I recently discovered a newspaper online for foreigners in Norway.

It is called ‘The Foreigner’ and provides a different perspective on the news here as well as being in English, which is helpful for those newly arrived who haven’t gotten their heads around the confusion that they call the Norwegian Language.

A brilliant article recently on an Englishmans perpective and experiences from moving to the Western part of Oslo really made me laugh and I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points raised.  It even made it into Aftenposten.

Here is the link:


By far the most interesting element were the comments below the article and the general agreement from foreigners and Norwegians living abroad or who had lived abroad for a stretch as well as the utter disbelief and condemnation by Norwegians who completely missed the point of the article.

The complete lack of self irony in Norway, combined with the ‘us vs them’ mentality can be extremely exhausting at times.

My experiences of being excluded from opportunities due to my foreigner status, being underpaid (effectively having my wages stolen from me) by employers and seeing the mechanisms that supposedly exist via the law, the arbeidstilsynet and even the unions being not applicable to foreigners along with the daily observation of the complete lack of interest Norwegians seem to have in attempting to learn and do things better and smarter at work frankly terrifies me.

With all the chaos currently engulfing Europe,  not to mention the U.S, the slowdown in India and China (the major rowth engines in the world economy) I would have thought that Norway would be preparing for an major economic downturn.  But the repeated mantra of ‘we have it so good, we are the best (at everything ever invented, ever!) and the utter disbelief that Norway will ever be anything than rich (yet unable to afford any meaningful infrastructure construction, yet alone maintainence) and that things will always be brilliant leads me to begin to worry about the future here.

The current situation where government employees have been on strike in a country where almost 1/3 of working age Norwegians are either directly or indirectly employed by the government seems to defy logic.  With the collapse of the Greek economy, do they not see or understand that this approach is unsustainable?

No, there are many pieces of a much grander puzzle that appear to indicate that the Norwegian approach to anything that contradicts their ‘positive’ approach is ignored and denied that worries me and I can’t help but feel that the curent trending for foreigners to be hung out as being incompetent, dishonest, a drain on the Norwegian economy (latest study by the SSB) and that we don’t contribute to the society, but are a direct threat to it points to some sort of eventual confrontation and unpleasant times ahead.

The way I see it is that if people want to stick their heads up their arses to hide from uncomfortable truths or indications, well fair enough.  But demanding that I join them is not an option, it is dark up there and smells like shit.



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.




Well, doesn’t time fly…

Posted: March 26, 2012 in not really sure

Big hi to everyone, sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but the new job has kept me flat out, especially working outside in minus 20….

Still perusing the job ads looking for the elusive career opportunity, but as yet, not a lot of luck.

I would have thought that in Kongsberg, my English skills would have been advantageous over in the technology park, especially from many of the comments  hear from people that work there, but alas, it would seem that Norwegians cultivated on Americanisms get the jobs……

Been following the news a lot of late, is it just me or is the current Norwegian government like some kind of keystone cops version of organised crime, except they aren’t organised.

So far, there are pedophiles, corruption scandals, liars and a complete inability to recognise a conflict of interest.

So, good to know the country is in good hands and as the media has been telling anyone who will listen, that it is us immigrants that present the greatest threat to the nation and its culture.

Still trying to actually understand what the culture is, other than drinking like teenagers, living in a perpetual state of blind optimism, taking as much time off as possible and settling for ‘it’ll do’ for everything.

That was harsh, there are lots of good things, just can’t name any right now….

So, how has everyone been?



Had an interesting experience today, not really sure how I feel about it yet, angry or just resigned…

A job opening came up working for an employer I would love to work for, doing something that I would love to do, something I could sink my teeth into and something that I know I could do well.

Now, I have recently been working via an agency on a 3 month contract, and have been offered full time work directly for the business which  accepted.  The job is fine, the people I work with are nice and the general environment is very pleasant, the only hitch is that it is a job, not a career.

It is overtly physical and I spend a great deal of time outside, regardless of the weather and winter is closing in.  Some of my colleagues have recently commented that it got down to minus 25 in the work area last year.  Quite frankly, this worries me as it is not as if we are issued ski clothing due to the tasks we carry out, so I cannot help but wonder how my body will tolerate this type of temperature in ‘work clothes’.

Anyway, I had my attention drawn to the open position by somebody who works for the company and knows me from when I worked on the ski-lifts in Geilo (we get ski clothes) and reccomended me to apply.

I had just signed my work contract the day before and I thought the timing was typical, but thought, ‘why not?’  So an application was duly sent.

