All cultures have their written codes, but primarily unwritten ones. It isn’t easy for newcomers, travelers, or immigrants in Norway to see them at first sight. We need time, perseverance, interest, and willingness to understand them. Also, a good knowledge of the Norwegian language is necessary.
The book is about the untold things of Norwegian society and culture. You can find it on Amazon. Why Northern Norway? Because I have been living in Tromsø, Norway, for almost 20 years. All this time spent here helps me describe the subtleties and nuances of Norwegian culture. Many Norwegians do not know how to clarify details of life and work because, for them, they are natural. They were born and grew up with them and never needed to explain them to someone; that’s why it’s hard for them to put words to behaviors and actions that, for them, are implicit. Just as in your own culture, there are many details that you do not know how to describe in words because they are implied, you were born and raised in them, and therefore you do not even think that they could be incomprehensible to those who come from other countries.
Many immigrants come to Norway fascinated by nature and the social system. Behind this social system, the well-being and the lifestyle that can be seen at first glance, there are many years of tradition, planning, and action that cannot be seen and are difficult to understand when they are not explained. This book describes some of the logic behind what you see. It can be helpful to know ahead what to expect.
In this article, I choose to speak about ENVY in the context of immigration and multiculturalism.
I know it may not be fashionable to speak about less positive feelings, yet I choose to speak about them because we cannot have positive feelings without feeling the less happy ones. Life is not only sugar and honey. We can get sick of so much sweetness. Feeling the salt, sower, and bitter tastes can make life more interesting.
Envy is a feeling we have known very well since we were children. We were envious of the other toddler’s toy, and even if many other toys surrounded us, we wanted precisely that one the other kid was playing with.
This feeling follows us all our lives in various situations. And, since I like to be clear, I looked up the definitions of Envy.
It can be a noun and means: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
Or it can be a verb and means: desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable thing belonging to (someone else).
So, we deal with unhappiness provoked by comparing ourselves with other people’s success, qualities, and possessions.
Here is an article that explores the origins of this feeling in a much deeper sense.
When it comes to people who travel to live abroad for longer, shorter, or permanents periods, I find that this feeling of Envy can occur because of the comparison between three big categories of people:
People who are locals, and people who are immigrants/expats;
Immigrants/expats among themselves;
People married into the new country and locals, or people who married into the country among themselves.
I will explain what I mean by giving examples for each category.
A. Locals envious of immigrants:
Suppose we think of the immigrants who are refugees. Which means they have escaped their home countries because of war.
We can think about Envy, which occurs among some locals who see immigrants who are coming as refugees. If the government of that country has friendly politics towards immigrants, it will offer a lot of help to the refugees. It will have programs to help them learn the language, help them get jobs, and even give them housing and an amount of money they can live by for a specific time.
Some locals are going to be envious. Why? Because they may feel it is unfair that the refugees are getting so much help, which is paid by the taxes the majority of the locals pay. From some local’s point of view, these people coming from strange shores are getting something without doing anything and may not understand why. They may not know much about the wars in these refugees’ countries; therefore, they may have little tolerance. It may be challenging to understand the reasons behind the action of fleeing, even if that is war, when people have had a safe upbringing sheltered by war.
Suppose we go beyond the refugee category and consider all the immigrants in a country. Some locals will feel envious of the foreigners’ jobs, and we may hear affirmations like “these foreigners are taking our jobs”. At the same time, some of these locals are unwilling to do those jobs because they may be too hard to do either physically or intellectually. Moreover, not all people in a country are getting an education. Therefore, if some special skills are needed, the companies in need of those skills will bring people from abroad to do the job because they couldn’t find what they were looking for among the locals.
Sometimes leaders of companies prefer to get in new people from other countries and break some patterns within the organizational culture. When people work in the same team for many years, they become so familiar with routines that it can be hard to develop new ideas. Therefore, new and fresh eyes from abroad can either refresh the group or shake it a bit, just like splashing fresh water on the face in the morning, to help wake up.
