“ENVY” AS immigrants/expats

woman in white and pink polo shirt sitting beside woman in black and white stripe shirt
woman in white and pink polo shirt sitting beside woman in black and white stripe shirt
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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:

  1. People who are locals, and people who are immigrants/expats; 
  2. Immigrants/expats among themselves;
  3. 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.

  1. It may be that the older members will work together to assimilate the foreigner and persuade him/her into the same thinking patterns.
  2.  The group’s older members will stick together against the new ideas and the foreigner. 
  3. 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.


Parents influence in children – multicultural, Multiracial environments

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.

Click this link to listen to the podcast.

Happy listening!

HR-PODDEN om arbeidsinnvandring

white dandelion flower shallow focus photography
white dandelion flower shallow focus photography
Photo by Nita on Pexels.com

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. 

Her er lenke til HR-poden.

Hvis du er nysgjering på mer, kan du også bestille boken min her.

5 areas in Norway where you can work only speaking English

Tromsø view from Fløya Mountain on a cloudy day – Photo by Gabriela Sirbu

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. Try stalheim.com hotel. They usually need season workers from May to end of September.

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.

Another restaurant chain which is growing and needs people is Olivia. Click on the name and it will take to their “career” page where they advertise what positions they have available. The page is in Norwegian, yet you will figure out the e-mail address and the phone number so you can contact them.

I also see that SUMO restaurants are hiring, perhaps you’ve already seen their advert on FB.

Living in Tromsø I also happen to know that Scandic Hotels needs people. Walk in with CV and application letter, and see what’s happening. Otherwise, you can check this FB group called Servitør-Kokk-Bartender, where there are many recent offers since this industry suffered the most after Covid. Staffers can also be a site to look at. Check the link here.

Bakeries and pastries can also be good places, and having a recognized diploma in the field is even better.

A tourist guide is also possible, especially if you speak several languages. You will learn what you need to say, and there are chances you will also speak your native language to tourists. Check Arctic Guide Services. Click on the name, find e-mail addresses for contact, and you may be lucky with a job.

Try European Cruise Service in Bergen or Nordic Gateway. They need tour guides for the Summer. Also, look at https://uteguiden.com/ or https://www.meloyadventure.no. Check also Norwegian Travel.

In Tromsø area, where i live, you can contact Arcticguideservice and Pukka Travels.

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.

3. IT – Computer world is international. Therefore English is the primary programming language. Here it also depends on the employer and how much they ask of 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 several companies 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.

Otherwise, a search on google with “English speaking IT jobs in Norway” can take you far. Also a good LinkedIn profile will make you more attractive. I know several people who were “head-hunted” trough LinkedIn. If you do not have a profile there.

4. International companies:

Sales or production can have international teams and offices in many countries, and often English will be the working language.

An important field here can be shipping, everything that has to do with boats and transport on the sea, from building, fixing, and crew: EIDESVIK, The J.J. Ugland Companies, Hoegh Autoliners, Misje Rederi AS, Mediterranean Shipping Company Norway AS, are only a few of them. The search word on google is “Norske rederiselskaper”. Most of them have websites in English, you need to take some time to navigate them.

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.

Fish factories that are preparing the fish for the market are also in need of people. Brødrene Karlsen and Lerøy Seafood are just an example.

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.

If you speak a little bit of Norwegian, yet you want to learn more, kindergartens need assistant teachers. For many people working with children is a good way to learn the language together with them. Children speak a simple language and learn new words every day. It is useful – for instance, I used to watch a lot of cartoons and children’s programs when I was in the process of learning Norwegian. It helped. In a kinder garden, you also learn a lot about work environment rules, and you get yourself some references. Municipalities in Norway are “the owner” of all kinder gardens (barnehage) or “the employer”. Each municipality has a website, and that is where you find this kind of vacancies.

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. At the same time, I can say that a master degree obtained in Europe, USA or Canada will get you closer to those positions.

If you get accepted, obtaining a skilled worker visa will also be easy since the employer is a university that needs you for their research, which means only you have the skills the research project needs.

The health sector is also one in most need of people: elderly houses, hospitals, and clinics need trained people. Yet, you need to speak Norwegian for this kind of job. If you want to try anyway, you should know that each municipality in Norway is “the owner” of all health care facilities or “the employer”. Each municipality has a website, and that is where you find this kind of vacancies.

