You foreigners who are working in Norway are of course living in Norway; which part is easier? By ‘living’ I mean all the things you do outside of work, from shopping at the grocery store to…what, exactly? What do you do during the rest of the time that’s not included in your 37.5 hour work week? How much of that time is spent in contact with what we might loosely call ‘real Norwegians’? How much do you know about what’s going on in Norway? At your local level? At the national level?
These questions aren’t meant to criticize your behavior; you’re just trying to get along in your adopted country. Rather, they come from my own experience as well as curiosity to find out how other workers here spend their hours when not at their workplace. It makes me think of the term integration, a word that’s always been relevant but has been even more in the media and therefore minds of us readers/viewers in recent times. So what do you do to integrate yourself? What should you do, if anything, to speed this process along to its…conclusion? Is there ever a conclusion to it?
Big questions in a short blog, ones which I’ve tried to answer both for myself and the foreigners who attend my English-speaking courses on how to perform well in this country’s various workplaces and/or job-seeking market. While these courses aren’t meant to be places for heavy theoretical discussions about the very concept of integration, I’ve stopped being surprised about how much people want to talk about what it means to them.
But back to the questions listed at the top, because when I put these to my participants, they most often answer that they don’t really know a lot about what’s happening in their community and therefore they’re not really involved in it. They don’t really know what’s happening on the national scene and what issues people are talking about or what, for example, the government’s doing to create new jobs in southern Norway as other ones have disappeared due to the downturn in the oil industry. Or perhaps do away with cash payments to parents of preschool children. Or investing in renewable energy research. Or building a new highway from Arendal to Tvedestrand.
Should they know? Should they care?
We talk about these things, will have to write again soon about what these people say and the conclusions we draw together when trying to figure ‘it’ all out. Do you have it figured out? Just what does integration mean to you?