Norway working holiday for Canadians: application process

So, you want to work in Norway….. 

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For young adults from Canada, there is a working holiday agreement. This is for people between the ages 18 and 36, and it will be valid for a year, and then it can be renewed, but you can only have this permit for two years total. I found there was very minimal information outside of the UDI website for the working holiday application process for Canadians, so if you’re thinking of working in Norway, my first piece of advice is to really think about it. Starting life in this country is not easy; my second piece of advice is to apply early.

One of the downfalls of the working holiday permit is that you will only be able to work for the same employer for six months. This is an issue because who wants to hire someone knowing they’re training them for only six months? On that note, try your absolute best to have work lined up before you arrive. It’s quite difficult to find work, and with the cost of living in Norway, it’s more than stressful to be without work for an extended period of time. Seasonal jobs, such as hotels, might be your best shot if you don’t speak Norwegian and aren’t trained in a specific profession (i.e. a trade or something in the healthcare field).

If you are not a skilled worker, you must apply from abroad. You cannot apply for this permit while you are in Norway. A skilled worker is someone who has a completed vocational training program of at least three years (carpenter/health worker), or completed a degree from a university (bachelors degree in engineering or nursing). If you are one of these, you can apply for the permit if you have a concrete job offer doing what you are trained for, and it must be a full time position, or at least 80%. I did not qualify as a skilled worker, so I had to apply from Canada.

The only Norwegian embassy in Canada is in Ottawa, so the Danish embassy represents Norway in Vancouver. You must make an appointment through them, and bring the signed application front page, the checklist, the application itself, and all supporting documents. If there is a page you do not need within the application forms, that must be brought with you. I didn’t fill out the “applicant is a child or minor” page, so I didn’t include it, and I was charged a fee to print it. The application fee itself came to around $350 if I remember correctly.

Along with the application, there is a checklist of things you must bring with you.

Number one: Your passport, and a copy of all used pages of the passport (including the page with your photo).

They will send your actual passport to the closest embassy. They sent mine to Ottawa, and my flight was leaving three weeks from this day. They told me I would have it back within two or three weeks; talk about stressful. If you have travel plans, be aware of this. I’m not sure what happens if you’re able to apply to a Norwegian embassy.

Number two: Two recent/new passport sized photos.

This is straight forward. Go to London Drugs and ask for passport photos. They don’t need to be stamped or signed by anyone.

Number three: Proof that you have sufficient funds to stay in Norway for three months.

31902 NOK = more or less $5000 CAN

I printed out the page from my online banking, and then took it to the bank, and got them to stamp it. Make sure your full name is shown somewhere on this page. The statement didn’t print out with my name the first time, and I had to email a document that made sure my name was by the account. I should have realized, but the online banking just didn’t show it on the page and I didn’t even think of it.

Another thing- you have to have $5000 PLUS enough to buy a flight home. I already had my return flight, so I again had to email them proof of this. I didn’t see this anywhere on the website. Because it was for over three months away, I also sent them a copy of my credit card statement showing my credit limit and that could buy a new flight if I was not approved for the permit. I don’t know if this was necessary, but you can’t be too careful.

Number four: Consent to signing medical upon entering Norway.

Just type out a letter, “To whomever it may concern,” saying that you will purchase medical insurance before you enter the country. Easy.

Number five: Documentation which shows you have somewhere to live.

My boyfriend wrote a letter similar to the medical insurance one saying that I would be staying with him and the address. He was going to be there before me, but we also included a copy of his Hungarian passport and residence card proving that he was an EU citizen and allowed to be there for longer than ninety days. This can be as simple as a hotel booking or an email from someone you know there saying you will be staying with them.

Number six: Information of your intentions of staying in Norway.

Another letter. Mine just said I was studying through online courses from my university in Canada, and I want to travel in Norway and want to be able to work to fund my stay.