Psychology training from other countries is not recognized in Norway. All this has to do with the fact that there are a lot of rules you need to follow and patients who do not speak English. You need a good understanding of the social norms and the bureaucratic system within mental health institutions. They which are not easy “to read” when most of them are unwritten. That is required for most “office jobs”, where there is paperwork, and you need to be really good at written Norwegian.

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, if you are not afraid of six months of Winter.

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 order here, if you do not live in Norway. If you already have an address in Norway, you can order it here, or to me if you want is signed.

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 you 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 before you come to Norway.

Otherwise, check https://www.nav.no/en/home

If you are not from the EU, you will have to find a skilled worker job, so you have a good reason to apply for a skilled worker visa. Being a skilled worker means having some qualifications that are difficult to find in Norway. Therefore, the company needs your particular qualifications and skills. Your studies and degrees can play an essential role in this process. Check the website of the immigration authorities in Norway at this link: https://udi.no/en/want-to-apply/

Here as well, a search on google with “English speaking jobs in Norway” can help, and a good LinkedIn profile.

At the same time, my experience and work with people on the move have shown me that there are many things we should think about when deciding to move abroad, no matter the country. Since there are many, I have created a free course, especially about this subject, and you can find it on this link.

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 check this page. There are several talks with useful information.

PSS. If you find the information in this article helpful you can buy me a coffee here. The money will go to support the online platform I send the Norwegian letters from – my newsletter which you can sign up for here.

Reframe Your Focus: and Claim Your Life Abroad

I was a guest as Trova Expert where I shared my expertise with a webinar titled: ‘Reframe Your Focus: and Claim Your Life Abroad’.

The webinar explored why people move to other countries, whether by choice, such as: a new job opportunity, education, or seeking adventure or forced circumstances such as war.

The information provided here will help you reframe how to view your circumstances so that you have the most significant opportunity to be content and thrive in our new environment in another country.

You can watch the recording on this link.

Trova Health is in service of expats. I argue the difference between “expat” and “immigrant” in an article on my personal blog, which you can find if you click this link.

the Norwegian Work contract

crop businessman giving contract to woman to sign
crop businessman giving contract to woman to sign
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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: 

  1. Must declare you in the employee’s register (A-registeret) and pay taxes for you. 
  2. The employer also needs to keep your tax money from your salary and pay them to the government.
  3. 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. 
  4. Make sure you get a document with your income every month (lønnslip).
  5. 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.

  1. Respect the working time.
  2. 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.
  3. First-year of work, you don’t have paid holiday. If you decide to take it, you won’t be paid for it. 
  4. 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.

Best from

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 book here.

TRUTH @ work

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.

Check out the full interview HERE.

how to deal with war?

city man people woman
city man people woman
Photo by Artūras Kokorevas on Pexels.com

I know it is a strange question. How do we deal with it when we don’t have any personal experience? 

I grew up with war stories. My father was born in December ’39, in trenches, and he never knew his father, who went to WWII while my grandmother was pregnant. It is not easy to imagine how a widow with three children (my father being the youngest) survived the war. Nevertheless, we heard stories as children. Stories about German and Russian soldiers who needed food and would do anything to get it. Soldiers who were also missing their children left behind and would seek some comfort in holding my father since he was perhaps about the age of their children. And then they would move on to die or to live, leaving behind women and children robbed of the little food they had, yet alive.

My mother’s side of the family also carries war scars from a grandfather raised by the army. Widows like my grate-grandmother could not afford to keep all their children, and they would give them away to the military. At least they would get food and clothing. When he learned I was going to study in the North of Norway, he told me that he have been experiencing both the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun while traveling with the army through Russia, up to Murmansk. I think he also spoke some Russian, yet I never heard him speak it. What I heard was the classical music that he was playing since one of the things he learned in the army was to play the horn in the army’s orchestra. Keeping the soldier’s spirits up was also important at the time.

He came back alive and married one of the many girls of a widow who survived the war – my grandmother. They were some of those many people who helped rebuild the country after WWII.

I am not alone with this kind of story. Many people from southeast Europe have similar stories. After the war was over, the communist experiment started in Romania (Ceausescu’s version), influenced by the great power in the East, USSR. That was the only place people could travel in those times and Russian the only foreign language taught in school. 

War was always present in our upbringing through my parents’ attitudes and behaviors, who learned survival skills growing up with the war, like my father, or building the country after it, like my mother. Practical skills and little emotions. No time and place for such frivolities. We are generations who experienced “second-hand war” through our parents and grandparents. 

