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Expat-Talk (4): Working in Norway

In this series, we've asked expats and former expats to talk about their experiences abroad. The fourth is Ines Maria Stögerer who worked in Bergen, Norway, during her master’s degree in 2015

While studying I worked part time (and during the semester break full time) in the supply chain team at the Marine Harvest Group in Bergen. The Norwegians are – this is not just a cliché – really extremely friendly. And although everyone speaks English very well, it was still important to learn Norwegian. Norwegians are proud of their country. Contrary to what one might expect, the Norwegians are friendly and polite, but at the same time rather reserved and cautious. If you really want to be part of the community and be properly integrated, you have to speak the language.

There is no power distance

The team was more mixed and diverse than one experiences in German companies. Many women even work in logistics. What was also very striking was that it was not as hierarchical as in Germany. Although I was only an intern, I never felt it at meetings or in the daily interactions with my colleagues. There is no power distance here. And you’re really cared for by the company – something we only know from Silicon Valley. There was a free lunch buffet every day, and since we worked in two shifts, the employees who worked the late shift were also taken care of as there were sandwiches and yogurt always available in the kitchen.

After work at home

The work-life balance is very important to Norwegians, as is family. It’s the system that carries you. The “hygge” concept is actually lived here – working hours are correspondingly more humane. Working until you drop and excessive overtime as an end in itself don’t exist here. And something that also surprised me is that when colleagues arrange to meet after work, they rarely meet in a bar or a restaurant – you invite people to your home. Afterwork hygge, so to speak.

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