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Struggling in Trondheim, Norway

(13 Posts)
CRbear Sun 12-Jul-15 21:43:35


I have been living and working in Trondheim for nearly 3 years now. I have a Norwegian partner and have been learning the language, I get by but I am not "socially confident" in Norwegian.

My partner is not very social, whereas I really like to get out and be with people fairly often. He has some friends, we socialise with them infrequently and I feel very included when we do, but they are very much his friends.

I have some colleagues who I know pretty well, but no friends out of the office. We do hang out outside of work, but it feels very much like friends of convenience rather than friends we would choose in other circumstances. We're all international and that is pretty much the basis of our relationship. I am glad for them, but really feel the need for friends outside of the office who are met based on mutual interests etc.

I think not speaking the language fluently is hindering me, but despite this I tried joining lots of clubs etc. but it just didn't go anywhere. People seem to have their friends and they don't really need anymore. I worry that I also come across as desperate...which I guess I kind of am after 3 years here and no real roots. It's getting to the point where despite loving my life here for all other reasons, I am thinking about leaving.

I don't know what I am asking for here either, I guess I am wondering if anyone else has felt like this before? Maybe suggestions of what I could do. I know I need to persevere with norwegian, but I feel so demotivated, I am not even sure that it would help me really.

CRbear Sun 12-Jul-15 21:48:07

...I should add, I think a lot of my work friends feel the same about the city, like they haven't quite fit in and we get into this spiral of complaining about not meeting people and how difficult learning the language is etc. etc. and it's just awful, it makes you feel worse and yet you do it because you do feel like that and it's nice to know you're not alone. Destructive really but it bands us together!

purplemurple1 Mon 13-Jul-15 03:08:08

Have you tried facebook groups at all?
I'm in Sweden and there is a group English speaking mums in Sweden that meet up in the main cities maybe you have something similar.
I live quite rural and have found the same as you its very hard to make friends and many people just don't seem to go out much.

farflungfanny Mon 13-Jul-15 13:27:43

Not in Norway, but Sweden. I can completely sympathize with you. I am in my 6th year here. I remember around year 3 making plans to return to my native country as I just couldn't hack it here. Someone asked how long I'd been here, I said 3 years, he said "Still shit then??"
About 5 years I think was when I 'resigned' myself to being here.
At the beginning I tried to be 'me', friendly, say hi to strangers, hold the door open for people, say thank-you etc, etc..... All the things that are considered 'normal' social behavior in other countries ( I have lived in a few different places so I know this to be fact smile ) That didn't seem to work, so I tried being 'Swedish'. Avoiding eye-contact, not saying hi, letting the door slam in peoples faces, not saying thank-you etc etc....... which only depressed me as it felt so un-natural for me.
I am slowly finding a balance. I have stopped trying to make friends with Swedes, if it happens it happens, you can't force it. I have searched out other foreigners and have a reasonable network now. It is hard here and I would still move tomorrow if we could. It was a long and quite painful process when it really shouldn't have been.
No magic spell I'm afraid, some people make it, some don't.
What are the things that make you want to stay? For me it came down to the children s schooling and the security of dh's job which wouldn't be guaranteed back home. We also have a lovely house which we couldn't afford at home.
I also found that not going back for visits helped. It helped me to stop comparing lives.
P.S: I speak Swedish to Swedes when it requires and English to most other people. I have just stopped 'trying' so hard to fit in now. I am not Swedish, never will be,( not matter how fluent), wouldn't want to be Swedish even if I could.
The scene in Welcome to Sweden when the mother says to the american about being Swedish and being depressed is sort of the same thing, so it's hard to tell the difference sometimes says it all for me.......

fruitscone Wed 15-Jul-15 10:15:14

You have my sympathies. I am in Germany and have been for over 10 years and basically am happy here. And then out of nowhere, the 'foreign-ness' and 'not-nativeness' of my situation slams into me and really pulls me down.

I feel quite integrated through having kids here, speak the lingo well. And yet recently I was asked to join an english speakers groups (which I didn't know existed previously). I dithered about going because I didn't think I 'needed' it. But I went and I am loving speaking my own language and being on the same wavelength as the others.

I am on a bit of a low at the moment because at the weekend I went to a party which should have been a very integrating experience, with lots of casual acquaintances there. Yet I came away feeling the party had been shit, the natives unfriendly and that despite years of effort, I am 'the outsider'. It really pisses me off because I try really hard to make sure other outsiders don't feel like that. I also think because of where I am, I will always be the outsider (very parochial).

Then when I was already feeling delicate, yesterday an old fart felt the need to reprimand me for how I deal with my child (I was jollying him along in a no nonsense manner, not beating him black and blue you realise!) and I just thought fuck off you old git and show some solidarity with a harrassed mother. And I find this meddling busybody-ness just so very German.

And so here I am living in an idyllic setting yet aching for what I miss - my old friends from the UK who I can't quite replicate here, my extended family and always being the family without relatives on every public holiday / event etc and just feeling nostalgic for the feeling of when I got back to the UK, it's like slipping into a comfy pair of slippers. ( I know this last thought is not logical as I have been away so long, it's quite different back home now).

I don't feel like this all the time - and I guess it is bad right now as I haven't been home for a year. Normally I am very positive about Germany but you'd never believe that going by the bile I have just spouted. Sorry for hijacking your thread but just to say, I understand how you are feeling and have a hug from me!