More tips…

  • Sign all of these letters and make sure your name is on them (duh).
  • If you’re unsure about whether you should bring a document to the appointment, do it anyway. If it’s not needed they will tell you.
  • Apply early. It took my application just over four weeks to come back approved, and by this time I was already in Norway. After this, you have to make an appointment with the police to actually get your residence card and to be able to work, but the soonest appointment for the area I lived in was six weeks away. If I had applied earlier, I could have made the appointment, and gone to it earlier upon arriving. From what I’ve heard, appointments with the police are always a long wait because there are so many people immigrating to Norway.
  • You’re supposed to go to the police within seven days, but if there are no available appointments, it’s just whenever you can get one. This stressed me out because I had been there for a month and thought I had to go to the police station within the first week. And I tried to…. lol. They just sent me on my way. To get an appointment, find the police station in the district you live in and email to ask for one. I think for some of the stations you can book online too.
  • Getting answers from anyone on the phone is extremely difficult in my experience. I had better luck emailing UDI because the people who answer their phone do not seem very helpful. It takes a while for them to reply to emails though. Also, calling the Norwegian embassy or the Canadian embassy (in Oslo), is useless. I was desperate for answers, because I was leaving so soon and was rather stressed out, but only UDI can really help you.
  • Even if your application is in process, you can still be in Norway for three months. This was what I was worried about. I thought I was going to be sent back at customs because my flight home was over three months away, and I had not yet been approved for the permit. It was fine, I just told customs I would be there for 90 days unless I was approved for the visa I applied for.
  • Do your research on moving to Norway. Are you expecting to drop around $5000 as a deposit for your apartment? Because most places want five or six months deposit plus your first month’s rent right off the bat. Are you prepared for the insane cost of living, to go on a wild goose chase finding work, and to dive into this strange (but beautiful) country?

If I’m being honest, I didn’t do enough research before moving to Norway. It was actually quite a difficult experience, but that’s okay- learn from me. I hope this post can be useful to someone. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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10 reasons to visit Oslo, Norway

I know I said I hated this city. I don’t think it’s the city itself that I hated, but other factors that just happened while I was there; the reasons I needed out were not the city’s fault. There’s good in everything, and there’s good in this city. I should give it some credit.

In no particular order, here are some things that would be worth going back for.

1. Smoky BBQ Fajita Seasoning

We brought a bunch of taco and fajita seasoning with us because we weren’t sure if it would be easy to find in Norway, but every grocery store had a massive Mexican section. This kind was SO GOOD. I’ve never seen it in Canada or any other grocery stores. Fajita bowls were a staple meal for me in Norway thanks to this seasoning.

2. It’s pretty

The buildings are a mix of modern and old, and I love architecture. The Opera House, the pier, the view from my bedroom, the Barcode area, there’s something nice to look at anywhere you go. It really is a gorgeous city, and clean too.

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Oslo Barcode

3. I felt safe

I didn’t feel unsafe here when by myself, even at night, and I don’t think I can say that about a lot of places.

4. Everyone speaks English

I wasn’t expecting this, and it made life a lot easier here because I didn’t need to struggle with the language barrier.

5. Lots of things to do

From outdoor activities, museums, and shopping, this city has you covered. I did almost every tourist activity there was to do in my time there.

 

Holmenkollen

Holmenkollen

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Opera House

Opera House

6. Lots of dogs

So many dogs and they were allowed on public transit and in most stores. This made me happy because I missed my dog. Why isn’t Vancouver more dog friendly?

7. Nature

You’re really close to nature everywhere you go. A short train, ferry, or bus ride, and you’ll find a hike or some type of view to look at. It reminded me of Vancouver in this way.

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

Hovedøya

8. The police ride horses

I don’t know why, but I love this.

9. People don’t smoke

One thing I hate about Europe is that everyone smokes and it’s hard to avoid the smell of it on patios and crowded streets. Chew is way more popular in Norway so this isn’t an issue here.

10. Most people were friendly

I’ve been places where locals have been rude to those who don’t speak their language. Most people were nice and happy to speak English, and we met some great people.

Oslo has some great things to offer if you were to visit for a few days, or even a week. I have a couple posts in previous months about all of the touristy things Oslo has to offer. I’m a bit upset I didn’t stick around long enough to watch ski jumping or take the train to Bergen, but hey, I can always go back.

