One hour in our lives

old fashioned clock placed in aged hallway with ornamental walls
old fashioned clock placed in aged hallway with ornamental walls
Photo by William Fortunato on

Many people have seen by now that I offer the first session for free. And knowing that a process of healing or change can take more than one hour, I have received the following question:

“What can you do with one hour? How much can we solve, and what can we find out?”

One hour contains 60 minutes. As humans, we speak 120 to 160 words in one minute.

In one hour, there are between 7200 and 9600 words, which means a story of about seven to nine (or more) book pages – depending on the layout. That is the story of a fellow human at a particular time. That hour they are speaking with me. That hour that we spend together in a conversation.

My experience and my work with people have shown me that if that story is listened to from a place of presence and authenticity, it can create change in a human’s life. If a person is SEEN and HEARD at the moment when it is most needed and who chooses that moment consciously, they can change life’s trajectory with one millimeter. A millimeter can lead that person closer to healing or to what they need or desire.

The work with us, as humans, can take a lot of time: weeks, months, and years until we leave this Earth. There is no “quick fix”, you can read here how therapy works. At the same time, this long process is formed by happenings, meetings, and discussions with people who, even if they take only some minutes, or one hour, can have a great resonance in the future.

I plead for the small steps. Not everybody is ready to enter a very long-term process. Yet a person can choose to receive or give herself the experience of a conversation with a trained therapist in one hour, no matter where you are in the world.

I have seen that people I speak with, only for one hour, gain a lot of insight, even if they choose not to go further with the process. Because someone neutral can see their situation better and can communicate it back so that it becomes more evident. Clarity offers the possibility of change.

What is my gain?

The joy of being part of someone’s life for one hour.

The possibility to contribute to an experience that can have a long-term effect on the trajectory of actions made by one human being.

Therefore, if you are interested in receiving my offer, therefore one hour of your life and one hour of my life, sign up on this form.

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Tromsø world festival

Tromsø: this «little town» far, far North is the biggest in the region. It rounds about 70 000 people. It has grown since I moved here, almost 20 years ago, with about 1000 inhabitants a year. It has to do with the University, student life, and the fact that many people want better opportunities and a better lifestyle, and they move away from villages. There are many immigrants, too, about 160 nationalities, I hear. Still, currently, the region struggles with a lack of people who can work: labor power. Corona sent many working immigrants back to their countries and did not return.

When I say better opportunities, young people want, among other things, a more prosperous entertaining life: pubs, concerts, clubs where they can practice a hobby together, etc.

November 3rd to 5th, 2022, a new festival occurred here: Tromsø World Festival. It is a festival that people with big hearts and commitment to the city’s international population have managed to put together after several years of trial and failure with other attempts to bring famous artists to Tromsø.

When I say “famous artists,” I do not mean big names known to the Western World, but names known to the Asian world or African world. Names which, even if they are big outside Norway and Europe, people in Tromsø didn’t hear of – because people are much more interested in their local artists than from abroad.

I had the pleasure of attending two concerts (Fatoumata Diawara – photo- and Bombino) and a three hours seminar dedicated to integration and inclusion through music and theater.

Living in such a small town as Tromsø, the advantage is that one can get very close to the artists or members of a panel discussion. Like many others, the concerts I have been participating in give a unique feeling of intimacy and coziness due to the small number of people attending, especially if the concert is indoors in a small pub. It feels like the artist is there only for you, which is great. And I always see a slight shade of astonishment and surprise on the face of artists used with much more people attending the concerts that they have in front of them in Tromsø. Nevertheless, the performances are good, and everybody seems to enjoy them. I certainly did, even if I also would have expected a more significant number of people to attend.

Yet, we don’t need to forget that Tromsø is a small place where people have many entertaining possibilities, and they choose their favorites. At the concerts I was present this year, I’ve seen many immigrants or second-generation immigrants. I have also seen many people who have jobs working with refugees – people who’ve heard something about the artist presented through their background and life. And I know that many Sami and Norwegian people have been present at the concerts where local people have performed. It’s natural to look for what we know and similar to us.

Saying that I wonder when I will see at Tromsø World Festival Polish artists, for instance, Check, Romanian, or from Thailand and Indonesia. After all, there are lots of working immigrants from South Easter European countries in Norway and many wives from Thailand and Indonesia. It would be nice to see their artists here as well. After all, they pay taxes as well, taxes which are contributing to all festivals supported by government funds.

Yet, the festival needs to keep taking place at the same time each year, for many years ahead, so it can create a name for itself and continuity, like the other festivals here: Filmfestival, Norlysfestivalen (classical music), Bukta festival, etc. And this way, more people will attend the concerts, which will be announced in the Newspapers beforehand, attracting more locals.

That being said, I am grateful for the experience this year and look forward to the next year’s Tromsø World Festival.

Best wishes from Tromsø

Speak the UNspoken: exploring the unwritten rules of north norway

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.

