. She is married to our American Uncle Pat. Her whole family lives in Minnesota. “Just keep away from the areas where the most wealthy people live. These people, in their huge houses and gardens, have usually enough with themselves,” she told us.

The other day, a Spanish friend and expat told me, “Many people in Westport do not have neighborhoods, at least no knowledge or ties to their immediate surroundings. They hardly know their closest neighbor. We only know one neighbor because we have children at the same age.”

I usually describe the big houses of Westport as “castles ” and “mansions.” Several of these homes are amazingly beautiful, but when some of them are hidden behind tall fences or hedges, or are far from the road, it is not easy to create the unpretentious, random and often good contact with neighbors. Many of these large homes are on busy roads without pedestrian areas too. It is difficult to meet neighbors while driving back and forth to your garage, which is part of your main house.

An English girlfriend knows only 2 of her closest neighbors. They had to introduce themselves because there were trees they wanted to chop between the gardens. “We have been invited to a party once,” she said. “That was nice. Despite that, we never see any of our neighbors.”

There are some close neighborhood in Westport: those living near the sea, places with little traffic and where the distance between the houses is not too big. It also means a lot if homes have a common meeting point, such as a beach, playground, etc. If you can walk along the road in the neighborhood, you are also more able to chat with others. I often talk to other dog owners when I go for a walk in our neighborhood. My English girlfriend, on the other hand, cannot walk in her neighborhood because there are no sidewalks. She must play with the dog in her own garden, or drive elsewhere.

Camilla’s friends and neighbors.

The neighborhood we ended up living in was picked by coincidence. The house seemed nice, the rental price was within our budget, it had enough room for a family of 5, and seemed to be in a quiet, beautiful area with hiking opportunities not far from the sea. The meeting with an older woman on a bike, originally from the Netherlands, also meant a lot.

This Dutch woman had lived in Westport for 20 years. When I explained that we had the choice of moving to Darien or Westport, she gave a very convincing answer: “Westport is the best place, no doubt about it. It is lovely with all kinds of people, from artists to people working in investment banks. It is a very diverse community with a lot of nice, open minded people.

Now, one year after moving to this little neighborhood on the coast of Long Island Sound, I admit we have been very lucky with both the choice of Westport and our neighborhood. Even if the houses and gardens are smaller here near the sea (much more expensive per square meter due to the location) and there are fewer pools and tennis courts (sounds wild and maybe a bit disgusting, but I am not complaining about it!), it is wonderfully cozy.

A cozy neighborhood.

Neighbors gather on the beaches or at each other’s house. There are barbecues, we share some wine, people invite you for coffee and we all enjoy a more relaxing life, especially during the summer. The kids cycle or run between the houses, play basketball in the driveways, kayak, paddle board, and go out boating. It all reminds me a little of the life we ​​lived back in Norway.

I like to chat with someone jogging or passing by, and with the mothers who each day follow their children to the school bus. Some nice neighbors invited us for lunch, and we`ve been drinking wine and coffee at someone else’s house. My husband has been taught how to play paddle tennis by one, and we have made some of our best American friends not far from here. We do not have family here, so these people are important for our well-being in our new country.

What I like about Westport in general, and our neighborhood in particular, is that people of all ages with different backgrounds live here. There is a stand-up comedian, a talented musician and producer, a wonderful lawyer couple, and many “stay-at-home moms” like myself. Even Olaf lives here. He is a charming Norwegian who started to work here several years ago, married a beautiful American woman and never returns to Norway except on holidays.

More friends.

For creating a good neighborhood and communities, you need engaged and enthusiastic people. We find them all over the world, including here. These are people who take initiative to create and maintain traditions to meet. They care about the community and their neighbors.

In our neighborhood people open their houses so all – old and young, veterans and newcomers – can meet for a Christmas party, etc. Everybody brings something. We also meet on our little local beach to greet the summer, and were recently at our very first clambake, with whole lobsters, corn and other delicious food. We also saw photo albums that showed how our little “Association” has developed over the years. Fun!

It was a real nice clambake.

Aunt Tove was right that it is easier if you move to an area where people live closer to each other, and not high fences between the gardens. Whether people are rich or not has nothing to do with their kindness as neighbors, unless they choose to hide in their own home and garden.

