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David Nikel, Trondheim

Who are you?

I’m David Nikel, formerly an IT contractor from Britain but now I live and work in Trondheim, Norway, as a freelance writer.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Oslo in 2011 to take a short-term contract.Oslo was not really a deliberate choice, but the choice to leave Britain was. I needed a change, and had the luxury of picking between Riyadh, Bern, and Oslo. Three quite different places, and I chose Oslo for the work over and above the place. I didn’t enjoy the work, but I did enjoy living in the country so much that I created my own freelance business in 2013 so that I could stay.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Initially I was working in an English-speaking office with many other Brits, so there wasn’t so much of a culture shock. This also meant I struggled for opportunities to properly learn and use the language in the early years.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

My home since 2013, Trondheim, is a very international city principally due to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. It dominates the city, and many new international students arrive every year. Many of those move on after their degree, but enough stick around to make Trondheim a really interesting place to live.

What do you like about life where you are?

I like the more relaxed pace of life, and how Norwegians embrace the outdoors. I left a lot of stresses behind in England and now if anything worries me, I simply get outdoors. Every major town has a forest or fjord nearby so city dwellers don’t miss out on the experience.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

After seven years I no longer consider it an expat life! Making friends with locals is always a challenge but that just makes me value the friendships I do have even more. The high cost of living is an eternal frustration, but after so many years I’ve adjusted my lifestyle and spending habits to suit. This also means I’ve become less annoyed by the lack of diversity and choice in the supermarkets!

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The British drinking culture is most definitely not present in Norway! There are pubs and bars of course, but the concept of an all-night session or even buying rounds just doesn’t exist. Norwegians like a drink, but perhaps due to the high taxes on alcohol it’s more a case of enjoying a supermarket-bought beer after dinner.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

To be happy in Norway you have to be prepared to adapt to Scandinavian culture, at least a little. You can’t expect to move to Norway and continue to live the way you’ve always lived; if you do, you’ll be unhappy. I used to work with many British expats who wanted to continue going to the pub every Friday night and eat at restaurants most nights of the week. They were always broke, and always unhappy.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m happily living in Trondheim with my partner. We own our house so Norway is definitely on the cards for the medium-term, but as neither of us are Norwegian, who knows what the long-term future holds. As we’ve both moved away from home, the thought of living somewhere else in the future really isn’t such a big deal.

You can keep up to date with David's adventures on his website, Life In Norway.

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