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I hated Oslo: what no one tells you before moving to Norway

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 implying it would tell me negative things, 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.

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look how cold it looks

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 no one will ever live with me again, unless it’s a boyfriend or has four legs and fur. 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.

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The view wasn’t bad- walking up the hill to the apartment was the bad part

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.

Opera House

taken on my first day (when I still had hope of being happy in Oslo)

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. Maybe in a little while I will come to appreciate some things about this place more than I do now. I’ll be sure to write a “not awful things about Oslo” post when they come to me.

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(More) Things to do in Oslo, Norway

I can now say that I have done pretty much every tourist activity in this city. I’m lucky it’s been really sunny the past few days or else these activities would have sucked.

The Vigeland Park, is the world’s largest sculpture park made by one artist, Gustav Vigeland. There are more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron, and I couldn’t even count how many dogs I saw here. It was magical, and also free. I will not lie, these sculptures made me a bit uncomfortable. Art is weird, but this park was a nice place to waste an afternoon.

After that, we got a pastry so I could stuff my face with while waiting for the ferry. Very typical.

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Skoleboller

We went to Hovedøya Island, a short ferry ride from Aker Brygge. We got off the ferry and realized we had no idea what was on this island, and I was yet again wearing impractical footwear. Looking around at everyone getting off the boat, they were all wearing hiking boots or runners. I couldn’t help but feel judged for my (really cute) wedge boots. This island has forests, two beaches, and ruins of a Cistercian Monastery from 1147. There are two cannon batteries from 1808 and two gunpowder depots from when the island belonged to the Norwegian army. History is fun!!

Ruins

This would be a nice spot to go for a run, except for the ferry you have to take to get there. It’s too bad there wasn’t somewhere you could get a coffee on this island, because a girl can only walk around on uneven trails for so long in heels. We left after a half an hour or so.

And then onto the museums…

We went to the Viking Ship Museum first, and the tickets to that give you free entry to the Historical Museum within 48 hours. Score!! I liked the Viking Museum a lot, I went to a viking settlement in Newfoundland a few years ago and this was quite different, but pretty interesting. They were just really good at carving things out of wood.

After that, we went to the Armed Forces Museum, which was free. This museum is awesome and massive. I had a hard time getting my history nerd boyfriend out of here.

The Historical Museum had something for everyone. There were mummies, cool rocks, everything! There were even some Native American things from Vancouver. If you go to the Vikings, you may as well go to this one too.

We went to the National Art Gallery and saw the Scream painting… Go through this gallery in order, we went through it backwards, then realized we missed the Scream, and had to go hunt for it.

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Scream

And last was City Hall, not really a museum, but I was blown away by the inside of this building.

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We went to an antique store to find cool things, but didn’t have much luck. There’s tons of museums in this city we haven’t made it to yet, but I think I’ve had enough museums for the next little while, I didn’t realize how exhausting they were.

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things to do in oslo

Visiting Oslo on a Budget: Things to do, see, and eat

If you haven’t gathered, this country is expensive. Living is expensive, doing things is expensive, going out is expensive, except there are some things to do that aren’t so bad. They mostly involve looking at things outside. If you want through doors it will cost you..

If you’re coming to Oslo just for a weekend, get the Oslo Pass. It includes transit and gives you entry to almost all the museums. We’re planning on getting it one of these weekends and going to every museum and getting all the knowledge.

These things are only really fitting when it’s not raining because no one wants to walk around looking at things outside if it’s not a decent day out.

The Opera House

 

I was pretty blown away by this building. You can walk on the roof; there’s a nice view of the water, the ferries, and the pier. I think you can look inside for free too, but I didn’t. The architecture is amazing, my only question is how do they keep the roof so goddam white? Phenomenal.

Aker Brygge

 

This is where the Starbucks is that I go to and get kind of cheap beers and do homework. It’s on the pier and you can walk around and look at all the boats you can’t afford. The ferry also leaves from here. There are usually food trucks, some fancy looking restaurants, and the Nobel Peace Centre.

Hollmenkollen

Holmenkollen

Holmenkollen- ski jump

GO HERE. It is a must, go read my other post all about it.