Click and buy from this link. Enjoy!

The pictures from the bok launch I had in Tromsø and in Oslo at Litteraturhuset.

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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 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 offers lately since this is an industry that suffers the most after Covid. Staffers can also be a site to look at. Check the link here.

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. 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 they need tour guides for summer seasons. Also look at or Check also Norwegian Travel.

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.

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 just 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 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.

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.

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. Psychology training from other countries is not recognized in Norway either. 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 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, 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 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.

Otherwise, check

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:

At the same time, my experience and work with people on the move have shown me that there are a lot of 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 watch this webinar, and even more, if you check this page.

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

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.

how to deal with war?

city man people woman
city man people woman
Photo by Artūras Kokorevas on

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

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 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 the Norwegian awkwardness, sign up for my free newsletter on this link, or you can order my book here.

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10 reasons for joining a Union while in Norway

crop unrecognizable multiethnic colleagues joining hands
crop unrecognizable multiethnic colleagues joining hands
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I work with many people who are immigrants in Norway. Some of them have their issues with their employers, yet, every time I ask if they are members of a Union, I get frightened and confused looks. I understand that in many other countries, being a member of a Union can be too good to be true. In Norway, though, it has more advantages than disadvantages.

I remember telling this to a friend of mine who does not live in Norway. She replied: “In my company, we were already warned that if we join a Union, we’re going to lose our jobs. So, this is not something I can do, because I need my job”. We all need our jobs, for various reasons. In this video, you may find some of them.

When it comes to Unions in Norway, they are well organized. However, there are many, and you need to find the right one representing the people’s interests in your field of work.

I am going to mention 10 advantages for which it is worth to join one while working in Norway, doesn’t matter for how long:

1. The money you pay for a membership is considered nondeductible income, which means you do not pay tax on that amount, or you pay little.

2. Every time there are salary negotiations for your working field, the Union negotiates for you as well, even if you didn’t ask for it personally. They will negotiate in the name of all members. Usually, each Union sends a warning to its members on what they need to do in good time before the negotiations start.

3. If you experience injustices at your workplace, you can speak to people from the Union, get advice and make a plan so you can make yourself heard. They accompany you in the meetings you may have with your leaders and even speak for you if necessary. They also have lawyers who can offer legal aid. Most of the conflicts at work are solved by the Unions.

4. They can negotiate better house mortgage interests for their members.

5. Many negotiate good deals for all sorts of insurances, from house to car and even hotels and rentals.

6. Scholarships for education.

7. Courses and conferences in your field of work so you can keep yourself updated. For those, the employer usually gives time off from work and even pays for them.

8. Network meetings and events, so you get to know your colleagues and not only. Most of these events are free of charge for members. They are a good opportunity for networking. If you feel like you don’t get the chance to know new people, use the time to knit better bonds with the people you already know.

9. You get information about things happening inside your field of work through a magazine or regular e-mails. It’s good to know what’s happening around.

10. If you are a student or not employed, the membership fee is lower, and the information you get is helpful and keeps you updated with news on the work marked.

If you want to get involved, you can become a representative yourself and help. It is good learning inside this kind of organization. It is a job that you’re not paid for. It is like volunteering inside your working place. But for that, your employer gives you the time off so you can work with it. You’re not paid in money, but in time. In return, you learn something new, meet new people, grow your network, and contribute to your colleague’s work welfare and your own. 

From what I hear from people I work with, some of the skepticism towards Unions comes from their experiences from the countries of origin. Like the friend, I mentioned at the begyning of this article.

Other reasons for skepticism would be that many people do not work full time, but only a couple of months in a raw, season work, and then they travel back to their own country. Others simply do not know that something like that exists, what it is, and what it is good for. Of course, not learning the language is also a disadvantage. If one does not speak even English, it isn’t easy to find out about this kind of thing, and one depends on own compatriots to get information and help. They can only help you as far as they came themselves.

If you already are a member of a Union, I suggest getting yourself acquainted with the person elected as your representative in your department. Find out more about how they can help you, and why not, how you can help them. After all, they work for you too.

If you didn’t join a Union yet, my suggestion would be to find out which one can represent people in your work field best. Find their website, read the information there, eventually give them a call, and join. You won’t regret it, even if you only work a couple of months a year and travel back to your country in between. They’ve got your back in those times you’re not in Norway also. 

I know that the Union called Frifagbevegelse har pages in English. Check one of their latest articles here.

I hope you have the courage to stand up for your rights! If you need help to build that up and you don’t know quite yet how to approach the issue, you can register on this link for a free talk. It is not easy to be foreign in a foreign country.

If you want to know more about life in Norway, culture, written and unwritten rules, feel free to get my free newsletter on this link. You’ll receive more insights every week or so.

