November 2013 ----- Written by Gordon Ramsay, JWC Head Community Support Branch
Published first in JWC's The Three Swords magazine; Issue. No 25
Celebrating our 10th anniversary also allows us a bit of time to reflect upon the welcoming nature of our Norwegian hosts as well as the myriad of activities, events and opportunities that abound in the region of ourselves and our families. As recently as 2008, the city and municipality of Stavanger was chosen as the European Capital of Culture. There are numerous annual events, such as Gladmat, Blink, and even more local festivals, inclu ding Sirdalsdagane, Jaerdagen, Julebyen Egersund and the Finnøy tomato festival coupled with numerous live music concerts and events for all tastes. The recently opened Stavanger Concert Hall has a wide spectrum of music concerts, and the Rogaland Theatre offers an extensive range of theatre productions. Museums abound, from the Norwegian Petroleum Museum to the Jaermuseet, which is made up of altogether 13 units and the 10 different museums of the Stavanger Museums Association (MUST). A visit to the Museum of Archaeology, the Iron Age Farm, or the prehistoric re-constructed village of Landa, will be of interest to all family members.
For those who enjoy sports and outdoors recreation and activities, again, the possibilities are almost endless. Sai ling, fishing, kayaking and canoeing can be done almost anywhere within a short drive, the sand beaches of Orre are fantastic on a warm summer day and hiking can be done on almost all types of terrain and challenge levels. For Nordic and downhill ski enthusiasts, Sirdal is a short drive away, or you could decide to take the ski-boat to Sauda. One may even try dog-sledding! Professional sports teams in handball, ice hockey and football provide other choices, especially to enjoy the atmosphere at such live events.
Our children can broaden their horizons by meeting and making friends in the local community, at schools, or on local sports clubs. If they are interested in swimming, horse riding, football, gymnastics, dance or scouts, it may be found in each municipality and area. The multinational environment of both the JWC and the city of Stavanger is truly enriching. With hundreds of expatriate families living in the area, it truly is a cultural melting pot where one can enjoy Turkish cuisine, salsa dancing or Lebanese music.
While living and working in a foreign country is both exciting and challenging, information and networks provide advice, tips and assistance. The Stavanger Chamber of Commerce's International Network of Norway (INN) and the volunteer-run expatriate organization People Who Connect (PWC) are two such networks, which welcome us and our families, providing useable and pertinent information and allowing us to meet others who share our interests and are very willing to pass along their experiences, knowledge and suggestions.
So, while the Stavanger municipality has activities, attractions and opportunities for almost all tastes and interests, one must become engaged. With the friendliness and openness of our hosts, this is relatively easy. It is not difficult to enroll your children in sports or recreation activities or yourself in a service club such as the Red Cross or Lions Club. All of these organizations are well used to questions and inquiries from expatriates and are generally very eager to welcome us. Taking the time to learn some Norwegian and to practice it with our hosts always goes a long way and, most importantly, there is nothing to be either nervous or anxious about.
Norway is an extremely family and activity-oriented society. Get to know what is happening, explore differing areas, try new foods and become acquainted with good clothing! By immersing ourselves in local activities and attempting new things, our short stay in this fantastic area will be rewarding and enrich our and our families' lives with memories that will last a lifetime.