Amy: The Hilton Family
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Norway, etc.
I grew up in a military family, moving all over the US and England. My husband was in the Army for 5 years before moving to oil and gas business. I am a stay at home mom to our three children, 5, 3, and 2. We lived in Houston, TX for 3 years before moving to Oslo, Norway.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I first started blogging when our daughter was born. My husband was in the Army and was getting ready to deploy to Iraq. I wanted to create a way for him to keep up with our little girl. A by-product of blogging for my husband was how much the grandparents all enjoyed reading the blog. Even once my husband completed his time in the Army we still lived away from family and they wanted to keep up with our growing family. When we found out we would be moving to Norway I knew that I would become an expat blogger and it has been so much fun.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
One of my latest entries is my favorite. I went to Paris for a quick weekend trip by myself; it was a great weekend and a fun blog post to write.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Norway differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Life with three small children is crazy no matter where in the world you live. There are a few more challenges to living in a cold climate and in a place where you don’t speak the language. The biggest challenge for me was grocery shopping; deciphering the language, finding what I need, spending a small fortune, and trying to get everything bagged while chasing my boys around the store.
I read as much as I could about Norway before we moved. I came on a business trip with my husband and spent a week exploring Oslo. I read as many expat blogs about Norway, but I had a hard time finding any expats that had children.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Norway? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think I prepared as much as I could have. There is only so much that can prepare you for the freezing temperatures and a new language. I did try and learn some of the language before I came, but not enough. The international school has been very good about making sure you know what clothes to buy
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Shortly after we moved here we left our stroller in a little town names Baerum’s Verk. We left the stroller outside a restaurant, or I thought I had. I went back to the restaurant a couple days later and the stroller wasn’t there. All of my Norwegian friends said the stroller would still be there and I was so disappointed that someone had taken my stroller. I looked into buying a new stroller, but with the higher prices here in Norway the stroller would have been double what we paid in the US, over $400. We decided to hold off buying another stroller for the time, but we needed one for our trip in February. Today, 3 ½ months later, when I was back out in Baerum’s Verk I went into a café to see what their specials were and there was the stroller sitting right there. The hats and mittens that we had left in the stroller were even still there. I could not believe it was still there. I felt bad for doubting the honesty of the Norwegians.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Norway?
- Plan on learning the language. Most people in Norway speak English and they are very willing to switch to English when they realize you are a foreigner.
- If your kids are going to go to an international school or preschool get them on the waiting list as soon as possible. I would also look into 2nd and 3rd choices just in case.
- Travel as much as you can, within your new country and anywhere else you can get to.
How is the expat community in Norway? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Most of the other expats we have met have been through the International School that my daughter attends. The other place we have made expat friends is church. The international church here in Oslo is a great place to meet other English speaking friends.
How would you summarize your expat life in Norway in a single, catchy sentence?
Trying to stay warm as our family enjoys our new adventure together.