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A little bit of snow never hurt anyone!

This morning we woke up to a hint of a snow blanket. For someone who’s just arrived out of a warm country, it’s not an unpleasant sight.

I would imagine many residents are now longing for Spring and have had enough of the winter conditions…except for maybe the ski fanatics who wish for many more weekend ski-trips to Suldal or other resorts. (Something I’m definitely looking forward to next year!)

Yesterday my husband came home with tons of brochures, books and information from an induction day to Stavanger.

We’ve learned that Norwegians really do wear woolen underwear and I guess it’s better to feel warm and comfortable and enjoy any weather conditions, than to try and be tough in facing the cold with the wrong type of clothing.

Tomorrow we plan to go shopping for some nice wind-and waterproof feather jackets (and yes -woolen underwear!).

After browsing the brochures, I suddenly have a strong urge to go and explore everything there is to see. Rogaland has so much to offer!

I want to buy a bike and take ferries and go hiking and visit museums and charming municipalities…, eat fresh shrimps straight off the boat on the quay and practice Norwegian with a French “R”, as in the Stavanger dialect.

My first exercise consists of repeating the stop announcements on the bus and checking their spelling on the screen! *FISKEPIRRREN* 🙂

For you other Stavanger expats out there, I strongly recommend joining in the INN activities, which you can find on : http://www.rosenkilden.com  and becoming a member of the facebook group “Stavanger expats” , as well as the Stavanger community on http://www.internations.org.

Internations has a get-together on the calender for next thursday. I’ll meet you there!

I’ve been reminded of the law of Jante, that I remembered from a book of one of my favorite authors Paulo Coelho.

This law explains the origin of why we as foreigners might perceive Norwegians to be a bit “cold”, when we first meet them.

I also found it interesting to learn that you have to ask for everything you want to know and shouldn’t expect unsolicited advice. If you ask:” Should I take my passport?” the answer will be “Yes.” and not…”Yes and 2 passport pictures.” I find this rather fascinating.

I’m learning every day and hope to make some Norwegian friends, without being perceived as rude or obnoxious!

I don’t feel better, smarter or more special than any Norwegian and I don’t expect anyone to care about my individual needs. Living by the law of Jante is a good way to start!

The job search continues !

“You have 13.378 new job opportunities” 

Really???

No matter how personalized my online job seeker profiles, it seems I will either have to take on a 5 year Master program to become a well-site geologist or….fly to work!

So is there really not any company out there who would be happy to employ a highly motivated individual?

Or maybe the strategies I use for finding the right position, just don’t work in Stavanger!

Ok, it’s just been a few days of online research and connecting and many fresh expats seem to be in the same position as me. But we can’t all be looking for the same thing, right? In the next days, I will try the walk-in method and see if the effort pays off.

Who else of you out there is keen to work and doesn’t seem to be heard?

I’d love to share experiences!

This is my introduction for any potential employer:

“My name is Heidi Legein. I am a Belgian citizen with extensive experience and a strong career path in Sales/Marketing &PR/Business development, mainly within the travel and hospitality industry. I have moved to Stavanger a week ago as my husband has signed a permanent contract here in the oil industry. Prior to the move, we were residing in Cairo, Egypt where I would start as Marketing/PR director for a leading luxury hotel group there. My responsibilities would have included all Marketing strategies, creating events/exhibitions and public relations towards media, corporate clients and VIP customers and pushing sales targets. Due to the political situation in Egypt and my husband’s job offer, we have decided to make our home in Norway for the long run.

I am seeking a position in hospitality,sales & marketing or HR, where I can use my talents and be an added value.

I am a highly dedicated individual with a passion for new marketing techniques, who constantly strives to market products according to an innovative approach and increase sales through creativity, coaching and effectiveness.

With a strong affinity to HR, I have always striven to push the right candidates forward.

I enjoy coaching employees and assisting them in developing the right career path.

As my husband is a Petrophysicist, I have come to understand the oil & gas recruitment and  it’s variety of skilled workers quite well.

I have great knowledge of the travel market demand and offer worldwide. Years of experience with CI and delivering the highest quality service levels, as well as leading and training jr sales managers and CS employees and improving overall operations efficiency, tourist destination management for a world-leading Tour Operator (including all hotel products) and responsibility for several European markets are just a part of the experiences I can offer you.

I have experience in business consultancy and commercial support in several fields.

Branding and product placement are a hobby to me.

I speak fluent English, as well as French, German and Dutch with notions of several other languages.

I will start learning Norwegian immediately.”

And I’m not even being picky! Any job offer, any field…

So where are you, employers of Stavanger? I’m ready!

And to you job-seekers: best of luck!

To be continued…Image

Norwegian habits with questionmarks…

And yes, it’s even colder this morning….Shouldn’t it get warmer towards Spring or is that different too in Norway?

I’ve noticed that Norwegians have quite contradictory characteristics;

– Pretty much all the personal details and private information regarding salaries, taxes and so on are shared publicly and many Norwegians are so open, they don’t even put curtains up. Most homes have huge windows all around and you can pretty much see every inch of living space AND who’s in it!

On the other hand, they like their space…in personal contact, handshakes from a distance, discussing private matters is not acceptible.

So what’s the deal? Show everything, but don’t talk about it?

Or is the public display of data merely a governmental issue they would rather live without?

And the openness around the home; is that just a strong confidence that fellow citizens have high respect for your privacy and won’t look?

And why can’t I see any display of affection in the street? A friendly hug or sincere touch? Is that not done?

If you are a Norwegian reading this, I’d love to know how you think!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that humor is used in pretty serious environments; a serious business conversation or a job interview; nothing without the occasional funny anecdote.

