Expat Interview With Jay - Canadian Expat In Norway

Published: 2 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Norway
Jay, a former teacher, left Canada in 2010 with her husband for an adventurous life overseas. They spent 2 years in Port Gentil, Gabon on the West coast of Africa before moving to Stavanger, Norway. Jay's blog, From There To Here (see listing here) , is where she chronicles her experiences as an expat from settling in to a new home to exploring Scandinavia. Aside from blogging, she likes to spend her time reading, learning about photography and researching & planning trips. She is currently trying to make the most of her time in Europe, traveling as much as she can before the next location comes calling.

From There to Here

Here's the interview with Jay...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from West/Central Canada - Saskatchewan to be exact - but I spent my last 10 years there in Alberta.

In which country and city are you living now?
Stavanger, Norway

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We arrived in Stavanger 4 months ago after a 2 year stint on the West coast of Africa. We'll be here for 2-3 years.

Why did you move and what do you do?
While living in Northern Alberta, my husband was offered a global position within his company. After spending several months in Houston, we made the move to Port Gentil, Gabon. As our contract came to an end, Norway was proposed as a possible relocation with the same company. Before moving abroad, I was a teacher. In Gabon, I taught private English lessons to expat children but I'm not currently working in Norway.

From There to HereDid you bring family with you?
Just my husband and I.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
To be honest, the transition to Gabon was much, much harder. Practically everything was different there and it required us to basically change how we did everything. We had to learn how to survive days without electricity or running water and how to get out of a police check-stop without paying a bribe. The move to Norway really felt like coming home. While it can be difficult to adjust to the many procedures and regulations here, things generally follow an order and it becomes quite predictable.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Making friends in a new country takes a lot of time. I found it a little easier to connect with people in Port Gentil as there really wasn't much to do there and the expat community was small and active. In Norway, there are several groups to get involved with but as always, you have to put yourself out there. As we continue to settle in here, we hope to make more friends, both local and expats.

From There to HereWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Norway is all about outdoor life and there are so many options in the Stavanger region. Hiking is an easy weekend activity and it allows you to experience the sheer beauty of Norway. Our hike to the top of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) has been a highlight thus far but there are so many places to see.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
We pretty much enjoy everything about living here. The people have been friendly and helpful, it's clean and orderly and the landscapes are gorgeous. We love being able to get outside, breath the fresh air and so something active.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Norway is expensive, there's no way around it. Everything is at least double the price it would be in Canada with things like rent, alcohol and restaurants 3 or 4 times more expensive. Taxes are high but with those taxes you have a high standard of living.

From There to HereWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The weather isn't fantastic. While most people assume that all of Norway is freezing cold, the Stavanger region is a bit more mild. We won't see -40 degrees Celsius here like we do in Canada but we do see A LOT of rain.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Prepare yourself for the cost of things and if you are coming here without company support, make sure you budget accordingly. The salary may look high but the cost of living is also high and there's no way around that.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
My husband and I have adjusted fairly well to expat life and we are really happy to have made the choice to spend time living overseas. While we ride the normal highs and lows of life abroad, we feel so lucky to have had such unique opportunities and experiences. For me, the hardest part of being an expat is the inevitable disconnect that starts to happen between us and our family and friends. While we're away, they are continuing on with their lives without us and even though we have technology to keep us up to date, we do miss out on some pretty big life events.

Do you see yourself moving home?
As of now, we have no plans to return to Canada in the near future. I imagine there will come a time when we want a more stable life but for now, we love the adventure we are on.

From There to HereWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Prepare for absolutely everything to be different.
- Learn to roll with the punches. Moving to a foreign country is stressful and it's impossible to plan every detail and many plans won't go exactly as you'd like them to.
- Try not to continually compare everything to home. Just because it's different doesn't mean it's not good and listening to someone constantly talk about how much better their country is gets old, fast.
- Step outside the box a little and take part in activities you might not normally do. I made some great friends in a sewing group and I can hardly replace a button.
- Homesickness will come and go but try not to wallow in it too long. Before you know it, your time abroad will be over so take advantage of it while you can.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
When I was preparing to move to Gabon, I scoured the internet looking for information that would help us settle in and there was almost nothing. I happened to come across one family's blog and I read it from beginning to end just to learn something about life in Port Gentil. I had previously been sending out email updates to our friends and family but a blog sounded a bit easier and I hoped that others moving to Gabon might find it helpful. As my readership grew, I realised that I loved writing it and was thankful that I had documented all of those experiences. These days, "From There To Here" chronicles our life overseas from settling into Stavanger to exploring Norway and traveling Europe.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I'm happy to answer any questions people may have regarding a move to Gabon or Norway - although, I'll admit, I don't have all of the answers! You can reach me at fromtheretohereblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Jay's expat blog is called "From There to Here" http://www.fromtheretoheretheblog.com which is very worthy of a visit. Jay can be found on Twitter @theretohereblog and From There to Here has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would like a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked Jay's interview, please also add a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Jeanette Boquist wrote 11 years ago:

I think she did an awesome interview, lots of good information for people going to other places.

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