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Why Mo i Rana is also home

Written by Yasna Mimbela

Photo by Isak Brun / Visit Helgeland

I moved to Mo i Rana in late 2019. My first impression was that I had landed in a fairytale. Peacefulness, snowy landscape, immensity of nature, frozen lake, and hot chocolate by the fire. I even had the chance to see reindeer and the northern lights in the same week.

Still moving to the north isn’t all about a fairytale. A lot of practicalities need to be understood to really get the maximum of the experience. I come from Switzerland.  We have a lot of mountains and we do believe that mountains are also very mystic. We cultivate both admiration and respect for them. But living daily in such an environment is a complete other experience. I never thought how crucial it was to always bring a thermos with hot water or coffee and an extra blanket in the car, until I got stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for road assistance. Or how my fancy city winter jacket was useless in Mo i Rana.

I think that Mo i Rana gave me a good lesson of priorities and nature connection. I never felt so surrounded by nature. It is admirable to see how people have learned to cope and live in harmony with extreme temperatures and the change of darkness to lightness. After the fairytale experience, my French Swiss nature of complaining started to come back. How could you possibly go out with that temperature? But again, a good lesson was given to me. I am absolutely breathless to see the adaptation power of the people in the North.

It is true that the social culture is quite different from what I have experienced so far. A good way to meet people in Mo i Rana is throughout work, sports, kids’ activities or volunteering. And don’t be afraid to introduce yourself even if you don’t speak yet the language. It’s important to understand that what for some could look like distance usually means that they are giving you a respectful private space. By asking and taking initiative you will in most of the cases meet a very welcoming answer. So even if it takes a bit of extra work to socialize in the North, the friendship you will create are usually genuine and reliable.

Mo i Rana is also a unique place to live in with so much sense of safety and security. I left for 6 weeks last summer whiteout locking my bike, and my bike was still there when I came back. It is sadly too rare to live in such a peaceful and secure place that this has become a luxury. And if you have kids, I think this is an important parameter to keep in mind.

Of course, there are a lot of things that I am missing and have accepted that I will not be able to have them. But at the end of the day, if I remember the lesson of prioritization: me and my family are safe, surrounded of possibilities and with healthy and endless nature around us. And for that, I am thankful! I do miss the cheese, but I would never have experienced a festival where they serve reindeer kebab if I hadn’t lived in Mo i Rana, so I’m grateful for that too!