Karl Johan’s Gate

The walking/shopping street- only free if you have self control around stores. People watching is always free though. Also, the best kebab place we could find is close by. It’s called Dronningens Kebab. They do this thing with their onions, 10/10 recommend. 

Akershus Fortress 

 

This is a medieval castle that was built to protect Oslo, and has also been used as a royal residential palace and as a prison. It’s another place you can walk around and look at things for free. There’s a restaurant and the resistance museum is here; also a good spot to find dogs to pet.

Mathallen Food Hall

We all know how much I enjoy grocery stores, and this place is paradise to me. So many specialty shops and cafes to look at. I can easily go here and spend a while looking at things, all the food looks amazing. Lots of local things are sold, and not just food.

We cook almost every night because it’s cheaper to buy groceries than go out (duh). To go out for a beer you’ll find yourself paying double what you’d pay in Vancouver, and honestly, the cheapest place to get a beer seems to be Starbucks, or the Stargate. But I don’t recommend the Stargate, it’s by far the sketchiest dive bar I’ve ever experienced. If you’re really struggling, just go to IKEA for food. It’s dirt cheap just like Canada, and who doesn’t love hot dogs and froyo?

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oslo on a budget

Oslo, Norway: grocery store finds

I love grocery stores and not just in different counties. I can’t even begin to explain how happy I’d be going to the grocery store at home (with my parents money of course). I LOVE LOOKING AT ALL THE THINGS. You can imagine how much time I waste in grocery stores in new countries that have new things to look at.

From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the Norwegian staples are brown cheese, Grandiosa pizza, and Melkesjokolade chocolate. The brown cheese is surprisingly not bad, it tastes like a sweeter version of cheddar and looks like a block of frozen peanut butter. Grandiosa pizza tastes cheap and like bagel bites, not pizza. I broke down and bought one of the tiny versions of the chocolate bars and yeah, it was good. I’m not blown away though.

Condiments- why are they all in tubes? When I was dieting fairly seriously, mustard was my go to. I put it on literally every single thing I ate because it has very few calories. Can someone please explain to me why the mustard in this country has 120 calories per serving? It’s witchcraft and not okay with me. Another thing I can’t wrap my head around is the bacon flavoured mayonnaise. I hate mayo with a passion. I can’t imagine this would taste good to anyone, even if they liked mayo. Hot dog sauce? Is this a fancy word for mayo? So many questions.

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condiments in tubes

I’ve stumbled upon lefsa in the grocery stores, and you cannot seriously tell me that the lefsa they sell in packages in the grocery stores is real. It probably tastes like garbage. Grandma would not approve, therefore, I will not be buying it.

lefsa

not in this lifetime

There are the biggest range of fish items. Canned fished meatballs (wtf), fish cakes, fish balls, shrimp, you name it. If there’s a dead fish involved, you can find it at the grocery store, and you can bet I’ll try none of these.

 

 

The (local) jams that I’ve tried are really good, not as good as Grandma’s, but good for store bought. I’ve yet to try the “cloudberry” jam, but that’s because I didn’t realize it wasn’t called cloudberry in Norwegian. I saw it in the store today since I knew what I was looking for, and it was super expensive (surprise surprise) so I’ll bring some home when I’ve had enough of this country.

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one third of the jam section

The Asian and Mexican food sections are all massive at the grocery stores. Stuff like that is not hard to find. We brought a bunch of taco and fajita seasoning with us, but it was not necessary. I think the BBQ flavoured fajita mix they sell here is better than what they sell in Canada. It’s cheap too, I might be bringing some home.

I don’t notice a huge difference in price while grocery shopping at home compared to here for most things, and the only thing I can’t find here that I’m missing is clamato juice. This girl needs a caesar in the worst way. Maple syrup is over the MOON expensive and they don’t even sell the cheap fake stuff. Why do I need maple syrup? I really don’t, but you bet I will complain about it (eh).