Three things may happen when a foreigner is brought into an already formed group.
It may be that the older members will work together to assimilate the foreigner and persuade him/her into the same thinking patterns.
The group’s older members will stick together against the new ideas and the foreigner.
Suppose the older members of the group do not get along. In that case, the third thing that could happen is: that they will use the shared experience of the foreigner in the group to bring them together by having him/her as a person and the new ideas that are brought in as a conversation topic. The foreigner may not be unaware of this process since he/she doesn’t have the history of the place. He or she unknowingly may bring the group together.
B. The layer of Envy among immigrants/expats groups has many under categories.
– between immigrants/expats who were there before and those who just came;
– between immigrants/expats who receive help from the government in the new country and those who don’t;
– between immigrants/expats who receive a residence permit easier and those who are not allowed to stay without significant reasons;
– between immigrants/expats who happen to have issues with the religion or skin color of other immigrants;
– between immigrants/expats who have jobs and who don’t;
– between immigrants/expats who didn’t manage to speak the local language at a good enough level so they could have good jobs and those who did use time, money, and effort to learn it and to have good jobs;
– between immigrants/expats who have higher education and those without. Yet, in today’s world, when we have the internet and access to a lot of information, people can become specialists in a field without necessarily having a degree.
– between immigrants from the same country who perhaps belong to different social classes. If someone from a lower class succeeds in the new country, which offers more opportunities to everybody, then people who belong to a higher class in the country of origin may not like it.
I am sure there may be even more layers and shades of envy among immigrant groups.
C: Spouses. People who are married into the new country.
Locals can consider that people from other countries are just taking their men and women, and it feels unfair, especially if one has been struggling with finding a partner. One example you can find in this inteview.
Among immigrants, this can also be a subject of envy because it depends on why people marry into the country. Was it love, or was it a necessity and the marriage was used as a ticket to emigrate?
I am sure we all met this kind of marriage, and we also know that many of them can break apart as soon as a residence permit is obtained or citizenship. If this category of people feel like being married to a person they didn’t really like, they have sacrificed years of their lives so they can have the chance to live free in a free country, they may be envious of those who didn’t have to pay this price.
I have been asked this question many times. My reason was love as well. I loved myself enough to believe I deserved a better education in a different educational system.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Envy is a very complex feeling that we experience since childhood in our families. We will have more or fewer resources to handle it, depending on how it was managed at the time and the support each of us has received from the adults responsible for our upbringing. Nothing more, nothing less.
The next step would be to work with it, acknowledge it and, put a name on it, speak about how you feel and what would be your reasons.
Are there any other layers of Envy you can think about?
Please share them in a comment below or tell them to me, in a private conversation, by clicking on this link.
This talk is about children who move places together with their parents. They move houses, and schools and change colleagues and friends.
It is a talk about small immigrants, and about third culture kids, and what parents can do to make them feel safe through the process and through the changes.
About children who do not move towns and countries because they choose themselves, yet because they are following the grown-ups in their lives.
Crossing cultures can be easy for some and more challenging for others, the same with transitions through foreign languages and school systems. Listen to the podcast with Coach T, he is doing great with children.
Mange virksomheter er avhengig av utenlandsk arbeidskraft og arbeidsinnvandringen har økt jevnt og trutt etter grensene åpnet opp igjen etter pandemien. I dagens arbeidsmarked er vi heldige som fortsatt har noe arbeidsinnvandring, og det kan være mange årsaker til at noen med en annen nasjonal bakgrunn velger å bo og jobbe i Norge.
Vi vet at det kan være vanskelig å få seg jobb i Norge hvis du er ny i landet vårt og spesielt hvis du ikke snakker norsk språk. Men det er mange flere utfordringer enn språk når du skal begynne å jobbe i et nytt land. Det er aldri enkelt å være ny på jobben, men hvis du i tillegg er ny til norsk kultur og arbeidsliv, så øker kompleksiteten betraktelig.