What makes a good neighborhood is the people. Here, the people are accommodating and kind. I have so far not found any intrigues like in “Desperate Housewives” (in Norway called “Frustrated Housewives”). I have not seen a handsome “pool guy” like the one in this series either. Unfortunately, some would say. But without a pool, how can you have a pool guy?

Of course, I have to admit I am often frustrated –- whether because of the political debate and governance of this country, or being a stay-at-home mum with all those duties, and what that life lacks at times.

It is natural to be frustrated sometimes – both for you back in Norway, and for us here in Westport and in the rest of the US. On the other hand, I do not think most of us are desperate, as the English title of the series indicates. At least not that I am aware of, and at least not for now.

(Click here to read and subscribe to CamillaBlogg.com) 

Camilla’s Blog

Back home in her native Norway, Camilla Moe Røisland had a thriving career.

She spent more than 20 years as a news presenter, reporter and producer, for TV and radio. She worked in communications for the oil, gas and shipping industry, and for unions and organizations.

When her husband was offered a great opportunity — building wind farms off Long Island — she put her own work on hold. Since late September she’s helped their 3 children (and dog) adapt to life in Westport.

Camilla Moe Roisland

It’s an exciting adventure, filled with ups and downs. Camilla loves much about this town (and, from time to time, just shakes her head). Between furnishing her new home, making new friends. figuring out the difference between Stop & Shop and Whole Foods, and spending endless hours behind the wheel, her days are full.

But Camilla is, at heart, a journalist. So she’s eager to share many of her insights — and photos — with her old friends in Norway.

And her new ones here.

Camilla Blogg” is an intriguing look at our town, from one of our newest arrivals. She sees the beauty many of us take for granted — the beach, for example, and Saugatuck Island. She also sees jarring sights many of us never think of — like the “Private Property” signs that keep so many others from enjoying much of our beautiful shoreline.

Camilla is a warm woman. Her writing reflects her outgoing nature.

“People in my situation have to be that way,” she explains. “We need to make friends to survive.”

By reaching out, she’s already made many friends here. Some are Americans; others are Europeans and Australians. She finds Westport to be very open and welcoming. There’s an international flavor, and most people want to help.

(Her children are embarrassed when she walks up to strangers and says, “Sorry, I am new to this country. I don’t know where to find…” Of course, kids all over the world are embarrassed by their parents.)

Camilla’s blog alternates between profound topics and light ones. She toggles between big themes and random encounters.

An early post on the joys of Compo Beach (she could not believe she wore shorts and a t-shirt in the fall) was countered by the heartache of her children’s first day of school.

Camilla illustrated her “first day of school” blog post this way.

Her youngest “looked so small in this huge building,” Camilla wrote. Fortunately, his counselor, teachers and principal seemed great.

“I know he is in good hands,” she said, before adding, “it’s hard when he is really scared that the other kids and the teachers will not understand” what he’s saying.

She concluded: “I cross my fingers, and hope that I will pick up two smiling kids after school today.”

Any mother anywhere could relate to that feeling. And any mother anywhere could share her frustration at hearing Ikea say, over and over, “We are sorry for your inconvenience.”

But it takes an objective, new-to-Westport eye to point out the extent to which automobiles rule life in our suburb.

In Norway, Camilla writes,

our kids are used to either taking the bus, walking or cycling to their schools. We commuted to our jobs by walking, taking the bus, ferry and sometimes a tram. Imagine how much more healthy that is, and it saves the environment for all the pollution from the cars.

She adapted. She bought a car that handles the snowy winter here. But she also “allowed” her husband to buy a Mustang.

Camilla captioned this “Americans and their cars.”

“In the beginning I was a bit unsure if it was tacky or not,” she wrote. “But some British friends assured me that it was cool. I hope they´re right. You might see me driving it around in the area too.”

The Winter Olympics — in which Norway built up a substantial medal lead — provided material for another blog post.

Camilla did not include an incident that meant a lot: When someone at Saugatuck Sweets complimented her on her country’s showing.

But she wrote about the good feeling she felt, in this cosmopolitan town, watching so many nations compete.

