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Møt månedens tilflytter - Christina Gohle

Oppdatert: 1. feb. 2023

Hver måned presenterer vi en tilflytter til regionen vår. Denne måneden kan du bli bedre kjent med Christina. Hun er vår nye prosjektleder.

Christina is our new project leader for the Expat Network. She has a master's degree in linguistics and a degree in teaching German as a foreign language, both from the University of Konstanz, Germany.

Christina is passionate about languages, women empowerment, and writing. She is eager to help newcomers to Nedre Viken feel at home here and to use her own experiences to improve the network.

Christina began her career with a bachelor's degree in Applied Intercultural Linguistics at the University of Augsburg, Germany, where she studied English, Spanish, and Arabic. Afterwards, she moved to Konstanz, Germany for her master's degree in Multilingualism. During her studies, she completed two semesters abroad, in Reading (UK) and Tromsø (Norway), and she completed an internship in an NGO in Bonn. Her thesis carries the title "It's the feeling of being a guest somewhere". The multilingual experiences and difficulties of newcomers difficulties to Konstanz.

After her thesis, she moved to Norway to work one year as teaching assistant for German at the Høgskolen i Østfold. This is how she ended up in Halden and as our new project leader.

How long have you lived in Norway, did you move with family or on your own? I have lived in Halden about 1,5 years now, having moved here in August 2021. Before that, back in 2018, I lived for half a year in Tromsø. I have moved here all on my own.

Your main reasons for moving.... …was to discover more of Norway and to experience life here outside of the student bubble. As a linguist, I was also keen on learning more Norwegian. Ultimately, my reason of moving to Halden was the one-year placement I received to teach German at the Høgskolen i Østfold.

What do you like best about living in Norway? Definitely the nature, the potential to explore places. You find hiking trails everywhere, only minutes away from where you live. There are so many perfect picnic spots and viewpoints, so many interesting trails and parks, even in bigger cities. I love how green it is here.I was also surprised by the many friendly people I met, especially at the doctor or the authorities; people who seem genuinely interested and want to help you – and it’s not just “Oh, your blood test looks good, bye.” They take time for you, something I’m definitely not used to from Germany.

What could be better? An environmental consciousness that is expressed for me in two aspects:

1. The public transport.

It’s not only the price but also the availability. Two hours from Fredrikstad to Halden by bus, that is a lot of time lost (I know there are shorter connections, but it depends on the clock). I totally understand that people opt for a car. But, looking at the traffic jams at rush hour, maybe more people should take the bus – also for environmental reasons. Vy urgently needs to make some adjustments to their pricing, for example early booking discounts etc. It cannot be that it is cheaper to drive with the car to the airport and back than it is to take the train. I have a lot of feelings about the Deutsche Bahn (and most of them exasperated, let me tell you), but that is a field they are slightly better at. Another aspect of this is carsharing and private commuting communities. I could not find a single offer on blablacar* in Norway while I easily booked a 20-hour car trip in Brazil.

Considering that we cannot continue using gasoline and electricity like we used to, something in the traffic department has to happen, also in Norway.

*Blablacar is a community-based travel network to share rides. So, if I wanted to go to Oslo, for example, I would search for a Halden-Oslo connection, let’s say on Monday, and I can book a ride with a person who is going that distance by car.

2. Housing and solar panels

Okay, hear me out. This may seem a bit strange, but for my German sensibilities, too many Norwegian houses are badly isolated and have ancient windows. To be fair, I only lived in four different houses in Norway and none of them were newly built, so, yes, this is a limitedpersonal experience, and yes, not all houses are the same. The thing is, for a country even more north than my own, I expected the same standards as in Germany, only to be met by thin floors where you hear each song your upstairs neighbour listens to and windows that frost over from the inside. When I mentioned this to people, I sometimes got the reaction of ‘well, then you just heat more’ or ‘oh, just put on the wood oven, and it’s fine’ – but for my environmental conscience, these are not practicable solutions. Which brings me to the second aspect: solar panels. I’m writing this during my Christmas stay at my parents, and only looking out the window, I see more houses that have solar panels than houses that don’t. It took me a while to notice, but surprisingly few Norwegian houses have solar panelling. Considering the higher electricity prices, this will hopefully change in the future.

Are there things you find funny or peculiar that you didn’t expect prior to moving?

  • Northern-Norwegian classifications of hiking trails, aka “family friendly” for a hike that my German grandma/parents definitely couldn’t do.

  • The lack of road signs. German roads remind you constantly, that, yes, you’re on the main road, and yes, please drive 70 km/h for the next 50 metres, while in Norway I sometimes have to guess which car/road has priority now (It looks like a main road, but is it??)

  • The early dinner and eating habits. In Germany, we often eat warm lunch (aka dinner/middag) and cold supper (aka kveldsmat) with bread and pålegg. I’m used to eating the evening meal around 6 or 7 while here many people already eat 15.30.

  • Lots of glutenfree products, but little vegetarian products in the supermarkets (I mean, glutenfree kanelsnurr flour but no smoked tofu?)

  • They have pant!!! – But no glass bottle pant?!

  • How much zebra crossings are respected and generally pedestrians crossing the road

Do you have Norwegian acquaintances or friends?

Yes, I have a Norwegian boyfriend that I met here. Outside of that, I have a few acquaintances in Halden, and some friends in Tromsø and Bergen.

What are your outside of work interests?

Mainly creative conquests. I write stories, or edit texts for friends, or engage in theatre projects and acting (not so much in Norway, though). I also constantly have a new knitting project going – currently a quick headband for my godmother. I also do some ‘nerd stuff’, like playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends or play videogames, like The Witcher 3, on the PC.

What do you miss most from your home country?

A simple answer to this one: the food. I miss certain products, like good cheese, and the possibility to buy vegetables directly from the farm. I also miss certain dishes, like cheese spätzle or typical potato dumplings. I also miss the variety of restaurants (and here also the prices, I’m sorry Norway).

What has this move taught you so far? It has taught me a lot about myself, what I value and what expectations I have of myself. I’m for example very good at languages, but learning a language takes time, nevertheless. So, however much I would like to already be proficient in Norwegian, I can’t expect myself to already know all the words and all the expressions after a year. It has taught me to take my time, that not all problems need to be solved at once, and that job opportunities will happen. If I put pressure on myself to find a job in one month, then the only thing I’ll succeed in is making myself miserable and setting myself up for failure. It has taught me to concentrate again on the things that matter to me, which I have lost out of sight during Corona, like an active social life and my creative pursuits.

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