I denne episoden, sammen med Anne Lise Heide, tar vi for oss kulturelt mangfold på jobben og ser på hva som kan være kritiske suksessfaktorer på din arbeidsplass hvis dere har arbeidstakere med en annen kulturell bakgrunn.
Nøkkelen til å lykkes med mangfold og inkludering ligger i kunnskap, og i denne podcasten vil du få innsikt i hva som kan være ulogisk og vanskelig å forstå for utenlandske arbeidstakere, slik at din virksomhet kan tilby bedre og smartere onboardingprogrammer, og kanskje også litt bedre ledelse for mennesker som skal lære seg å manøvrere i norsk arbeidsliv.
Many foreigners would like to work in Norway, yet they do not speak Norwegian. It is possible, and I know many people who have lived here for many years without even trying to learn the language.
Up to 60 years old, Norwegians speak good enough English, and many want to keep practicing it. Therefore, they won’t talk Norwegian back to you. Of course, if there are more Norwegians in a group and they had dinner and a drink, they will switch to Norwegian and leave you outside of the conversation. If you don’t mind this behavior, then you’re fine.
When it comes to working life, it depends on the employer. Here are 5 fields where you can get a job without speaking Norwegian:
1. Hospitality industry don’t require Norwegian since there are a lot of tourists who are the customers.
If it is in cleaning, you do not have many people to speak with, since you primarily work alone.
Waiter in a restaurant or a pub, you will also be OK with English, and as I mentioned, most Norwegian speak excellent English, especially if they have been drinking. If they were shy at speaking it while sober, they wouldn’t have a problem speaking it after a glass or two. This detail reminds me of the advice I also got when I moved here, and I was asking about the fastest way to learn Norwegian. The answer was: “Go out in the evenings, have a drink or two and start speaking with Norwegians. You’ll be fascinated to see how fast you’re learning”.
Going back to the waiter job, there is this Italian Pizzeria in Tromsø, called Casa Inferno which is looking for people. If you’re interested in living in the Northern Most big city of the Arctic, give it a try and send them a CV and a letter of intention. You find them on this FB page. Otherwise, you can check this FB group called Servitør-Kokk-Bartender where there are many offers lately since this is an industry that suffers the most after Covid.
Bakeries and pastries can be also good places, and if you have a recognized diploma in the field is even better.
A tourist guide is also a possibility, especially if you speak several languages. You will learn what you need to say, and there are big chances that you will also be speaking your native language to tourists.
2. Construction companies are running mainly on foreign labor since people are lacking in Norway now. Therefore, the number of people is decreasing, especially those of working age, especially in the North of Norway. Read more about it in this article.
3. IT – Computer world is international. Therefore English is the primary programming language. Here it also depends on the employer and how much they demand you. Some may pay for Norwegian courses, and I suggest you take the offer and learn as much as possible. I know many people who regret not doing so when they have been offered the chance.
Here there are several companies that hire students who only speak English: Equinor, Subsea7, DNV, Yara, SAP, ELOP, Norsk Hydro. Click on the name of each of them and see where they take you and where you can apply for an internship or a job.
4. International companies:
Sales or production can have international teams and offices in many countries, and often English will be the working language.
Another field can also be the oil and gas industry: from building the oil platforms to maintaining them, securing them, and all the software that comes with controlling them. The pipes transporting the gas underwater or underground must also be built, maintained, controlled, etc. Here are some examples: Petoro, Eni, Lundin, etc.
To find these jobs, the easiest way is to do a simple google search on “English-speaking jobs in Norway”. You can be creative with the search words according to your wish. It can take you quite far.
5. Education and research. Many universities and research institutes in Norway have PhD positions and research or teaching positions in English.
Natural science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, ecology, environment, etc. are the research fields where there is the most demand of people. For some reason, this area is widely international.
The best site you find this kind of job in Norway is Jobbnorge, and you can check all the universities and research institutions about their availabilities.
They will require a three-year bachelor’s and a master’s degree, with a minimum C grade. Also, all the documents need to be translated into English and verified by an accredited translator.
