Living in Bergen, Norway: have you ever thought about it? If the answer is yes (or if you’re just curious about how’s life in the country of fjords) don’t miss this interview.
Erasmus in Bergen, Norway
- Basic information: we are Natalia, 29 years old, receptionist and Alberto, 30 years old, employee. We are both born in Malaga.
This interview is about your experience living in Norway.
- Why did you move to Norway back in the days? How much time did you spend there? Our adventure in Norway started with an Erasmus. I (Natalia) was in the last year of my psychology degree and I chose to make an Erasmus and between the possible destinations I found Bergen, a city located in the southwest of Norway with whom I fell in love. Erasmus lasted almost a year (from August 2014 to May 2015) but we stayed there until August 2016. After that we decided to go back to Norway in August 2017 but in a different city (Stavanger), where we lived until April 2019. Altogether they were more than 4 years.
Procedures for living in Bergen, Norway
If you want to stay more than 6 months you need to register to the fiscal authorities (Skatteetaten) in Norway (and if you are a european citizen). They give you an ID number that give you access to jobs and permit you to rent a room or an apartment.
Can you live in Norway without knowing Norwegian? Is English enough?
In Norway the 90% of the population speak English without any problem. They watch movies and tv shows in their original language so they have good language skills; so it’s actually possible to live and work there even if you only speak English. However we wanted to learn the local language taking advantage of our time there and we think it’s a really beautiful language. At the moment we can speak and understand it a bit. Obviously if you want to improve in your professional path looking for a better job, you definitely need to learn Norwegian.
How is living in Bergen, Norway?
What cultural differences have caught your attention?
There are a lot of cultural differences (even if not so many as you would say), especially about schedules for mealtimes: in Norway people use to have breakfast early in the morning, at 12 am they have lunch and then they have dinner around 5 pm. As you can see that’s really different from our habits, but we got used to it quickly and we liked it.
What are Norwegian people like?
Norwegians are generally very calm and kind people. People say that when you become friend with a Norwegian it will be a friend for life and this is definitely true, they will always be there to help you. Even if, I have to say that in my experience is kind of difficult to join an already formed group of friends or to become friend with one of them.
What’s the weather like in Norway? Is it easy to adapt to it?
As we moved in summer, at first it was okay, because it was like a winter in Malaga. In November it started to getting dark really soon during the day: some days it dawned at 9-10 am and the at 14 pm dusk already sat in. This was really hard; the lack of sun affected our body as we used to get more often tired. Bergen, the first city where we lived, is the European city where it rains the most (an average of 250 days per year), so it was difficult for us to adapt to this kind of weather but in the end we could deal with it.
What is it like to work in Norway?
What struck us the most is that they always take your opinion into consideration, even if you are a newcomer. Integration and team collaboration is very important to them and everyone must take part in it.
As for the work, on the one hand, the working day is very flexible, you work by percentage and you can plan your work schedule in a more versatile way (it always depends on the hour schedule). On the other hand, you can take additional “vacations” (apart from the stipulated ones). I mean, if you get 10 days of vacation, but you want to leave for a longer period of time, the company won’t pay you for these additional days in which you won’t be working. This can be a disadvantage and an advantage at the same time; that’s great, for example, for people like us who love to travel, as it allows you to leave longer without leaving the company (obviously the company has to agree with it!).
Where to look for a job in Norway?
On NAV you can find job offers in English and on Arbeidsplassen in Norwegian. You can also take a look at EURES to find a job before moving to the country (you have the option to use filters to see the offers in English).
Costs and quality of life in Norway
The cost-quality of life ratio in general is very good. Life is very expensive but wages are also quite good. One of the things that caught our attention the most was the price of some vegetables, specifically pepper, and alcohol (far more expensive than in Spain).
How are rental prices in Norway?
We were lucky because, as we went to study, we had access to student rent which is cheaper. We paid for a room in a student residence about 700 euros for two people (bills included). In Norway almost everyone shares a flat, as the rents are very expensive.
Tips for living in Bergen, Norway
- Would you recommend this country to live? Would you recommend the experience of living a season abroad?
Without any doubt! Living abroad is an enriching experience both personally and professionally. You learn a lot, you get to know a different culture, you meet new people and you get to know yourself and your limits, it’s great. Norway, and specifically Bergen, is one of the destinations I would recommend to anyone to live!
What were your feelings when you went back to Spain? What did it mean for you to leave your comfort zone?
Well, we feel that we have learned a lot: we have learned to value many things as family, comfort and stability. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, but we’ve also opened our minds and, in general, we’ve grown up too.
And for anyone who wants to move to Norway, any particular advise?
First of all you have to keep in mind where you are going, that the hours of light, rain, snow, cold and lack of family or friends can be really hard, but you will learn a lot, meet people who will mark you and discover a beautiful country. It can certainly be a tough, but first and foremost it will be an amazing experience.
Finally, could you tell us something about your next projects and destinations?
Well, we’ve been wanting to go back to Norway for a long time, but for now (and due to the current situation) we’ll stay in Spain. However, we have many plans and many alternatives countries where we would love to live. For example living in Australia or USA and maybe someday we will talk to you from there!
So if you are looking for a big change in your life, a better quality of life, living longer, a better salary and you also have the capacity to adapt easily to the icy climate, then Norway (a country considered by the UN as the best to live in 2021) is your destination.
Interview conducted in January 2021 with @siempreunviaje.
If you’re a fan of nordic countries, maybe you’re interested in reading our interview with Nacho about the experience of living in Denmark.
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