I dared to dream, to reach for my aspirations, to take a shot.

The next thing I know, the job agency, who is also handling this job call me and want to know why I have sent an application for this position when I have been offered a full time job at the place I am at now (they were unaware I had accepted a full time position).  I found this to be a little disconcerting and asked why I shouldn’t apply.

I was then informed that it could make the agency look bad, which I get, but at the same time I think to myself, ‘this is my life, this is what I do with over a 3rd of my time and I know I can do better, can realise more of my potential and hell, this is my dream job’.

After a lot of to and fro-ing, where I went into length about what sort of position I seek for the long term and that I have been open and honest with my new employer about my desires to secure a career position with a more international organisation, thus I am not going behind anyone’s back or deceiving anyone I was urged to not apply for any jobs for at least 6 months so as to not embarrass the agency.

Now, the way I see it is that it is a good thing for me to aspire to be the best I can, to make the best contribution I can in society and that if I do something that I like, that I will be better at it.  I also thought that if I objectively considered my current position, taking into account the fact that it is a position that has limited growth or promotional potential, will not include a great deal of training and being overtly physical, exposed to the Norwegian elements and taking into account that I am not a teenager anymore, that perhaps looking into potential alternatives and pursuing my aspirations was a good thing.

But again, the cold reality of life as a foreigner, an ‘utlending’ slaps my face with the cold fish of the reality that I must now operate within.

The paradigm, the ever present dogma of life in this god-forsaken excuse for a country is that as a foreigner, I am expected to work, to have a ‘job’ and to be eternally grateful for the privilege of living here.  I am not worthy of having dreams, aspirations, goals or expectations above my station.

Now, I have heard many similar stories from other ‘utlending’ in Norway, our previous experience counts for nothing, as all Norwegian business’s are world leaders at everything, so we have no competence, that our education is irrelevant or not good enough (we all know how the Norwegian education system is the best in the world and is reflected in the world school rankings) and that in essence, we just aren’t competent or suitable for any of the good positions.

But the basic stuff, the low paid, laborious, mundane and degrading positions, those that Norwegians deem themselves too good for, those we can do.

So, I am trying now to reach a decision, should I continue to struggle on, to dream and reach for something better?

Or should I just give up and trudge through my existence here, living my life by the rules and desires of others?

Not sure which one involves the less pain and will be easier to reconcile with my soul, if there is any left in this land that seems to suck the life right out of us.


The top 1%

Posted: October 18, 2011 in not really sure

Reading the news lately and following the unravelling of the worlds economic system (remember economics is an art, not a science), I can’t help but have a recurring thought…

The top 1%, as they are referred to, the ultra rich and ‘powerful’ usually are directly involved with numbers, be it banking, investment, running globalised business, politics, etc.

Surely they remember basic mathematics and have some grip on history?

1% is a lot less than 99% .

Remember Colonel Custer?

Take everything away from people, they have nothing to lose and you have no real power over them.

The occupy wall street protest are I suspect the beginning of something even bigger, riots in Rome and Greece, the Arab Spring, the signs are there that the current state of affairs is unsustainable and unravelling.

The western governments response to protests and calls for change, in a supposedly democratic, free society have been brutal, heavy handed and more reminiscent of dictatorships and military juntas.

The E.U represents everything that millions died to prevent in 2 world wars.  Unelected elitist aristocrats lining their pockets, forcing policies on member states that contravene domestic policies and laws, whilst trying to rescue a doomed monetary union of extremely diverse states and cultures.

What worries me is what comes next.

And what it means for my children.

Over the last year, I have been one of many former employees who worked for an Asylum Mottak operator called Link AS who are trying to get money owed to us for unpaid loading (tillegg) and the like.

Most of us worked a 7 day roster, odd hours and on public holidays as well.  We were paid a set monthly wage, regardless of if any of these days fell within the pay period.  The union was informed and the process of trying to rectify this began.

Myself, I worked a night guard, 7 days on, 12 hour shifts starting at 10 pm and then 7 days off.  This contravened the employment laws as to the maximum hours allowed in a week.  The bsiness had no dispensation from these laws, thus it was operating illegally.

After one of the Mottaks was burnt down by the asylum seekers (our daily manager and Lier mottak’s was the same person) and media attention was focussed on the operator, we saw that some demands for unpaid overtime and public holiday loading were met, with the excuse that it was the accountants fault.

The ensuing media coverage exposed employees had been orking hundreds of hours overtime without the correct remuneration, for a long time and despite being informed, had ignored the issues and not heeded the warnings from frontline staff in regard to the ‘mood’ within the mottak prior to the events that resulted in its closure.

