I moved from Portugal to Norway in 2014 as an exchange student at NTNU university, in Trondheim. I had never been to Norway before and I didn't know anyone.
What was supposed to be one semester in Norway turned into six years.
During my exchange I met my boyfriend Daniel. We ended up finding a one year internship in Oslo, so we rented a tiny apartment and lived with a very low salary in the most expensive country for a full year.
If you want to get a job in Norway, getting an internship first is a great way to improve your CV and show that you already have some experience working here.
Even if you already have tonnes of experience from your home country, sometimes you need to start over or accept a lower position just so you can get into the system.
In Norway everything works by references or from people knowing people, so you just need to get yourself in.
After our internship, Daniel was offered a fixed job and I decided I would try to apply for the University of Oslo and finish my Master's degree there, but the chances of that happening were slim.
Photo: Mon Amie
Every year there are 500 applicants for 15 places. Fortunately I made it.
Studying in Norway was very different from what I was used to. First of all it is free!
There were only three courses and you could choose which ones you wanted even if they had little to do with your profession.
For example I was in architecture and I could choose courses like photography, sculpture, design, etc.
The schedule was not strict at all. You decided yourself when to be at school or not. The important thing was to deliver.
What I struggled the most with was that teachers were not direct at all. They would only talk about the positives.
There weren't even grades, just pass or fail. So I was never sure if I was indeed doing a good job or not.
I officially became an architect in January 2017 and started almost instantly trying to find a job. I knew I needed to speak Norwegian so I had already started learning, but it was being extremely hard for me.
Photo: Mon Amie
Thankfully I got a job pretty quickly.
I now understand and speak Norwegian but I still struggle.
I feel that although Norwegians appreciate you trying to speak in Norwegian they easily change to English which does not help you to improve.
There are also a lot of different dialects in Norway which makes it all even more confusing.
As well as the language it's been hard to make friends with Norwegians.
Norwegians are in general polite and friendly people, always ready to help and ask how you’ve been doing.
But it all kinda stops there. If you really want to make a Norwegian friend, who invites you to stuff and really shows an interest in you, then you need to work hard and don't give up.
I’ve been living here for six years now, I have friends from all over the world, yet I only have a few Norwegian friends.
So was the move worth it?
It was definitely a journey with ups and downs and I would sometimes doubt if I was doing the right thing.
I could have stayed in Portugal but the truth is I would never have had the same quality of life I have here in Norway.
I met the love of my life, got an extremely well paid secure job that allows me to leave work at 3:30pm, to have long paid vacations, paid extra hours and so many other privileges.
On top of all of this I got to know a different culture, I learned a different language, fell in love with snow and skiing, and made a ton of friends.
I miss my family a lot but I can now easily travel to Portugal and enjoy my country 100 percent while I’m on vacation.
It can still be difficult living in a foreign country.
I miss the warm and sunny weather, the food, the Portuguese people… but nothing is ever perfect. It took time but I now feel at home here in Norway and if I could go back in time I would do it all again.
To see more from Monica Silva you can visit her YouTube channel here and follow her on Instagram here.