Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Kongsvinger, Norway
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?
None other than researching on the internet about Norwegian culture.
Moving to Norway soon?
If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?
I am still struggling with learning the language. I have a few basics but that is all. I cannot find a course on speaking Norwegian and that has made it more difficult. I tried to find a course on cd that I could learn before moving here but had no luck. The only one I could find was Northern Norwegian and that is very different from the south. There are also many variances from area to area so it is very confusing. I hope to relocate to a bigger town this summer with more opportunities to learn the language better.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
No. I have traveled all over the world and always manage to fit in. This, however, is the first time I have settled in another country permanently.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Understanding what I had to do to become registered here was difficult. The year I spent researching and emailing was pointless as none of the information was really what I needed. I came thinking I was armed with everything I would need only to find none of it was helpful to me in my situation (I am self employed).
After much visiting of offices I was lucky enough to meet a guy in the local tax office who helped me with all the forms that had no translation in English. Without him I would have been pretty lost.
As for living here amongst Norwegians it has been fine for the most part. The English and Norwegians share the same sense of humour which is a real help. They can appear to be quiet stand offish, which could be interpreted as rude by some. But without speaking the language fluently it's difficult to make any real judgment. The majority of the people I have met have been interested and very welcoming. Only a couple of people have made it very clear they don't like immigrants but that is to be expected anywhere you go.
Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?
The honeymoon phase was very evident and the irritation at not being able to get things done got a bit much sometimes (I nearly bailed out and went back to the UK at one point). My partner is still struggling more than me, she can't find work in a small town like this so having more time on here hands is harder for her. We are still struggling with it all but the roller coaster of emotions are a little smoother now. Were hoping a move to a livelier place will make a difference.
What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.
A very real irritation with not being able to get on and the lack on information. My partner has had some depression and some big bouts of homesickness. Missing the familiar things is the hardest, even if those are the things you sometimes found an irritation and a reason for relocating to another country. I would like to have drank more at points but the price of booze is astronomical here!
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Clean air and environment, they get things done in society here better than in the UK. There is a real lack of general aggression in people which is nice. Living in the London area there is always a base stress that is just part of life, that is not evident here. The lack of crime is a breath of fresh air to me.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
A hotdog here is called a polser, and a carrier bag is a pouse (I think I've spelt them right). They sound very much the same to my untrained ear and I kept thinking people on the checkouts were asking me if I wanted a hotdog while I was paying.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
When your feeling down try and remember the reason why you moved, or even make a list of the good and bad aspects of the new life you have and the old one you left.
Having an open attitude is everything and makes interactions with people all the much better.
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