If you get accepted, it will also be easy to obtain a skilled worker visa since the employer is a university that needs you for their research, which means only you have the skills the research project needs.
You have far better chances of finding something in a smaller town and the North of Norway. I like to compare the North of Norway with the Wild West in American movies. That raw area of a country has many possibilities because it is far away, and you need a lot of guts to make a life there. Therefore, I welcome you to Wild Wild North, where you can get help finding a job. More details can see in this article.
Even before you start the process of finding a job in Norway, it is good for you to learn the hidden social codes nobody talks about because they can get you far on the work market. You can find them in my free newsletter, which you can register for here. Or, you can read about them in my book, which you can read about here and order here.
If there are other areas you think you can work in that, do not require Norwegian and a good knowledge of the internal social codes and systems, let me know in a comment.
And if you found a job in Norway, only speaking English, my strong suggestion would be to start learning Norwegian as soon as possible. The more years you’ve been living in Norway, and you do not speak the language, the harder will be for you to get access to better jobs and to grow within the society. Even if it seems like “all Norwegians speak English,” it is still a second language for them as well, and they will always prefer Norwegian among themselves. And then you’ll feel excluded.
A simple search online will take to several teachers who are teaching Norwegian online, for a fee, of course. If you are a working immigrant in Norway, you’re supposed to cover all expenses yourself, including the one about learning the language. It is a significant advantage if you speak some upon arrival.
Best of luck in your job hunt in Norway!
PS! If you want to hear more about how to think when you decide to move to a different country, you can watch this webinar, and even more, if you check this page.
If you are in the process of getting a job in Norway, there are a few things you should know about the work contract you need to sign.
First, you need to have the identity number and a Norwegian bank account. Do not even think of working without having these two in place because you are asking to be abused by careless employers if you do. It is also your responsibility to care for your work conditions when it comes to employment law, duties, and rights. It shows that you are interested and know what you stand for. It is best if you also have a valid work permit.
At the same time, a contract can also help you get both the ID number and the bank account if you come from the EU or other areas of the world and are a skilled worker. Find more information about it here.
To work in Norway without a valid work permit can lead to expulsion. It means you’ll be chased out of Norway. In addition, the employer who chooses to use people without proper permits can be punished with fines and prison.
The contract should be signed latest one month after you start working. Yet, it is best if you sign it before. Since Norway is a society based on trust, if you have your identification number in place and the Norwegian bank account, it can be acceptable to start before that. Do your homework and do some research about the company hiring you. How serious they are and if people working there are content with their leaders.
The contract should contain the following information:
Trade name and description of the tasks you’ll have to perform. Some may be vague and expect some changes within the frame of the working task. This allows your employer to make use of your abilities inside the company. It can be a good thing, and it will enable you to also come up with ideas that are not listed in the contract. It is important to know that you can use this argument when it is time to renegotiate your salary. Usually, you can do this in your annual performance meeting (medarbeidersamtale), yet there can be other appropriate times.
A time limit. When the contract starts and when it ends. If it is a permanent position, it will say that it is “fast stilling”. Temporary work can be up to four years. Be careful here because I have seen contracts that say, “hourly based permanent contract”, which can sound like an exclusivity contract. If the company needs you, they will call you, yet there is no guarantee. Make sure those “details” are clearly explained.
How long is your notice if you resign or are fired. It can be from one month to three months.
Trial period. A time, usually six months, in which you can see if the company likes you, your work, and if you fit into the work environment, and just as much if you like the company, your work there, and the work environment
How much holiday do you have the right to? Usually, it is 25 working days – five weeks.
How many hours a day you’re supposed to work. The standard rate is 40 hours for 7 days/max 9 hours a day. Each trade has its overtime rules. Please get familiar with those rules. The best way to do it is to join a union. You can read about more reasons of why it is good to join a union here.
When you are supposed to work: during daytime, shifts, night, etc
Where you’re working: an office, will you be traveling from place to place, etc.
Your salary which the law can regulate “tarifavtaler”. A union can also help you here as well.