QuintShhhhhh Wed 15-Jul-15 10:23:41

I am Norwegian, live in London, spent 3 years in Norway recently with dh and kids.

I dont know about Trondheim, but "up north", friendships are found in work, at hobbies, sports, but also among your neighbours. Many workplaces participate in sporting events run by bedriftshelsetjenesten or various, bedriftsidrettslag or decide to do bonding events such as rowing, regattas, cycle races, which bring people together in a common goal. Does your workplace offer blåtur, weekend trips for bonding and fun? Is there something like 10 på Topp, around where you are, that you can engage your co workers in? If you are interested in that sort of thing?

My husband found friends through voksenopplæringen and the language classes there, and then he volunteered with the Red Cross. He taught pensioners IT skills, and also was part of the mountain rescue and avalanche team.

We are back in London though. Not because he could not stand it. Other reasons.

CRbear Wed 15-Jul-15 10:55:14

Hi all! Thanks so much for your replies, both sympathy and suggestions!

QuintShhhh- good suggestions, I regularly 'do' things with the work clubs- recently a cycling weekend and various runs. I also go to the payday beers etc. If there's something I could conceivably try, I've done it. I enjoy myself and have a great time with the other participants but that's it...its a one off. It doesn't help that I'm not naturally sporty and it feels that those norwegian who participate in this sort of thing are practically olympians ;) the volunteering is a good idea and after having the breakdown that resulted in this post I signed up to volunteer with a bunch of organisations and will see where that goes. I work full time though and the responses so far are for day time things.

Ftuitscone- alot of what you said there really struck a chord with me. It's the out of the blue things that really get you. When im feeling really good and like ive finally 'cracked it' something happens to burst my bubble. I also feel worse immediatelying after coming back from England and funnily enough I was there last week...have a hug right back!

farflungfanny you're right about not taking too many trips back; I definitely only see the good parts of England when I'm home and the grass is always greener. I also think I have to try to care less and possibly go the foreign friends route, I always felt that to truly integrate I needed norwegian friends but it might just be too hard.

The upside is I admitted how I was feeling to some of my work mates and I was shocked to find almost all of them felt the same way! Even a norwegian who has moved back to trondheim after studying in another city. I was gobsmacked but felt alot less alone.

Another brit and I took the plunge and set up a group on Facebook ( previously there wasn't anything appropriate for me as you suggested purplemurple) and we have an unbelievable 150 people signed up in less than 24 hrs and we decided to be really brave and hold a meet up next Thurs. We obviously don't know if anyone will actually come out from behind their computer screens but I'm feeling a lot more positive for taking charge and giving it a go!

So I will see how that goes and maybe do some volunteer work if I find something appropriate...Thanks all for taking the time to help, I really appreciate it!!

QuintShhhhhh Wed 15-Jul-15 11:09:00

It sounds like you are feeling more positive and that is good!

I also think I have to try to care less and possibly go the foreign friends route, I always felt that to truly integrate I needed norwegian friends but it might just be too hard.

This really resonates with me. I moved to London in 1993, and I still dont have any English friends. Like you say, the natives seem to have enough friends, and family in their network, and there isn't room for one more. The locals are nice and friendly enough, just not interested in friendships with foreigners.

In Norway, as the kids walk to school themselves, you dont get the opportunities of striking up friendships with other mums at school like you do in Britain. I have only managed to make friends with the other foreign mums, the others are just not interested.

I struggled with being back in London. After nearly 4 years back again, I am starting to again come to terms with how life is like here. I have also concluded I must go back home less often, it is just too hard to see what I am missing on such a regular basis. My youngest son really wants to move back. My husband and older son wants to stay here. So that is what we do.

ChaircatMiaow Wed 15-Jul-15 11:20:44

Good for you OP, for taking the bull by the horns! Hope you get a good turn out smile

mrsmortis Wed 15-Jul-15 17:07:16

QuintShhhhhh, I think you'll find that there are some locals who do have room in their networks for foreigners but they tend to be those who have themselves lived as foreigners in other countries. Having lived in the US for 3 years, Switzerland for a year and being about to embark on my second stint in Germany (the first was 5 years long) I know what it is like to be the incomer and as such I go out of my way to include those incomers in my circle when I am living in the UK. (Two of them are godparents to my girls because I want them to have that international perspective.) Partly I am repaying all those who befriended me when I was a stranger in a strange land and partly I really enjoy the diversity that it brings.

fruitscone Wed 15-Jul-15 19:17:42

Well done CRBear - that sound very positive. I hope your meet up goes well!

surroundedbyblondes Wed 22-Jul-15 18:41:18

Wow! Am very impressed with your facebook group. I'm in Sweden with a swedish partner (moved here 4,5 years ago) and am not sure that I've cracked it. Language helps massively as I think that people don't have their guard up so much in social situations. For me it means having a local job with local people (yes... very league of gentlemen) but the lunch-time chats about tv, politics, what's happened in the school yard etc. are invaluable.

Ameilius Wed 01-Jun-16 17:55:05

Hei, hei CRbear I know this thread is a year old now.. But I'm moving to Trondheim this summer and would love to join your Facebook group if it's still going! I've been search but after from New in Trondheim I can't find any expat groups. Maybe I'm searching for the wrong terms? I'll be on mat.leave when we arrive and so would love to meet some people, I'm a bit worried that without work it'll be hard.. I've lived in Norway for 7yrs but further north, I'm looking forward to moving to the big city and further south! grin

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