“Go Norway and our modern Vikings!” she said. “Go our Scandinavian neighbors, our European friends. And this time, go the US too!”

There is much more to cover. Camilla has noticed how wonderful and well-equipped Westport’s schools are, and the dedication of the teachers. Yet she’s astonished at the amount of homework her kids have — including weekends — and the fact that students must stay indoors when the weather is cold or wet.

“In Norway we have no bad weather,” she laughs. “Just bad clothes.”

She also contrasts Westport schools with those 10 minutes away. There, she notes, “they can’t even afford pencils.”

She loves her proximity to New York City. But she still can’t figure out why the train fare is so expensive, while the cost to drive a car is so cheap.

One of the photos Camilla took to illustrate the beauty of her new home town.

Moving from Norway to Westport was not easy. Camilla has put a lot of work — and thought — into making her new life here.

She loves sharing it all with others — those in her home country, and her new home town.

“I feel very Norwegian in Westport,” she says. “I also feel very European.

“I love Westport. I want to protect it. I’ve met so many nice, welcoming, interesting people. I have a very broad life. We all learn from each other.”

And you can read all about it here.

Westporters From Haiti, Norway React To Trump

Westport is filled with all kinds of people.

We are citizens, and we are on various types of visas. A few of us are undocumented.

We are 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-generation Americans, and more. At least one of us — hey, Jacques Voris! – has had family in Westport for at least 10 generations.

We may be descendants of the Pequot tribe here — I’m not sure. If not, every one of us came from somewhere else.

We came from England, Germany and — hey, Saugatuck! — Italy. We came from Canada, Russia, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria.

We came from Norway. And from Haiti.

In the wake of President Trump’s comments yesterday — do I have to remind you he called Haiti and African nations “shithole” countries, and wondered aloud why we don’t have more immigrants from Norway — I reached out to Westporters from those specific places.

Stephanie Mastocciolo is a 1st-generation American. Her parents moved to the US to continue her grandfather’s work in the Caribbean music industry.

Her mother was adamant that Stephanie and her 2 younger sisters take advantage of the limitless opportunities in the US — in education, and for their careers. Her mother wanted her girls to become well-rounded, open-minded individuals here too.

Stephanie was born and raised in Larchmont, New York. She moved first to Greenwich, then to Westport. She has lived here for 6 years, and has enjoyed raising her 2 children in this community. 

She calls Trump’s comments “offensive, hurtful and very un-American.”

She acknowledges, “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Yes, it has a lot of political, social and economic problems. But many — if not all — nations do.”

Trump’s comments sadden her, “because America has come a long way to break down stereotypes and barriers that divide people. America was built on the hard work and ideas of people looking for a better way of life.

She adds, “All nations should be referred to with respect and facts, not ignorant opinions. His comments speak for themselves. They show the true colors of the President of the United States.”

Camilla Moe Røisland moved to Westport in September, with her husband (whose company is building windmills off Long Island) and 2 of her children (a 3rd — and their dog — arrived recently). She worked as a news presenter, reporter and producer for Norway’s biggest radio/TV company.

Camilla does not know if she should take Trump’s words as a compliment or not. She is proud of her country — but does not like it being singled out as a “good one” in comparison to others.

“That’s not worthy of a president. Doesn’t he know, or understand, that the US is built up by immigrants throughout history?” she asks. “America’s strength comes from diversity.”

Trump is right, Camilla says, that Norwegians are highly educated in general, and hard-working. But, she adds, “that doesn’t mean that we are better or smarter than others. We are lucky because we live in a country that gives people both opportunities and security.

“We have a good health system. We take care of everyone. And we believe that all are equal — you are worth a lot even if you are not a male, white, heterosexual and rich.”

So why did she and her family move here?

Her husband had a great work opportunity. They looked forward to a new experience.

It was challenging, sure. But Westport is beautiful, Camilla says. They’ve met “so many nice, warm and welcoming people. We love living close to New York, which is a very exciting and fun city.”

It’s also a city filled with people from all over the world. Including Norway and Haiti.

Westport is too.

And I believe that many — if not all — of my fellow Westporters are glad and proud to count Camilla and Stephanie as our neighbors.