flying high like a lead baloon

Posted: April 10, 2012 in not really sure

Ever had the feeling like your life is making the sound of a car wreck?

I have been doing some reflecting of late and thinking about where I am am in life.  Trying to reconcile what is happenning in my life, how that compares to where I wanted to be and trying to identify what has happenned to influence the outcome and shape the current state of affairs.

Currently, I live ina country that I don’t have any real affinity for, that has a culture that I don’t really respect to any great degree (there are exceptions, but I am generalising…), I am in what can only be described as a loveless marriage, I bearely see my kids, have had to move 160 km from ‘home’ to get a job (not a career) and have no social life to speak of.

In short, I am just not ‘living’.

so, to break it down;

Moved to Norway with my wife, to her home town, a small town in the mountains that is still living on the glory of its past.

Whilst learning the language (or what passes for language here), had to settle for simple jobs where the language barrier wasn’t as important.  The town doesn’t have a lot of full time, year round jobs, predominately season work which is crap money and long hours.

Over time, whils working around the clock (went years without getting a full nights sleep, always holding extra jobs), managed to get a house.

Managed to secure some full time work, went well for a while, first job ended as a dead end, no room to grow, working with people who are still acting like 16 year olds isn’t really inspiring.  next job ended after not getting paid for months and a long battle for holiday pay.  Next job went well for a few years, given opportunity to grow, learn and expand, put in long hours, but enjoyed the responsibility and positive feedback from my customers.  This came to an end when a new boss came along and in no unclear terms made it known that as a foreigner, I was held to different standards, made life a living hell, generally ensuring that the work environment was so toxic that there was no choice but to leave.

A few season jobs in between, just to pay the bills.  Nice people, but lousy money (odd that over a few years, the pay never increased at all….

secured a new job, initally turned down as I was informed I was over-qualified.  But up in the boonies, where the hillbillies grow, not a lot of choice.  After a year, make the discovery that staff who are not Norwegian are being underpaid (in effect we were subsidising higher pay for the Norwegians)  When meeting with the boss am told that foreigners are all incompetent and that we have no qualifications at all as the education system outside of Norway is inferior (all very Nazi master race).

Still waiting for backpay, was a union member, but oddly they weren’t very interested in helping the staff.  The company was even in the papers nationally as one of its premises burnt down and the extent of some of their employment practices came to light.  Clearly illegal, but they keep on keepin on…

After trying my hand at starting my own business, had to recognise that it just wasn’t worth it as kept having Norwegians try to scam me out of paying their bills.  Just not worth the shit.

Give up on Geilo, this town is just not worth it.

Find a job in Kongsberg, nice people, busy, lots to do.

but it is a job, not a career.

I am now 43.  I think the career boat may have left the dock for me.

Have notied that my wife never calls, never shows affection, hell, in 10 years of marriage, has never initiated any act of intamacy.  Cold Norwegians, ice in their blood….

When asking my wife if she misses me at all (as she never shows it, or mentions it), she actually says that she doesn’t and that it is good that I am away as she needs the space because I wasn’t ‘positive’ all the time and was depressed and angry.

Wonder why?

So now feel like I am a life support system for a pay-check.

This sucks.




  1. DC says:

    Jesus…I thought I had it tough when I first got here, but I guess where you are living doesn’t make it easier for you. Surely, there are more job chances here in Oslo for you?

    • The one major influencing factor I have identified is how WHERE you live determines what doors are open to you as a foreigner here. Another biggie that I have noticed is that the concept of ‘potential’ is not a luxury that us immigrants are afforded here, whether it is due to discrimination, fear, trepidation or downright ignorance, I am not sure. The longer I have been here, the more I have observed how Norwegians, with no formal training or relative experience are given opportunities to prove themselves and grow, promoted, secure desirable career positions in areas where they can move forward.
      As an immigrant, and perhaps due to my age and that for the last 13 years I have been, due to where I lived, stuck in an evil circle of season jobs and downright, menial labour positions, many doors now appear to be closed to me.
      My background is diverse, hopping from place to place, doing radically different jobs, adapting to new systems, work and national cultures. Many of the positions I have held have been pretty much resource poor, just pointed in a direction and expected to deliver, which I have. Whilst in Norway, I have found I am often in a position where others are paid more than me for essentially the same position, whilst I am running around not only doing my own job, but often having to clean up or finish the job of my Norwegian collegues. This is an experience that I have been told is common to many foreigners here.
      My wife suggests that whereas I perrcieve it as a ‘master race’ complex, Norwegians actually have a ‘little man’ complex, scared of being shown up or a dislike or distrust of foreigners in the work culture.
      Perhaps because I come from a multicultural society, i find this near impossible to understand, but fighting against it is like pushing runny shit uphill with a pointy stick.
      I am in Kongsberg now and have been trying to secure employment in the technology park, I figured that my mother tongue of English, along with my education and work experience that has developed skills such as self reliance, an understanding of the ‘why’s’ in business, the ability to meet deadlines, a strong work ethic and acceptance of accountability would be of interest in the International business environment here, but alas, no luck yet.
      Perhaps most frustrating is that so many of my friends here, educated Norwegians, all cannot understand why I cannot secure a career position with some of the larger companies, as their contacts all comment that they need people with excellent English who understand Norwegian, who are flexible and are prepared to put in the hours and commitment to get the job done. Combined with their comments on what positions they believe I am suited for, it is somewhat frustrating and demotivating to not only be constantly rejected, but to not even be given the courtesy of any response at all from many of the positions I reply to.
      Not sure what the path ahead is, but pretty sure it will involve anti-depressants and learning how to do the ‘Norwegian shrug’ and just accept things as they are instead of pursuing opportunity and excellence.
      Not sure I can do that…..

