Saleha: Edge of the Arctic
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Norway, etc.
I’m from Ohio, USA, where I spent most of my childhood swimming, listening to Bollywood music and watching I Love Lucy re-runs. I moved to London when I got married - even though I was an Anglophile during my teenage and college years its still surprising to me that I actually moved to Britain. I lived there for four amazing years during which I got my MA in journalism. After we had our son my husband's job brought us to Norway. Moving to Oslo was completely unexpected but its been a great adventure so far.
When I'm not blogging about being an American expat in Norway, I write for The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started sketching out blog ideas as soon as I moved to Norway in November 2011 but didn't get around to actually launching it until the following September. A lot of my family and friends kept asking what Norway was like - how does it look, are the people nice, what is the food like, etc. Blogging seemed the best way to answer those questions and create a record of my experiences here.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
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?
It was definitely an adjustment moving to Oslo, I think my experience moving from Ohio to London a few years back prepared me for Norway. Being my second international move I had a better idea of what it takes to get settled, although Norway is a bigger adjustment. There was definitely some culture shock during those first few months, but nothing I couldn't handle.
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 was as prepared as I could have been, but part of the excitement is what happens when you're not prepared. My husband isn't Norwegian so it helped that we were both in the same boat, figuring things out together. I don't think there's anything I'd change about my experience - some things worked out better than I could have imagined and the things that didn't pan out, well, they happened for the best. It's all part of the deal when you're an expat.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I'm always keen to speak the local language when I can and for a few weeks I was asking the cashier at the grocery store for a plastic bag in Norwegian, only to find out that the word I was using for "bag" really meant "hot dog"! (In my defense, the two words sound almost the same!)
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Norway?
- treat it like one big adventure
- learn the language
- learn to dress for the weather, not fashion
How is the expat community in Norway? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is wonderful. There's a group for international mothers and children, young professionals looking to network or make friends, professional women, and everything in between. Check out my post about making friends in Oslo called "5 ways to make friends in Oslo."
How would you summarize your expat life in Norway in a single, catchy sentence?
If I could do that I wouldn't need a blog!