Monday, 6 August 2012

Some answers to a foreigner new to Norway

Recently I was contacted on expat-blog.com by a Pakistani-Singaporean with some questions about Norway. I felt the reply I gave him would be useful to others too, so I can't just keep it to myself :)

He asked about how to connect with other Singaporeans and: "I will be moving to Oslo within the month and appreciate any advice on the weather (from September to February) and about life in general."

I replied:

"Hi,

The best way to network with Singaporeans in Norway is to join the facebook group "Singaporeans in Norway". If you look around on FB, you can also find other useful expat groups with information about staying in Norway. Feel free to post questions on the groups' pages - you'll get a reply pretty quickly.

As for living here from Sept - Feb, I'm afraid you have chosen the coldest months of the year to live here! First of all, winter here can be as cold as -20 degrees celsius, so you MUST get 2 sets of woollen long johns, or long underwear for months Nov - Feb. Other winter clothes: a good warm thick bubble jacket or woollen coat, a good thick woolen scarf, a warm "lue" or beanie hat, good leather gloves with wool lining inside, good thick winter boots with wool lining. Woollen clothing is essential to survival in winter in Norway, as it holds bodily warmth even when it gets wet.

I believe you can get these clothes in where you are staying currently. If not, you can always move here first, then start buying in Oct, but be forewarned that it is very expensive to buy winter clothes here - be prepared to part with NOK 2500 - 3500 or more for your first set of complete winter clothes from gloves to shoes.

And trust me, they are not wants, but needs. You won't want to freeze to death on your way to work in winter....

Weather in September
is autumn weather - beautiful, red leaves, rainy, damp, windy. One must start wearing a light scarf and beanie hat for warmth. Having a windproof sports jacket is good. The weather is changeable, so it can be 18 degrees in the day, and suddenly 5 degrees in the evenings if it rains.



Nype (an octopus-like berry rich in antioxidants and vitamin C) and some autumn leaves.

Weather in Oct - still autumn, but can get colder. If you are lucky, you might even see snow in late October! But snow lasts only a few hours in this month. Everything is still green, but you probably need warm jackets and coats on top of jeans.

A Norwegian heritage stabbur (a raised storehouse for grains and food in winter) at a farm in Akershus

Weather in Nov - starts to feel more like winter. On some nights, it's 0 degrees. Days get shorter. Sun rises 8am, sets 5pm. Nights get longer. Thicker and warmer clothes needed.



Weather in Dec
- darkest time of the year. Long nights lasting from 4pm to 9am. Around 21 December, the sun only rises for 3-4 hours as it is the shortest day of the month. If it is cloudy, you would hardly see the sun and the sky is grey violet. By this time there should be some snow on the ground. It can be slippery to walk, because of ice on roads and pavements, so be careful. You might need spurs for shoes. Usually a lot of houses have cosy Christmas lights and many have artificial candles in their windows, which is very charming. The snow usually falls and stays on the trees, houses and land so the whole country is almost white and very beautiful to look at.

Try skiing!

If you work in a Norwegian company, they usually have their "julebord" or Christmas dinner around Dec or Jan.

Weather in Jan
- coldest month of the year. Snowfall can be up to 50-60cm on the ground. It can be tricky, but good exercise, to walk around on snow and ice. Be prepared to lose balance and face when you fall on ice. Freezing air enters your nose and sometimes freezes inside your nostrils. It can be dangerous to drive for a foreigner unused to colder climates. It gets dry indoors because of heating, so use plenty of moisturiser. The sea freezes if it has been under -5 degrees for more than 10 days.


Weather in Feb - weather starts to warm a little, but still very icy on the roads and walkways because the snow melts, then refreezes. Febraury is a month that still holds wintry cold so most people still wear their winter clothing. The sea is usually still frozen.

Ice on a sea during sunset, Akershus, Norway

Life in general - Norwegians may first seem unfriendly and rude, but once you get to know them, they are very humourous and warm. Everything is expensive, so people don't go out and socialise as much as in Singapore. During winter (Nov - Feb) it is also too cold to go out and sometimes just the effort alone to put on clothes is an obstacle to going out! Norwegians however, love to ski, so if you are brave enough to try, then they will love to have you go with them :)

It's best to learn a bit of Norwegian (Norsk) while you are here - nothing to lose, and much to gain. People often speak in Norsk during lunch so it helps to know a little of what they say. One may apply for norskkurs, but it costs quite a bit around NOK 45 per hour.

TV with foreign programmes or movies are usually in their original language plus Norwegian subtitles. That means that English films and all are not a problem to watch. Keeping up with the latest news might be a problem though. A good website where you can read Norwegian news in English is at http://theforeigner.no/

Hope this helps anyone out there looking for answers!
Contact me if you have questions.

Cheers!
pixy

5 comments:

  1. The weather is changeable, so it can be 18 degrees in the day, and suddenly 5 degrees in the evenings if it rains. So let us all be careful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is normal to ask questions before you visit some place. This is to be familiar and prepared like in the weather.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  4. 45 NOK per hour for classes? Are you sure? That's the price of a bag of Smash chips at the grocery store.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes I calculated and I'm quite sure it's 45 NOK... take into account that the class is usually between 10 - 20 people.

    ReplyDelete

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