Evelyn: My New Norwegian Home
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Norway, etc.
My name is Evelyn Perrin-Sand. I am from Kentucky, USA and I moved to Skien, Norway on May 25, 2012.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in January 2012. It was just something to help document and record the moving process to Norway, my wedding planning, and any issues surrounding learning the language on my own or sharing bits about Norwegian culture. I wanted to share these experiences because I was already talking to some expatriates about their own and I thought it would be good to put it all out there as something people can seek out who may be going through the same thing as me. It’s a good way to meet other expatriates as well.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite blog entries are probably the Surviving the Distance Part 1-4. I’m talking about how my husband and I met and how we made a long-distance relationship work after 2 years.
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?
I came to Norway quite prepared so nothing has really been a shock to me. I’ve researched everything I possibly could so I wouldn’t experience culture shock, I’ve been studying the language on my own for a year and a half so even before moving I was listening to the language. The only things I think I’ve had to adjust to is carsickness because the roads here in Norway are extremely curvy and the summer sky as the sun sets around midnight and is up at 3.That can be a bit confusing.
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 was quite prepared. I studied and researched all I could about Norway. If there’s anything I could have changed I wish I had learned the language more and had the confidence to speak what I do know in Norwegian.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I’ve only been in Norway about a month and a half. I can’t think of any certain moment where I’ve had a funny experience. I know my “American-ism” shines through sometimes as I can be stereotypically American sometimes in such ways as being very bad about knowing geography for instance. I’m sure with time I’ll have some funny stories to tell.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Norway?
- Don’t worry about buying things to bring with you to Norway in fear they may not have anything. Norway has everything you need.
- Many expats I’ve talked to have given me the response that Norwegians are “cold” “distant” “rude” “unfriendly”. Go into the country with a blank slate, think for yourself and don’t let anyone scare you into thinking the general population is a certain way. I’ve found many people who say that also go into the country thinking, “Everyone knows English, so this isn’t a big deal.” You’re on their land. They speak Norwegian and some can be shy to speak English. They’re not being rude or unfriendly. If you hear someone speak badly of the country, put that in the back of your mind, experience it for yourself and then come up with your own opinion.
- Come prepared. I don’t think it would be too different for expats coming from other western countries, but nevertheless, research all you can, go there and experience everything with an open mind. Read books, watch videos, learn some of the language on your own and join expat communities. Maybe even start a blog to document your experiences. It’s always great to talk to people who follow the blog and are going through similar situations. If you’re coming here alone and don’t necessarily have a social group, of course it would be best to find one. Find people you can communicate with and connect with so you won’t come here feeling alone without a support group. Also, don’t forget to bring warm clothes!!!
How is the expat community in Norway? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I keep being told there are many Americans in the town I live in, but I haven’t met any or had a chance to speak with any expatriates since I’ve been here other than the ones who follow my blog. I hope to meet other expatriates when my language classes begin.
How would you summarize your expat life in Norway in a single, catchy sentence?
Cold, but I love it here!