I even heard of one situation where the mottak leader, when being confronted by the asylum seekers about the lack of food provided threw grass at them and told them to eat that.  Bit of a worry?

At the time I was the union rep (tillitsvalgt) and made enquiries to the UDI and the arbeidstilsynet (industrial relations tribunal) to try and obtain some clarification as to what the actual rights were, due to many different opinions and a lot of misinformation and guesswork by some of the employees.

It is important to understand how this particular employer operates and their attitude towards immigrants in Norway, especially given the important socual responsibility they have been imbued with by the Norwegian government in regards to integration and the fate of Asylum seekers in Norway.

Link As has an operational policy of employing Scandinavians, predominately Norwegians into the management roles within its Asylum Mottaks, the more operational roles, that is the shit jobs are filled mostly by foreigners, many of which are former Asylum seekers.

They have a standard work contract with a set yearly wage, that makes no mention of overtime, public holidays, weekends or the like.  It also does not mention anywhere that the figure is all inclusive of all loading and extras that are incurred in accordance with the industrial relations laws in Norway.

They operate under a tarriff, much the same as most employers in Norway, yet seem to have a very interesting and self serving perspective in their interpretation of how th tariff operates.  They have recently changed to another tariff which will allow them to pay people even less and greatly reduces employees rights in regards to working public holidays, nights and weekends.  This in a country where free time and family time are deemed sacrosanct.

It would appear that it is only Norwegians that are deemed to have the need for free time or family time.

After I made some enquiries, a meeting with 2 of the senior management was called to try and work out what was going on and what could be done to rectify the situation and restore some trust and harmony between employees and management.

During this meeting, an interesting thing happened that confirmed many of my suspicions about immigrants standing in the scheme of things in Norwegian society.

I am white, speak Norwegian and this can sometimes lead Norwegians, in the heat of a discussion to forget I am a foreigner.

I was informed by management, and an overtly aggressive economic manager (who had the appearance of a dishevelled bum) that the reason that the wage levels were so low and the difference between Norwegians pay and foreigners pay for the same job and level of responsibility was that foreigners were incompetent and did not deserve to be paid the same as Norwegians.  A rather apartheid approach I thought.

the next thing that happened suprised and disturbed me even more.  The operational manager went on to ask about private correspondence that I had sent to the UDI in regards to seeking clarification about wage levels.  That the Government department had contacted and given my details to the management of a private operator in what I would rightly consider to be a matter that was confidential was an eye opener and confirmed many of my suspicions in regards to collusion and a ‘cover up’ by a department that has been exposed to be ineffective and riddled with incompetence.

This was the last straw for me and I resigned my position, working for elitist scum like this is not worth it and bugger me if I will boost their bottom line through my efforts.

Anyway, eventually the union gave up and took the matter to the courts where as I understand a judgement was made that the union and the operator, via the NHO would negotiate and make restitution.   Oddly, the operator and NHo have been able to blankly refuse to meet for any negotiations without any fear of repercussions or punitive damages which makes me suspect collusion and perhaps even corruption emenating from a government department.

Remember, in Norway, it is the government that is the biggest offender, via private operators, like Adecco, that have repeatedly been found to be breaking the laws in regard to pay and conditions.

So now, over a year later, we are still waiting to hear if we will get the money that is owed to us for loading.  Some have filed for over 100 000,- NOK in money owed.

As usual, the company is crying foul and playing the poor card, saying they don’t have the financial resources, oddly, they seem to have plenty for management.

So, the point here is that the Norwegian arbeidslov, or industrial relations law, will  not protect you from unscrupulous employers.  The actions of profiteering scumbags will be condoned and thus, encouraged by a system that will not act until media coverage is so damning and frontpage news.  It is only through publicly shaming that these types of employers will then take some steps to rectify the situation, but only temporarily.

As a foreigner in Norway, be aware, be careful, learn your rights and make your decisions wisely.

For what it is worth, I have secured new employment , via manpower, who I have found to be very above board and on the level, helpful and more interested in what I can do, not where I was born.

My new full-time employer is great, the people I work with inclusive and again, they don’t give a shit where I come from, just what I can do and that I do my job.

It is worth the hard work to search, and look for better if you feel you have been treated unfairly or are subject to discrimination.

We only live once…except for reincarnationists…

The last few days has been like something out of the twilight zone.

First a friend died in a base jumping accident, a great guy, loved by all who knew him and a real ray of sunshine in an otherwise often overcast world.

