Amra, Radiologist from Slovenia working in Norway
AMRA is a radiologist, born in Slovenia in 1979. She’s single, doesn’t have any children and moved to Harstad, a small town in the very north of Norway in September 2013, after getting a job through MediCarrera at the local hospital.
Before she headed north, Amra followed MediCarrera’s course in Norwegian language in Budapest. The language teacher was originally from Hungary but had lived in Norway before. “This was something that worked out very well. We could talk to her about cultural differences and get an interesting perspective from a person who had lived both in Norway and in Hungary,” says Amra.
The course started in April, but she wasn’t able to join in until May, since the notice period at her former job wasn’t over yet. The course lasted until about the 15th of August, so she had a total of approximately three and a half months of intensive Norwegian training. The group was small, with students from Hungary and Latvia. She was very happy with the course, although it was very intensive. They had classes from 9am to 4pm every day, but in total Amra spent about 10 hours per day on the course, including the homework. “I watched a lot of Norwegian movies both during the course and later on. I actually think I’ve seen them all!” Amra laughs.
The only negative thing she can put her finger on regarding the Norwegian classes is that she maybe learned a version of the language that was a bit sterile, the kind of Norwegian they speak in the news broadcasts. She was also missing some specialised vocabulary within her professional speciality, but this has come along fine with time.
Regarding her motivation for wanting to travel abroad, this had a lot to do with long days at the hospital where she worked. “I was stressed and had to work days that were way too long. Nonetheless, the decision was actually taken quite impulsively”, Amra explains. In December she attended a conference in Ljubljana. She watched presentations from recruiting companies from Germany and Switzerland, as well as MediCarrera, but the latter stood out as the only company that offered language training as part of the pack, while the others required that the candidates already knew the language or learned it on their own. She had also heard through others that it was difficult to contact Norwegian hospitals individually, that many don’t respond to inquiries, and decided to give MediCarrera a try.
The process didn’t take long, after about one month she had her first interview with MediCarrera by Skype and shortly afterwards she was asked if she would consider moving to Harstad, all the way up in the north of Norway. In February she travelled there to have her interview, an experience she sums up like this: “We liked each other from the beginning and that was really it”.
She started her language training and preparations for the move and in September she was settled in Norway. In other words, the whole process took well under one year.
Regarding the practical issues involved in the moving, there were some problems, among others finding an apartment and, once installed, getting the internet connection to work in the apartment. The hospital, in particular, her new boss, took care of many of the practical issues, but the people at MediCarrera were also very helpful. Now she lives in a very nice apartment right next to the hospital and all the pieces have fallen into place.
Right from the beginning, she felt very welcome at the hospital. “My boss brought me around to the police, tax office and so on in order to get all the paperwork out of the way”, Amra remembers.
At her workplace, she began speaking in Norwegian from day one and started working as a radiologist at once. “In the beginning, I also had a colleague next to me and someone always went through the descriptions I wrote in order to check that everything was correct. We also collaborate closely with the hospital in Tromsø and the staff there also helped in going through the descriptions,” Amra explains.
In the beginning, she was missing some specialized professional language, but the hospital determined that she didn’t need any further Norwegian classes. Today she works independently and is in direct contact with the patients. She also felt very well received by the locals in Harstad: “People were very kind and a bit worried that I had come there all by myself, so they took extra good care of me,” Amra remembers.
She soon signed up for salsa-classes and through that she got to know a lot of people. The main problem was adapting to the Midnight Sun. She had trouble sleeping but was allowed to adapt her working hours a bit until she got used to the daylight hours. For a while, she didn’t start work until 10am, but stayed at the hospital until around 5 or 6pm. Now the ‘dark season’ (winter months when the sun hardly appears above the horizon) has started and she notices that people stay more at home with the family. “I make sure to work out and keep active. It’s also pretty social at work, with some week-end escapes to cabins and dinner parties,” Amra explains.
Her parents live in Bosnia, but she still has friends and family back in Slovenia as well. Luckily she has had the possibility of travelling there 2-3 times per year to see them. Her mother accompanied her to Harstad when she moved and she also had some friends visiting last Christmas and New Year. Besides occasional visitors, she shares her apartment with two cats that keep her company.
She’s very happy with having chosen to move to Norway and would do the same if she were to decide all over again. “Well, maybe I wouldn’t choose the north of Norway”, she laughs, “here the winter lasts until May or June!” Joking aside, everything has worked out very well. It takes some time to get everything organised, but all the pieces have fallen into place and she has started adapting to life in the North. This winter she is planning to learn cross-country skiing.