I am no longer a documented alien or immigrant. I am a documented Norwegian citizen now. Check this out:
The document with my mug shot is my Norwegian passport. My country of birth is a variable and in black type. In red type above it, it says I am a Norwegian citizen. Reading that (still) delights me no end!
Once I had my passport, I realized I could do something with my new citizenship. So I sent in a request to the health care system in Norway, asking for the European health card, the so-called E-111 card. One of the rights/advantages to belonging to or having an agreement with the European Union is the right to use public health services in other member countries. This, however, extends only to actual citizens of the EU or the EEC countries. Even though I am a member of the Norwegian social security system, I was not eligible for the E-111 card—until I got Norwegian citizenship. I got the card in less than a week; that’s the blue thing in the lower right-hand corner. It doesn’t replace traveler’s insurance, but rather assists it.
And: Today I got my voter’s card in the mail. That’s the white thing on the left. It’s for the Stortingsvalg 2017, i.e. the national parliamentary election. You have to be a citizen to vote in national elections here (I’ve been voting in local ones).
I think I understand why naturalized citizens seem to be so much more excited about these things than the natives are. First of all, it’s a choice. I chose this citizenship, this country. This is no accident of birth, but a decision and a process and a nervous waiting for yea or nay. And since this is a choice, a desire, it colors other aspects about being a citizen, like voting. Native Norwegians are as jaded about elections as American ones are. The “sofa voters”, as they are known in Norway, are gaining ground every election. But for me, this a new adventure and a privilege I can’t take for granted like the natural-born, and so it is all the more attractive.
In 1950, my Norwegian and Norwegian-born grandpa became a naturalized US citizen. I never thought it would happen in reverse, but now it has. It has taken this long because I had to be more or less forced into it. Grandpa was in a similar situation. Sometimes your country of birth does something you just can’t stand, and so you switch. The blessing is that both he and I had a choice, and we were free and safe to make it.
I am grateful for Grandpa’s ties to Norway and now my own.