In the time between buying my plane ticket, and actually getting off the plane, I had read several articles and looked at countless pictures of the country I was moving to. None of these put an inch of doubt in my mind. Lots of articles were titled “bad things about Norway,” or something similar, except it was only fake bad things like, “you’ll fall in love with the country and never want to go home.” The photos on Pinterest of Norway are stunning, and most articles on the internet are very positive. Maybe that’s why I was so rattled things didn’t work out, I had different expectations? I was absolutely miserable there. I really wanted to like this county; I was really not expecting to leave with this much negativity built up inside me.
Getting answers to any questions in person or by phone is nearly impossible. Even for EU citizens, getting a tax number requires a job contract, waiting in line for three hours at the tax office, and waiting ten business days for it to come in the mail. Then you can start work, and only after that can you try to open a bank account that takes six weeks to open. Nothing is simple, and no one seems to be able or willing to answer questions or help you.
It was also very very difficult to find work. “Oh, you’re applying for the bartending job and you have three years of bartending and serving experience? Sorry, we just hired someone who has two bachelor’s degrees, and is fluent in three languages. Thank you for your interest though, we’ll keep your CV on file.” In a smaller town, this may have been a different story. I’ve heard finding work in Oslo is difficult even for Norwegians.
This was expected, but it was still a shock to realize how expensive everything actually was here. Being from Vancouver, I wasn’t used to living in a cheap place, but I couldn’t believe how much it was to just live here. I did get used to it eventually.
We had a couple things happen to us where we ended up dealing with some very passive aggressive and simply not nice people. These situations were most likely unique to us and were only our experience, and honestly probably most of the reason we ended up leaving. We both did meet some very, very nice and helpful people, and for the most part, everyone was really friendly.
As for our living situation, it was never a secret that I didn’t want to share an apartment with someone, but I can leave this country very confident that I won’t ever have a roommate again. What we didn’t know about Norway was that most places require a five month deposit, plus the first month rent. This is why we ended up with a roommate, we weren’t prepared to drop five grand on a deposit two weeks into moving. There were a lot of cat friends in the neighbourhood though.
There were some other little things that weren’t bad, but just different. Nothing being open on Sunday’s and the very limited liquor store hours were inconvenient. It’s common in a lot of places, but at first it was hard to get used to. Public transit was expensive and never on time, and getting things like Neocitran or Melatonin was impossible because you need a prescription for anything like it.
I’m clearly a bit bitter. Am I mad that I came here? Absolutely not. Life doesn’t always work out as planned. I would love to come back and explore the west coast of Norway. I’d love to go to Bergen and up north, and I will, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Once I stepped off that plane, I feel like nothing went right. And why would I stay somewhere I’m not happy, especially when staying here is doing nothing but drain my bank account? Norway seems like a great country to visit. It’s not a bad country, but trying to do life here when you’re not Norwegian is nearly impossible. I’ll be back though, Lofoten is calling my name.
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