Arne, gonna miss seeing you around, rest in peace mate.

Then the events that unfolded on Friday 22 July in Oslo centre and on Utøya.

I watched this unfold on the tv whilst down at the hytte with the family and a lot of the extended family, so surrounded by laughing kids and people who are dear to my heart.

All of us adults were transfixed in disbelief at what we were seeing on the news and when the reports from Utøya began it was completely indescribable.

So I want to just reach out and say that for all those who are directly affected, my heart bleeds for you.  To the nation of Norway, the people and culture of this land, the way people have reacted, consoling one another, keeping composure and not resorting to the rage and need for revenge that are all too easily dominant, you have my heartfelt condolences and respect.

This madman has committed such an atrocious act, evil to its core and unfathomable in its enormity and scale that it defies understanding. As the details emerge of just how sick this abomination of an excuse for a person thought through and meticulously planned this heinous act I cannot help but feel that our thirst for information may not be in our best interests.

This scum-bag seeks attention, he wants some sort of pedestal from which to publicise his twisted logic and I am grateful that the Norwegian Justice system denied him that today in court.

My own feeling on this matter, what to do with him, the 21 year sentence limit in Norway and the nagging desire to see him come to some horrible end is tempered by my belief in the rule of law and that out of such sorrow, shock and horror, good will emerge.

I  have made it reasonably clear that I am not the greatest fan of many Norwegian cultural traits and that I am not particularly engendered of the Arbeider party, however, I believe that debate, discussion, the environment where it accepted that people will disagree and the political system we use (despite its many flaws) are important in how we grow and learn, how we identify our place and role in a greater society.  We live together, we interact and are all responsible for our own actions and somewhat for the actions of others.  Society is greater than any one of us and only by cooperation and tolerance, openness and compassion can we strive to learn, grow and be greater.  Our strength is often derived from those who stand with us and in those we would seek to protect.  That someone would take noble ideals and aspiration then twist them into some unrecognisable hatred and self justifying act of mass murder is to me just completely without any logic or semblance of understanding.

Resorting to mindless violence has never ever achieved anything good or progressive that is worth defending.  Scare tactics designed to motivate by fear are pointless and will never succeed in a robust culture and that has been made very clear by how people are responding; with outpouring of love and solidarity.  IT is amazing to see that race, colour and creed are forgotten, the desire for status and the separation of classes are discarded as all feel the deep wound and void that such a horrendous act creates.

There are no words that I can imagine will help to ease the pain of a nation, or those who have lost loved ones in such a barbaric manner.

All I can say is that I truly feel for you and I too am left with the question that is booming in my mind…Why?

To all those who lost their life in the events of July 22nd 2011…Rest in peace



So, I have secured a job and have even found myself an aprtment in Kongsberg in which to live during the week.

The thing is, the apartment is a 2 bedroom and it costs a bit for 1 person, so….

If you know of someone who is looking for a place in Kongsberg, nice and central, big bedrooms, fireplace (oven actually) and walking distance from a great jazz pub, drop me a line.

There are 2 verandahs, a decent kitchen (no dishwasher- so old school) and it is a charming old house.  We have a Kiwi pretty much next door so last minute groceries are no worries.

4000,- NOK a month plus power, I am going to sort out internet and subject to the landlords approval, all will be fine.

So, we split the rent (4000,- each a month), the electricity, internet and satellite tv costs and make new friends…

I am open minded as to sex, sexuality, race, religion, colour, height and tastes in music, all I ask is that you are not a slob and that we keep it down a bit, the landlord lives downstairs and has kids…

Besides, if we need a pint, we can walk to the jazz pub.


You find me in a position of need…


Due to my locating new employment in Kongsberg I find myself in need of accommodation.

I begin work on the 1st August so am looking to locate something starting a few days before if possible.

Thankfully it seems that in Kongsberg, my skills and experience are more important than my Nationality…YES!!!

So I ask you, implore you, if you know of somebody who has an apartment, a hybel or the like, a room to rent in the Kongsberg area, please drop me a line.  I can share a place, have no problems with pets (I grew up in a house that was like a Zoo), no prejudices on religion, sexual orientation or the like, in fact, if I’m honest, living in Geilo has made me realise that I miss having gay friends in my life.

So, I am on my knees, begging, help……

I am looking to pay around 5000,- pr month rent but can squeeze a bit higher if I must.

Cheers and sorry to be such a needy bastard…

Well, It has been a busy few weeks…

The job hunt has borne fruit and I begin a new position in Kongsberg from the 1st of August.