      • dc says:

        well put…but, you will get a lot more job opportunities if you are in Oslo. Kongberg or Geilo is certainly not the multi-cultural atmosphere that I experience in Oslo. Also, after living here since 1998 from the Gold Coast, I’ve learnt to play the Norwegian workplace game. It might go against alot of what I believe in, but I play it, and do things my own way in the end.

        I’ll put together a few workplace phrases from Norwegian to Australian english (which I see all the time here):

        “Team-work”: I don’t know how to do this, so I’ll call a meeting and get someone else to do it. I’ll still take all credit.

        “Its a process”: this sounds like a decision will need to be made. I’m not ready yet.

        “We come from the same town”. this guy will get the job, no matter what

        “Conflict situation”: I don’t like this, lets call a meeting

        “Commitee”: See “team-work”

        “Thats a different division”: this sounds like work is needed, I don’t want to do it. I’ll organise a meeting

        “Documentation”: what is that?

        I can go on, and on…:-)

        You have to see this as a game here in Norway. Play the game, but don’t make waves. As a foreigner, you are on the back foot here, by making a scene it makes it even harder for you. I feel your pain though – we have all been there.

      • Reading that brough a big grin to my face, de ja vu big time…Yep, they certainly love their meetings here, seems to me that the only thing that comes out of a meeting (that actually happens) is that they agree to have another meeting. Currently looking into getting some professional career guidance, try and indentify the skills that are marketable, what certification I may need to secure a meaningful career opportunity and also how to market myself (CV) in the Norwegian employment market. But I hear what you are saying, problem is I just give too much of a shit about my work to adopt the entire ‘hands in my pockets, head down-nothing I can do about it’ attitude….

  2. sw says:

    Whilst I sympathise with what is obviously a difficult situation – think it is important to keep things in perspective. Ie -ask yourself, how would a girl from oslo (not speaking english for real comparisons sake) go being transported to some small country town in the middle of nowhere in australia. I personally reckon she would struggle. Does this make australia a bad place?

    • Simon, This is an issue I struggle with and have considered on many occasions. But, I am here and it is the situation I find myself in that I am concerned with.
      You do have a very valid point though.

      • DC says:

        I think simon has touched on the most important point here – do you speak Norwegian? How long have you been here for?

      • Been here 13 years, speak and read Norwegian fluently, can write it but not grammatically perfect.
        No worries understanding the language, just wasted 13 years in a backard hillbilly outpost with no career opportunities if you weren’t Scandinavian.

  3. NW says:

    I agree with all the comments and can relate to everything being said, having only been in Norway for 1 year and experiencing all those same issues with culture, and career etc i decided to leave. It was not an easy decision to make (and sometimes still ongoing) but the fact that I was not married to my partner and we had no children made the decision easier but the prospect of staying to achieve all that whilst looking forward to unhappiness and career suicide didn’t seem like something I could live with either. Its a choice you make for your long term happiness. what ever it is, stay or go your the only one that lives your life and you’re the only one that will regret not living it when the time comes. At the end of the day there is no point laying blame or pointing fingers we’re all repsonsible for leading our own lives. As per the comment above, if you give enough of a shit about your own life and its direction, sometimes you need to make some tough decisions or “put up and shut up” and accept that, thats the choice you have made to be happy.

    Australia is not a perfect place either but our society (generaly speaking) has evolved into such a multicultural mix that anything less is hard to deal with sometimes, I am not blonde, blue eyed or fair skinned and infact quite the opposite and not being fluent in norsk I really struggled being in certain situations, but it really is then up to you as to how much control you take in the situation and how much negativity you chose to carry with you. Having travelled ALOT and having lived in 4 countries I faced more racism and culture shock living in norway than I have anywhere in my whole life. Norwegians were always surprised and shocked to hear this mainly because most of the time they had no idea of the impact they were having. Socially they are still a developing country and with time and people from different places migrating to Norway things will evolve just as they did in Australia all those years ago, however in the present moment its a tough place to be if you’re not prepared to let certain things go.

    I don’t see my experience as a case of tried and failed, it’s just a case of tried and tried and it’s just not for me! To those who stick it out. good on ya, and for some I’m glad and for others I hope its a better experience than what I had.

    • You are lucky, you got out.
      I have heard that the best place in Norway, the most inspiring, beautiful and soul freeing place for any foreigner is the departure lounge at a Norwegian airport.

  4. michelle says:

    I hear you..

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