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From Canada to Norway: From There to Here

07 February, 2013 11:39  Erin Erin

from there to here My name is Jay and I’m a former teacher from Canada that now calls Stavanger, Norway home.

1. Why did you move abroad?
A few years ago, I was teaching full time in Northern Alberta and my husband was working for a large international company as a mechanical engineer when he was approached to move into a global position.  We found the idea of living overseas and travelling irresistible.  In July 2010, we packed up our bags and moved to Gabon, a country on the West coast of Africa.  We were so thankful for our time abroad and we knew as things were coming to an end in Gabon that we weren’t ready to move home to Canada so we accepted a second expatriation in Norway.

2. How do you make a living?
Before moving abroad, I was a teacher but now I suppose I’m known as a ‘Trailing Spouse’ in the expat world.  My husband is a mechanical engineer and he works in the oil & gas industry.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
We are so lucky to be living in an age where we have such a wide array of technology at our disposal.  I skype with my family several times a week and of course, use Facebook and email pretty regularly.  My blog has been a great way for friends and family to keep up with our travels and experiences overseas as well.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Norway?
We really love the outdoor lifestyle and the gorgeous landscapes that Norway has to offer.  It is clean and safe and the Norwegians seem to lead quite an active lifestyle.  On a nice day, people get out and enjoy the outdoors from walking & running to hiking and camping.  Norway is breathtakingly beautiful and we love being able to get out and enjoy it.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Norway?
We are pretty happy in Norway but if I had to pick the biggest pitfalls it would be the weather.  Stavanger is rainy – really rainy.  Every once in awhile, we’ll go several days without sunshine and staring at those grey skies can be a bit depressing

6. What do you miss most?
I often miss the ease of completing tasks at home.  In Canada, I know exactly where to go to find a certain product and I know who to talk to when I need something done.  Living overseas has taught me that even the simplest of things can turn out to be difficult tasks taking more time than I could ever expect.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
It has definitely been more difficult to make friends in Norway as opposed to Gabon.  While there is large expat community in Stavanger, one does have to put themselves out there to make friends and meet people.  There is a Stavanger Expats group that hosts activities throughout the week as well as an active PWC (Petroleum Wives Club) that do a great job of bringing people together.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The Norwegians (at least the ones in our area) often use a sound as a form of an agreement in conversation similar to saying “Mhmm.”  The sound itself is difficult to explain however, I am getting quite good at imitating it!  Just recently we were out for dinner and seated beside a table of several Norwegian adults and the nasal-y sound was exchanged around the table so many times that it felt like a musical production.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I think most people assume the entire country of Norway is really, really cold.  Stavanger is on the Southern coast and thus enjoys more mild temperatures than we were used to in Canada.  It just barely dips below 0ªC and we hardly see snow here.  Of course, there are areas in Norway that are much colder and snowier but the entire country is not like that.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is extremely high in Norway as compared to Canada.  Interestingly enough, we don’t find it much different than what we experienced in Gabon.  We didn’t encounter the sticker shock that most do upon arrival in Norway as we had already adjusted to a much higher cost of living in our last expatriation.  My husband’s salary is also adjusted to help accommodate for the difference.  We try not to let the cost of things dictate our entire life here all while remaining budget conscientious.  We have cut back on dining in restaurants and going out for drinks but we generally keep the same standard of living that we were accustomed to pre-expatriation.

11. What advice would you give other expats?
Moving abroad can be challenging and it’s quite easy to fall into a negative rut.  When you let yourself wallow in all of those negative thoughts, you most likely will have a negative experience.  Expect everything to be different from your home country and let yourself be pleasantly surprised when you find commonalities.  Remember how lucky you are to be learning and experiencing another culture and appreciate the time you have as it will be over before you know it!

12. When and why did you start your blog?
from there to here norway
The year before moving to Gabon when we were preparing to move overseas, I was sending out emails as a means to updating our friends and family.  I decided that it might be more effective to start a blog and launched “Into West Africa” in May 2010.  Originally, I figured only friends and family would read it but to my surprise, my audience started to grow.  The blogging community became a really great support system while overseas and I loved having a record of our thoughts, travels and experiences.  When the move from Gabon was imminent, I transferred all posts to “From There To Here” and continue to value all of the connections I’ve made through the blogging world.

Blog LinkJay's blog, From There to Here

 Guide for expatriates in Oslo, Norway

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