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure if living here (except for going out to eat/buying booze) is actually way more expensive than it is at home. Maybe I’m just used to being a child and having my parents do all my grocery shopping. Either way, it’s shocking moving away and realizing how much is actually spent on food, ESPECIALLY when we’re on that chicken and white rice 92% of the time diet and have yet to go out for food. Kebab’s and Ikea don’t count.

Foreign grocery stores are fascinating, and I’ll be sure to spend an obscene amount of time in any one that I come across.

Things I’ve noticed after one month in Norway

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This country is lovely, the people are lovely, it’s beautiful here, but it is weird. I talked about some strange things I noticed in my first week here, but I’ve experienced more of the culture, and met more people, and noticed some things that I’ve never noticed at home.

Not finishing highschool

This is so weird to me. Highschool is so easy, everyone finishes highschool at home. It’s not a question. It’s very very common for people to not have their diploma here though.

Runners

Okay, maybe this is coming from the boot obsession I have, but everyone wears running shoes. Even when they’re dressed up, they’ll wear an otherwise fine looking outfit and then throw on a dirty pair of running shoes that look seven years old. Even men who are wearing suits toss on a pair of running shoes with it. Comfort first I guess? I will not be falling into this trend, I can tell you that for free.

Waffles

Instead of popcorn and hot dogs at the rink, they serve waffles that you put jam on, fold in half, and eat with your hands. I can get on board with this one.

Chew

Everyone chews- even girls- I’m judging them.

Nothing happens quickly or on time

Four weeks to get an appointment to pickup the Visa that took four weeks to get approved for. Ten days to get a tax number that you can only get when you have a work contract. Four to six weeks to get a bank account that you can only do online and after you get the tax number. Busses are either early or late. Really annoying for someone as impatient as me.

Vegetables

Two parts to this: A- it’s hard to find decent produce. B- everything’s individually wrapped in plastic, dumb.

I’m curious as to what weird things people notice about Canada when they visit. I mean, there’s gotta be a few things I don’t realize since I live there.

Holmenkollen: the famous ski jump in Oslo, Norway

The other day we went exploring in Holmenkollen to look at the ski jump. And let me tell you, it’s far more intimidating in person than the TV or pictures tell you. I mean, what kind of person does this sport. It’s insane. This place holds 70 thousand spectators and held the 1952 Winter Olympics. It’s a very beautiful train ride, not long from the city, and there’s a cafe, a museum and a ski jump simulator. One of these weekends, we’re going to get the Oslo Pass which will give us entry to most museums, including this one, so we will be back. This post will be mainly photos, as this day was mainly walking around.

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I swear it looks way steeper and scarier in person.

If you keep walking, there’s a roller ski track (I still think it’s funny that’s a thing here), and then you find the smaller ski jump, and then the baby ski jumps that I guess they learn on, and honestly the one we were sitting at the top of still looked terrifying.

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Directly across from the big jump, there’s the trolls! I think the trolls were 80% of the reason I wanted to go up here… But everything here was definitely well worth it.

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If you’re visiting Oslo, make visiting the ski jump a priority. It’s a bit out of the way, but by far one of the best places in the city.

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holmekollen

My first week in Oslo!!!

I have spent one week in Oslo. My apartment still doesn’t have wifi. Our fridge isn’t working. We went to IKEA three times in my first two days to get a bed, dresser, and other things (a fur carpet being one). Our apartment is on a massive hill, and I’m not exaggerating. I’m out of breath by the time I get to the top. City’s nice though.

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my cute little bedroom

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the view from my cute bedroom

Today we went and explored the castle and the Resistance Museum. There’s a Starbucks on the pier that’s nice to do homework at. The view from our bedroom window is beautiful. I could definitely get used to this place.

 

A few things I’ve noticed in the week I’ve been here…

  • the busses have seat belts (weird)
  • everyone drinks a mind-blowing amount of pop
  • IKEA hot dogs are just as cheap as in Canada
  • NOTHING is free
  • the buildings are a mix of ancient, or very modern
  • everyone speaks English (I was shocked)
  • THERE ARE SO MANY TESLAS. EVERYONE HAS A TESLA.
  • I can’t afford to get drunk in this country.

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I’m just happy to be here.