Sarah: A New Life In Norway
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Norway, etc.
My husband and I are both English and we moved to Norway in 2009. My husband works in the oil and gas industry and worked for Kongsberg Group in the UK. A job came up within the same company but working out of Norway so we took the opportunity to live abroad. I work for SAP managing their social media for Europe, Middle East and Africa. SAP kindly transferred my role to the local office in Oslo so both my husband and I are working in Norway.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to blog a couple of weeks before we moved to Norway. It was mainly to keep our family up to date with what we were up to and also to keep a diary of our experiences in Norway. I wanted to keep a memory of our adventures.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Oh – good question. I sometimes read my very first blog entry which described my feelings just before we were to catch our one way flight to Oslo. I remember it like yesterday and yet that was three years ago! I also like the only post my husband wrote. It was our first National Day in Norway and I was called away on business so Eliot went into Oslo and recorded his day with photos.
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?
The biggest change for me is my commute to work. In the UK my commute would be a 1.5 hour drive on a good day. Here it’s a 10 minute bus ride so I suddenly have a social life in the evening that I’ve not experienced for some years. Most Norwegians finish work at 4pm – their attitude to work is very different to the UK. They work to live and not the other way around. I really respect that and it’s taught Eliot and I to really value our free time more. When we first came to Norway it was a culture shock as we didn’t know anyone, we didn’t know the language and we didn’t know our way around. After a couple of months we started to settle in. It helped that we were both working and could ask our colleagues questions.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Norway? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We came to Norway expecting to stay for one year and here we are after three. I have to say that it surpassed all expectations. I guess if I could change one thing it would be that we bought a house here after 1 year. Renting is very expensive in Norway and there are not a lot of options because most people buy houses. It would have been much more tax efficient to buy a house.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I’ve had a few faux pas moments here in Norway. One has to be mistaking Ah ha for a Swedish band.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Norway?
- Learn a bit of Norwegian before moving to Norway. The Norwegians speak fantastic English but they really appreciate the effort if you at least try.
- Be sure to bring everything you need with you. Norway is expensive so buying furniture and items can break the bank. Bring what you need.
- Plan a short visit before you arrive to check out areas to live in and find your way around. We spent a weekend in Norway before making the decision and we came during winter months which can be a tough season. If you like Norway during winter then you’ll love Norway during summer :)
How is the expat community in Norway? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’m not entirely sure because one thing Eliot and I really wanted to do when moving here was to integrate as much as possible into local life. We didn’t want to form a click with other expats because I would feel that we weren’t truly experiencing Norwegian life. I joined a Norwegian choir, Eliot played Innybandy (a Norwegian sport which is a bit like hockey) and we try to socialize with our Norwegian colleagues at work. Naturally you do form a bond with other expats though because you share a unique experience and sometimes it’s nice to have a good old British moan :)
How would you summarize your expat life in Norway in a single, catchy sentence?
I feel very lucky and fortunate to live in Norway as everything about the country is beautiful – the nature, the lifestyle and the people.