The war in Yugoslavia was also close in the ’90. The borders were closed and the news was censured until 1990, therefore people didn’t understand what to do with what was told on TV. The politicians at the time had managed to keep the country out of the conflict though.  

In the past 30 years, some of the new generations in Romania, who did not experience either the war or Ceausescu’s communist regime, are making a “psychological revolution”

Many read and educate themselves within the field and started to talk about how war and dictatorship experiences (death, rape, hunger, anger, etc) were sent through generations and how they influenced them. 

They are brave young people who dare take a deep dive into themselves and their family histories and try to heal whatever they can, so they won’t give the wounds further to their children.  

Since February 24th what we thought is in the past became present and very close to Romania’s borders. I hear that tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have passed through Romania on their way to more stable countries and with a more significant distance from the conflict. 

I see on social media stories from my friends who got involved and are helping the best way they can. At the same time, I live in Norway, a country that is also neighbor to Russia. Until further notice, we are supposed to carry on our lives as nothing happens. Yet I cannot help not noticing Coast Guard ships passing through the fjords every time I drive to the office. Nor the trailers that are carrying military equipment to the nearest military point that was supposed to be disabled. 

I cannot pretend the war in Ukraine is not happening. Nor ignore the newspapers articles from all sides talking about a “true” story about what is happening in Ukraine and Russia. A “truth” perhaps we may never find out.

At the same time, what can we do to deal with war so close to home? I managed to find about 11 points that may help, yet there can be much more. Please add them in the comments.

  1. Work and live as “normal” as possible for the time being. Keep yourself busy.

2. Talk to other people. At the same time, I experience that people who ask me or Ukrainians or Russians or Polish people how we are, don’t want to listen to the answer. They are in a much bigger hurry to tell us how they feel. Because this is how they deal with their fear.

People who are asking how others are so they can speak about themselves we see around us every day. It is a coping mechanism and a “social skill”. So my suggestion would be: don’t ask people how they are if you don’t mean to listen to them. If you need to talk, say it: “I need someone to talk to”, and I am sure people will listen.  

3. Do not watch the news, except for specific times in the day, so you can give yourself time to process the information you’ve already got. Choosing the source of information can also help in getting some accurate ones. 

4. A cold head is good to have in such circumstances. Do what is needed wherever we are, instead of getting emotional and creating scenarios in our heads about a future we do not know anything about yet. War is unpredictable, no matter what diplomacy says. I don’t think the world leaders were prepared for the one in Ukraine. War and its consequences are practical. Yet, to be able to deal with its practicalities, people need to be strong psychologically.

5. Flexible mindset helps, and use of words which would place the mind on a non-catastrophic path: “I choose”, “It’s bad, yet it’s not the worst”, “I don’t like it, yet I’m doing it anyway”, – are formulations which keep the mind in a less comfortable place, yet survival and active one, with a good chance of turning positive. 

6. Make a distinction between behavior and the human having it, when speaking with people: “your behavior is less fortunate” instead of “you’re so and so…”, and I don’t need to mention any less positive words some of us can call people around them. People are good. Behaviours are bad, and they can be changed with will and work. 

7. A detached attitude can also help: “I can’t do anything about it anyway”; “Nothing can happen to me/us”; “It’s not here yet”, and so on. At the same time, there is always something we can do in this digital world within the detachment. I am sure we can write, share resources, provide the information we may know, translate if we speak several languages, volunteer, and more. 

8. Talk to children about the war in a way they will understand. Explain as honestly as possible the emotions we have as adults, and which may occur in the process. Naming them for children and accepting them within ourselves will help them also understand what they are going through. Accordingly to their age, it is good to make references to bedtime stories, films, and books they may be familiar with.

Emotional regulation is a challenge both for children and adults, at the same time, the adults are supposed to be responsible and be able to take care of their feelings and the children’s. We also know that children are survivors and good at hiding feelings. Therefore, paying attention to their eating and sleeping patterns, and the degree of fear and shyness in the presence of other people can help detect if they are really ok.

9. Take care of yourself, if you can, with everything that implies: healthy food, sports, sleep, meditation or prayer, routines, social circle, and whatever makes everyone have a sense of meaningful life. All this will help approach the situation from a better standpoint, and a feeling of control.  

10. Think of a social network. Where can you go for help and when? Who are the people you can trust? Have a plan. Check the municipality’s websites for practical information they may have.

11. And last but not least, if you are an immigrant, do not take the war with you. Remember that leaders make wars, not ordinary people who decided to leave the bad leaders anyway. Now they live in the same country as you.