The date of the month you’re going to be paid.
Always, always read the contract before you sign it. If you do not understand the language, ask for help. Do not sign something you don’t know what it says.
Do not accept to work while you do not have a Norwegian bank account and receive the paycheck in some other people’s accounts. No matter how good friends they may be.
In addition, your employer needs to do some things:
Must declare you in the employee’s register (A-registeret) and pay taxes for you.
The employer also needs to keep your tax money from your salary and pay them to the government.
Needs to pay you at a specific date in the work contract. The money should come into YOUR bank account: not in cash or nature, or whatever else their creativity may allow.
Make sure you get a document with your income every month (lønnslip).
At the end of the year must send you a document in which it is listed your annual income, how much you’ve paid in taxes and how much holiday money you have accumulated Årsoppgave).
If you don’t get all that, then something is wrong. And, by the way, this what it should be stated in the work contract everywhere in the world.
On the other hand, as an employee with a contact, you also have some duties.
Respect the working time.
You cannot travel to visit your country of origin whenever you want; you need to make sure that you discuss that with your leader. Your holiday also depends on your colleagues, because if you’re a part of a team, then your absence will affect them.
First-year of work, you don’t have paid holiday. If you decide to take it, you won’t be paid for it.
Contribute to the work environment by who you are and what you know how to do as a person. Make sure you have some hobbies you can talk about and interests on you free time. Those will get you far in building friendships. You can read more about how to make Norwegian friends here.
About how you get to the contract, you find more details on Work In Norway site. Click on it and you will get more info. And if you want to try your luck in one of the most remote and exotic city in the Arctic, click here.
P.S. If you want to know more about the unspoken details in the Norwegian culture you can sign up for my “Norwegian Letters” free newsletter here, or you can order my bookhere.
One thousand four hundred eighty-eight (1488) vacancies and an unemployment rate of 1,2% in Tromsø today (April 27th 2022) indicate an enormous need for skills. Vacancies you can find here: www.arbeidsplassen.no , or on Heia Norge. Click the link and even if you don’t understand much Norwegian, you can guess the names of the companies advertising there, use google translate, and see what’s in store for you.
NAV Tromsø has a free course on looking for jobs and writing CVs and letters of intent.
The course is intended for people outside EØS, yet it is open to everybody for the moment since there are available spots. The course is in Norwegian, yet NAV will ensure you have an interpreter if you need it. Therefore, it will be an advantage if you apply early to get a spot and an interpreter.
It is designed to be followed from Monday to Thursday from 12:00 to 15:00, for four weeks, as follows:
This is a rare chance to get this kind of intensive help in your job search process. You will be applying for real jobs, you’ll get the right language in place and you’ll also get interview training. IT’S ALL FOR FREE!
You also need to be in Tromsø so you can follow it. If you can plan ahead, you’ll be here for the fall, and you can join from August.
If you are in the process of getting the job and signing the contract, you find information about what the work contract should include here.
If you have a company that needs to hire, NAV Tromsø has also created a direct number for you so you can get in touch with them and get more information on how you can proceed to include more people in your working life: 407 29 746. It is essential to look around at unemployment and see refugees and others outside working life as an essential resource for business.
You also find good help as a business if you join the Chamber of Comerce and/or NHO Arktis. Speaking Norwegian is an advantage though, in this process.
PS. If you are interested in social life and unwritten social codes, feel free to sign up for my newsletter on Life in Norwayhere
We are all PEOPLE, and some may argue that we are ALL THE SAME.
At the same time, the FAMILY, and the CULTURAL CONTEXT we are born and raised in work like a FILTER we see the world through, for the REST OF OUR LIVES.
In “Truth @ Work” podcast, led by Christi Scarrow, I am speaking about some of the FILTERS I see in the multicultural environments I walk through every day.
These FILTERS could be used and applied by each leader leading a multicultural team. Seeing your team members as the humans they are, with all that they bring with them regardless of if it is written in their CVs or not, can be the key to a loyal, productive, and well-motivated team.