Isn’t that a lovely feature? I guess it makes heavy subjects lighter to carry and I can only recommend it!

Their TV commercials are pretty funny too…A doctor who faints in front of a patient with a tiny cut in the finger to advertise career counseling or cows left in utter amazement at a bouncing cow to promote aerated chocolate. It just makes you laugh!Image

And laughter is the solution to everything I’d say.

I wonder if a Norwegian citizen has a higher laughter rate than others.

With high living standards, great culture, solid government, amazing nature, I guess there’s enough to make you smile.

Although they say the living costs are extremely high, but the salaries are too…it seems to me that there is some extra magic here. Norwegians travel a lot, are very well-cultured and owning property is something for everyone…Maybe they are just better at saving or better organized?

Anyway, I’m working on getting the hang of it, because the end-result looks rather satisfying.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Good morning world!

It is a little bit colder in Stavanger this morning! My computer screen says -5 degrees Celsius, my body says “OH NO NO YOU WON’T” when I visit the balcony trying to figure it out.

After my first week here, I’m feeling pretty Norwegian this morning.

I’ve been going to bed around 10 pm and waking up at 7.00 in the last couple of days, which seems to be a healthy rhythm.

I’m having muesli for breakfast and there is “gravlaks” in the fridge and we’ve got potato wraps in the cabinet. By the way, the jam here is delicious!

The Norwegian radio is on and I’m trying to pick up some words.

I’m originally from Belgium and my family speaks a West-Flanders dialect and it’s actually really funny to notice that some of our Flanders slang words are pretty similar to their equivalent in Norwegian. It somehow gives me the hope that I’ll be able to learn Norwegian quickly.

Oh, it’s snowing! A cute light little snowfall. It does have a certain charm falling among the colored wooden houses.

Since we’ve arrived, we’ve actually been lucky to find only sunny days and blue skies. Apparently this week will be different.

I think it was a nice coincidence that we arrived after the harsh winter months had already passed, so we can ease into it next winter 🙂

As I’m more of a daylight person, I don’t think the long summer days will bother me so much.

All those talks of depression and insomnia make me want to prove to everyone who is advising on the dangers of moving to Norway, that it’s really not so horrible and if you have a little bit of positivism inside you, you will definitely find more advantages than disadvantages.

So far for us, it’s going well!

I strongly believe that adjusting to the new culture and environment by immersing yourself in it, is the best way to go!

The only reminder of our life prior to this move, are the little pyramids on the window sill….and honestly; they don’t look so bad in the snow!

Job-hunting is on!

Stavanger, makes its name as “Oil capital of Norway” proud!

As a wife of an oil field guy, it seems a bit harder to find a job here!

Among 1000 job vacancies, 999 are in the oil industry.

Although Stavanger welcomes many tourists in the summer season, my strong experience in tourism seems to be rather useless in finding a job.

Most jobs out of the oil & gas industry require fluent Norwegian language skills and I speak only Dutch, French, German and English.

So what to do?

-Tourism is not the only field I can work in. Sales & Marketing can take me pretty much everywhere, right?

-I have a strong background in coaching employees and affinity for HR.

-I have a teaching certificate for teaching English if nothing better comes up.

I’d rather have a challenging position doing something I love, than teach to just earn a living.

Same goes for working in retail sales. The salaries aren’t great and the positions not really a challenge.

Many suggest trying to find a position in the oil companies anyway; business operations and administration are not really strangers to me…would that be a good idea?

But how and where to start?

I’ve sent open applications to all travel agencies and I’ve created profiles on local recruitment websites.

I will start a Norwegian course after easter.

I guess I’ll start networking and making myself visible and available.

Do you have a nice idea, job offer or know someone who knows someone who knows someone?

I’d love to get some feedback from people with similar experiences or tips!

Get in touch!

Link

Discovering Stavanger

Discovering Stavanger

First impressions of Stavanger…

The best way to discover is on foot! We managed to find our way from our new home to the center of town on our first day here.

Now that we know the way to town AND discovered that there’s actually a bus that stops right in front of our door to take us there in just a few minutes, we went walking in a different direction.

We happily accepted an invitation to join some of my husband’s colleagues for a walk in the park on sunday. I have no clue which direction it was exactly or….which park, but it was lovely!

And I’m sure we’ll find our way back there soon enough 🙂

Click on the title to see the pictures!

Everything is exciting!

First things I’ve noticed since my arrival in Stavanger on March 4th;

-The weather is not as horrible as everyone was making me believe; no rain since we came – which is apparently a rare stroke of luck! O.k, its cold -freezing cold-  but we’ve heard it many times now: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Our “winter jackets” bought in Cairo can barely pass the test as summer jackets here!

-Beautiful, beauuuuuutiful nature and landscapes!

-Norwegians sure love their outdoor work-out in the park. We’ve already gone for a 8.3 km power walk to get the hang of it!

-Cars stop 2 meters away from you if you come near any crossing; what a luxury compared to trying to survive crossing a street in Cairo!

-Garlic comes in 2 forms; with or without cloves. I was rather surprised to not find any cloves in the garlic bulb 🙂

-It’s true; everything is ex-tre-me-ly expensive, but keeping in mind the fair wages, I guess you get used to it.

-Tap-water is drinkable; hah! As many idiots on their first day here, we bought the most expensive water bottles we’ve ever come across. Lessons learned!

-Everything is really well-organized in Norway and they love their technology.

I’ve never had to use a personal magnetic chip to throw my garbage in one of the 6 recycling bins for example.

Until now everything is great, I hope the first phase of this culture shock will prolong itself!Image

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