Diary of an Expat in a Norwegian Cubicle – Part I

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve started my job in Oslo and I’m slowly but surely establishing a routine. Going back to a full time job after a two years break has not been easy to say the least, but if I had to pick a place to restart my adult life, Norway would be on top of that list. Given that it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve last published something, I figured I’ll randomly update you on my thoughts since I’ve started working here.

Life in a Norwegian cube

You’ve all probably heard it before. The Norwegian work culture is pretty casual and people respect their work life balance more than anything.

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The view 5 minutes away from the office!

Now that I’ve actually been working here for a month, I can definitely agree with that statement (this does not necessarily apply to all industries, but definitely most!). The hierarchy is not as obvious or intense as you would find in most big U.S companies and in companies (outside of banking and some consulting) the dress code is pretty casual. I was also pretty lucky that my coworkers ended up being very open and social, which is something I was worried about coming into a Norwegian company. However, it still didn’t take me long to realize that I was working in Norway after all.

Over the first few days, I was introduced to everyone in my immediate team. However, since most of us work in an open environment, we share the floor with a couple other teams. When I first started working in the states and happened to meet someone who is sitting around me, I used to smile at them and then I’d get a smile in return and then we’d introduce ourselves to each other. I always thought that was nice. I also thought that was normal.

Fast forward a few years and an ocean away, I am sitting in an open space surrounded by so many new coworkers. Over the course of the first week, I get introduced to some through my coworkers and others remain a mystery to me (even though we lock eyes and I attempt to smile). Last Friday, three weeks after I’ve started working here, we had an all hands staff meeting for our bigger corporate department (which includes roughly 50 people). Without me knowing it beforehand, the department head mentions that we have two new joiners and introduces me and the other newbie to the rest of the people. Shortly after, this guy, who I had seen about a bazillion times, walks over, introduces himself and mentions that he had seen me around but didn’t understand who I was and what I was doing there. I’ve hashtagged this moment in my head as #typicalnorwegian. Since then everytime we run into each other, we smile and say hi. We have now been introduced & we’ve officially become co-workers. Before then, that wasn’t the case.

Another incident occurred earlier today, a month after I have joined the company. The woman who has been sitting at the desk behind me ran into me by the coffee machine. Again, I attempted to smile, and this time it worked. She goes: “I don’t think we were formally introduced” and proceeds to speak to me. Love it!! I am slowly meeting everyone on the floor!

It’s Time for Lunch

Another favorite of mine is the concept of having lunch at 11 especially given the fact that last year I lived in France where people were making fun of me for being hungry at 12.30PM.

But seriously, I guess I never quite realized how early Norwegians eat lunch when I lived in Bergen (most likely because we were students and just ate whenever we didn’t have class). For the first week here, I was totally confused everytime someone asked me if I was ready to go to lunch at 11. I even missed lunch with some coworkers because I didn’t see the invite and assumed it would be at 11.30AM. I mean in what world do people tell you to show up at the cafeteria before 12 to avoid being stuck with leftovers and where the cafeteria closes at 12.30PM. I guess the answer is Norway…

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes… Christmas is all around me & so the feeling grows!

One of the reasons I’m super excited to be back in Norway is the time leading up to Christmas. Norwegians are obsessed with Julebords which translates into ‘Christmas Tables’. Those are basically organized dinners through work, a group of friends, your social clubs, whatever. There’s usually typical Norwegian food and alcohol involved and everyone is bound to have a good time. Last Thursday before I left the office, I got the invite to the Julebord at work on December 2nd. Yes, last Thursday was September 29th, but that’s almost October and October is technically almost November, which makes it’s basically December. Whatever! Let’s just admit that my roomies and I have been talking about Christmas decoration since I’ve moved in so I am nothing but super excited for the Christmas festivities!

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Yes, this was the outlook invite…

 

Gorgeous Fall days!

But until Christmas is officially here, I am going to enjoy fall in this city. So far it has been nothing but gorgeous, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it stays the same.

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Cheers,

Dom.

 

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