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How “old” are you?

set of various items for exploration with camera on desk
set of various items for exploration with camera on desk
Photo by Rachel Claire on

“How old are you, really?” is perhaps something you’ve never thought about, yet it is an important part of the Norwegian way of living and thriving. I have recently stumbled into it again, and I thought I should tell you something about it as well.

In my experience, the way Norwegian people look at their age and what they can achieve in their lives is very different from what I was used to, and I am quite sure that you have been used to as well.

Age is spiritual, and not the actual number of years.

In Norway, people can be allowed to be as young as they want. Life is joy. At least, this is what they say upfront. The complaints are only for selected ears. People can afford to be “children” much longer than we’re used to in Southern Europe or other corners of the world. I discover a similar attitude in my French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Asian, or southeast European friends. If you are 40, you need to retire, or go home and wait to die, as life is over for you.

A refugee from a war zone, 40 years old, is considered by his or her society very old. I was helping with an integration course one time and I saw the reaction of the group of refugees when they heard that my colleagues’ ages were 59 and 64. Their estimation went as far as 45 and 55.

Another time, a colleague was very happy when she was about to reach her 40th birthday, as she got old. She comes from an African country and, in her culture, you’ve passed your youth and become old at this age. If you are old, everybody respects you and asks for your opinion. You also gain status in your community. At the same time, not many people think that the number of years you lived is always wisdom’s attribute. We can find many old people behaving childishly. Maturity of the physical body is not the same as emotional maturity. Many people had to grow up fast because of the harsh living conditions. That did not always allow them to develop emotionally at a natural pace. The emotional development in people is a whole story, too big and too complex to mention more about it here.

Living in Norway has proven to me that until 40, life is research in development. You start living at 40. People here get married late if they do at all, and they live life to the full, for as long as they can. If they marry early and find out on the way that they’ve grown apart, they separate and build a life with somebody else, or on their own, while doing the things they love, enjoying time with their children, if they have them.

After all, children are much better off with two happy separated parents than with two miserable parents living together. A general rule I discovered here is that children are “mine, yours and ours”. I have a friend who remarried at 40 to a 50-year-old guy who had also been married before. They have one child, as a testimony of their love for each other, and the 50-year-old guy was the one to stay at home with the baby.

They both have three children each from previous marriages, and the youngest was the joy of the whole family. They travel together as a family; they walk up the mountains, work, and have a good time. Of course, this is the outside picture, visible to me, but the point is, that they are not “old” at 50 or 60, as they might be considered in other countries.

The welfare state contributes to this as well, and life is much more stable than in many other corners of the world. It became like this especially after 1969 when oil came into the picture.

In Norway, among the couples I know, some do not have children yet. Therefore, each partner spends Christmas or parts of the summer holiday at his/her parents’ house and takes time to be a child for a while longer. Only when children come into the picture, couples consider it as the end of their own childhood. If couples get help with the children from their parents, they consider themselves very lucky, and they express it. They do not take this help for granted.

I recently heard a 60-year old southeast European woman talking about her “grandma duties”. In many families from southeast Europe, the expectation is that grandparents get involved in their grandchildren’s lives and they are given responsibility for their upbringing. They are not paid for that, and often enough this help can be just taken for granted. This does not happen in Norway. Some grandparents consider themselves lucky to be part of their grandkid’s lives, but they can choose the time they want to spend with them.

Another detail I think might contribute to the Norwegians’ youthfulness is the language. They have no politeness pronouns. Respect is shown through attitude, not in words. People are called by their first names, regardless of their age or social status. People forget their age if they are not constantly reminded that they are a “Madam” or “Sir”.

By contrast, as soon as I step off the airplane in my country of birth, someone swiftly shows me their respect by calling me “madam” or “lady”. But I do not always feel their respect in their attitude or in their voice. It is just a word. I also recognize this in the words and the attitudes of my friends, the same age as me, but still living there. It feels like they are slowly marching to the cemetery. I don’t think they are aware of it, and if I pointed it out to them, they look at me with confusion, saying: “Stop being so Norwegian.” As if my becoming Norwegian was their main concern.

My point is, that Age can be looked at as just a number, and we are all children. In Norway, if a 60-year-old person becomes widowed or divorced, it is perfectly normal to find someone else to share the rest of his or her days with, without being judged by society. It is a natural thing to do. The children are also happy when their parents are not alone and can still enjoy life in someone’s company. The retiring age is between 62 and 70, and if the health allows, people are strong and green many years after that. It helps that they keep physically active, running/walking up mountains and marathons, skiing, kayaking, and doing all sorts of other sports. In Norway, I have learned that people are as young as they want to be, and they get help with that.

What is your experience with age/aging, that you have from your country of origin?

How do you relate to the age you have? If you are thinking of exploring your true age, and not the one in your passport, feel free to sign up here for a free talk.

If you want to know more about life in Norway, culture, written and unwritten rules, feel free to get my free newsletter on this link. You’ll receive more insights every week.

Best wishes from Norway