If you come from a country with lousy leadership and a flawed political system, you are not responsible for it, even if you voted for them. The same goes for people coming from other countries.  Throwing bad words to people from the country your leaders decided to go to war with, knowing that the locals won’t understand the language you’re speaking in, is not very elegant nor says something good about you. If you support the political decisions in your country of birth, it can be a good idea to keep it to yourself while you are an immigrant in another country.

If you need to talk about this war issue that is affecting us today, do let me know on this link

Wishing you Peace!

How to make Norwegian Friends

man on skis and dog walking in snow
man on skis and dog walking in snow
Photo by Jenny Uhling on Pexels.com

This is a question that just popped up in my e-mail.

It is not easy to make friends among Norwegians, yet, it is not impossible. Do not let yourself be scared about the icy faces and without expressions. Behind that Ice Wall, they put upfront, you can find volcanos of feelings. All you need to do is to be patient until the ice melts. After that, you’ll be surrounded by it as well. Then, you may find out that it is not easy to get out of it.

The key to making friends in Norway is “common interests”. This means that you should have some hobbies and find a group of people you can practice them together with. You’ll have lots to talk about on that particular subject. Therefore it will not be weird for Norwegians who do not ask personal questions because they do not want to intrude or because this is considered impolite in Norway.

Another thing you can do is to volunteer in various organizations. Find a cause that you are interested in (poverty, environment, politics, women issues, knitting, singing in a choir, dancing, climbing mountains, parachuting, ice skating, skiing, getting a dog, etc) and find a club or an organization that deals with precisely that. Join for the activities they have, and you’ll get to meet whoever is there. You can find more information on frivilig.no. Just type the city you live in, and see what’s available there and what is needed.

Each neighborhood or complex of houses or apartment buildings has a board administrating it and taking care of the buildings. All that is volunteer work. Join the one that represents the building you live in. It is an excellent way to learn how volunteer organizations work and get to know the people there. They have meetings at least once a month. That is a good opportunity to meet them often enough, so they have a chance to get to know you.

Making friends in Norway depends a lot also if you came to Norway alone or together with your family (spouse/children). I have noticed that if people come together with their spouses and do not have children, they tend to stick together and not go many places to meet people. So it doesn’t help to learn the language either if you only stick together.

Couples who have children can make friends easier through their children. They meet other parents at kindergarten and school and extra school activities their children join. If you are good with children yourself and offer to take care of Norwegian children, then you’ll be popular, because lots of parents need breaks and time for themselves. And, if you took care of other people’s children for some time, the parents will also take care of your children from time to time. It’s like a trade that allows you to get to know people. Children and school activities are also a great subject to talk about.

When you have a job, you can see if your colleagues are open to making new acquaintances and eventually new friendships. Some may be, some not. It will help you a lot if you speak about your interests and hobbies. They will know what you like, and eventually, if they have the same interests, they will invite you to talk more about it.

You can also make dinner for your colleagues and invite them home.

If you find out that you cannot break through to your work colleagues, the best thing is to find things to do on your own first. Find other foreigners who perhaps have been in your town longer than you and advise you where to go and what to do. There are many FB groups with foreigners. Just ask there who is from the town you live in and see if they want to meet. Remember that friends who are also foreigners are better than having no friends at all. If you are determined and show up in places where Norwegians meet, you will find the right people for you.

It is difficult for Norwegian adults to make new friends in a new place as well. In my experience, from people I know, it took those about ten years to make new friends among Norwegians in the new town. And the friends they made were also people who were new in town. This is because Norwegians do not believe in “friends on the way”. They believe in friends for life. This is why, even if they live in a different town than the one they grew up in, they can still say that they only have one friend or a handful, and those are the buddies from primary school and high school. They do not call people “friends” very easily.

If you come as a student, you’re ok, because student life is always very social. At the same time, be careful not to stick only together with international students, but join the cafeterias and the clubs’ Norwegian students attend, so you’ll also get to meet Norwegian students. If they are freshmen, they are just as alone as you are in their first year, and they are just forming groups of friends. You have a big chance of being part of those groups.

I hope this gave you some ideas about how to meet Norwegians, even if they are not going to call you “friend” very soon. As long as you are present in their lives, if they see you often enough, they will learn that you are also part of the community and become friendly towards you.

Good luck with making Norwegian friends, and if you want to receive more insights on Norwegian awkwardness, sign up for my free newsletter on this link, or you can order my book here.

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