The great longing
Being far away from her child is of course not easy, but nurse Carmelle chooses to be positive and grateful for the opportunities she has in Norway.Carmelle Joy Taal Mendoza (24) is a trained nurse in her native country, the Philippines. She is married and has a 2-year old child. Just over half a year ago, Carmelle chose to move to Norway to work and study since it was difficult to find a permanent job in her home country. She misses her family immensely, especially her little boy Juan Angelo, of course.
It's easy to imagine how hard it must be for a brand new mother to leave her baby, but Carmelle has clear ambitions and goals. She works part-time as a healthcare professional at Norwegian nursing homes, including Hovseterhjemmet (the Hovseter Home), and takes language courses. The young girl has a good head on her shoulders because she has already become quite good in Norwegian in less than a year. She had already mastered English well before, especially in writing. When the language courses are completed, Carmelle will complete the Norwegian nursing education as well.
- I come from the province of Ilocos Sur in the north of the Philippines. My father is a farmer and runs a farm with other farmers, while also being a state employee. My mother is a teacher at a primary school, and my parents help my husband, Juan Paolo, take care of my child while I am in Norway. I hope to complete my education and find myself a job here, and eventually get my husband and child here.
AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR NORWAYCarmelle is a little shy, and thrives best in the company of a few friends. She is not so fond of big gatherings. But she is kind and friendly, and welcomes MyCall's writer and photographer when we visit her at Hovseterhjemmet. Marianne Grønseth is Carmelle’s boss. She tells us that the Filipino girl is diligent and dutiful and treats everyone around her with warmth and respect. Admittedly, Carmelle had language problems when she started her job and struggled to understand and meet the needs of the patients. But this has gradually improved. Norway needs more and more healthcare professionals, and people like Carmelle are great additions to our society.
Riktignok hadde Carmelle språkproblemer da hun begynte i jobben, og slet med å forstå og etterkomme pasientenes behov. Men det har gradvis blitt bedre. Norge trenger stadig flere helsefagarbeidere, og folk som Carmelle er flotte tilskudd til samfunnet vårt.
«Jeg prøver å bli mer utadvendt og trygg», sier Carmelle.
- Foreldrene mine jobbet hardt og var veldig opptatte, og de fire eldre brødrene mine holdt jo på med sine egne greier.I am trying to become more outgoing and confident, says Carmelle.I was pretty shy as a child too. I remember getting a bike from my father once and it became my best friend in a way. My parents had to work hard and were very busy, and my brothers were older than me and had their own things to do. I had no regular friends in the place where I grew up, so I took trips on my bike every day.
- One day I fell into a ditch and hit myself hard, but did not dare tell my parents. But our neighbours did, and I got yelled at both for being careless, and for not telling them about the accident afterwards, he he.
It was this bike that sparked Carmelle's interest in vehicles. Already by 9-10 years old, her brothers had taught her to drive a moped.I hope I have the opportunity to get my driver's license for a car as soon as I have established myself in Norway, because I love to drive!
IN HER BROTHER’S FOOTSTEPSCarmelle is the youngest of five siblings. The three oldest brothers live in the Philippines, where they have stable jobs and are doing well. The fourth, Christopher, is a healthcare worker and has lived and worked in Norway for some years.
Christopher lives in Rælingen with his wife, and it was he who encouraged me to come to Norway to seek a future here. He has helped me a lot, and he was my inspiration for my career choice.
In fact, Carmelle dreamed of becoming a photographer or a journalist, but for realistic reasons she chose to become a nurse, as this provided an opportunity to apply for a job abroad if she did not get a good job in her home country. It is not easy to find jobs that provide financial security in the Philippines, and many nurses have to work for free for periods just to gain work experience and the opportunity to get salaried jobs later. When Carmelle had children, she realized that she had to follow her brother to Norway to find success in the labour market here.
I call home as often as I can and am a good MyCall customer!I want to work hard and study diligently so that I can take care of my child. I miss him very much — I had to go when he was only a year and a half old. My son does not know how far it is from Norway to the Philippines, and for him it is incomprehensible why mummy cannot come home. It is expensive to travel, but I hope I can afford it soon. I don't make much money, and living in Norway is expensive. I also try to save so that I can send some money home.
I call home as often as I can and am a good MyCall customer! Hee hee. In the Philippines, the internet is as reliable as it is here in Norway — it can be quite frustrating when the line breaks when I am video chatting with my husband. So I need a subscription that primarily has good prices for calling abroad, but also has favourable data packages. In addition, I use social media a lot to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances, which helps a little bit with homesickness.
“ADOPTED FAMILY”Life in Norway is a lot about work and studies, and so far there has not been much time to travel around and to get to know the country properly. Carmelle is also a quiet girl who thrives best at home, and does not spend time and money on nightlife in the capital. But she likes looking around the city when the weather is good and when she has free time. Carmelle lives in a collective in Grorud and shares a house with 5-6 other young Filipinos who are in the same situation as herself. They are here to work, to study and to try to create a good life.
- We are almost like a family. We are close to each other, especially emotionally. We encourage and help one another learn Norwegian, but having friends from the Philippines is also good "medicine" for homesickness. I am especially close to Cristina. I have no biological sister, but Cristina feels like a real sister to me. Guian is also a good friend; he always supports me. The three of us have some of the same personality traits. We are a little introverted and thrive best with people we are comfortable with.
Carmelle's student visa lasts one year, and by that time she will need to have passed the necessary Norwegian courses and studies to make her nursing education valid in Norway so that she can get a permanent job.
If I don’t manage to do this, then I will apply to extend the student visa. Currently, I am only allowed to work 20 hours a week, so I have a lot of time to study.
- Jeg tenker på sønnen min, jeg har et bilde av ham på nattbordet, og det gir meg masse styrke.Like other young girls, Carmelle likes to go shopping. If there are sales with good prices, she may find something for herself, or gifts for her son.
I also sometimes just sit at a café and buy myself a cup of coffee and just enjoy life. Another thing I love is cooking. At home in the collective, we make a lot of Filipino food. My favourite dish is Pinakbet. It is a traditional dish with lots of vegetables and some meat sautéed in fish sauce, and served with rice.
FINDS STRENGTH IN HER SONDespite the fact that Carmelle misses her family and her homeland, she has had a good impression of Norway so far. But it is important to adjust quickly because in some ways there are major differences between the two countries. Norway is an environmentally-friendly and clean country; it is so peaceful here. I admire the Norwegians' discipline when it comes to sorting; they are very conscious of taking care of nature. Everything is so punctual and proper here. Buses and trains have fixed times, and people meet up exactly when they are supposed to. In the Philippines we have the phrase "Filipino time", which means that everything is delayed and people arrive later than they should, but that does not work here in Norway.
Carmelle's big dream is to be reunited with her family as soon as possible, and she understands that she must be responsible and work hard to get her son and husband, and possibly their parents, to Norway.
I don't know what is realistic and how fast things can happen, but at least I promise to do everything I can. I’m always thinking of my son — I have a picture of him on the bedside table, and it gives me lots of strength.