Why did you move to Stavanger in Norway?
I decided to move from Italy to Stavanger in Norway in August 2021 for an exchange semester. I have always been interested in the Norwegian culture and nature. I imagined that both would fit introverts like me well. It turns out that Norwegian people are pretty open-minded, tolerant and interested in different cultures.
And now that you are in Norway, do you spend a lot of time in nature?
Yes, indeed. I love hiking, so last semester I went hiking almost every weekend. Sometimes I do hikes in the area close by, but I also did a 3-day trip where we slept in a tent for a few nights. Moreover, I enjoy kayaking a lot - there are endless fjords to explore here. Plus there is a lake and a forest close to my home, where I often go for a quick walk or run.
Do you also ski or snowboard?
I’m personally not into skiing and snowboarding, but almost everyone else here is! One of Harald's favourite spots is Lyngsheia, which is a 1-hour drive away from our office. I’ve heard that you can go all-year skiing on some glacier resorts, the closest being about 4 hours away from Stavanger.
Besides that, most people may not think of Norway as a surfing location, but it’s also possible to surf here. My landlord is a surfer, and he said that the Jæren area around Stavanger is the top surfing area in Norway. Surf spots like Solastranden are just 15 minutes by car from the office. Some other beaches can even be reached by train. I also took some surfing lessons - it’s way more exhausting battling the waves than I thought!
Were you afraid of the lack of light in Norway at all?
Before coming to Norway, I was mainly worried that it would rain every day. But that definitely didn’t turn out to be a problem as we also have many sunny days here. Regarding the light - it does get dark around 16:00 in the deepest winter, but that’s not too different from Italy during that time of the year. We’re still in the south of Norway!
I’ve heard there is a vast network of mountain huts - have you slept in one yet?
I haven't slept in one yet, but I know a lot of people who did. Often these huts don’t have electricity, let alone an internet connection and water must be carried from the nearby stream. So it’s a pretty good and rare way to go completely offline for a while. I would love to do that soon! Lots of Norwegians also have their own hut, so they spend their holidays there and go skiing.
How many people are living in Stavanger?
About 130,000 people - so it’s not too big or too small, and you can do a lot of things right here. There are for example many cosy small cafés in Stavanger. In the beginning, I was surprised that in most Norwegian cafés you sit on a comfy sofa and get a nice blanket. It often feels as cosy as being at home. In Italy, this is way less common!
Where are you working from?
I’m very flexible with my hours and where I work. Most days I work from the coworking space here in Stavanger. There are many startups from the mobility and smart city space working here, so it’s a nice bunch of young Norwegian and international people coming together. The office is very modern with wooden floors, lots of light and a great canteen - so it is a really nice atmosphere to work in. On Wednesdays, everyone in the coworking space has lunch together.
Do you speak mostly English in your everyday life?
Yes, although I am trying to learn Norwegian. It’s not a problem at all if you only speak English because most Norwegians indeed speak excellent English. Also, before I came to Stavanger, I joined the Facebook group “Stavanger Expats” to get a feeling of what it’s like for foreigners to live in Stavanger.
Many thanks for your time, Alessandra!
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