An interview with Katja Saggese. Topic: “What if”. We met Katja in Oslo on a beautiful and cold day in October. She grew up in Switzerland with an Austrian mother and an Italian father. In her twenties, she decided to move to Norway. The north and the cold always fascinated her. We sat near the water, waited for the ferry to come and talked about how her life would have been if she would have stayed in the safe haven of Switzerland.
What if you had stayed in Switzerland?
I also asked myself many times, how my life would have been. Especially when it comes to my professional career. Also, questions raised if I would I have had kids already, lived in a house in the city or in the countryside.
Did you find some answers to these questions?
No, I did not have any answers. I think I would have been some steps further in my career because here I had to find my way in a country whose language I didn’t speak. I started on a different level. In Switzerland, I might have gone more into scientific research. I also think that I would not be a mother yet, as all my friends became a mother later than I did and that would have influenced me.
What exactly would have influenced you?
I see that the Swiss lifestyle is: You work, you travel than you settle down and then you have time for kids. In Norway that’s different and the opposite.
How is it in Norway?
Here, “kids come”. A Norwegian turn of expression that means, they come when they come. You don’t wait to get kids and finish your study or buy a house first.
And why do you think is that so?
Because everything is better organized. Every kid has a place in preschool and it is totally affordable. That happens after a paid motherhood of one year, during which the father also can choose to stay at home. It is simply more accepted in society to have kids. A Norwegian professor once said to me that if in your CV you mention that you have kids, it will be taken into an account, whereas in Switzerland it’s not the case.
Do you think that having kids is more naturally integrated into a life plan in Norway?
Yes, I think so. I am not sure about the word naturally. I would tend to say accepted by society. Lifestyle is different. Here kids are part of your life and in Switzerland, I get the impression, they are more of a project.
How were you influenced here?
Well, it just happened that I got pregnant and I kept it. I don’t have a guarantee that in Switzerland it would have been different. The fact that none of my friends were at this stage of their lives might have had an influence and I might have acted in another way so that I would have started this project later.
You said you would have been some steps further in your career. How do you mean that?
In the beginning, when I moved here, I did not work in my field, so I had to wait some years until I could make use of my master in biology. In Switzerland, I would have applied for jobs that were related to my field immediately. On the other hand, I had the chance to experience things here that brought me further in another way.
How do you mean that?
To move to another country was totally enriching and exciting and I am grateful that I could experience this. Also, I think my life in Switzerland would be more boring. I always wanted to go aboard. If I had stayed in Switzerland I would probably be busy thinking: what if I moved abroad? I have friends here that miss the opportunity of adventure and never saw more than the south of Norway. I feel that I had my adventure, but well, I am always up for it. And I feel that I reached a lot of my personal goals.
What kind of personal goals?
To move aboard, to integrate, to get to know a new culture, speak the language on a native level, having kids. I always wanted to have a job I am passionate about and I also found that here. The same with nature, I wanted to live close by and here I am surrounded by it.
What if you have never moved to Norway?
I was always really interested in Canada, because of good job opportunities in marine biology.
And what If you would have become a marine biologist?
(Laughs) Then I would wear a swimsuit now and have a beautiful sunburnt body.
Place of Birth: Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Parents: Erika (Sales Assistant) and Pietro Saggese (Installer)
Siblings: Christian Saggese (Journalist)
Study/Profession: Master in Biology, High school teacher
Relationship status: In a relationship
Romantic or realistic? Romantic
How many Facebook friends do you have? I don’t know? About 400 maybe?
Adventure or Stability? Stability
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
My favorite spot in Amsterdam: In a boat on the canals
If I were a bitterbal, I’d be filled with… Thai chicken 🙂