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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Bergen, Norway

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Bergen

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

No, I did not receive it. Me and my wife prepare ourselves for this trip reading all that we found on the internet about Norway.

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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?

Yes, they speak English and Norwegian (in my city they speak Bøkmal). I started learning Norwegian through livemocha.com and I am going to start our course of Norwegian on the 24 of January.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

Yes, but for good. We are running from a very dangerous place to one of the safest places in the world. And they have very different costumes.

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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Big, but we can live with it. The hard part is the economy part. Finding a job without talking Norwegian is not easy, but neither is it impossible.

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?

Yes. I am on the honeymoon phase.

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.

We eat more food maybe because of the cold. No depression nor anxiety.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Responsible persons. Everyone here is very respectful about each other and to the nature, too. And they also are extremely organized.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Find a job without knowing how to maintain a conversation on Norwegian... because you can talk in english, but... c'mon, this is not the United States, nor England. This is Norway, and you should talk Norwegian.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Not yet. But I have been living here just one week!

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Yes: not only use wikipedia or wikitravel to get information about the place that you are going. Try to find blogs of persons that live there, or sites like couchsurfing.com to contact directly the persons and ask for specific subjects about culture, costumes, places to live, prices and so on.

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