Lim: Working in Norway
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Oslo, etc.
I’m Lim from Singapore, engineer by trade, amateur kitchen chef by nights, weekends and globe trotter during holidays. I’m also an Ozzie resident, having lived in Down Under for many years before I came to Norway. Early 2010 I went on holidays to Scandinavia and about two months later, I applied for a job in Norway for the sheer fun of it, and next thing you know in November of the same year I moved to Oslo. Life changes fast.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
My first travel experience blog was the Scandivanian holiday that I embarked on in 2010, I decided to start writing one because whilst on holidays you visit many places and experience a huge variety of things and I want to remember what it was like during each experience so I started to blog. So moving to Oslo and writing a blog is a no-brainer, I was going to do it to keep it as a journal of life experiences here and as something to reflect on as I get older and hopefully wiser, hence Working in Norway was born. Writing a blog also helps others who sometimes need help or advice reach out to you, which some people have done. Writing a blog takes a lot of time but it’s worth it in the end.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Oh which ones to pick? The time I spent an “Alternate Christmas” with homeless people was definitely interesting. My first work 9 hour Christmas party is definitely something to remember, and the one time I was approached by someone whilst shopping in the city who actually followed my blog as a result of reading a blog entry about the Oslo bombing, that is something that I’ll never forget. Made me realize this is a really small world we live in, what are the chances of someone who reads your blog bumping into you on the street? And of course the beautiful fjords that I experienced several times on holidays.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Oslo differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Where do I start? The weather is different, I was largely accustomed to a lot warmer weather. For example the summer that I experience in Oslo is the winter I used to experience in Australia. People here are different, not as warm and not very approachable, but that’s just the way it is. I used to catch public transport to work now I just walk, I walk a lot more now. People here finish work really early too, and leaving work for personal reasons is mostly acceptable. Things cost a lot more in Norway and that’s still quite hard to accept for me as well as a lot of other expats. Initially it was very hard and trying for me getting settled here as I moved alone and didn’t know anyone. And arriving here during the harshest winter in a century was a real test of my sanity at times. And of course I did experience culture shock. Still do during some days! For me it was like moving to another planet.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Oslo? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was not, and I don’t think there is any way to be fully prepared. There are things that will remain unknown until you arrive here. Like the time period to get your social security number, knowing that you need to have your name and address on your postbox in order to get your mail delivered, and things like that. Perhaps learning to speak Norwegian would help a bit but not a lot since most people can speak if not understand English. The best thing to prepare is to keep an open mind, have great tolerance and just know that it will all work out in the end. Knowing that you can never be fully prepared also makes things more exciting I guess.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I learnt a small bit of Norwegian and when I was learning to say the word “liker” I was emphasizing the wrong part of the word so it sounded rather vulgar. You can use your imagination to think of what it means!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Oslo?
- Save some money before you get here to tide you over before you get your first paycheck. It might take a while to open a bank account if you do not have your social security number.
- Bring and buy any and all necessities before you arrive here. Things in Norway are expensive. You will save bucketloads by not doing your shopping here.
- Learn Norwegian if your job needs it but you should mostly be able to get along.
How is the expat community in Oslo? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’ve not been to many expat gatherings so I don’t know. From what expat gatherings I’ve been to, there’s definitely expats here but not as many as compared to other countries. Even at work the majority of people are Norwegians, and I work at an MNC.
How would you summarize your expat life in Oslo in a single, catchy sentence?
Norsk, Pølse, Matpakke, Fjords, Vikings, Skiing, some things I dreamt of as a kid, some not, but now a reality.