Now I just have to find accommodation in the area, any tips or leads will really be appreciated…cutting it close, as usual.

My wife managed to hijack me away fro a week for a family vacation to Denmark.  Great to spend time with the kids and share some new experiences with the family.

Made a few observations during the trip I thought I’d share…

I noticed first of all that in Denmark, they can build roads.  dual carriageways and the ashfalt is not falling apart everywhere.  Perhaps the Norwegians can have a quiet chat with them and pick up a few pointers.  Also a lack of speed cameras, which was odd as if we are to believe all the ‘road safety experts’ in Norway, I should have seen multi car fatal car accidents everywhere yet oddly, everything was moving smooth and without problems, in fact it felt much safer than driving the main road from Oslo to Bergen that passes through Geilo.  And we were doing nearly twice the speed in some areas that we travel in Norway..

Yes, yes, I know the geography is different, but that old excuse is too old to have any weight, after so many years, surely all the engineers must have formulated solutions?

Another interesting feature was the lack of large luxury S.U.V’s everywhere, in fact the only ones I saw were Norwegian registered.  Seems that the Danish have less of a need to ‘flash the cash’ and are more secure in the size of their genitalia than the Norwegians..  This is perhaps one oof the contributing factors as to why it felt safer driving there..less arrogant, angry, intolerant cashed up dickheads on the road.

Customer service was pleasant to experience again, walking into a shop and being recognised and asked if I needed help.  Meeting people that smiled and were engaged in their work, taking pride in the job they did was particularly nice and engenders a real desire to return.  We visited different attractions and hotels, all the time met by people who were genuinely friendly and hospitable, ready to assist us in any way.  Many of the staff we encountered were young people, most likely in summer jobs that are not well paid, yet they were brilliant.  Again, Norway, perhaps sit down and have a chat with these people, you could learn a few things…

As we were mainly visiting tourist areas it was a great surprise to see presentation was considered.  Buildings were maintained, roads were good, signage excellent and everything we interacted with was well presented and created a feeling of value for money.  even popping into a supermarket to pick up some food for our day at legoland was pleasant with the parking attendant telling us not to bother paying for parking as we were tourists and at the time didn’t have any Danish currency, he even gave us a free indicator for the windscreen that you set at the time you park – these are common in Denmark.  I cannot imagine getting the same treatment in Norway, have the suspicion that they would have identified every possible way to collect money and the entire trip would have been multiple times the cost.

Things were cheaper, food, drink, hotels, you name it, which seems odd considering that they have very similar tax systems to Norway.  Perhaps it was that they had figured out that by pricing correctly to the market, people bought more, so lower profit per item was overcome by volume of sales?  Who knows, but even my wife, who is a ‘Halling – known for fiscal frugality’ was more liberal in her ability to part with money.

Now recently I have been reading in the papers that the Norwegian tourist industry is going through tough times, visitor numbers are down, spending levels are down per visitor and many areas of the industry are having a hard time breaking even, yet alone make a profit.

After this trip it seems rather smple as to why.  Norway offers a vastly more expensive holiday option and a much lower level of service; the product is inferior and the attitude is take it or leave it.  The tourist authorities and local tourism elite are constantly repackaging the same old outdated ideas and presenting them as new, the available local workforce  is disinterested and views the industry as undesirable due to status and wage level issues and the presentation of their product is frankly, appalling.

Whilst Norway is a beautiful country, with breathtaking nature and sights that are world class, has an exotic feel for visitors and is steeped in legend and myth regarding Vikings and the like, the actual interactive experiences for tourists are just simply, not up to scratch.

If I am paying top dollar for a holiday, my expectations are higher.  Due to the tax system in this land, which is nearly crippling for small business and high cost service industries such as tourism and hospitality,  the prices are markedly higher than in other available options for tourists and yet, the product delivered is dissapointing.

In Geilo, where I currently reside, everything looks tired, it is run down, graffiti covered or paint is falling off, the facilities are outdated, in  2011 there is no free wi fi in the town centre and the tourism operators are utterly unable to cooperate and share costs for development of things that enhance the tourist experience such as an app for the town, development of infrastructure and marketing.  Seems up here it is Everyman for themself, greed is more important than common sense and having unfinished building projects littering the area, piles of rubbish lying around and a general nonchalance to any input from us ‘outsiders’ is the modus operandi of the area.

So, there you go, a few quick observations and now down to the nitty gritty of getting myself sorted for the new job….

hope you all have had a great ‘holiday’ over the summer (or wet green autumn we have gotten) this year.